Monday, May 31, 2010

Rejuvenation in my priesthood

It is certainly not a very comfortable time right now to be a priest in the Catholic Church. The entire world over, many, including Catholics, seem to be very wary of priests, especially in the light of the scandal that has rocked the church. I suppose the wary ones can’t be blamed for being overly cautious. The Church has let many down, and this Church is paying the price. But the problem is that the young men who have recently become priests are actually paying the price of the sins of the former generation. I was somewhat jolted into this reality on Friday evening, when I con-celebrated at the sacerdotal ordination of three Franciscan Friars.

On most accounts, it was a very moving, artistic, and beautiful liturgy. The hymns were tasteful, the movements were thoughtful and deliberate, and it didn’t take much to see that a lot of thought and prayerfulness went into the event, making it a true celebration in every sense of the word. But what was most poignant about it was that despite all that is happening to the priesthood, despite all the skepticism and negativity surrounding priests and the Church, our wounded clergy received a new energy and a new spirit at that priestly ordination.

Having been a priest for coming close to 9 years now, I am seeing the wisdom and the necessity of participating mindfully and attentively at such celebrations because it gives the enervating and emasculating priesthood a ‘shot in the arm’, to be reminded once more that what we do as priests, who we are as priests do have a positive impact on the people of God. Perhaps some of us have been somewhat jaded by the incessant aspersions cast on the priesthood and as a result, have shrunken back into our shells, and only when officially needed, come out with trepidation to ‘do our priestly duties’ and can’t wait to get back into our safe havens.

Thinking and living this way as priests will see us die a very sad death. But at ordinations, where young (and perhaps not-so-young) men remind us of our vigour, our dreams, our somewhat lost youth, before the hairline receded and the bellies grew large, if we are really present to the words of the Prayer of Consecration, where we priests together with the Bishop raise our hands in a co-consecratory body, something like dying embers within our hearts can become re-ignited and inflamed once again.

It is for this reason that I believe that married couples need to participate at wedding masses and services often, in the same way that priests need to con-celebrate at Ordination Masses. This is because I believe that we (priests as well as laity) have a certain dementia in us. We forget our dreams and perhaps we have displaced or misplaced our generous desires of loving others. Through the years, due to disappointments, pains and struggles, we are loath to being enchanted by life.

The sex abuse scandal that has shaken many of us is not as pernicious as something that can already be infecting both priests and laity. What I am talking about is cynicism, skepticism and pessimism.

My little readings about St Francis of Assisi revealed to me that this little man in stature was a giant in faith, and one thing about him was that he was always enchanted by the world. My hopes for the three young men who were ordained on Friday is that they never cease to dream, never become daunted by tensions, and to dare to be men who never flag in their zeal for enchantment.


  1. It's so wonderful to read such a uplifting and purposeful blog. May you be the good shepherd you're called to be, to lead with humility and to serve with zeal. From - SHL.

  2. Fr Luke,
    Gerald Durrel, the naturalist ( one of my favourite writers ) once described in minute detail the incessant work of the dung beetle, diligently rolling up little balls of dung as if it's whole life depended on it - he was enraptured by the scene & I too became fascinated seeing this through his eyes. I believe that sometimes,if we allow ourselves to see and experience things with the simplicity and easy acceptance of a child - not having to have answers - we would always find enchantment even in the things most mundane. So I think you are right to say that cynicism, skepticism, pessimism spell the dearth and death of enchantment of life, enchantment with life, and enchanted by life. May you ever find - life enchanting, your priestly vocation, an enchantment always !

  3. Dear Fr. Luke,

    One thing that I love about little children is that they possess an on-going sense of wonder and fascination at even the most ordinary things. It is a kind of energy that propels them to deepen their experience and understanding.

    I think that we "grow old" when we have lost that child-like ability to be enchanted. When our response most often is, "been there, done that," then sadly, we've aged terribly.

    I think this also pertains to the practice of our faith as well, especially for things that we’ve been doing for years. Going for Sunday mass, for instance, can be so ordinary, even tedious when one has lost that sense of wonder. And this not only involves us lay people. I can imagine that even priests can sometimes experience a lessening of this energy.

    During this time of intense persecution by the (mainly Western) media, it takes a real, abiding faith to remain steadfast and not flinch; to retain a sense of unwavering confidence in the Catholic church and all it stands for. In spite of what the media would have us believe.

    Now is the time to hold firm to that child-like confidence in God and His church.

    God Bless,

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  5. P : Prayerful
    R : Resilient
    I : Informative
    E : Energetic
    S : Supportive
    T : Teacher

    We salute all priests who have made a difference and those who are struggling to get there. DONT GIVE UP HOPE, GOD LOVES YOU

  6. Happy 9th anniversary Fr Luke. It is indeed beautiful when a shepherd picks up a lost sheep...Thank you for being a good shepherd. May you be blessed with green pastures always for your fold....Thank you for finding different ways of bringing God's message closer to us...We need to hear positive directions as our weak human nature sometimes causes us to waiver....Prayers, fasting & deeds are not always that easy to incorporate into our daily routines...Jesus showed us the way. The saints showed us the way but it takes a great deal of faith and trust in our Almighty Father to grant us the grace to follow thru'...with determination, a firm hand and be a little thick-skin along the way; whatever it takes us along the way to meet our Lord ...Amen. mat.