Had an interesting conversation with my (pentecostal) brother last week. We were talking about our Churches and how they compare and why he left the Catholic Faith. He recently listened to a podcast version of a sermon Fr Michael Gielen gave at Hearts Aflame a few years ago – you can find it on itunes – Ignition Talk 2, parts 1 and 2. It’s a talk on Evangelisation and it is stirring and a great listen.
My brother was saying that if he’d had a priest like Fr Mike when he’d been a teenager – a priest who gave great sermons, talked about his own struggles and relationship with God and a priest who made genuine efforts to connect with youth be may not have left the Church.
We talked about how the priest is not the source and summit of Catholic life, the importance of the Eucharist and how we can’t afford to get too attached to our parish priests as we shouldn’t be showing up on a Sunday to see the priest, we should be showing up to connect with God in the holy mystery that is the Mass. He agreed with me in principle but still said that a priest like Fr Mike could have made all the difference in helping him understand these mysteries.
After thinking it over I have to admit that in many ways I have to agree. Afterall, when I’m at my parent’s house in Hamilton I deliberately travel across to the opposite side of the city to listen to a certain priest’s homilies. This priest really knows his stuff and I feel so FED when I listen to him speak. I took my parents to Mass there this week and my Dad’s comment was, “He leaves you with things to go away and really think about.” He also does things right. To the letter. He doesn’t make concessions – he values the liturgy and makes every effort to make sure it is celebrated correctly.
So, I have to admit, the priest does make a difference. Not enough of a difference to leave the Church, of course. But the right priest can inpsire, teach and lead us to a deeper faith.
Happy New Year all, have a blessed 2013.