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Know Them by Their Fruits

A diocese somewhere here in these USA has implemented regular meetings for the Priests to encourage holiness, and ministerial effectiveness. This has been going on for about 5 years now usually on a monthly basis. The meetings are quite well attended, having about eighty to ninety percent of the Priests from the diocese present. It is common that the Priests stay after the meeting to talk and encourage one another in their ministries.

In that same diocese there is still constant use of lay Communion ministers. There are still Priests paraphrasing the prayers from Mass. There are still Parish Councils ruling the congregation. There are still couples who are cohabiting that receive Communion. There are still secular songs used in the Mass. There are still no Masses where Latin is used, ever. There are still people (and Priest) wandering around during the "Peace" having a chat with their neighbors. There are still Priests refusing to serve people Communion on the tongue while kneeling. There is still liturgical dance happening. The list could go on and on (in case you were unaware, all of the above are clearly forbidden by the Church!).

The question is this: if there is so much work going on to improve the Priest's spiritual holiness and ministerial effectiveness, then why is so much abuse still happening? It seems like we are dealing with something akin to Jesus' complaint about "cleaning the outside of the cup and dish while the inside is rotten". If you do not go to the heart of the issue, which is the Priest's need for a willing and loving obedience to the rules, then you will not really make a change. The result will be the (usually) slow death of the souls of faithful.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says:

Nevertheless, the priest must remember that he is the servant of the Sacred Liturgy and that he himself is not permitted, on his own initiative, to add, to remove, or to change anything in the celebration of Mass.

If the Priests are not learning (and firmly being required to adhere to) the rules that Holy Mother Church has given to them, then their spirituality is damaged, and the effectiveness of their ministry (beyond merely making people happy) is doubtful. How much effort do we put in and what is the result coming out? That is the true question, which is just another way of saying, "you will know them by their fruits".


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