I really do love our priests. There are so many holy and faithful servants that never tire to bring souls to Christ. My pastor at my parish is a shining example. As a parish, we have been blessed.
The following is a list of challenges for some priests and perhaps fraternal correction for others. These are a few things that as a lay person, I think would aid the faithful’s call to sanctify the secular world, to be a light in the darkness.
- Clothes. Those clerics and the white square remind me that God is watching. They signal something in my mind that says “Jared, when is the last time you went to Confession?” They remind me of things other worldly. They give an example that if he can wear this in public then I can evangelize in my little world by word and deed.
- Confession times. We need more. An hour a week is not cutting it. Lately, I can show up on time for the beginning of Confession and still be waiting 30 minutes later and sometimes I have been in line for over an hour and failed to receive the Sacrament because Mass started. I really don’t mind people receiving some sort of direction in the confessional, but please keep in mind there are others behind them that really want to receive our Lord but must confess mortal sins.
- Absolution. Yes, we want to hear those words “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We also want to pray the Act of Contrition even if we forget it on the spot. We don’t mind you helping us pray it.
- Penance. This is completely up to you. It is your territory. But please consider that my sins should not be taken lightly. Those mortal sins I just confessed, yes those alone were capable of crucifying Jesus.
- Homily. I can get the latest sports on ESPN. I can read the bulletin after Mass. I don’t need a reminder to go to the Church festival at a neighboring parish. What I really need is Jesus. I need him preached from the mountaintops. I need the Gospel explained so that I go out into the world and live His Word. Remember, you have 30 minutes per week to teach me the Faith, please do so like this is last chance you get to convince me to keep practicing my Faith.
- “Say the black, do the red.” I can read too. When I hear different words used other than those Holy Mother Church grants for Her Liturgy for our salvation, it is not a long stretch for me to make up my own actions when asked to live chastely, not use contraception, serve the poor. Your example of praying a holy and rubric accurate Mass shows me a great example that our Faith is not something I get to ad-lib.
- No high-fives. The Procession during Mass is not a time to earn cool points. The image I try so hard to contemplate is that of Christ carrying his Cross, Him riding on His donkey into Jerusalem, and sometimes of my wife walking the isle on the day of our marriage. I can shake your hand after Mass on the porch or the meeting hall, but please do not interrupt my prayer time.
- A time for clapping. Scripture says there is a time for many things in their proper place. Some things are better left for a dinner banquet and clapping for the choir is one of them, besides this is our communal worship and it is hard enough to focus on Christ with three kids rummaging around to have to stop and wonder why we are clapping. They know we appreciate their talents.
- When we ask “What does our Faith teach about…”, then I prefer to hear about the Church’s teaching on the matter.
- When we ask “What does the Church say about…” See number 9.
In short, you are the spiritual father for your parish. We watch every move you make and your actions influence us. If you don’t take the Church seriously in Her worship and teachings, then it is doubtful we will. The laity have been called back to the basics in this Year of Faith, I plead with you “Return to the basics of your vocation.” We desire parish priests that are canonizable!