All Conversations in My Heart
Friday, May 09, 2008
  Another Perspective on Priests from St Faustina

Fathers,

I believe, from conversations with other members of the laity of various devotional persuasions in the Church, I am not alone in my thoughts of the Catholic Apostolic Priesthood in today’s church. Mine are different from many, as I do believe that in today’s world we should make a better attempt to communicate our needs religiously to the priesthood. This is so unfortunate. I mean what “you are” in your priesthood as the laity sees your behavior. The standard of Religious education is certainly abysmal, is off base as regards to Catholicism and its practices, when one sees and hears the sorry state of those who are licensed by the Chancery office as official teachers of the faith. Of course, one must admit with so many sects in the Church today each group looks at you quite differently. There is I believe a great danger in any parish for the priest to be what the majority demands. I pity the poor priest who has a different ethnic background to the parishioners he serves. If the populace is viewed no longer as in our case Canadian, but multicultural the spirituality adopted is not usually the spirituality of the nation that formed by the church earlier. certainly 'universal' is no longer present. Carrying on though with my original thought it is perhaps, we think too much of you all and expect too much and are sorely disappointed at what we see. I will say this, in the latter years locally I have been blessed with good confessors.

Here is something you may like to think over. You will find it on a catholic answer page at New Advent.com

Question

“At an adult Bible study I was trying to explain the Trinity. I said today we can understand, at least in theory, more about it than Augustine because we have the work of Aquinas to stand on, and Augustine understood the Trinity better than the first Christians. My pastor criticized me, saying we couldn't understand the Trinity at all because it's a mystery. Who's right?

Answer.

You are. Your pastor seems to be confused about what a mystery is. It isn't a religious truth about which we can know nothing. It's a religious truth about which we can't know everything and about which we wouldn't know anything at all if God hadn't revealed it to us.

Frank Sheed had a good way of explaining what a mystery is and isn't. He said many people--your pastor might be an example--think of it as a museum gallery into which we can't enter at all because a brick wall blocks our way. Indeed, a mystery is more like an endless gallery. No matter how far down it you walk, marvelling at the pictures, you're still no closer to the end (the end representing complete understanding). You can understand more and more, but you'll never get the whole story.

If we really "understand nothing" about the Trinity, then we can't even talk about one divine nature and three Persons. A discussion of the nature-and-Persons issue indicates we understand at least something about the Trinity.

Postscript: Sometimes Catholics who have questions about the faith are brushed off by priests who say, "Just accept it. It's a mystery." Such a reply usually manifests theological and pastoral laziness. You may have to put up with it, but don't swallow it”.

To make myself clear and to support how I feel I include sections 937 and following of St Faustina’s diary to aid your contemplation. For those of you who have not read her writings then I can also say she was shocked on the attitudes of priests towards confession in her early memoirs. Later her astonishment turned into amusement at the little tricks played by priests who tried so hard to trip her up.

I do agree with her, some of the childish games played by confessors, especially those who are inexperienced, should not be attempted. It is like seeking signs as practiced by Pharisees. One point I would like to make is, this Saint understood the difference between a confessor and a spiritual guide and I believe whoever translated these works failed to appreciate this fact, as happened with other thoughts of St Faustina.

937

I will say a word more about my spiritual director [Father Andrasz or Father Sopocko]. It is strange that there are so few priests, who know how to pour power, strength and courage into a soul, so that it can make constant progress without getting tired. Under such direction a soul, even of lesser strength, can do much for the glory of God. And here I discovered a secret; namely, that the (true) confessor, or rather the spiritual director, does not make light of the trifles that the soul brings to him. And when the soul notices that it is being controlled in this, it begins to exert itself and does not omit the slightest opportunity to practice virtue and also avoids the smallest faults. And from these efforts, as with little stones, there rises within the soul a most beautiful temple. On the contrary, if the soul notices that the confessor neglects these little things, it (she, the soul) likewise neglects them and ceases to give an account of them to the confessor and, worse still, will begin to grow negligent in little things. Thus, instead of going forward it (she) gradually retreats backward and becomes aware of the situation only when it (she, the soul) has already fallen into some serious trouble. Here, a serious question poses itself: who is at fault, the soul in question or the confessor; that is to say, the director? It seems to me that all the blame should be put on the imprudent director; the soul's only fault is to have taken upon itself the choice of a director. The director could well have led the soul along the road of God's will to sanctity.

938

The soul should have prayed ardently and at greater length for a director and should have asked the Lord himself to choose a spiritual director for it (Her, the soul). What begins in God will be godly, and what begins in a purely human manner will remain human. God is so merciful that, in order to help a soul He himself chooses the spiritual guide and will enlighten the soul concerning the one before whom it should uncover the most hidden depths of its soul just as it sees itself before the Lord Jesus himself. And when the soul considers and recognizes that God has been arranging all this, it (she) should pray fervently for the confessor that he might have the divine light to know it well. And let it (her) not change such a director except for a serious reason. Just as it (she) had prayed fervently and at great length in order to learn God's will before choosing a director, so too should it (she) pray fervently and at great length to discern whether it is truly God's will that she leave this director and choose another. If God's will is not absolutely clear, he should not make this change, for a person will not go far by himself, and Satan wants just this: to have the person who is aspiring for sanctity direct himself because then, without doubt, he will never attain it.

939

There is an exception [to this], and that is when God himself directs the person, but the director will immediately recognize that the person in question is being guided by God himself. God will allow him to know this clearly and distinctly, and such a person should be even more under the director's control than anyone else. In this case, the director does not so much guide and point out the road along which the soul is to journey; but rather, he judges and confirms that the soul is following the right path and is being led by a good spirit. In this situation, the director should be not only holy, but also experienced and prudent, and the soul should give priority to his opinion over that of God himself, for then the soul will be safe from illusions and deviations. A soul that will not fully submit its inspirations to the strict control of the Church; that is, to the director, clearly shows by this that a bad spirit is guiding it. The director should be extremely prudent in such cases and test the soul's obedience. Satan can even clothe himself in a cloak of humility, but he does not know how to wear the cloak of obedience and thus his evil designs will be disclosed. But the director should not be overly afraid of such a soul, because if God puts that special soul in his care, He will also give him great divine light regarding it, for otherwise how could he deal wisely with the great mysteries, which take place between the soul and God.

940

I myself suffered a great deal and was much tried in this respect. Therefore, I am writing only about what I myself have experienced. It was only after many novenas, prayers and penances that God sent me a priest who understood my soul. Oh, there would be many more saintly souls if there were more experienced and saintly confessors. Many a soul, earnestly striving for sanctity, cannot manage by itself during times of trial and abandons the road to perfection.

941

0 Jesus, give us fervent and holy priests! Oh, how great is the dignity of the priesthood, but at the same time, how great is his responsibility!

(Priests) Much has been given you, but much also will be demanded from you….

The pronouns in parenthesis are mine additions as the Church has always considered the soul as a her. This is to make it apparent that the soul can become a spouse of the Holy Spirit.

I have on occasion met with one or two of the priests to whom I mail these letters. I have became very aware of this fact. It is, many of you pray for help but lacking discernment, (rather never praying for this virtue), you miss the help God sends you. Of course, I write this from a personal point of view knowing in some cases a little of what you want. I would remind you if you ask for help ensure you do not turn your answered prayer down, by not asking Heaven, “Is this what I need. Did this come from You?” Personally, I tell you again as before. Fortitude and Discernment are gifts that come with prayer. Deep prayer that starts in the very center of one’s heart. The Church discerns so much for us all, but we still have to pray for help in those times when we may be inadvertently confused and the voice of our conscience is clouded. I might say at this point, I have watched a very privileged woman led astray by the confusion of her “followers” Be careful of opinions necessarily not your own but offered by parishioners with very little knowledge and not at all fashioned by spiritual facts, even I might add coming from an agenda of their own. Who as Paul wrote about Christians at that time, Many do not have the wisdom of the World.” Has it changed today? Should we as Magdalen asked with the teachings accepted in the Church today, not cry out, “They have taken away my Jesus and I do not know where they have placed Him?”

May I add and ask you to see what I write from a different perspective? I am dreadfully afraid that I sin and my sin is unkindness. It is so easy to be so and to do and I often confess it. Then, I commit the dreadful sin, one of the most horrible sins we can commit “Rationalization” which for us all comes in many forms. I do think that we should never accuse others of the sins, which we commit or perhaps are those actions we see in others which are our habits. I claim there are priests who lack fortitude. Do I too? Well perhaps I do and perhaps I do not but I do not shirk from making my feelings known and a lack of fortitude is certainly not the beam in my eye. Am I unkind to worry with horror at the lack of teaching in the Church, the lack of catholic teachings in the beliefs of the Church? I may make comments but I do not, and will never condemn one of you. But what about yourselves? How do you feel about your priesthood? I also have never with one possible exception ever thought that as priests you do not strive to do the best you can (with God’s help, of course) But how many of you actively seek to improve your apostleship? Many I hear, as a Redemptorist priest told a group of priests, rarely leave your rectories, develop addictions to drink, to television and even to the Internet and unfortunately even to sex, perverted or otherwise. Why is that? Is there anything the laity can do to support you in your priesthood? Will you ever ask for help? Prayers are not enough in today’s world. The Holy Spirit may respond, yet so many have stifled the promptings of their conscience that little or nothing will change, I’m afraid.

What else do I say regularly? I am as I am told boring on the subject of confession. I am vitriolic, is another sin laid at my door. I am not helpful to the church another accusation. I am too judgmental and I have no right as I am not a priest to say such things. One of you went out of his way to make it known; I cannot speak for the church. I wondered if he understood the Sacrament of Confirmation?

You may have noticed that I have highlighted the start of 939. It definitely affects my spiritual life when for some strange and unknown reason priests are moved from the parish often there is no rhyme nor reason for the vagaries of a bishop’s actions. Certainly, I wonder if Christ ever enters into the equation. Therefore, when I am faced with a new confessor, I pray for a certain penance and when I get it as I have in the past, I know this is a priest to whom I should regularly confess. I am afraid even at the disgust some of you will show or feel for what is written here too many of you never speak with the voice of Jesus to me in the confessional, and consequently to the other who confess. Why is that so Fathers? Why not pray and find out for yourself?

I have lately added these requests to my prayers for the Church, Priests, religious and laity. This is my prayer.

Almighty and Eternal God, consuming fire of terrible jealous Love, Divine Companion of my heart, my soul and my love, I ask that the Trinity will, at the end of each day, help us all to examine our conscience, to do it without arising suspicion or fear; prompting us all with questions of, or about ourselves. I ask for it to be done quietly and without fuss concealing the source of the examination but gently guiding us towards purity of life.

In addition, you may want to join me in my prayer for peace in the mid-east.

Almighty and Eternal God, consuming fire of terrible jealous Love, Divine Companion of my heart, my soul and my love, Beloved Father of my life, I ask that Your Son’s peace be imposed upon the Middle East. I ask all those who work against His will are to be removed according to the ways of Your will. Send or take them away from the conflict to a location where they cannot effect or prevent the result that flows from the demands of His Will.

 
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
  Knowledge base faith

Here are a few more thoughts on the state of the laity in the Church today. It is rapidly becoming, in the thought processes of the laity, very similar to the secular society, in how it acts and thinks. We all know, at least, amongst the older generation that today’s youth could not pass the English tests that we had to sit. I can write this with honesty because I read e-mails sent by several young catholics. Spelling is atrocious and opinions expressed are more than somewhat assertive and cannot be in the majority, corrected. The anger that results is not spiritually healthy. It has led to a reformation in the Church that is gradually aligning Her, with the protestant reformation of Luther. No need for the sacraments, just accept Jesus and you are saved. They, these children of ours, are so angry when we mention sin, and we must never, never mention the fourth commandment. In many young minds, what passes for knowledge is erroneous, and will lead to their dismay when they finally meet with Christ, the Just Judge. This attitude can be summed up as the Laity, in the main, has become very opinionated but internally ecstatically dumb. I challenge any of you to deny this and I will say your opinion and mine differs but I have experienced what I write.

Who will be blamed for their lack of learning about the Church and her doctrines, dogmas and traditions of worship and adoration? Those who did not teach them are or will be primarily responsible and there will be a dreadful awakening for those who did not take the responsibility to learn. I mean inform their conscience. How many young in the Church today were taught to follow their conscience? I would say that far more emphasis is laid on following the natural law. The error there is likely, we justify our version of the natural law by fuzzy thinking with our lower will and then the Passions, our gut feelings, are imposed and we were never meant to be full of the seven deadly sins. If I am wrong, ask our youth this question, “What are the seven deadly sins? Keep in mind three popes and Vatican 2 in its papers say the teachings of the Church cannot be changed by this council. It was pastoral not dogmatic.

 
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