A priest is rightly called father because he has a spiritual progeny, his people, a family he was given through mother Church. Being a parent of sorts, the priest has duties toward his children, to provide for them in the things of the spirit. Dispensing the sacraments and imparting instruction through preaching and teaching are the most necessary of his duties. As parenting in its ordinary sense entials more than ensuring that basic necessities are met, so the priest-father has more to do than fulfillment of the fundamentals of pastoral care. Among these extras is his parental duty to worry. No parent worthy of the name passes his days without anxiety for the welfare of his children. Their good health, proper education, safety, and that personal security which makes for happiness are surely among things parents often worry about in regard to their children.
So do I, a spiritual father, worry about my parishioners' spiritual welfare. In particular, I have spiritual concern over what may happen to them in the times ahead. The present moment may be secure enough, but the prognosis is not good. Every good parent does his best to get his children off to a good start in the early years of his children's lives. The time inevitably comes when children become young adults and must fend for themselves in a highly troubled world and amidst "a crooked and perverse generation" (Phil 2:15). Looking ahead I do not see good days for the Church. While there are some signs of betterment for Christians in American society, these are tenuous and fragile. In our beloved Church, signs are less promising for a restoration of stability and clear doctrine. Moral permissiveness and equivocation in teaching seem to be getting the upper hand as the pope and many bishops, theologians, and a number of priests teach ambiguously or even outright falsely, giving grave scandal. It pains me even to mention this yet I'm aware that my people cannot be unmindful of at least some of what's been said and done due to professional and social media. Best efforts have been made to 'put a good spin' on what's been happening from the highest to the local parish levels of the Church. A time comes, however, when the obvious conclusions must be drawn and one must come to grips with the harsh reality of a Church already sharply divided over what is authentic Catholic teaching on moral living and ecclesiastical discipline. And here my parental worry kicks in. How will my parishioners fare if and when a schism (rupture) breaks out in the Church and one must make a declaration of where one stands? What principles will be employed in making that decision? Social pressure to conform? The measure of one's own evil tendencies? The bad example of some of the hierarchy? I think of the heartbreak of Christ when He asked: "Will you also leave Me?" or the foreboding in His rhetorical question: "When the Son of Man comes again will He find faith on earth?" Sadness grips me when I hear the blatant lies being spread about doctrine and right morals. My predecessors in this parish and I have tried to do our paternal duty towards our spiritual children in teaching the truth and encouraging our people to live by it. This must be an ongoing task for the priest, especially in view of the mighty leftist propaganda. The natural tendency in nature is towards dissolution rather than towards betterment, unless a counterforce is exerted. In other words, things by themselves don't get better and better but rather progressively worse when unattended. With the present weak leadership in the Church and the corruptive influence of the media, that needed force is not to be presumed.
The disciples once asked our Lord, "Will only few be saved?" Divine Wisdom did not give a direct answer. The incertitude over the outcome of salvation ought to stir up some salutary worry. While the true Church cannot die and while Christ will ever remain with it until time's end, there is no surety of any particular person being among the saved. And so, I will worry and pray for my parishioners.
I must set aside these dark ruminations to speak of some upcoming dates. Wednesday this week will be All Saints Day, a holy day of obligation. Masses will e at 6:30, 9:30, noon, and 7:00 p.m. Thursday is All Souls Day. Masses will be offered in the morning at 7:30, 8:15, 8:00, 10:00, 11:00, 11:30 and 7:00 p.m. Everybody should participate at Mass on that day -- or better, at several Masses, praying for the dead. (Communion may only be received up to two times per day, but one may assist at Mass without any limit.) Visits to the cemetery with prayers for the dead during the first eight days of November may gain aa plenary indulgence for them.
Get yourselves ready to engage in the annual parish Forty Hours Devotion,a time for the whole parish to adore the Blessed Sacrament. Every individual in the parish ought to spend at least an hour in the church during the time of November 10-11. More on this next week.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Fr. Perrone: a father's worry over his children's spiritual future
Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, October 29, 2017):