You may remember this post from last month, from a man in formation who expressed his frustration over the classes he was taking. It generated a lot of comments — and now the man himself has added one to that post:
Wow! I think that I ignited a firestorm. I am the author of the post which prompted this particular discussion (A man in formation writes: “I’m quickly becoming frustrated…I’m bored to death”). Yep, that’s me.
Many of you have offered some great insight and words of encouragement, which I greatly appreciate. Others seem quick to judge, especially one who hopes that I will never be ordained. (Incredible that we have never met, and you are capable of determining my suitability for ministry.)
I’d like to point out that my post was itself a response to Deacon Norb’s January 6 comments on Greg Kendra’s [sic] “Now, about all those married Catholic priests…” blog. In his posting, Deacon Norb wrote that “we were told by our priest-advisors-theologians that whenever married men would be permitted into priestly orders, the applicants would come from within the pool of experienced married deacons.”
When I wrote, “I have often thought in the back of my mind that, at some point in the not-so-distant future, the door will open wider for a married priesthood in the Latin Rite, with permanent deacons an obvious source of potential candidates,” I was merely concurring with Deacon Norb’s observations about his own experience. For better or worse, I think that many of us were led to believe that a married priesthood was fast approaching.
Let’s also not forget that for centuries, the diaconate in the Latin Rite had, in practice, become nothing more than a stop on the way to priesthood. Little wonder that people still want to make that connection. I don’t think that the Church has really figured out what to do with permanent deacons yet; hence, my altar boy comment. As someone else had pointed out, permanent deacons seem trapped between clergy and laity, not really belonging, in practice, to either.
At any rate, to view my comments apart from Deacon Norb’s posting on the original January 6 blog entry regarding married priests is to view my comments out of context. They were a part of a different discussion.
I do not have any expectation that I will ever be ordained a priest. In fact, I don’t feel called to priesthood and wouldn’t pursue it even if I could. That having been said, I do truly believe that the time has come for married priests, for a variety of reasons. Yes, there are excellent celibate priests. No, allowing married priests won’t solve all of our problems and would likely create a few of its own.
Yes, I am bored with the academic classes in my formation program. Yes, I can help others in my class, “covertly” as one person wrote. I generally don’t say much in class, though, because I don’t want to come across as a know-it-all. As Ironic Catholic pointed out, it can make for awkward moments. The permanent deacon in charge of my formation does not have an academic back ground in theology. I do. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, either. The fact is, however, that he’s not the kind of guy who likes to be challenged, and any comments in class from me are likely perceived that way. In the meantime, I languish away in class.
Yes, the Holy Spirit guides us, but the Church is full of human beings and human politics. If you think otherwise, I’m afraid that you’re kidding yourself.
Let’s pray for one another and our Church. (And for the handful of you who have been able to ascertain from a blog posting that I’m not called to the diaconate, know that I’m praying for you too.)