Judges 17:6 "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes."Carl Olson, "The temptation is great to take the matter into our own hands, to transform the priesthood..." (Ignatius Insight Scoop, June 18, 2010):
Proverbs 14:12 "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
The Holy Father, at the June 11th question-and-answer session he held with priests at the prayer vigil in St. Peter's Square, in response to a question from a priest about how to encourage vocations to the priesthood:[Hat tip to J.M.]What to do? The temptation is great to take the matter into our own hands, to transform the priesthood -- the sacrament of Christ, being chosen by him -- into a normal profession, into a job that has its hours, and for the rest of the time one belongs to oneself, thus rendering it, as any other vocation, accessible and easy. But this is a temptation, which does not resolve the problem. It makes me think of the story of Saul, the king of Israel, who before the battle against the Philistines waits for Samuel for the necessary sacrifice to God. And when Samuel does not come at that very moment, he carries out the sacrifice himself, though he was not a priest (cf. 1 Samuel 13); he thus thinks of resolving the problem, which of course he does not resolve, because he takes into his own hands what he cannot do, he makes himself God, or almost so, and it cannot be expected that things will really go in God's way. Thus, we also, if we only carried out a profession like others, giving up the sacredness, the novelty, the difference of the sacrament that only God gives, which can only come from his vocation and not from our "doing," we won't resolve anything. So much more must we -- as the Lord invites us -- pray to God, knock at the door, at the heart of God, so that he will give us vocations; pray with great insistence, with great determination, with great conviction, also because God does not close himself to an insistent, permanent, trusting prayer, even if he lets one do, wait, like Saul, beyond the times that we had foreseen.Read the entire piece on ZENIT. Benedict's remark: "The temptation is great to take the matter into our own hands, to transform the priesthood..." can just as well and meaningfully be applied to marriage, fidelity, and much else. "The temptation is great to take the matter into our own hands, to transform the institution and sacrament of marriage, to transform sexuality, to transform [fill in the blank]." The temptation to sublimate Church teaching and remake it in our fallen image, according to what is comfortable and convenient for us, has always been around, but there is in modernity a willful utilitarianism and a sense of technocratic arrogance that is a bit breathtaking in both its hubris and shallowness.
This, it seems to me, is the first point: to encourage the faithful to have this humility, this trust, this courage to pray with insistence for vocations, to knock at the heart of God so that he will give us priests. Beyond this, I would mention perhaps three points. The first: each one of us should do everything possible to live our priesthood in such a way that it is convincing, in such a way that young men can say: This is a true vocation, I can live like this, thus one can do an essential thing for the world. I think none of us would have become a priest if he did not know convincing priests in which the fire of the love of God burned. Hence, this is the first point: Let us seek to be convincing priests ourselves.
The second point is that we must invite, as I already said, others to the initiative of prayer, to have this humility, this trust of speaking with God with force, with determination. The third point: to have the courage to speak with young men if they think that God is calling them, because often a human word is necessary to open the hearing to the divine vocation; to speak with young men and above all to help them find a vital context in which they can live. Today's world is such that it almost seems to exclude the maturing of a priestly vocation; young people need environments in which the faith is lived, in which the beauty of the faith appears, in which it appears that this is a model of life, "the" model of life, and hence to help them find movements, or the parish -- the community in the parish -- or other contexts where they really are surrounded by faith, by the love of God, and can then be open so that the vocation of God will come and help them. On the other hand, we thank the Lord for all the seminarians of our time, for young priests, and we pray. [Emphasis added]
Here is a very good, recent example of this sort of thinking, from someone who, first, puts all of the responsibility for the spiritual rectitude and (not so) well-being of his family on "cardinals and bishops" (uh, whatever happened to parents being the primary catechists of their children?), and, secondly, thinks that transforming the priesthood is The Answer:It's long past time to accept that God made women and men equal. It's time to ask ourselves: if Jesus was standing physically among us right now, would he say women cannot be priests? Would he say priests can never marry? Would he come out of Sunday Mass feeling refreshed and stimulated by a homily that inspired and challenged him? Would he have an open mind to this suggestion: Allow single young men and women to become priests for a fixed period, say five to ten years, after which they could decide to stay on or leave to follow a different vocation.This man's children are no longer practicing the Catholic Faith, and he thinks the problem is that the Church is too demanding, too strict, too behind the times. He apparently overlooks the fact that if he teaches his children, through word or deed, that they really bear no responsibility for the state of their soul, then they will act accordingly. As a friend wrote to me, after reading the piece in question: "And I should pray that his heroically virtuous children, who are entirely blameless, are some day honored for having their steadfast refusal to join such an obviously flawed Church, filled with naive, incompetent and irrelevant male clergy. I mean, if dad is so correct here, why should they come back?" Yes, why?