Aug 11, 2006

Father McBrien and the priesthood

Sadly, bloggers can always count on Father Richard McBrien's columns to provide grist for their mill, and this week's column (click on this post's title), as found in Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony's archdiocesan newspaper The Tidings, is no exception. It is about who gets canonized.

Father McBrien's complaint is one he has sounded before. He writes, "Very few married lay persons can readily identify with such Christian types" as "priests, bishops, male and female religious, and lay persons who either remained virgins and celibates during their lifetime or, if married, entered a convent or founded a religious order after the death of their spouse."

He concludes by saying, "These commonalities are surely significant, but they do not directly touch the experience of ordinary married Catholics with children and grandchildren."

It is a statement so far removed from the reality of Catholic life as to be astounding, to claim that priests, religious, holy lay people and founders of religious orders "do not directly touch the experience of ordinary married Catholics with children and grandchildren."

The very fabric and fiber of our lives are totally interwoven with the lives of the holy priests, sisters, brothers and lay people who have been there for us in all our joys and sorrows.

Father McBrien -- Priests, including yourself, do "directly touch the experience of ordinary married Catholics." Please read the poem,"The Beautiful Hands of a Priest." Yes, I know that cynics, and even some in the clergy, mock it as corny; but it tells the truth. Just read it and you will see and recall how very much priests have to do with every Catholic's life every day.

Just go to:

The first two stanzas of "The Beautiful Hands of a Priest" say so much:

We need them in life's early morning,
We need them again at its close;
We feel their warm clasp of true friendship,
We seek them when tasting life's woes.

At the altar each day we behold them,
And the hands of a king on his throne
Are not equal to them in their greatness;
Their dignity stands all alone...


Anonymous Jonathan said...

Good post! I thought the poem was wonderful and very accurate. Also, I'm pretty sure Fr. McBrien is a diocesan priest and not a Holy Cross father.

6:47 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you for your kind words, and thank you, too, for pointing that out about Fr. Richard McBrien.

A Web search on his name and "Notre Dame" turns up his bio, and he is indeed a diocesan priest -- of the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn., under Abp. Henry J. Mansell.

I've fixed my post to remove the Holy Cross reference. Thanks again for pointing out the error.

10:15 PM  
Anonymous DAve said...

If the laity can hardly identify with religious then how much more so Jesus Christ?

This guy is smart enough to mislead and the shepard isn't corraling him.

2:14 AM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Dear Dave,

That is an excellent point! And yes, why wouldn't any bishop discipline him?

8:20 PM  
Blogger Former Altar Boy said...

Great post and thanks for introducing me to the poem. I've kissed the ring of bishops and one patriarch, but many the time I've thought how much more appropriate to kiss the consecrated fingers of a priest that touch Our dear Lord. I respect I think we've lost with Communion on the hands and EXTRAORDINARY (ha) ministers of the Eucharist by the dozen.

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What people generally DON'T identify with is a priest or religious of the academic type. Yes, academic formation is quite important for a priest, and it is important that the Church have great intellects (and holy priests/religious) teaching our college students and seminarians, but a guy who simply writes books, appears on CNN when there is a "Catholic issue" to talk about, and runs the 'rubber chicken' circuit of dinners and speaking engagements... that's something which pales in comparison to the dedicated, holy, humble men and women in service to local churches. I have a real problem identifying with a man who gives up his chance to have a family for the good of chasing this kind of lifestyle.

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Kenneth Fisher, Founder & Chrm. CRCOA said...


You have to be more specific when making such statements as: "What people generally DON'T identify with is a priest or religious of the academic type." Most of these priests did not become so called academic types of their own volition, but at the direction of their Superiors or Ordinaries, and many would rather go back to parish work but in obedience they can't.

Pray for all priests and religious, academics or otherwise.

Kenneth M. Fisher

9:20 PM  

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