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Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Saginaw daze.

Future Bishop _________, you've got a lot of work to do in the eleven Michigan counties that comprise the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw.

A good start would be inculcating in your priests and lay people the notion that a priest is not some spiritual IT wonk, a perhaps-genial oddity who emerges briefly from his office to perform a brief valuable service before vanishing back into the rectory to engage in the ordained equivalent of playing Quake or Everquest for the next seven hours.

Perhaps it's just a phenomenon where the parish has an appointed (and almost always distaff) "pastoral administrator," but I can't imagine a more disheartening job than being a Saginaw diocesan priest on Sunday. At Pentecost, I watched the poor guy come into the safely-whitewashed and crucifix-free rural parish church in uncomfortably hot vestments. After that, he, like the rest of us, was able to watch the PA give the opening prayer, the gospel reading, the homily and near-enough concelebrate at the altar by holding aloft the chalice during the consecration prayer. Maybe it was the heat, but perhaps it was frustration--Fr. left at the beginning of the homily. Then again, it would have been a more impressive protest (if that's what it was) had Father not returned, or at least delayed his return.

[BTW, good to see the immediate salutary impact of Redemptionis Sacramentum. No doubt it is being carefully "studied" at the chancery.

If "studied" is a broad enough term to encompass being crapped on by the office parakeet, that is.]

Not exactly an advertisement for vocations out in the sticks, is it? What young man is going to want to bother with the priesthood if it requires being sidelined during the "source and summit of Christian life"? No, better instead to just get in the pipeline for PA-hood, which allows you to do 70% of the liturgy and still have sex and a family that doesn't regard you as largely dispensible.

"How was the homily?" you may ask. By Saginaw standards: Eh. A decent point about the Holy Spirit not necessarily setting you on fire. However, it was fatally flawed by the studied and awkward avoidance of associating the pronoun formerly known as he with the Counsellor. A strangely neuter and breezy being, the Third Person of the Triune God.

Which, given the sidelining of poor Father, was perhaps appropriate.

Yes, Bishop _______, you have your work cut out for you. But the good news is that if you can get past your own bureaucracy, you may find a receptive audience for a more assertive priesthood. The only other convert in my family is my one of my dad's older sisters. A much more normal, agreeable and reasonable person than I, Aunt Sally has stopped attending the nearest PA parish out of irritation with the similar antics of the nun running the show. When asked what she wants, she offers this demand:

"Give me back my priest!"

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