Should I say something to the priest?

I’m not sure where to post this. I’m sorry if this is in the wrong discussion group.

I was discussing the process of going through adult confirmation with my priest. I had inadvertently interrupted him when he was speaking a couple times in a row. Part of it was I didn’t hear him speaking as he was facing away from me and part of it was I was so focused on my own thoughts.

He obviously lost his temper and scolded me in a manner I wouldn’t have used on a child that intentionally misbehaved let alone another adult. I found the manner rather childish. He basically said “Can I talk now? Is that alright with you? Are you sure?” He was very harsh in his tone and very negative in his manner. Needless to say, I was extremely offended by his behavior.

I didn’t say anything about it at the time. But I do remember he has done similar things in the past to other people. Frankly, I find this type of behavior disgusting. In my opinion the only reason it works is because people are too shocked to reply, too ashamed of their own behavior, or far too respectful to respond to a priest the way they would a normal person.

I don’t want a thing to do with him now. If he loses his patience with me that quickly I really would not be comfortable going to him for confession or instructions. Should I let him know why this is the case? I don’t want to but I know he’ll eventually ask? I don’t want to lie to a priest but I don’t really want to deal with a defensive, angry one either.

I would like to repeat that I’ve seen him use this tactic several times. In fact, it is not the first time he’s done it to me. Also, I’m not sure he sees a problem with it because he didn’t act contrite or shamefaced or showed any of the other behaviors people exhibit when they know they crossed a line.

Any advice?

A quick tempered priest shouldn’t be condemned. Could it be you are easily offended? Disgusted is quite an extreme reaction. Personally, I can’t stand being interrupted. We need to pray for priests always. Perhaps he is going through a difficult time. Perhaps Satan is attacking him. You don’t go to Mass or Confession for the priest - but for God. You are only confessing through the priest, the priest is acting in person of Jesus during the Mass.

However, if it is too much for you try finding another parish.

I believe it is a two way street. Make an appointment with the priest and tell him you are sorry for interrupting him and will try to not do so as much in the future. Then explain to him how you feel about the public rebuke. You are still learning and growth comes with learning. He might not know how his words cut into others and if he does maybe he needs this gentle reminder.

God Bless

The humility is Catholic virtue. Let it go.

Priests are human too. They have bad days, they get hurt feelings, they get upset.

Practice virtue and charity-- move on.

If he was facing away from you then maybe it wasnt your fault and didnt mean to interrupt him. Interruption is impolite but then so is facing away from someone when they’re talking to you about something as important as adult confirmation. But maybe he is having a bit of a difficult time. I would try to forget what happened for now and give him another chance. Go back to him for another discussion/instruction as normal having leanred from the previous conversation. This time you’ll be less nervous and more prepared and more accustomed to the priest. He may just turn out to be the sort of man who is very strict on the surface but is also very fair and warm hearted underneath it all. :wink: I used to be scared of one of the priests at the cathedral where I attend mass. The others are young and are really funny and cool but this particular one is a little older and more stern so in contrast to the others seemed like a scary headmaster but once I got used to him I realised he has a heart of gold. He’s a top priest and hopefully in time you’ll find that your priest is awesome as well. :thumbsup:

A priest at my hometown parish has a similar personality. But he has a lot of good qualities too. Often if you meet his crabbiness with humor, he softens. But that’s him…

I make people with dispositions like that my personal project. Kill them with kindness. When they rebuke you, apologize with the same intensity that they rebuke. No sarcasm intended there, just showing kindness and understanding. Offer a compliment if it is appropriate. Step outside of yourself and give, give, give.

I use that tactic with crabby store clerks, waitresses, co-workers…etc.

I guarantee you they will soften.

Most of the time when people react in that manner they are troubled about something else. A priest is no different. They are human too and have a VERY difficult job.

Just my $0.02…

Wise words. Especially the bit about humour. Its so true. If you hit people in the funny bone they tend to like it. We all love a laugh. :slight_smile:

God finds many opportunities to give us lessons in humility. You mentioned that “…I was so focused on my own thoughts”. I teach. It is very frustrating when in a group, individuals are not all on the same page. It becomes impossible to try to teach each one according to their individual focus.

I’d suggest that if you have a question during the group lesson, to make a note of it. I bet that Father asks at some point “are there any questions?”.

Ask yourself what feelings were bruised by the incident and why his direct manner in trying to shock people into paying attention hurt. Did it embarrass you? Why? Are you afraid that you are not reaching the expectations of the course? Are you afraid that he or the class will think you are not as bright as you really are? Be assured that the evil one does not want you to be Confirmed…it will do anything in its power (and do it in sly and cunning ways) to discourage you from this goal, including using these kind of situations to make you drop out.

God bless you in your journey. Don’t let anything get in the way of completing it!

Do not let a mis-understanding stand between you and a good friendship. If you couldn’t hear him, you should of let him know. And when you interrupted him you should of said I’m sorry. This is a communication snafu of which you are a major contributor. Why are you mad at him for something you caused. And why are you disgusted with his response when yours is just as disgusting. Just as the person above said go to him in a peace loving way and make peace

Priests, because of the essential role they play in dispensing the sacraments, are a particular target of the devil. If this priest is managing to, for example, overcome external temptations toward alcohol or sex by being inappropriately harsh when speaking, he is doing very well. It sounds like he was probably too harsh, but you were rude too, by being inattentive.

Or maybe he is just crabby. You can’t just avoid people whose personalities aren’t pleasant. It is more important that he is faithful in his teaching than that he is pleasant to be around. Jesus loves this man, enough to die for him, and he is able to bring you Jesus in the Eucharist. However, that does not mean that he is perfect, any more than I am or you are. There are much greater sins than being impatient, although a lot of them don’t look as bad from the outside.

You definitely need to tell him that you can’t hear him when he is turned away from you, and maybe that will help a bit. And even if you feel that he was much more at fault than you were, you could apologize for your inattentiveness. It will not necessarily be easy, and he may still be crabby even in response to your apology. You have to be prepared for that. In general, you can help yourself not be so offended if you just expect him to behave that way. If you say in your head, “Oh, that’s just Father Moran; he’s just like that,” then you may find it less disgusting.

God bless you and help you with this!

–Jen

Thank you everyone for your replies. You’ve given me a lot to think about.

There are a few things I don’t think I was very clear about in my first post. First off, this was not a public discussion. I was not in a Confirmation class but discussing with the priest the process to be confirm with him in his office. I would understand the public rebuke better as he would be lecturing to the class.

Second, I did apologize for interrupting him multiple times. Also, the priest was aware that I do not hear well. In fact I have often misheard or just didn’t hear him- so it isn’t that the priest didn’t know this.

Third, this isn’t the first time this had been done. Of course, if he just snapped at me this one time I would write it off as him having a bad day. But he has done it numerous times not just to me but to others. I think that is my problem- that he seems to have a habit of snapping at people. I wouldn’t mind as much if he would apologize later but he has never done so with me.

My fear is if I go through Confirmation instruction with this priest he’ll lose patience with me. I tend to ask lots of questions until I understand something. That method of learning can be very trying on the instructor.

I guess I feel there is a personality conflict waiting to happen. I would like to avoid it but I don’t know if I should let him know that I think there will be a communication problem or if I should just tell him I’m not ready for confirmation at this time.

I’m sorry if I wasn’t very clear in my first post.

[LEFT]Bridget:

I’m deaf in one ear (result of a brain tumor) and hard of hearing in the other ear. That means I always have the same problem you just posted - Someone points away from me, talks in a low voice, and I can’t hear him. I have an additional problem - Because of the brain damage and the drugs I have to take to deal with the pain from a lumbar spine condition, I tend to fall asleep if I can’t keep up with the class.

Because of these, I don’t have a choice - [FONT=Georgia]I have to interrupt and ask him what he just said if I want to have any chance of staying with the class. Otherwise, the next sound the class will hear will be my snoring, and then the priest scolding me for falling asleep…[/FONT]
[/LEFT]

[LEFT][FONT=Georgia]The Scriptures and the Church Fathers are very clear on this one - There really is no excuse for this priest’s behavior - We all need to control our tempers (That includes those ordained to the Sacred Ministry) -[/FONT]
[/LEFT]
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself* unstained from the world.*
James 1:19-21, 26-27 (ESV)
BibleGateway.com
[FONT=Georgia]
The Scriptures also make clear that Patience, Kindness and Gentleness are “Fruits of the Spirit” - That they are by-products of the life lived in the Spirit.
[/FONT]But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (“patience”), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-25 (NIV)
BibleGateway.com
[FONT=Georgia]
And, In 1st Timothy, St. Paul tells us what a characteristics we need to have in a Bishop (or a Priest) and a Bishop…
[/FONT]Here is a saying that you can rely on: to want to be a presiding elder is to desire a noble task. That is why the presiding elder (Episcopi - Bishop) must have an impeccable character. Husband of one wife, he must be temperate, discreet and courteous, hospitable and a good teacher; not a heavy drinker, nor hot-tempered, but gentle and peaceable, not avaricious, a man who manages his own household well and brings his children up to obey him and be well-behaved:
1 Timothy 3:1-4 (NJB)
BibleGateway.com
[FONT=Georgia]Continued on next post…
In Christ, Michael[/FONT]

If he does, simply tell him that his shortness and abrupt manner is off-putting and has hurt your feelings. Be honest. Remind him of your hearing situation and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Don’t let this stand between you and the sacrament of Confirmation.

Dear Bridget:

Hopefully, you’ll have a chance to read the Post that precedes this and to read the Scriptures so you can understand what we are all supposed to try to live up to. If you have any questions, you can find them all here – BibleGateway.com

I’m sure he me may not realize the deleterious effect he’s having on you - It’s up to you to figure some way to tell him how much what he does hurts you, how much his lack of willingness to accommodate your disability is creating more difficulty for you. I once had the same difficulty with a priest who felt he was in the right mistreating me because I was disabled and not entirely popular. and, From my experience with him, I can tell you your job isn’t easy.

Show him the Scriptures in this post, and ask him if his behavior towards you has displayed those virtues or “Fruits of the Spirit”. Remind him how hard of hearing you are and how angrily he’s addressed you when you’ve tried to understand what he was saying. And, Then Ask him if his conduct towards you has been “Temperate, self-controlled, hospitable and gentle”. If he refuses to have a dialog, or to acknowledge the inappropriateness of his conduct, tell him that he is forcing you out of the Church he claims to serve and then ask if he could find someone else to teach you the Confirmation Class…

He has no right to abuse you as he has, and you have no duty to sit there and take it because he wears a collar. If he refuses to stop this conduct, or to find you another class so you can be Confirmed with your fellow parishioners, please document the occurrences of his outrageous conduct and contact your Diocesan Chancery Office and ask that Office what you should do…

Brigette - I don’t care who this man thinks he is - He has no right to cause you to even think of being denied the Sacrament of Confirmation, esp. since you would be denied that Sacrament (and the Grace that goes along with it), not because you aren’t willing to do the work or because you are unsubmissive, but because you’re Hearing Impaired. Please make sure he understands that he may very well cause you to be denied the Grace of that Sacrament because of his outrageous and egregious conduct towards you.

If you can’t convince him to REPENT, please give me the information for your contact at the Chancery Office… Please let me know how this works out.
Your Brother & Servant in Christ,
Michael

Just like regular folks, some priests are just not “people persons” and have poor people skills. I work with such a priest. He is very comfortable just lecturing everyone but ask him a question or make a comment that might hit him the wrong way and he gets nasty.

I was once talking to him about some of the kids in Confirmation class and gave him a suggestion of something he could talk to them about and he started lecturing me on educational techniques and how children that age learn and how my suggestion was no good. I have a Master’s degree in education and taught in a school for 8 years before I went into parish ministry, plus I have three kids, so I think I know a bit more about kids than this newly ordained priest knows. He was so condescending the way he spoke to me, as if I was stupid. That was the last time I ever offered to share something with him about the students or to seek his opinion. In fact we don’t even ask him to do anything with the kids since his “know it all” attitude has infuriated many of our catechists and parents.

Even if he was right on a topic, the way he speaks to us “lay folks” makes many of us simply avoid him. They should teach people skills in the seminary. Wait, I do know they teach communication skills. He must have skipped that semester.

I say don’t say anything to this priest because if he is anything like the one I work with he won’t listen and will probably turn it around and make you feel worse.

Be thankful you have a priest as many parishes don’t. Pray for this priest and for an increase in seminarians. Offer it up. Jesus established the priesthood and died on the Cross for us. Whatever hurt feelings you are feeling compare them to the pain of the Cruxcifixion.

To the OP:

I had a very good relationship with a pastor who was not suited to the position of pastor in a very contentious parish, with everyone feeling that they “knew more” than the pastor. (Although the pastor was rather well-educated and articulate, the congregation was unusually so, and therefore had an Opinion about everything.) It was a difficult position for this introverted and sensitive man, who ended up feeling he could never please anyone.

Despite that, as I say, I had an excellent relationship with him. Then one evening, in public, in a seminar or lecture that I was attending, he snapped at me irrationally. I was crushed and knew I hadn’t deserved it. It seemed to come out of nowhere and be at the very least, an overreaction.

My solution? I wrote him a letter. I am sometimes more coherent in writing, particularly if I’m very upset. I told him that I was surprised, disappointed, and hurt, and felt unjustly a target of anger that came from somewhere else and was unduly piled onto me. He immediately telephoned me – in fact over and over, trying to leave a message on my answering machine but not content to do that until eventually he reached me live. He felt horrible. I actually think I had done him a favor in a way, by enabling him to see that being a pastor was really getting to him (although naturally I said nothing about that). He and I made up immediately – both of us being sensitive people and wanting very much to restore our friendship. We were “all over each other” with apologies. He told me that he actually cried when he read my letter. That made me respect him even more! – the fact that he disclosed that to me.

Also, writing a letter saved him “face.” He was able to process his feelings and mine privately. That’s what I would do in the situation the OP describes: (1) acknowledge that you angered him, (2) apologize for angering/annoying him, including any self-absorption that resulted in inattention, (3) express deep appreciation for the service he provides you and the parish in general (4) suggest a solution to prevent this recurrence, (5) invite a discussion in person or on the phone, should he want that. I doubt very much that if he receives such a letter, he will not acknowledge it in some fashion - probably directly (in person or on the phone), and at the least indirectly, in his manner.

There are two fabulous priests in a parish near me. Recently one of them became really snappy and harsh with everyone (including me) at a reception after Mass. This is most unusual, but because of his mood, he found himself quite alone at the reception. No one would go near him. Then the following Sunday at Mass, he announced a special benefit for funds to “install a security system” because one of the halls had recently been broken into. It was then obvious why he had been so upset that Sunday, which incidentally was in the very hall the incident took place. Probably just being there resurrected considerable anger in him.

Your priest may be quite overworked and exhausted, and/or he has some administrative or personal problem he is trying to deal with unsuccesfully – with a brother priest, with another clergyperson in the diocese, with a personal matter — we never know.
:slight_smile:

next time you see him, politely apologise for interrupting him and upsetting or angering him…i bet you will find that he in turn will apologise to you too for losing his temper

As I’m reading this I realize how constantly on these forums we are constantly making excuses for rude priest. I do realize they have it tough and need patience…but also maybe exactly what this priest needs is a good talking to…it might snap him out of his rudeness.

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