Monday, January 28, 2013


In the excellent discernment book, To Save A Thousand Souls , by Fr. Brett Brannen, there are a few "fears" that Father Brannen mentioned that may make a man shirk away from the call to priesthood. He says of the assessment of vocations:

A man in this stage is assessing specific fears now: the fear of celibacy, the fear of not being a holy priest, the fear of loneliness, and the fear of preaching in front of people. (p 153)

I spoke of the first fear here.


First, what does holy mean? It's not unusual that I get a call from someone from another parish who wants to speak to me about a private matter. The reason? The priest in this person's parish is "really holy" and they want to talk to me about it. Because I'm so not holy? Duh-huh??

I think for some people, a "holy" priest is an unapproachable one. If a priest is never around the parish, he must be either exhausted from a whole weekend of praying, performing the Sacred Rites, curing blindness and walking on water.
If a priest is not able to communicate with a parishioner, it's because he's from a foreign the Shire... where the gentle folk aren't familiar with our brutish American ways.
If a priest is grumpy and unavailable, it's because of the great HORROR he has seen peering from the human soul and has developed an armor of sanctity.

Therefore he's spiritual and holy. 

I think this poster says, "HOLY MAN" or is it "IRON MAN 2"? Indian movies..who can tell?
Don't get me wrong. I by no means consider myself  this big "AHHHAHHHH". 

I can be unapproachable to some people, especially when I think they are NUTS. Seriously, religion attracts nuts. I'm not saying a lot of them but enough to make a decent holiday mix. If I think you are a nut, I am not going to let you approach me. Because you will suck the life force out of me. And I need that.

I can sometimes be unable to communicate with others because there am things me not know so good. Sometimes there are concepts and issues that are well beyond my knowledge. I want to help but just am limited. 
I am grumpy because I go to bed late sometime and I get up late. I'm grumpy because when I'm trying to do something I want to do, like this blog, someone walks into my office and says something. I hate something. I am grumpy because I am a real Richard sometime. Just am.
Neri don't play.

However, there are priests who became SAINTS who also avoided nutty people.
Like my man, St. Philip Neri.
Once a woman came to St. Philip for confession, when in reality she wished to get a handout from him. He said to her: “In God’s name, good woman, go away; there is no bread for you” – and nothing could induce him to hear her confession.

And there are grumpy priests who became saints too. I mean St. Jerome called a bishop a...a..JACKDAW!!! HORRORS!

You observe how (Jerome) treats Ambrose… [H]e calls him a jackdaw who decks himself in other birds’ showy feathers; and then he rends him with his foul abuse, and declares that there is nothing manly in (him).
(Apology 2,25, by Rufinus)
 Holiness is not being above humans or somehow unapproachable. The holiest people I know are the most human. Not in failures and faults but in the way they accept their limitations, are loving but honest with others and most of all are humble enough to give God glory.

Holiness takes work. Daily.

Each morning I pray not really because I am such a saintly soul but I realize I need the discipline of prayer. I need to put myself in God's service.

I try to be open to say "yes" to the requests I receive even when I want to say "no" or "I would rather eat sand". And most times I do so with a practiced cheeriness even if I am really in full-grump.

I try not to defend myself when attacked or try to provoke attack.
Ad Orientem Mass 2010. When I had more hair and less back altar.

I try not to say one thing in a pious tone from the pulpit and then do the total opposite in my lifestyle. I really am working on the "do" as I believe thing.
For example, when I say "THIS IS MY BODY", I try to be consistent and treat the host, the vessels and the handling of them as if I was touching the Real Presence.

Yeah, I believe it.

So, am I holy? Not by far. I have MANY failings. Some I admit readily, others dwell in my heart and released in the Confessional.
Am I a holy priest? Trying to be. Because I want to be. I want to be a holy priest and a holy, good person.

Priesthood is not for holy men. The fear of NOT being holy is a good fear. It will inspire you to be the best you can be and NOT be the worst you can be. To want to be holy is a step to holiness. Priesthood molds a man in holiness. Like all sacraments, including marriage, it's a method of becoming holy where other methods fail. Priesthood is the way of holiness for CERTAIN men.

I'm one of those guys.
Thank God.