Friday, August 17, 2007

Have You Hugged Your Priest Today? today featured an article about a recent exhortation to priestly celibacy which Australia's Archbishop Wilson gave.

He was right on the money when he explained, "We need to see a vocation as more than just an individual or personal life choice. Each vocation is a call from God in the context of the Christian community and for the service of the community."

He also said, "John Paul II reminded us that 'No one is called to walk alone.' The context of a loving, supportive Christian community is important."

This reminds me of the wise foundations upon which the Companions of the Cross built their order. One of the main points of their vision centers on the word "companions":

We make an essential commitment to living the common life. We believe that the effectiveness of our ministry will be largely determined by the quality of the life that, with the help of God's grace, we can develop with one another. We will pray an extended time regularly, not only alone, but in common. This necessitates, among other things, that we live in local communities of sufficient size (minimum of four) to allow community to grow, and that we invest a lot of time in it.

I once heard the group's founder, Fr. Bob Bedard, say that one the main challenges in a priest's life is loneliness. Many struggle with alcoholism, and any amateur psychologist can interpret the frequent stories we hear of sexual deviancy in the clergy as a cry for help against a dysfunctional social molding.

The Companions seek to reduce or even eliminate that problem by maintaining the importance of community, but most priests without affiliation to the Companions have few if any close friends.

We are called as a laity to pray for our priests, and I strongly encourage all my readers to do so. But in addition to prayer, we must support them by offering our friendship. Know also that since many of our priests have been friendless for so many years, if not decades, it may be difficult for them to develop meaningful relationships with you - you might need to be very persistent.

I'll always remember a late night spent playing video games with a priest friend of mine, who is still relatively young and hasn't become too jaded or lonely. I was amazed to realize, "Wow, this guy is really good at this, and even has a bit of a mean streak." It was a key moment in my own decision to break out of my introvert's shell and try to welcome priests into my home socially.

1 comment:

  1. I make a conscious and consistent effort to affirm the priests of our parish both to them and to others.

    O | |


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