My friend and I were sitting next to each other, on the bus. We were catching up on each other’s “doings.” She mentioned that she had been to a funeral Mass, at my parish. (My friend is a fallen away Catholic) She proceeded to tell me how bleak, boring, and particularly tedious the Mass celebrant was. She said the priest obviously never even made an effort to learn anything about the deceased. ….yada…yada…yada
Instinctively, I rushed to his defense. Of course he knew of the deceased. Maybe not personally, but I’m sure he was told.
I couldn’t convince my friend. I just flamed her tirade. Once, she was hurt by the church…not really, but that’s how she perceived it. You see, she was in a situation where she turned to the church for help. And what she was told, was not what she wanted to hear. Ever since then, the church can’t do anything right.
So I sat beside her and listened to her berate my priest, my confessor, my spiritual father, my spiritual director, my pastor, the one whom I constantly pray for—and prays for me.
I felt like punching her in the mouth.
Instead, I prayed for her.
Early in my Lay Dominican formation, I was impressed by St. Catherine of Siena’s The Dialogue. The Dialogue is the perfect book to read and reflect upon. It’s applicable to our times, as well as it were to St. Catherine’s. St. Catherine was adamant in defense of priests. Then, as today, priests didn’t always behave as they should. Scandals have been around since Abel and Cain.
...it is my will that the sins of the clergy should not lessen your reverence for them,...Because the reverence you pay to them is not actually paid to them but to me, in virtue of the blood I have entrusted to their ministry...
...And just as the reverence is done to me, so also is the irreverence...
For this reason no one has excuse to say, 'I am doing no harm, nor am I rebelling against holy Church. I am simply acting against the sins of evil pastors.' Such persons are deluded, blinded as they are by their own selfishness. They see well enough, but they pretend not to see so as to blunt the prickling of conscience. ... For I have said and I say it again: No one is to touch my christs. It is my right to punish them, and no one else's.
And I prayed for my parish priests, and all priests. They are alter Christi; in their indelible "likeness" to Christ, they are a sign of the constant love God has for us.