A candle in darkness outshines a bonfire in daylight.
Not in living memory has there been a better time to be a priest. Not within a hundred years has there been a better time to be a priest. Not within a millennium has there been a better time to be a priest. And I say this as a man who has no desire to become a priest whatsoever.
This is not addressed to the aged men who grace our parishes and cathedrals now, but rather the young men just getting started, those men recently ordained in the last ten years or so, and those men still in seminary, as well as those men contemplating the priesthood. There has never been a better time to be a priest than now, but only if you’re a young priest.
By young priest, I mean a priest who is not only young in body, but also one who is traditional in spirit. For the great darkness that has befallen the Church is your chance to shine like a flame. I’m going to tell you a secret now. It’s probably a secret that you already know, but it helps sometimes to hear it from others, or to get a different perspective on it. There has never been a greater time to be a priest, because now you can do so much with so little effort. The darkness has made this possible.
I am a convert to the Catholic Church, an Evangelical convert through Anglicanism to be exact. Because of this I have a bigger perspective than most Catholics, because I’ve lived on the other side of the fence, so to speak. Here’s the secret…
The Protestants are suffering from the exact same problem as the Catholic Church. There is no difference at all. It’s exactly the same. Protestants just handle it differently. Over the last half century, Protestants have been pouring out of their mainline denominations (Anglican, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Reformed, etc.) in what can only be described as a mass exodus. They left their mainline denominations for what were initially smaller Evangelical churches, but when they came, the size of these Evangelical churches swelled into what we know as “megachurches” today. Why did they leave their mainline denominations? Why did they go Evangelical? To answer these questions, we must first learn what happened to mainline Protestant and Evangelical churches in the 20th century.
During the 20th century, mainline Protestant denominations embraced both Liberalism and Modernism. Their traditional Protestant teaching was replaced with an ideology that rejected miracles and supernatural faith. In its place they began to teach psychology, tolerance and the whole “church of nice” baloney. They began by embracing contraception and divorce, then abortion and ultimately homosexuality. The average Protestant pew-sitters gradually left in disgust. I remember, because I was there. I heard the conversations between my Lutheran father and his Lutheran friends. They and my parents were all leaving for the same reasons. My Father had already left his Lutheran church long ago to appease my Baptist mother. But he maintained close contact with his Lutheran friends and family, who by 1990 were leaving Lutheranism for Evangelical churches.
In contrast, Evangelical churches clung to the historic teachings of Protestantism. They shed a lot of the denominational trappings, but preserved the “core” of Protestant teaching. They emphasized a loose and casual worship style, wherein people wore whatever clothes they wanted to church, and listened to contemporary praise and worship music during the service, but this isn’t really the reason why they came. The real reason why they came was to hear the teaching, which usually consisted of a simple man coming out to read some Scripture passages, and take the time to explain what they mean. I remember those days in Southern California well. Mainline Protestant pastors would ask an Evangelical pastor “what’s your secret?” His answer was always straight and honest. “I just read the Bible to them and explain what the passages mean.” Of course there was a little more to it than that. Evangelicals rejected Liberalism and Modernism, so when they explained what those passages mean, they did so in a classical Protestant way, which hadn’t been heard in a generation or more. These Protestants were so hungry to hear the faith taught to them, in a traditional manner, that they were willing to leave their mainline denominations (denominations that their families had been in for centuries!), for an upstart Evangelical church, meeting in a renovated grocery store, just so they could hear and understand the written word of God.
So, maybe you’re a young priest, or maybe you’re in seminary, or maybe you’re a young man thinking about becoming a priest. Do you want to know how to be a great priest? Do you want to know how to attract Catholics and converts from far and wide? Do you want to know how to build a congregation larger than anyone else. It’s simple really. When there’s a famine, you show up with food. When there’s darkness, you light a candle. There is a hunger in the Catholic Church for tradition, but not just tradition. There’s also a hunger for knowledge of God’s written word as well.
You, young Catholic priests, all you need to do is the following…
- Wear a cassock.
- Celebrate a traditional liturgy, and when I say traditional, make it as traditional as you possibly can, whatever form you use, even if it draws the ire of older priests.
- Then during your homily, explain the Scriptures you just read during Mass. Explain them verse by verse. Use the Baltimore Catechism as an aid, keep everything as orthodox as possible, and end each homily with a short call to repentance and conversion.
If you do these things, you most certainly WILL be persecuted. You’ll be persecuted by old hippy parishioners who prefer to have their priests submissive and emasculated. You’ll be persecuted by older priests who will say you’re rocking the boat, and becoming a trouble maker. You’ll be persecuted by weak bishops who cower to the demands of old hippies, feminists, homosexuals and Marxists. Yes, you will be persecuted, but so was Christ and the Apostles before you. The fact that much of this persecution will come from within the Church only demonstrates just how deep this present darkness is. Yet it is because of this thick darkness that you will shine so brightly. Because the times are so dark, and the hunger is so great, if you do these three simple things, you won’t just be a great priest. You’ll become a Saint.
I started hanging out with evangelicals because I thought they would provide the word of God from an objective reading of it. I was disappointed. I didn’t relate well to Protestant culture. Before that, I tried reading the Bible from an objective viewpoint as best that I could, having come from a Catholic background. I have always liked my viewpoint better than the Catholic or the Protestant one. Who says that I can’t like it better? At the time, the Church wasn’t expressing too many opinions about the Bible, anyway.
My search for inner peace and strength eventually led me to see if the Bible had anything to say about this. It did; and it said a lot about this. All of the outward pageantry and ceremony in the pre-Vatican II traditional Catholicism that I grew up in did not point me in this direction; but the Bible did. This is why the Bible and its mysticism are the basis of my present Catholicism, which is neither traditional nor liberal. Vatican II gave me permission to do this and remain within the Catholic fold. I have no nostalgic feelings for traditional Catholicism.
I’m always criticized for sounding like a Protestant by many Catholics; but I never felt that I needed to apply that term to myself because the Bible was compiled by the Catholic Church in order to preserve its basic teachings; and I like them.
It never ceases to amaze me the resistance from everything and everyone around me when I started attending an Ordinariate mass with my children. I get it from all sides. It’s become even worse now that I have been doing alter service. My two sons (5 & 6) both expressed interest in doing alter service with me and suddenly my world has been turned upside down. I effectively can’t bring my kids to church right now. Pray for me (no scratch that, pray for my children).
It would have been easier if I had proclaimed I wanted to be a woman.
Thank you for this post. It gives me hope. It’s easy to lose hope and become a critical old woman. God bless you.
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Another insightful post, Shane. I especially appreciate your message to young men to at least examine the priesthood. Their are those men who are troubled by what they see as great immorality running rampant in our society. These are the men not swayed by the glitter and bs of Hollywood. the msm or liberalism. But where to find and recruit them. The Church has been mostly silent on recruitment. So where do we find such men ?
My husband and I discovered the traditional mass eight years ago in our quest to attend daily mass during lent. Our parish priest was off Monday’s and Tuesday’s so we found this church which offered the Tridentine mass every day. What a beautiful lent we had! We never returned to our local parish for mass. Our youngest son was 20 at the time, away at college and when he came home for breaks he attended the Tridentine mass with us. He thought it was boring because he could not understand what was being said. Long story short he is now beginning his third year in a traditional seminary. He wears a cassock and he is a very happy man. This beautiful reverent mass has been a godsend for our family. Thank you Lord Jesus Christ and all glory to you dear Lord!
May God bless you. What a beautiful blog! But I’m wondering who came up with the name for the league of Catholic bloggers–not sure what to make of that. 😉
I love this post. My son was ordained a priest in 2015 in the diocese of Peoria. He is very traditional, wears his cassock often, and explains the readings during his homilies. I see a lot of the young priests doing this. As a sidenote, he was ordained in the same Cathedral as Venerable Fulton Sheen…so glad to finally have our native son home.
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