Priests start their journey of faith in the church with a lot of enthusiasm. At one moment they wish to convert the whole wide world. They work many hours, they do a lot of sacrifices, they hear people at all hours, they study and work all the time. Then all of a sudden they announce that they are going to leave…..the shock on the flock, their friends, family…and the rest of the people of God. What went wrong? Some of the priests who leave are the most passionate about their priestly work.

As in other departments of life, it’s one thing studying the theory and it’s another thing the daily challenges in real life. Priests do withstand the pressure of work but they do not withstand the loneliness. Most of the priests are working all alone in most of the Western European parishes. They seem to be robots. Work, work and work. They are trained NOT to care about feelings, especially about significant others. Then working in the parish one day or another they meet caring and loving people. They see their lives as totally insignificant because although they preach about love to others, they don’t feel loved and appreciated. In most cases (especially the ones we receive through emails), the fact that the priest has fallen in love seems to be the most important change in his life because he seems to be a changed person. He works much more and people do notice the positive change in his approach with other people. Yet after sometime he realizes the conflict within. He is supposed to be celibate. Yet he feels so lively with a living partner who encourages him to work more. He reads the bible and he sees that most of the apostles were married……

Others they are in great difficulties to preach the official teaching of the church especially when it comes to marriage. They cannot simply pass on the teaching without listening to the common people. Sexuality is one of the areas which does a very bad publicity to the church as it is still tied with medieval thinking! We still teach that sins in this area are really bad but we still don’t preach about relationships, about caring for others…..

On the other hand the married priest sees a different picture in the church. He has a family and he testifies to the gospel not by preaching but by living in his own family. People would be interested to see him living the gospel in daily life. People see his own children and their relationship with their own father. This could be the contemporary homily when they see him living in a normal family and facing all challenges.

People leaving the parish are not only priests but baptized people too. Why do Catholics leave the church? There has been an interesting study recently inspired by a person who said that any business corporation who is losing people would simply ask why. Let’s see what the second part of the study (the consequence or practical part) is going to be.

We’ve been insisting that the word of God is not just a book. It goes much more beyond. If we listen to the people of God there might be not only questions but answers as well as to what we need to do. But are we ready to listen? A very well know theologian has gone to the point in calling the Pope a heretic because he is making sure that the church does not do the changes asked for by the last general episcopal meeting at the Vatican, known as Vatican II ! It’s very true that the church itself rarely speaks about Vatican II. We see many changes which go back in time before Vatican II. We cannot hide our questions and feelings of uneasiness. The documents of Vatican II make the Catholic Church shine before the whole world. If we throw them outside the windows we would be committing the most banal mistake of all.

Homily {in Maltese}

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