Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Good Priest

One meets all types of people in the Autocephalous Catholic tradition. I've posted various dossiers about different people--those you want to stay away from completely and say that you've never met, those that make rapid changes to their jurisdiction/church/religious order, the miserable converts who really hate the movement but are here because, well, no one else will take them, the hypocrites, etc. There are, in fact, too many personality disorders to list them all.

But that, dear friends, is not the focus of today. Enough time is wasted on the chaos caused by the various Fathers Cray Cray (Cray for short). Today we focus on the good priest. As many Father Crays as I've known, I've also known some extraordinary priests.

This, to me, is the true beauty of this movement. I have met priests who could not or would not minister in larger jurisdictions. They either lacked the means to go to seminary, did not want to engage in full-time, stipendiary ministry, or had personal circumstances (sexuality, marriage, etc.) that prevented their entry into larger groups. Some came late to religion and did not have the ability to minister in a larger group because of the limitations of ordination requirements.

In spite of this, these priests have tried diligently. Daily they empty their pockets to pay for the items necessary for divine worship. To some our vocation is a chance to have shiny things and dress up. There are priests, however, who use their humble means to acquire the best that they can for God. They save and sacrifice so that they have the necessary items for ministry. 

These individuals are deeply prayerful and believe in the power of the Holy Mass. They celebrate (often alone) in their homes believing in the deeply transformative nature of the Eucharist. This action is not limited to a public act, but it is also deeply personal. And they dispense the sacraments when they are truly needed. 

I think of Father X, who as a hospital chaplain has celebrated weddings for terminally ill patients so they can enter eternity married to their love. Or Father Y, who celebrates for his consistent band of people. He is not always appreciated and he does it without expectation of remuneration or glory. But he believes in his calling to serve the people to whom God has led him. Or Father Z, who is ministering to the homeless by feeding them and being with them. This is in addition to his spiritual work. Our movement has also opened numerous centers for the addicted by people who sincerely care about those they are serving.

True, there are a lot of Father Crays. But there are also a lot of sincere, good people who are ministering where they are called. Often they are quiet, without fanfare. Or, as one Indie Bishop friend said, "I judge the realness and sincerity of a group by the extent of their internet presence. The more of the former the less of the latter." And, again, by means of comparison--our crazy world has just as many crazy people as any group. Our Father Crays tend to have less reach than their mainstream counterparts.

So as we embark upon our Thanksgiving holiday I rejoice in those saints and people who have come before me. Who have ministered at their own expense in less than ideal places and situations. Yet good still comes from their work. And all the rest shall fade away.

I know my own soul, how feeble and puny it is:
I know the magnitude of this ministry,
and the great difficulty of the work;
for more stormy billows vex the soul of the priest
than the gales which disturb the sea.
- John Chrysostom

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