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-   -   Life of a Priest. Myths or Facts? (http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=513800)

rben20 Nov 19, '10 9:52 am

Life of a Priest. Myths or Facts?
 
Hello Catholics,

I've been discerning the priesthood for quite some time now and any time I bring it up I'm always told something along these lines by secular and even some catholic peeps:

1) Priests live a lonely life

2) Priests are overworked or overburdened

3) Priests are no longer respected by society

4) Oath of celibacy is taken by primarily feminine or gay men

5) Priests are now unable to show any affection towards children

Anyone care to comment?

Scoobyshme Nov 19, '10 11:35 am

Re: Life of a Priest. Myths or Facts?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rben20 (Post 7284017)
Hello Catholics,

I've been discerning the priesthood for quite some time now and any time I bring it up I'm always told something along these lines by secular and even some catholic peeps:

1) Priests live a lonely life
More or less true, but that's not a bad thing. A priest is supposed to be "another Christ," and live a life of sacrifice. Christ was a priest, prophet, and king, but He was also an innocent victim. Priests are to be the same.


2) Priests are overworked or overburdened
In some places, yes. But that helps lessen the pains of loneliness. We humans live relatively short lives. Working in the Lord's Vineyard of souls is a good way to spend one's short life.


3) Priests are no longer respected by society
Very true, in general, especially in this culture of death, which hates the Catholic Church and attacks priests every chance they get. But, then, it's another thing to offer up to Christ on the Cross! Another Cross to bear, like Jesus. I would say, though, that most priests are respected by members of their parish. Just not in the secular anti-Catholic national media or Hollywood.

4) Oath of celibacy is taken by primarily feminine or gay men
Not true. I've seen many manly priests. Especially these days. I don't think they're taking gay men into the seminaries any longer. At least in general.

5) Priests are now unable to show any affection towards children
Not true. Our pastor shows a lot of affection towards children and goes out of his way to "high five" them or give them a hug. Parents are always there, though.

Anyone care to comment?


JRKH Nov 19, '10 11:45 am

Re: Life of a Priest. Myths or Facts?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rben20 (Post 7284017)
Hello Catholics,

I've been discerning the priesthood for quite some time now and any time I bring it up I'm always told something along these lines by secular and even some catholic peeps:

Just from my own experience with priests....Much of these are things that might have a grain of truth, but blown up to the proportion of mythical status.

Quote:

1) Priests live a lonely life
I can't say I've ever known a "lonely priest". Secular, or diocesen priests are quite busy and, if they are friendly and outgoing, will have many friends.

Quote:

2) Priests are overworked or overburdened
There might be some truth in this due to the so called "priest shortage", particularly among the Diocesen priests, but my understanding is that the numbers of priests in formation are rising so - the work load may not be so great in the future. Besides, one does not decide ot become a parish priest looking for a 9 to 5 job. It's a full time vocation after all.

Quote:

3) Priests are no longer respected by society
Again - to some extent true mainly due to the recent scandal and the general decline in societal mores. Good priests are and will be respected so long as they are good proests.

Quote:

4) Oath of celibacy is taken by primarily feminine or gay men
Hogwash

Quote:

5) Priests are now unable to show any affection towards children
With the recent scandals and steps taken to ensure the safety of children, there might be some truth to this idea. However I have not noted any particular problem in our parish with our wonderful priest getting along with and "showing affection" to the school kids.

Quote:

Anyone care to comment?
Hope these comments are of some help.

Peace
James

runningdude Nov 19, '10 11:53 am

Re: Life of a Priest. Myths or Facts?
 
My current priest is quite masculine, and very reverent. There is no prohibition on showing affection, just new measure to ensure that there is no "one on one" contact between minors and adults other than parents. So minimum, for instance, priest, parent, child; priest, CCD teacher, child; two CDD teachers and child; etc.

Having two adults present, or at a bare minimum, multiple children per adult is merely a precaution to avoid giving anyone a chance to develop an abusive relationship with a minor. Some dioceses may have turned this into a witch hunt, but most I think still fundamentally trust their priests and volunteers.

Biedrik Nov 19, '10 12:08 pm

Re: Life of a Priest. Myths or Facts?
 
1) Priests live a lonely life
Sort of. Certainly, you do not have a family, but you do have your brother priests in the rectory, and there are plenty of people to be friendly with in your life. But ultimately, you are the only one living in your room.

2) Priests are overworked or overburdened
This depends on the parish. Certainly, the life of a priest is a busy one. There are indeed some parishes that are a lot of work, and some less so. It depends really.

3) Priests are no longer respected by society
There are definitely people who have no respect for the priesthood, especially after the scandals. You will have to deal with them, but there still are people who have respect for priests.

4) Oath of celibacy is taken by primarily feminine or gay men
This is completely false.

5) Priests are now unable to show any affection towards children
They must certainly keep some different and be cautious, but priests can still be friendly with kids. In some diocese it might be harder. I know that in mine we have the "Salem witch trial" approach to it, which is to toss the priest out the moment an accusation is made.

Friar David, O.Carm Nov 19, '10 12:38 pm

Re: Life of a Priest. Myths or Facts?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rben20 (Post 7284017)
1) Priests live a lonely life

Depends on the type of person a priest is. If he wants friends it is just like everyone else, he has to work at getting them.

A religious priest will have his community (if he is from an institute that has that sort of focus)

Quote:

2) Priests are overworked or overburdened
Your only as overworked as you allow. A priest, as every one else, must learn when and how to say "No".

Quote:

3) Priests are no longer respected by society
Depends on what you mean by society. There are some places where people think every priest is gay and a sex abuser.

Quote:

4) Oath of celibacy is taken by primarily feminine or gay men
See my answer to #3.

Quote:

5) Priests are now unable to show any affection towards children
One must be careful, again see my answer to #3.

Joannm Nov 20, '10 5:36 am

Re: Life of a Priest. Myths or Facts?
 
With regard to the loneliness issue, I have worked for the Church long enough to know that it can be a big issue. Today, many parishes no longer have several priests living in a rectory and it may just be the pastor. If he does not have a good developed network of friends or avails himself of invitations from parishioners, yes, his life can be very lonely. Even in rectories with a few priests, they might not get along well or keep to themselves for whatever reason. I have seen this where a pastor would be living with an associate and say that he is never home or just keeps in his room only coming down for meals. Some men can deal with this quite well with hobbies and such, but others take to drinking. There is a problem of alcoholism with priests, just as there is with lay people who are alone a lot. Others get "addicted" to the internet, video games or simply get depressed. A priest needs to address his own issues of dealing with loneliness by having a good network of priest and lay friends. Some can deal with loneliness well as they may be introverts and like the isolation so they can devote time to prayer or reading or study.

Overworking can be a way of compensating for loneliness, as with anyone. Priests are not immune to the same issues we face. And yes, some of them have to know when to say NO and to pass on some of the work to the associate if there is one.

Respect is gained, not assured. If a priest shows by his actions that he is worthy of respect he will get it. But I do agree that society in general, in the wake of the abuse scandal, are leery of the priesthood. This has an affect on the morale of some priests I know and have worked with. Some say they simply don't care what society thinks (but I think deep down they do), and some work hard to put the priesthood in a better light among those who might be negative towards them.

The affection part is a difficult one, depending on the priest. I know several priests who are afraid to show any signs of affection towards kids. These were priests whom my kids just adored, who would hug them, go on trips with them (with chaperones), and swing the little ones around, pick them up, etc. Now they are afraid to even touch a kid on the shoulder. But the same is true with teachers and anyone who works with kids. When I was a teacher the little ones would come and hug me, I would calm kids down by holding them close or if they were needing a bit of discipline I used to stand behind them and put my hands on their shoulders. Then we were told, because of the scandals, we were no longer allowed to do any of that. It is hard to back away from a 5 year old who wants a big hug, or needs to be held after getting hurt or feeling bad. In our parish a catechist put his hands on a kid's back and kept it there while moving him out of the door and the parent called inferring that it was abusive (there were witnesses, both adults and kids that came to the catechists defense). So it is a very sad thing that anyone who works with children have to be wary of showing affection.

maryj Nov 20, '10 4:35 pm

Re: Life of a Priest. Myths or Facts?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rben20 (Post 7284017)
Hello Catholics,

I've been discerning the priesthood for quite some time now and any time I bring it up I'm always told something along these lines by secular and even some catholic peeps:

1) Priests live a lonely life

2) Priests are overworked or overburdened

3) Priests are no longer respected by society

4) Oath of celibacy is taken by primarily feminine or gay men

5) Priests are now unable to show any affection towards children

Anyone care to comment?

I have a very dear friend who is a priest.
1) He has so many invitations for dinner and social events he can't say yes to them all or he'd have no time to himself.
2) I'm overworked somedays too, and overburdened also.
3) Jesus tells us that people will hate us because of His name. Society as a whole doesn't respect much about being Holy, I can only speak for myself in that I have the uttmost respect for priests.
4) as someone noted above HOGWASH, celibacy is a sign of Holiness, and every priest that I know considers it as such.
5) not at my parish, our pastor and associate show affection to our children all the time. The children, and parents of our catholic school love these men. They run to them with arms exteneded, hopping into their arms. It warms my heart. I want my children and grandchildren to know that these men love them, and they do love them!!

May God bless you in your discernment to the priesthood

AndrewRaZ Nov 20, '10 5:45 pm

Re: Life of a Priest. Myths or Facts?
 
1) Priests live a lonely life
Lonely, I hope not. Solitary to an extent, yes. Loneliness is a despairing solitude. If one is uncomfortable being alone, one should not be a priest. It's lonely at the top, as some leaders say, and priests are leaders in their communities. Priests spend significant time alone, either in prayer, or working.

2) Priests are overworked or overburdened
There is probably more truth to that than I would like to believe. With the shortage of priests, yes, there are many single-priest parishes that have 2000, 3000, or even 5000 parishioners. That's a lot of shepherding. Not to mention administrative duties, which, thankfully, laity can help with a lot. But yes, there is a lot of work. Saving souls requires all forms to be signed in triplicate.

3) Priests are no longer respected by society
By some of "worldly" society, yes. But within the Church, priests are still very much respected. However, priests don't answer this vocation for glory and fame and to have people like them (I hope). "Society" doesn't like people telling them they can't do what is wrong to do. Jesus had a couple words to say about this. "The world will hate you because of me," or something... Might have been a prominent theme in all four gospels, and maybe acts and the letters too.

4) Oath of celibacy is taken by primarily feminine or gay men
I don't have a nice response stronger than "hogwash." As per the 5th edition of the Program for Priestly Formation published by the USCCB, in response to urges from the Vatican, a candidate for ordination cannot have homosexual attraction. What was that? Homosexual men will not be ordained. Why? Not because the Church is a bunch of old homophobes. Not because of sexual scandals. But because a priest is a father, and how can a man be a true and holy and good father if he has no concept of what real fatherhood really is? Mother Theresa was quoted once as saying "A woman who has no desire to be a mother has no business being a nun." Well, a man who has no desire to be a father has no business being a priest. Priests need to be strong, firm, and loving men. Not wishy-washy and effeminate. Christ is the High Priest forever. Behold that Man, and see what the image of the Father really is: one who is ready to suffer for his children.

5) Priests are now unable to show any affection towards children
Hogwash, to steal the words of an above poster. Certainly, men in the Church must be careful how they display affection, and not give cause for any scandal. However, we can't live in fear either. It is all about building good relationships, ones that can be public, not ones that you feel can only be displayed in private where no one is watching. If you feel you can only display affection when people aren't watching, there is a problem with something. That said, people do have to be careful. Not just those in the Church, either.

God bless you in your discernment.


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