Thursday, November 15, 2007

USCCB Discuss the Priest Shortage

This week the US Bishops have been meeting and earlier in the week the tackled the subject of the shortage of priests that we have right now. John Allen Jr of the National Catholic Reporter has been covering their meeting.

It would see that they are discussing a new rite that would allow for deacons, or lay people to have communion services using hosts previously consecrated by a priest for daily Mass. While this would be helpful, I am afraid that it is really a band-aid solution to a much deeper problem.

I think they need to take a serious look at why there are no young men answering God's call to become priests. I am fairly sure that God is still making the call. I believe that the call is not being heard, or at least not being recognized. Let's face it. We are now living in a much noisier world than in days of old. We have more channels of communication that ever before and unfortunately, the song that is playing on most of them is the "Song of Society". "What's in it for me?", "More is better!" , or "Do what make me feel good first." The song of our society is being played at full volume. How can a young man year God's call through all the noise?

In the few short years that I have been Catholic, I have come to realize that the way we pray forms the way we live our lives. We need to find a way to get our young people to have time for quiet prayer. A good start would be to encourage (or require) our young people to attend Eucharistic Exposition, and especially Benediction. We need to encourage more praying of the Rosary and the whole host of Catholic prayers that seem to have been lost over the years. Prayer will help to silence the song of society long enough for men to hear God's call.

I think that we also need to harness the power of Catholic unity and look further back into Tradition. Perhaps it is time to find ways to pray for vocations together. Perhaps each month we could have a day (or two, or three) of fasting and prayer set aside so that we can all come together and pray for Vocations. The only time we are required to fast in the US is on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday; maybe it time for that to change.

We also need to look at our liturgy. All too often, people come get Jesus and leave. It's as if we have lost some of our solemnness. It's more often than not a rush job. There is no space ofr quiet reflection after the homily, or after communion. We need to do more to remind people that the actions of the priest during the Eucharist is a re-presentation of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. It is a BIG DEAL and our liturgy should show that. If our young men come to Mass and do not get that message....why would they want to be a priest anyway?

Maybe I am way out there in my thinking. I'm just trying to toss out ideas. I'd rather talk about the problem than put a band-aid on it and hope that it will get better.

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