Sunday, May 20, 2007

Once a Priest....

No, I do not believe in Medjugorje, but yes, I sometimes do read Spirit Daily, where I found this story, under the heading of "Our Sad Times." It is about a priest and a nun (of the Latin rite) who fell in love and got married. They have a family and the priest has written a book about his situation. He still performs marriages and baptisms, independent of any diocese. The priests I know of, who left the active ministry to get married, are obedient to the Church and do not perform weddings and baptisms, at least, I assume they do not.

It is certainly not for me to judge anyone in such a situation.

I hope that the priests who leave to get married are happy. I hope that the women parishioners (or women they were counseling, whatever) with whom they fell in love, are happy, too. Happiness in a good thing. Sometimes I wonder how long someone should struggle along in a difficult, committed situation, be it marriage vows, clerical vows or monastic vows, when to walk away and Be Happy would be so easy. But happiness, being elusive and intangible, can come and go. Is it worth the high price one may have to pay? I really do not know....

"They fell in love." I was a bit perplexed when a devout Catholic women said that to me regarding a priest who became involved with a woman, whom he eventually married. So love justifies everything. Love justifies breaking up a home and giving scandal to parishioners--oh, yes, I realize it can all be canonically very correct. (And sometimes not so correct.)

Seriously, I wonder about this. I wonder what it is like to be able to throw aside vows and commitments. I can only surmise that the unhappiness must be very great and the bliss of finding true love, quite overwhelming. Yes, happiness is important. Perhaps it makes it easier for those involved to get to Heaven if they are deliriously happy. Maybe it makes it easier to practice virtue. I have no idea.

No, we must never judge those priests and their ladies. By the same token, we should not judge some grouchy old priest who has persevered for thirty or forty years. Maybe he could have left to get married ten times over, but decided to remain faithful. Maybe he has struggled with alcoholism and temptations-- only Almighty God knows-- but has stayed in active ministry for the sake of the flock. He is the one I will turn to for counsel about matters of faith and morals, not ex-priests and their wives. Share


Anonymous said...

Christ on the Mount of Olives, before being arrested, was sweating blood. He was that afraid. But He did not run.

The old priest who stayed for his flock did not run either, he went with the Lord through the agony till the end. Till the Cross. That is why I would seek also his counsel: he knows what life is about.

I remember when the marriage of Lady Di went apart...all the pop press was shouting that they (the ex-spouses) have the right to be happy.

Nobody talked about duty. Duty is a ridiculous and dusty notion which, the post-modern people despise.
The Queen who has done nothing but her duty all her life, was labeled as "cold". Still it she is the real queen, and not Lady Di, the so-called "queen of the hearts". Because a Queen is the one who places duty first.

elena maria vidal said...

Beautifully expressed, Paula.

Terry Nelson said...

Though some people criticize Thomas Merton, one thing for certain, when he fell in love, he remained faithful to his monastic, priestly vocation. He chose God and the Church as his spouse. In view of the many vocations abandoned for marriage, that was pretty heroic.

Anonymous said...

Once a man is Ordained he is a Priest FOREVER, In Heaven or Hell. The road to hell is paved with the skulls of bad priests.

Priests who have left the active ministry can in times of emergency perform the Last Rights, (Annointing of the Sick), if the recepient is properly disposed, ex opera ex operande.

Good Priests are a true friend indeed.

de Brantigny

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, Terry, we cannot always control our feelings but we can always control our behaviors.

Yes, M. de Brantigny, all you say is true.

Anonymous said...

My own opinion is that if I felt a Priest and I were getting too close I would leave the parish and go to another BEFORE things got out of hand.

We are IN control of our emotions we are NOT victims of them.

I agree with all that has been stated. It is almost as if 'duty' was now a dirty word....Loving God means being OBEDIENT it has NOTHING to do with pleasing oneself.

For this 'priest' to continue means both couples have a problem with HUMILITY.....Satan finds a home in the heart that is proud.
We need to PRAY much for our Priests.

Yours in Christ,

Marie xoxoxo

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, Marie, we need to pray.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we are in "sad times." Once we would have been shocked by such scandals, but lately there has been a death of scandal. Yes, there are many such situations in which priests leave to get married which are "canonically correct" but they should still not be a cause for celebration.

Anonymous said...

Well, I could name some names, but it's more kind to point to Vianney, JP II, and all my beloved celibate clergy and Religious. They contracted/covenanted/vowed to make the Church their lady, and/or to co-create spiritual children with God. I recall that Seraphic Father Francis was thrilled to hear God was giving him brothers, and we all know that when Francis thought he wanted a wife and family -- rather than depart from how his Christ, his High Priest lived -- built them out of snow, and waited on them hand and foot for a while. Then he let that idea go for good.

Heck, it's worth a try. Some days, I wish I had tried that first. ;-) Carol

elena maria vidal said...

Thanks, Carol, for reminding us of all who have been faithful. Thank God we have their example.

elena maria vidal said...

Footnote: My husband thought my above post sounded ambiguous and so I will clarify my stance about the subject at hand. I know that with the troubles in the Church, many priests suffer a great deal, even at the hands of their own bishops. Being under such pressure, it is easier to succumb to temptation, which is what I mean when I say I do not pass judgment on them or condemn them. I leave judgment to the Lord.

However, I am in firm agreement with all who commented above, that we should make every effort, with God's grace, to take up the cross, and persevere to the end in our sacred vows, duties, and commitments. 'Til the death.

Because annulments and dispensations are so easy to obtain now, it may be a temptation even for the devout to seek such options when the going gets tough, or when greener pastures beckon. May God keep His hand upon us all, and help us to focus on the example of those who have persevered to the end in their marriages and sacred vows.