I am blown away by the differences in the Archdiocese of Boston and Fall River. The Liturgies are said to call people to holiness. Homilies give you tools to manage everyday life. They teach and speak candidly about the challenges to holiness we've had to talk about on the internet. The music is prayerful. It's Catholic. Many of the priests are deeply involved in Opus Dei, which I assume groomed the priests.
The Archdiocese of Boston is more like an archdiocesan entertainment competition. There are numerous exceptions but they are treated like excluded members of a fraternity, as are Catholic members of those parishes. There is an undertow of resentment towards Catholics who go to Church to draw the Properties in the Divinity of Christ and keep their soul free of mortal sin. Similar to the climate this Holy Father is introducing with his endless psychobabble.
You learn to live with it, mostly by ignoring it, unless or until they say or do something heretical or just plain dumb. When a new priest or pastor comes and tries to get traction, we start a fatwa. First on the parish level and if he doesn't back down, we drag the bishops into it. They usually surrender after a few rounds.
Now that I've settled into a parish that is rich in Catholicism, I regret all the years I settled for religious entertainment with hostility towards Catholicism. With a pope hostile to Catholicism and practicing Catholics, I can't stress enough the importance of (at least!) finding a parish that teaches and practices Catholicism. Even if you have to drive an hour every week. We've got to think in terms of preservation and the future.
Loved this article with advice to new priests written by Fr. Rutler:
I was the very youngest in my college class and, in my Anglican years, at twenty-six I was the youngest parish rector in the nation. So defensive was I about this, that at my installation I had a friend, who eventually became a United States senator, read for the first lesson: “Let no man despise thy youth… (1 Tim. 4:12).” That was in the days of Beatle haircuts and my self-assurance was not affirmed when one lady remarked upon seeing me in an elaborate cope at Evensong, that I looked like the Infant of Prague.
He has such a great sense of humor, but his candor and wisdom is such a gift to Christ's Church.
This is more important than being amiable, and indeed it is the very opposite of false amiability. The “jolly good guy” kind of pastor can be an irritant. Such a caricature of agape recalls the indelible image of the happy clown on the circus midway, who is all confusion underneath. It is prudent not to equate the dignity of sacramental office with the way a man exercises it, and it is wise indeed to be especially careful not to think that Christian joy is the same as the self-conscious jollity and even buffoonery with which some clerics camouflage their discomfort with the Truth of Christ. Ministers of the Gospel are not used car salesmen whose heartiness is a mile wide and an inch deep. A bemused layman told me that a bishop joked with him, but turned away like a startled deer when asked an important question. The Lord himself was betrayed with a cold kiss, and stared back with unfathomable eyes.
And here he echoes the importance of the Sacrament of Confession and a Holy Mass:
The Holy Mass is the heart of the Christian life, but to be that, it must proceed from the Sacrament of Confession. With exquisite subtlety the Risen Christ prompted Peter to confess before he sent him out to offer the Eucharist to the heart of the empire. The parish priest should not let a day pass without some time in the confessional, and if no one shows up, that time can be one of prayer, and eventually the people will come. Weekly confession should be the goal for the priest himself. Often the Anti-Christ will tempt the priest to absent the confessional for one reason or another just before a seriously burdened penitent is about to ask to be heard. Humble confessions heard in the sacred tribunal often inspire the priest beyond anything the penitent could understand.
and the wiles of the ever-present devil:
The Discourager is never Christ but always the Anti-Christ. As he is haunted by God, he lurks in the holiest places in the holiest moments. I used to be rattled when he caused distractions, sometimes lurid ones, at Mass. It is permissible to curse him privately in such moments. Better yet, mock him, for mockery poisons the pride of which he is the prince.
the diocesan culture I speak about above:
It may not take long for the newly ordained priest to perceive that in some clerical quarters, honesty is not the instinctive culture. This is more than a defect: it is a blasphemy among those consecrated to Christ whose “word is truth” (John 17:17). I allude to this gingerly as a delicate matter, for mentioning it without qualifications risks calumny, but long experience has accustomed me to being told by churchmen of high rank, things that “do not conform to the truth.” That is ecclesiastical jargon for simple lying. Sometimes it is pious dishonesty in the form of falling silent when asked a direct question. A forthright cardinal told me that lying was the normal policy among those on his staff and they simply stared at the floor when challenged. Attached to this dishonesty is the infection of gossip and envy. Brothers in Christ should nurture and promote the various talents of their fellows for the prosperity of the Gospel. Such is not an untutored habit among all of the brethren. Insecurity prefers mediocrity over excellence.
There is a lot of work ahead of us!
May your continual pity, O Lord, cleanse and defend Your Church; and, because without you she cannot endure in safety, may she ever be governed by Your bounty. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.