Thursday, September 29, 2005

Turmoil on the Mount

This comes from a reader in Emmitsburg re the events of the past days (covered here and here). It is an extremely heartfelt and sad commentary on the state of the seminaries
I know sems here and they are even upset at the lack of basic dignity, Christianity,
compassion and pastoralness, charity displayed to the seminarian in this case. The Rector apparently lost his cool and sternly told him to be out by 12 noon the next day. No concern by the Seminary or his Diocese for the poor sem. who has no family or anyone in this country. In the words of a Seminarian, 'dumped like a piece of bad meat'. Is that the example of fatherhood and christianity to treat him with no regard for a human being. Is that how a seminarian is treated when even a secular company would not while dismissing him. He did not even know where he would stay that night.

Maybe the church and formation priests and rectors are above the Gospel and basic human rights and respect for mans dignity. But John on the other hand displayed nothing but a exemplary goodness and inspired other sems even on his way out, was at peace, composed, prayerful response and consoled and encouraged them not to be angry or hurt and just stand for the truth and holiness and be good, compassionate priests. I do not know the inside details, some seminarians said he would love an nvestigation but only if it is in the open and not behind closed doors, with seminarians and lay witnesses present. That does not sound like he has anything to hide,... but these above are the external observations of the seminarians who have great respect for him and fear for themselves. They said the [new] rector gives them conferences on how to be good christians and future priests on Thursdays, but they see no reason to listen to him or respect him as an example anymore. And the last thing all are saying which I think you should know, ' the greatest injustice to the Mount community was that Rector Kevin Rhoades was taken away from them. [Rhoades was made the bishop of Harrisburg.] The sem has been on a rapid downslide since then and is out of control now with no leadership at all.' You need to make the people of God as you say, aware of this if you care about what we know.
Think about it.



Blogger Dad29 said...

What's this all about?

Is there a story beyond the incoherence of the quotation?

29/9/05 13:44  
Blogger Alypius said...

The story is the insight into the seminary system provided by one seminarian's recent experience. Dad29, you might benefit from reading the related posts below.

29/9/05 13:57  
Blogger Fr. John said...

One hears this, and experiences it, again and again, in regard to dioceses, seminaries, and religious communities. There are times when this callousness is expressed through a left/right, conservative/traditional, pro-x or anti x, lens. But the underlying fact remains that whatever the individual manifestation, the Church hurts. It hurts laity often enough, but laity can choose to participate less, to give less, and to take comfort from other areas of their lives. Clergy and religious have no such buffer, and it hurts more.

By the time of ordination, even the most optimistic of seminarians, should have learned that his major cross as a priest will be the Church. Not celibacy, not the respect and obedience he has promised or vowed, not a simple lifestyle, not poverty if he is religious, and not the challenges of parish life, but the Church itself.

There is no meaningful system of checks and balances, and one is left to the whims, desires and opinions of those in charge, be they pastors, diocesan officials, bishops, cardinals, or provincials. A humble and true servant of God, in such a situation, risks corruption by isolation. A humble and true servant of God, in such a situation, is a joy to behold and a true gift of God.

But, as the American founding fathers understood, and as our Church does not seem to understand, one cannot expect that men, even churchmen, will be uniformly virtuous.

In the Church in the US today there is a pernicious idea that we are always on the right side, on the side of good and angels, and that anyone who raises objections is evil, wrong, and out to get us. That is a recipie for disaster. For, once a person is convinced of their own righteousness, there is no end to the evil that they can do. The person convinced of his own righteousness will overlook any evil, any disrespect shown to a person, or any lack of common courtesy, as somehow justified because, after all, he's already decided that he's on the side of the angels.

We are in a terrible spot. Truly sin speaks to the sinner in his heart so that he knows not his guilt. So pederasts are planted among victims, resources are misappropriated, those weaker in the ecclesiastical food chain - like seminarians and priests - are sacrificed, and any voice that points to the distance from the Gospel is silenced one way or another.

Yet through it all, the Gospel, somehow, is preached. And babies are baptized, and the dead are buried, and the sick visited, and words of comfort and compasion are spoken, by loyal and good priests, by sincere religious, and by a long-suffering laity.

To the men of the Mount, if any of this is true, you have my sympathy. But better to learn it now rather than later. And use it to become a better priest. Pick up this cross, and those of the future. Realize that this cross strewn Church is the only way given to you to follow Christ. Love the Lord, and strive always to talk honestly, to avoid glossing the Gospel with the group-think engendered by the institution, and thirst for justice. In doing this, you will become in persona Christi.

29/9/05 14:05  
Blogger Julie said...

This post aptly describes John as I and many others know him.

29/9/05 15:19  
Blogger Jeff said...

Two questions:

1. What is he supposed to have DONE? Do we know that he didn't do it? This is all so confusing. This is such a huge missing piece of the puzzle that there almost isn't a puzzle for those of us who don't know about this guy. It's just, "Somebody was kicked out of a seminary and some people are upset."

2. If you are kicked out by a seminary, does that mean that your priestly career is over? Can't the diocese simply find you another seminary if they agree that you have been unfairly treated?

29/9/05 17:18  

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