In English we have the expression of taking a short cut. A short cut may help one avoid a lot of traffic, gas and time. Nobody would like to spend so much time in traffic when a shorter route exists! Is there a short cut in life? Before we answer such question, we are aware that there are various aspects of life. We have in mind the much needed reform in the Catholic church. Unfortunately there are no short cuts!

It seems that some of our readers would like to wake up one fine morning and find the necessary changes in the Catholic church! The mentality of the short cut is embedded in those who wish to change things in the church. Well it never happened that way. That’s not the natural way. If one just takes a look at creation especially the growing up of a forest, it takes a lot of years. We do understand that a fallen tree is much faster and it makes more noise than a whole forest growing up!

The longer route is: who is going to take care of so many parishes without a resident priest? Whether we’ll have married priests or not, we still have to face this growing challenge! If married priests join officially the clergy, it still might not be enough (not all married priests will accept the call by the way!), to provide the necessary basic services in a parish.

What we really need is for the so called ‘lay’ people to take an active role in the parish. Obviously to train people, again, it’s not an overnight job. It needs a lot of training. Who is going to take the role?

The problem is that we are comfortably enough to hide behind a computer screen but not daring enough to make the first step towards the actualisation of our dreams!

Maybe the first excuse that comes up is that we don’t feel that we are the right person to do the job. If we truly read the bible, there were many people who complained to the Lord to go and pick up another person. Finally they had to give up! They accepted the Lord’s invitation with humility. Your sins, lack of faith, lack of skills etc…will be compensated by the Lord!

Besides the acceptance, one has to pull up his socks and starts the hard work ie to prepare ourselves professionally so that we can take care of a parish. On the internet there are many courses nowadays which can be followed in the comfort of one’s home! One can find a solution to juggle around other duties to leave space for such a course.

During the course, one meets several people. Don’t be taken aback if you meet some so called old fashioned friends. That will be the testing ground. One needs to train oneself in dialogue. These will be repeated in other occasions such as when one is responsible for a parish. There is no perfect community in the world! One has to work with the people that come to the parish, whether they are old fashioned, greedy, alienated, rebellious or whatever. I do remember the first time I was introduced to a parish where old aged people where the absolute majority. As a young priest, at first I didn’t want to stay there. But then, the old people brought other people for some special occasions and there I met other kind of people. So one needs some time to understand God’s call.

The same can be said of our call as married priests. I never thought that I would practice priesthood again. But the call from the people and the internal reflection made me realise that one cannot discard God’s call. Of course it’s very easy for a married priest to stay in the comfort of his family (without judging anybody though), yet God’s call is there for all.

Will you take up the challenge?