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Catholic Courier. (Rochester, N.Y.) 1989-current, February 16, 1989, Image 10

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£ olumnists Church's life suffers from low morale among priests ESSAYS IN THEOLOGY By Father Richard P. McBrien Syndicated columnist \Reflections on the Morale of Priests\ is one of the most important documents ever released by the U.S. Catholic bishops. Unfortunately, it will never achieve the public recognition of their earlier, and jus- tly celebrated, pastoral letters on peace and the economy. Prepared by a subcommittee of me bishops' Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry, the report concludes that \there exists today a serious and substantial mor- ale problem among priests in general.'' TTus finding should concern every com- mitted member of me Catholic Church be- cause, as the report sprrecdy points out,\when the morale of priests is high, die mission and ministry of the church be- comes a positive experience for all within the Christian community. \When the morale of priests is low,\ on the other hand, \the quality of ecclesial life diminishes and almost every area of church life suffers, from evangelization to vocations:, from liturgical celebrations to service With and to the people of God.'' According to the report, priests are sim- pfy exhausted. But theirs is more than a merely physical exhaustion. Many priests feel caught between two forces: their own sound pastoral instincts, often honed over 20-40 years of priestly ministry, arid the directives and policy statements they regu- larly receive from on high. \Some priests feel that at times they are passing on to. parishioners, who clearly disagree, pastoral decisions which they sense their bishops do not fully endorse and which diey themselves personally ques- tion. 'Caught in the middle' is an apt de- scription.\ The bishops' report puts its finger direc- tly on me problem: \Many (particularly in die 45 to 60 age group) feel mey have wor- ked hard and long to implement, or at least adjust to, the practical consequences of Va- tican n. They sense that much of mat effort is nowi being blunted or even betrayed and mey elect to drop out quiedy.\ The bishops are reluctant to identify the blunters and the betrayers of the conciliar mandate, so I will. The priests, especially in this 45 to 60 generation, are demoralized by die Church's current papal/curial administra- tion. They see it as driven by a rigid, ideo- logically conservative agenda that brooks <o disagreement of any kind. They are particularly discouraged by the recent pattern of episcopal appointments in which ideologically \safe\ men are selec- ted over priests who, because of truly en- viable pastoral records, enjoy the confi- dence and respect of meir brother priests, religious, and lay ministers. Let me express the frustration of this middle generation of priests (and others) in unambiguous terms: If, for example, the priests and lay ministers of the Diocese of Brooklyn were allowed to elect the succes- sor to their much- beloved Bishop Francis J. Mugavero, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan would probably win in a landslide. But anyone who knows die score will tell you that a Joe Sullivan doesn't have a chance in this regime. \He's too good,\' everyone says — sadly.'' What kind of Church are we running here when bishops and priests as outstand- ing as Joe Sullivan are bl ocked while omer bishops and priests, saftly \orthodox\ in meology and securely \loyal\ to die Holy See, are promoted — fre niendy to gasps of disbelief from fellow prints, from lay min- isters, and even from fellow bishops? l The episcopal-appointments pheno- menon is not unrelated td anotiier aspect of the priestiy morale {jroblem: ecclesi- ological conflict. According to die bishops' report, priests and parish staffs are frus- trated and demoralized when they have to live and work side-by-side with fellow priests witii whom uiey differ strongly about die very nature ajid mission of die church. The problem is magnified when uiey find tiiemselves in ecclesiological con- flict with their bishop. J Given the recent pattern of episcopal ap- pointments, this probleni is going to get worse, not better. More about the priestly morale problem next week. Baptismal covenant promises future transformation A WORD FOR SUNDAY By Father Albert Shamon Courier columnist Sunday's readings: (R3) Luke 9:28-36; (Rl) Genesis 12:5-12,17-18; Philippians 3:17-4:1. In die first reading, God makes a cove- nant with Abraham. The Hebrew word for covenant, berith, means \a cutting.\ When we make an agreement, we might say, \Let's shake hands on it.\ When no- mads in* Abraham's day made a pact, uiey cut animals in two and walked between diem as if to say, \If I break die pact, let me be cut in two.\ Covenants are made between equals. So a covenant between God and man is not one stricdy speaking. If you notice, in the covenant with Abraham, Abraham is as- leep. It is God who acts, who makes die offers. He offers Abraham land and des- cendants; in return, He asks only for faitii. Baptism is our covenant witii uie Lord. He makes us sons of God and of uie church, generally when we are asleep in in- fancy. All He asks is that we walk as chil- dren of the light, offering light to others, by renouncing- Satan and all his works of hate and dissension. The story of die transfiguration climaxes Our Lord's Galilaean ministry. Many of die details of die event recall Mt. Sinai: Moses, uie mountaintop, die cloud, die glory. However, mere was this difference: the glory on Moses' face was reflected light; but not so witii Jesus. His glory was from widiin Himself. The sun of His divin- ity shone uirough uie cloud of His hu- manity, irradiating His body and garments. Jesus went up die mountain to pray. While praying, He was changed. Prayer ought to change us. If it does not, we are not praying aright. Our Lady at Medju- gorje again and again warned us against praying uirough habit —\saying\ prayers, not praying. She said, \Pray wim your heart. Mean what you say and say what you mean.\ In prayer we can discover Jesus — \my Son, my Chosen One.\ After die transfiguration, Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem to suffer and die. It was of uiis that Moses and Elijah spoke — \they spoke of his passage (exodos: His death-resurrection-ascension).'' They were confinning Jesus in His resolve to go \bur future? is in your hands. Call today about our Career Session. , Date: February 21, 1989 Time: 7:30 pan. Place: 2510 Chili Ave. or 1945 E. Ridge Rd. Put your trust in Number Oner w2l Robert Malone EAST WEST HOME SPIRIT 1945 East Ridge Rd. 2510 CTiili Ave. Jean Herrera 467-3121 247-7700 to Jerusalem to suffer and die. How real is die Communion of Saints and how inter- ested they are in what happens to us on earth. - When we are faced witii problems, as Jesus was, we ought not only to pray but also to look beyond die problem to uie re- sulting good. Good Fridays are never for- ever. There is Easter. Jesus let His disci- ples behold die glory to come in order to carry diem over the scandal of die cross. When Hannibal was crossing die Alps, he met die discouragement of his soldiers by saying, \Post Alpes, Italia\ — \After die Alps, Italy,\ wiui its sunny clime, its olive groves, its rich vineyards. So also Jesus held up to His followers die goal to which suffering borne for God leads — tiiey are as nodung compared to die glory to come. The transfiguration climaxes with die voice from the clouds, as at Jesus,' baptism. It confirms Peter's previous profession of faiui — Jesus is truly die Son of God, His Chosen One. But it also adds die admo- nition to \Listen to him\; that is, accept His teachings on die cross. The three disciples behave disappoint- ingly. Like Abraham, they sleep; diey will do die same in Gethsemane. Peter babbles incoherentiy about setting up tiiree booms;. Peter forgot die omer disciples, die world below, and die generations to come. Such is die danger of all followers of Christ: to be concerned only about one's salvation. No wonder Our Lady has consistently as- <////////////////////////#^^^^ ROGERS HOUSE RESTAURANT Corpus Christi Church Job Training Center for Ex-Offenders is having a Deep-Fbcket-Dinner Saturday, February 25th Reservation times are 5:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Because this Is a fundraiser and- our financial needs are great, we are asking for $100.00 per ticket. We are also selling movie tickets to the Utile Theatre. You can purchase these tickets through Rogers House Tickets are $6.00 each and the proceeds will benefit the Rogers House ministry. Our goal Is to rals* $10,000. For more Information and tickets. ^ please call: (716)232-2749 v//////y///my///////////////////,////////^^^^ ked us to pray for die conversion of sinners and die poor souls in purgatory. The me- only syndrome is too much wiui us. When Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration, He cured a boy posses- sed by die devil. Raphael caught die con- nection between die transfiguration and healing in his last great painting, \The Transfiguration.\ He died painting me face of uie transfigured Christ. The painting is in diree levels. The upper shows Christ in glory; the middle, uie three aposdes; and me lowest, in darksome colors, shows some of die disciples and the family of uie sick boy. The contrast is striking between die glory, where sin and death are not, and die world beneatii, where man is unable to cope wiui evil and die devil. Had Christ remained on me mount, as Peter had sug- gested, die scene of man trapped by evil would have remained unchanged. Our moments of glory are meant to sus- tain us so uiat we might bring Christ to die sick, die suffering, tiiose enslaved by Satan and sin — for He alqne can transfigure each person and die human race. Project Life schedules annual banquet for Feb. 24 The tiiird annual Project Life of Roches- ter banquet is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m. at die Mapledale Party House, 1020 Maple St., Rochester. Reservations are needed by Monday, Feb. 20. Call 716/235-1611 for informa- tion. 10 The Merton H. Kays Funeral Home Richard H. Dye, Lie. Owner 59 Monroe St., Honeoye FaNs (off street parking) 624-1120 Storing Mention, Rush and —„. Henrietta Buying • Selling • Appraisals One piece or entire household gk Specializing in: art, pot- f^m tery, lamps & shades, J^H oak furniture, post \^y\ cards, sterling silver, 466 Oxford St., Roch., N.Y. 14607 716-288-4115 »Catholic Courier

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