The German episcopacy begins its tortured synodal path today, with the intent, according to reports, to approve contraception, homosexuality and female ordination, any one of which would put them outside the visible, hierarchical Church founded by Jesus Christ, continuing in the world unto the end of time. So be it, for, like Judas, perhaps ‘tis best to brings what men have ‘spoken in darkness’ out into full daylight of truth, and what they must do, perhaps is best done quickly.
Priests are demoralized, and with good reason, it seems. Ponder this reflection from Father Peter Stravinskas – just for starters, imagine you’re always walking on eggshells wondering whether you’re just one confession away from some disgruntled ‘parishioner’ accusing you of ‘something’, and your life, at least as you knew it, is more or less over.
There is the added acidic influence of secularism, one principal tenet of which his that you must grab every pleasure you can in this life, or it ain’t worth livin’. The antichrist, so sayeth the Catechism, will preach a ‘secular messianism’, a salvation in this world, or age (saecula) alone. But we know that Man was made for greater things, for eternity, and the more we give up in this life the greater our reward may be. He who loses himself, finds himself. The nihilistic philosophy of YOLO – you only live once – should be balanced by the same paradoxically more hopeful principle of YODO – you only die once, and, then eternity…
It is thus with great sadness that we read of the recent suicide of a young priest, Father Evan Harris, who was only just ordained at the age of 24 in 2010. We know not what demons lurk within souls, even, perhaps especially, those consecrated to God, whose task is to help lift us out of the secular and hedonistic miasma. Please do pray for the repose of his soul.
Getting rid of clerical celibacy will do nothing to alleviate this, and will only exacerbate the difficulties priests face. After all, the priesthood is either about full and complete conformity to Christ, or it’s about nothing. And Christ was poor, chaste and obedient, just as priests are called to be, and all of us, in some way or another. To turn the priesthood into some state-funded social worker – a la, the German model – will end in nothing short of disaster, perhaps a long, slow gradual one, but a disaster nonetheless.
And, to end for now on some good news, the Cistercian nuns at Our Lady of the Valley Monastery are growing, and looking to build a new convent. A worthy endeavour – indeed, one of the worthiest – for the Popes, Councils and teachings of the Church have exalted the contemplative vocation as the most perfect this life can offer, witnessing to the eschatological reality of all things – that we are made for heaven, not for this earth, something the climate zealots could learn. Furthermore, as the Second Vatican Council declares, their intercession for the world is ‘as effective as it is hidden’. Hence, a work to support, amongst so many in need. And, full disclosure, I have a vested interest, as two alumni from Seat of Wisdom College are members, and I had the honour and privilege of attending the final vows of one of them a number of yeas ago. Ad multos annos, et florescant vere.