When the People Do Not Love the Shepherd

Some Catholics have a problem with the perceived imbalance of this “limited” petition from Eucharistic Prayer II:

Remember, Lord, your Church,
spread throughout the world,
and bring her to the fullness of charity,
together with Francis our Pope
and N. our Bishop
and all the clergy.

Why end there? What about us lay people? (We are, by the way, mentioned just before this sentence.)

Pope Francis has dispatched the disgraced Cardinal O’Brien to several months of “spiritual renewal, prayer, and penance.” Was this on his mind in today’s homily?

When a priest, a bishop goes after money, the people do not love him – and that’s a sign. But he ends badly.

A lack of love, especially in a Church culture in which people are still largely predisposed to treat priests with great affection, is indeed a sign.

(St. Paul) did not have a bank account, he worked, and when a bishop, a priest goes on the road to vanity, he enters into the spirit of careerism – and this hurts the Church very much – [and] ends up being ridiculous: he boasts, he is pleased to be seen, all powerful – and the people do not like that!

A ridiculous end. And all the more sad that some clergy do not perceive the state with which they are viewed. A martyr, certainly, can be widely rejected and laughed at. But a buffoon will suffer the same fate.

Pope Francis requests:

Pray for us, that we might be poor, that we might be humble, meek, in the service of the people.

This is why I have no problem with the mention of pope, bishop, and clergy in the Eucharistic Prayer. Presiders don’t need to bother to add “laity,” though I appreciate the gesture. I’ve worked closely with priests for three decades. I know they need prayers. I don’t begrudge them the extra mention (if it is indeed that) before God.

Pope Francis asked for a reflection on Acts 20:28-30:

Take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. I know that, after my departure, ravening wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. And of your own selves shall arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

Read this fine passage, and while reading it, pray, pray for us bishops and priests. We have such need in order to stay faithful, to be men who watch over the flock and also over ourselves, who make the vigil their own, that their heart be always turned to [the Lord’s] flock. [Pray] also that the Lord might defend us from temptation, because if we go on the road to riches, if we go on the road to vanity, we become wolves and not shepherds. Pray for this, read this and pray. So be it.

I can attest to the great difficulty in remaining faithful in a marriage over the past seventeen years. It seems serene on the surface–what others see when my wife and I worship together, shop together, sit quietly in a room together, attend concerts and events and parties. But married life is difficult in ways I would not have imagined. But I feel fortunate. My wife prays for me, and I for her. And we keep working at it, mutually supportive of one another.

Some clergy–I don’t know how they maintain balance in what is essentially the eremitic lifestyle of a modern priest. How tempting it must be to consider drink, drugs, sex, gluttony, and other indulgences.

So, no: I have no problem whatsoever with the Holy Father’s message today.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in bishops, Liturgy, spirituality and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to When the People Do Not Love the Shepherd

  1. Jim McCrea says:

    Not only do I have a problem with a lack of mention of “God’s good and holy people,” but I also have a problem with the hierarchical nature or who is mentioned and when.

    Let the mention be in order from the “bottom” to the “top.”

    If it weren’t for the good and holy 99%, the ordained 1% would be without jobs, titles and hierarchical mention at all.

  2. Erin Pascal says:

    Yes, married life is indeed difficult but I’m just glad that we have each other. We work things out and we make sure that no one ever gets left behind in whatever we do. All kinds of temptations and indulges are just around you but we always think of each other before anything else–that’s how we keep our balance. :)

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