Priests and Humility

This is just an “out of curiosity” post. Ok, I’m going to give you a scenario. You are deciding which church to become a member of. At Parish #1 the priest is a brilliant man who writes the most intricate and eye opening homilies. At Parish #2 the priest is a brilliant man who focuses more on pastoral work, and he is great at it. The Priest at Parish #1 drives new cars and wears the fanciest liturgical vestments. The Priest at Parish #2 rides his bike more than he drives his beat up car and always focuses on increasing his humility. Which Parish would you rather attend, and why?

UMMM> > . .

How do you know the priest at parish 1 is NOT 'humble?
What if he drives new cars because they were given to him --especially if he perhaps has to (as so many do) serve more than one parish, and they’re rather far away? The newer car might be safer and less expensive, in the long run, than a ‘beat up old car’ which guzzles gas and constantly needs new parts and has a battery die in winter. . .

as for the vestments again, priests don’t usually go out and ‘purchase’. They often use vestments that the parish has had for ‘several priests’. and those ‘fancy vestments’ often last longer than the ‘humble old tie-dye’ type.

You only mentioned ‘humility’ for Father #2m as if Father 1’s driving a new car and wearing a fancy vestment automatically disqualified him from being humble.

Are clothes and vestments the only ways in which a priest can BE humble?


I too wish there was a ‘Like’ button for Tantum Ergo’s post.

i’m sorry,i’ve a plank in my eye. as soon as i remove it ,i’ll help with yours. :rolleyes:

Dang this poster is smart.


Even though this is a fictional scenario, it is purely superficial, immature, and judgmental in its portrayal of humility and the priesthood

Since I’m human, and don’t mind putting my foot in my mouth, or getting the occasional “boo, hiss” I’ll answer honestly for me (without impugning the humility of either priest)

I would rather go to Parish #2.

The last time I chose a church it was the placement of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament that was the deciding factor for me.

In other words the church in which the placement of Our Lord & Redeemer is most prominent is my first choice.


Mathew 23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.

I tend to agree with Tantum Ergo. Suppose the question were framed in this way:

What do you value more in a pastor, sanctity or competence?

But isn’t this like asking whether you’d rather have two arms or two legs?

I suppose I’d generally prefer a holy to a competent pastor, if such a choice had to be made; however, we mustn’t underestimate the importance of knowledge and training.

If you were undergoing brain surgery, would you rather have it done by a jerk who’s the best in his field, or by a really humble and charitable guy who doesn’t know what the cerebral cortex is?


Who chooses a parish based on the car the priest drives or the quality of the vestments? If those are supposed to be symbolic of character virtues or flaws, those virtues and flaws will make themselves clear without needing to address MPG or percentage of linen to polyester.

Those wouldn’t rank on my list, even at the bottom. There are too many important things to worry about.


And this.

To answer the original question, I would go to Parish #1. In fact, the description closely fits my priest. His relatively new car was given to him, he has his own vestments that were custom made for him shortly before he was ordained, and he owns his own liturgical vessels. He’s one of the most gifted homilists I have ever known. And yet, in his day-to-day actions he is still a model of humility. Don’t get me wrong—he is far from perfect. But judge him by his appearance alone and you entirely miss the man he is.

That said, I would not dismiss Parish #2 solely on the criteria given.

Thank you. :thumbsup:

If nothing else , the answers have given me one good hearty laugh to all the wits out there.
I just think its very sad that one should judge on outward appearance so unless your wearing sackclock and ashes and go around looking sullen one is not considered holy… All I say is our Poor Priests they really do need prayers with people like this around, cars, vestments could be presents from proud parents or family. The Russian Patriarch got the same stick when allegedly was given a very expensive watch from President Putin, so much so that photo’s with him wearing the watch were air brushed out. Is it false expectation of what humility really is. Secular priests don’t take a vow of poverty but only the vow of chastity, its only priests in Religious Life that take the vow of poverty. Lets look to ourselves and our own humility before looking at the splinter in the eye of others, lets first get rid of the plank in our own.

You only mentioned ‘humility’ for Father #2 as if Father 1’s driving a new car and wearing a fancy vestment automatically disqualified him from being humble.

Are clothes and vestments the only ways in which a priest can BE humble?

The short answer (from me at least) is no they’re just outward signs and a priest should of course be neatly dressed. That said, appearances do matter because they’re what people see and, rightly or wrongly, what people basis their conclusions about others on. Granted there’s a big difference between driving a Ford and driving a hummer but priests need to be humble not just in their actions but also in their appearances (so Armani clerical shirts are probably a bad idea).

Having said all that, what I picked up on in the OP’s scenario was the actions of Father #2 (also reading into it that his homilies were probably not that exciting). The importance of pastoral work in parish life is easily overlooked (or delegated). Yet, by meeting people where they are and allowing people to “see Jesus” a priest can draw people to God - especially those who come to mass only infrequently, if at all. As Pope Francis put it in his Chrism Mass homily (which actually addresses this issue quite nicely), a priest needs to a shepherd living with the smell of the sheep."

Obviously when posting this I was writing something judgmental. I’m sorry and in my own journey to becoming a priest this was very immature of me.

“Since I’m human…”, “he’s only human and so therefore…”,etc etc. I read this so much on this site - people explaining that so and so are ‘only human’ and so therefore it should be understood that…? Sorry, but has there been an invasion of aliens somewhere that I have missed?

Sorry to disappoint - no aliens here - just framing the response as less than perfect.


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