Our American blogger, RCA Victor, writes…
Following up on the notion that the CT blog could be a sort of cyber-parish for modern Catholics, esp. as a source of orthodox catechesis, here’s a thought:
Is there a traditional priest up your sleeve who would be willing to answer questions from readers in the form of a blog topic, every so often? You could call it “Ask Father” or something of the sort, and create a separate email for these questions so you don’t get swamped. Webmaster or someone on the CT Team could collect the questions and forward them to Father, he could supply the answers, and the Team could post them. End.
This, and similar suggestions, are put to us from time to time. I find the idea understandable on one level, but very puzzling on another. Here’s why.
It is the ordained who are causing and/or supporting/perpetuating the crisis in the Church.
I do have to admit, however, that, even before I became aware of the crisis, I am on record as saying to various friends that a priest is the last person I would ever approach to discuss a personal problem. It’s a kind of instinct. Even from the age of 11 years when enquiring about membership of the junior Legion of Mary, I was not encouraged by our curate… I later discovered that he was the Spiritual Director of the parish group! Clericalism is still a major problem in the Church and my own sense is that, when priests are so lacking in elementary understanding of the basic lay vocation, I can’t really be confident in the sort of answers they would give in any area of doubt, whether moral, religious or spiritual. Very recently a priest pointed out to me that St Catherine of Siena could criticise popes because she had been given a special grace from God – not because she was a Confirmed Soldier of Christ. So, that was me and moi put in our respective places! Now, of course, St Catherine of Siena was a great mystic and saint with a very important and special mission from God, but there was nothing to stop God choosing a priest or bishop for the task. The fact that He chose a lay woman signals to us that everyone, men, women and children, must be active lay apostles. That priests are simply not aware of that fact themselves, which is why it is seldom, if ever, a topic for preaching, does not fill me with confidence that their answers to key questions and advice would be solidly reliable.
The priestly vocation is to dispense the sacraments and preach the Faith. From time to time, we’ve had priest contributors to this blog as part of their duty to “preach the Faith” but they tend not to stay the course. Perseverance in the work of the lay apostolate is not a widespread virtue. The other day I was searching for a comment among very old blog topics and was astonished at the names of bloggers I’d totally forgotten. They come and they go, priests included. And I have to say that of the several priests who have blogged here, none have been “traditionalists” … Indeed, when I asked one “traditionalist” priest if he reads our blog he replied in the negative, all the while assuring me that he supported what we are doing. Truly, you couldn’t make it up. Who was it said: “the blog has been betrayed, even by those who should have contributed to it?”
So, in terms of “orthodox catechesis”, I would expect “traditional” priests to participate in our discussions and since they don’t, I lack confidence in their willingness to commit to the kind of role which RCA Victor (and others before him) suggest. And as for addressing individual concerns? Well…
I don’t see priests as problem-solvers; even “traditionalist” and “traditional leaning” priests don’t always get it right, and might do a great deal of damage with their “advice”. I remember some years ago, when my mother was elderly and with mobility issues, so that I was reluctant to leave her for any length of time in case she fell, a priest made a comment about my spasmodic attendance at his weekday Masses. I did try to attend when I could but that entailed recruiting a “mother-sitter” and although my siblings were happy to help when they could, they were in full time employment and had their own work and family commitments. They were already committed to staying with my mother on Sundays and Holy Days, to let me get to Mass. When the subject next arose and I “asked Father” if he thought attending a weekday Mass took precedence over my duty to my mother, he replied, slowly… “Yes …I think so”. Wrong! For me to abandon my sick mother in order to attend a weekday Mass would have been sinful, not virtuous. So, recommending priests to those seeking sound spiritual, religious and moral advice, is something of a daunting task these days.
As things stand, when I do, occasionally, receive emails from people asking me to recommend a priest, I suggest one of the SSPX-affiliated priests, who has given me permission to distribute his contact details to anyone who asks. This priest offers personal retreats for people on a one-to-one basis, in a beautiful setting, on the Scottish island of Stronsay, and I am always happy to email his details to anyone who wishes to contact him.
However, if I “asked [any] Father” you care to name, to take on the role of a Catholic Truth Agony Uncle as outlined by our zealous RCA Victor I can say without fear of
contraception contradiction, that he would decline the job. Even with a six figure salary (£000.000) 😀
Of course, if YOU are a priest reading this who would relish the role – feel free to say so loud and clear. Your appointment begins with immediate effect!