Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hiding behind a wall of silence


One of the very enjoyable aspects of being the Parish Priest ('Pastor' in American English) of a four season holiday destination, is that at every Mass, at least 70% of those attending are visitors. As I always tell people, they are happy to be at Mass and, as they are on vacation, the fact that they ARE at Mass shows they are committed Catholics. This weekend, I had visitors from among others places, Massachusetts, New York, Chicago, Canada, Texas, South Carolina and Puerto Rico. The fact that these people attend Mass regularly in their own parishes makes what I am about to say both sad and indicative of the great crisis we are living through. This Sunday was "Respect Life Sunday" here in the United States. Priests and deacons are expected to preach on this subject, even if the readings were principally about marriage. After all three Masses this weekend, numerous people approached me to thank me for my homily. They asked for copies of it (I only have notes which look like Arabic scrawl, so I'll have to work on that!) and told me that they had never heard a pro-life homily that was so clear. I say this not to blow my own trumpet, or to imagine that a new Fulton Sheen has been discovered. It is precisely my point that something is seriously wrong if people from so many different places find it unusual or remarkable that a priest preaches as he is asked to do by Holy Mother the Church. A friend told me that they attended Mass in two different parishes in this diocese over the weekend - nothing approaching a pro-life homily! What is wrong with the clergy? Is is cowardice, people-pleasing, or do they not actually believe in the teaching of the Church? It is no coincidence that the Office of Readings for this morning, the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, was from 'The Pastoral Rule' of Pope St. Gregory the Great. Among other things he writes:

"Negligent religious leaders are often afraid to speak freely and say what needs to be said - for fear of losing favour with people. As Truth himself says, they are certainly not guarding their flock with the care expected of a shepherd but are acting like hirelings, because hiding behind a wall of silence is like taking flight at the approach of the wolf.......If a religious leader is afraid to say what is right, what else can his silence mean but that he has taken flight?"

8 comments:

tibotmorfenoo said...

Was this your “FAREWELL CEREMONY ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II, Airport of Detroit, Saturday, 19 September 1987” homily?

This was one of my finest memories of the Owl. A supercilious mountebank – you ain’t – at least most of the time (ha, ha).

…not only courage is needed but also smarts. You have been blessed with them both – and you can take a punch – which is also helpful. Lord knows I have thrown enough at you…not that I am a heavyweight at all – but still a thorn (your words not mine).

Keep up the good work…but I probably keep swinging…

the owl of the remove said...

Thanks, again, Titbot - yes, it was my homily from two years ago in the fair town of Swanton - if I'm here for another year I can't deliver it again - most of the good work was done by, as you said, John Paul the Great - you can't beat the words of a saint.

gemoftheocean said...

"If a religious leader is afraid to say what is right, what else can his silence mean but that he has taken flight?"

Just so, Father. They forget their duty, or are afraid to preach it, because they want to be "Mr. Popular."

I'm sure Jesus was sad to lose people over the discourse in John 6 - but He said it emphatically call the same.

But there was always to core of believers that built the church in the long run who knew "to Whom shall we go?"

MomWithManyJobs said...

I'm afraid I attended one of those "other" parishes as well and was dissapointed with the subject matter of the homily, and should have made the trek to visit your parish.
I look forward to you posting your homily for all of us to contemplate and learn from.

Whimsy said...

Every year for 12 years this priest preaches on life for the WHOLE MONTH of October.

http://mysteriumfidei.net/download.php

Paul Stilwell said...

A few drops of indifference into a gallon of humanism makes the whole gallon indifference.

BTW Father, I found your article 'The New Areopagus' in the latest StAR very inspiring.

Thanks.

Victoria said...

What is wrong with the clergy? Is is cowardice, people-pleasing, or do they not actually believe in the teaching of the Church?

For a majority of the priests in Australia the answer is "all of the above".

the owl of the remove said...

Excellent, Whimsy!
Thank you, Paul!