Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Let Priests Be Priests

Continuing on my post yesterday on "we're doing it wrong," in which a lot of my suggestions revolved around the priests, our pastors, one of my priest friends on G+ (who shall remain unnamed until he tells me otherwise), said this:
Lay people, please bring this post to your pastor and volunteer to help as you can. It's too easy for priests to get into maintenance mode, worrying about keeping the lights on and the heat running and the roof from falling in and ... Then they see the "new evangelization" and think, "O Lord, another thing I need to worry about?", forgetting that evangelization and equipping the laity is their primary role.
As a priest, it's easy for us to feel overwhelmed and feel like there's so much that needs to be done, but little to no help to do it. We need lay people to step up and take the reins.
This speaks to one of my speculations--being intimidated at the effort involved. Now, I happen to know this particular priest is not one to shy away from challenging his parishioners, but the sentiment he expressed is important listen to as laity.

A few folks on G+ were taking me to task (in a friendly way) for essentially putting it all on the priests. Now, I want to be clear, I think the priests and bishops do have the leading, primary role in making changes like the ones suggested. I think their calling is precisely to lead us laity towards God, to strengthen us for our own sanctification, and to equip us for our own lay apostolate, our own evangelization. We have a crucial role in the evangelization of the world--it's not "Father's job" to do that on his own. We, by nature of being in the world all the time and by being so many, have much more opportunities for evangelization than Father ever can have, and we are all called to share the Good News.

So what we laity need to do is to support priests in what they need to do. We need to help priests be priests, and part of that is taking care of the other stuff that is not essentially priestly. It's not right for Father to feel so pooped and overwhelmed that he feels he can't perform his primary priestly ministry. That is something we can help with.  Help them to help us.