Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's all about conversion of heart

Anon wrote, "This is not pertaining to the topic but I am baring my soul so people please don't jump all over me. I am a very liberal minded person so sometimes its hard to really accept certain teachings. Its not that I don't want to, its just difficult to. I was "very" pro-choice until I got educated on what it meant to have an abortion. Not that I did. Then the whole idea really horrified me. I am asking anyone for advice as to what should I do when certain teachings go against what I learnt in the secular world? I really want to follow the church's teachings and not be so liberal minded."

Thank you, Anon, for your honest and personal thoughts. It really is a beautiful thing to read because your heart is open to Christ and his Church. But, it's very hard for your mind to come on board with the Truth because of what you've learned in the secular world. And, let's make no mistake about it: the secular world presents its own gospel that is very much opposed to Christ's Gospel. So, the fact that you have somehow trudged through the darkness, and are trying to come to the light is very inspiring and commendable; I hope you find the light!

This really is a matter of heart and mind. Christ stresses repeatedly to change our hearts, and turn back to Him. He has given us our hearts, and as St Augustine once said, "our hearts are restless until thee rest in Thee (Christ)". So, it's all about conversion - changing our hearts. God wants each of his children to turn away from the things of the world and turn back to Him. This is a call you are hearing, and desperately want to answer. The best place to start is prayer. Pray every day that God will open your heart to Him and His love (as we all should do).

It is clear to me by your comments that your mind is searching for the Truth about God, life, and yourself. Christ says, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life". Christ is Truth; all of his teachings are true. Christ sent his Spirit so that the Church would continue to teach Truth until the end of the world. How do we know that what the Church teaches is true? Because she is guided by the Spirit of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the authority on which she bases all of her teachings.

What is the authority on which secular society bases its teachings? Or, more directly, on what authority do Catholics who don't follow the Church's teachings base their positions? It is a human authority only. In other words, it is opinion, or 'subjective truth'. It could be wrong. One example of this is abortion. As you have found, the pro-choice approach is not right, it is not from the Holy Spirit. It is from human beings who, for one reason or another, strayed from the Truth about life and are now leading others astray.

Finally, and this is speaking to your mind and your heart, the whole point of why we are all here on this Earth is love. Christ teaches and lives the Gospel of Love. It is not always an easy Gospel; in fact, love can be tough. But, Christ is all about love; He is Love. His Church is Love. Love is the basis for all of the Church's teachings. Love is the foundation on which all of the Sacraments are based. Love is the basis for all Christian prayer and service. Love is the source and summit of the Catholic Church. Those who oppose Christ and His Church oppose not only Truth, but Love.


At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Why arn't you advertising adoration on the blog anymore????

At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for understanding where I am coming from and not being judgemental.

At 10:10 PM, Anonymous searching for holiness said...

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At 5:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey SFH...remember the theme of the blog as stated by FG. How about some insights instead on his actual post material itself?

At 8:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A question that has nothing to do with the topic. I have been thinking about something lately. If your pastor leaves the church to go to a new one, does that mean he no longer is your pastor and the new one is?

At 9:29 AM, Anonymous searching for holiness said...

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At 9:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the anon referenced in Father Greg's post: Me, too. I recently (for reasons I do not get) stopped dead in my tracks and asked myself why I have blindly taken on all the attitudes and views that the secular world crams down our throats. Something is telling me that maybe faith and being Christ-centered aren't so uncool. I am trying to muster the strength and humility to stand up and say that there is something divine that is larger than us and our worldly concerns, that we are answerable to something higher than ourselves and those who define right and wrong for us. Madonna comes to mind. It is a drastic departure from my past. The secular world trashes religion and Catholicism in particular. I am guilty of it myself - in a big way. Is it possible to turn it around after years on end of following the leaders of the secular world like a sheep?

At 10:36 AM, Anonymous Wandering With Purpose said...


I think SFH was responding to the other anon, not necessarily trying to be "rah rah Fr. Greg".

If SFH is using terms like 'chemo brain', that would mean she has cancer. Chemo does a number on one's brain. She may at times not fully write her posts out the way that she is thinking them in her head, or something may sound right to her but sound off to the rest of us so maybe we all can give her a little leeway. I don't think any of us would think she isn't trying.

Plus, having been around the blog for a while and seeing her story and how she has grown she has come a very long way in a very short time. Her gratitude to Fr. Greg is healthy and normal. She does not place all her gratitude on him, she recognizes where the grace comes from and that is the most imprtant factor. Too many times we in ministry (both clergy and lay) are placed on a pedestal. SFH seems to be solid in her understanding that FG's actions and words and the grace he shares comes from Christ. That is something all too uncommon among the faithful.

I wouldn't have said anything but SFH's comment about 'chemo brain' cought my eye.

At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you last anon....for talking about SFH. I think she is great. SHe is funny and adds so much to the site. Now she will be in my prayers in a special way. SFH, you are an example of courage and selflessness. Grateful for your example of pressing forward and growing in your faith.

At 11:56 AM, Anonymous searching for holiness said...

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At 12:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Everytime I think of u said that the closest you have to becoming canonized is to be shot out of a canon! Sometimes I think of that, and I just crack up. Many days I feel the same way, but laughter is medicine for the soul.
From "last anon!" Still giggling- I can so relate!

At 4:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No adoration tonight? Is FG okay? Little worried.

At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Parish Priests-Poverty of Time said...

With the shortage of priests becoming more acute,
the parish priest is more
and more feeling the poverty of time.

The priest and the “Poverty of Time”

By Anthony J. Manuppella

As a diocesan priest, I’ve often been asked, “Father, what order are you in?” After I tell the person that I am a diocesan priest and “tongue-in-cheek” tell them “I’m in the Order of Christ,” they proceed to ask, “Father, do you take the vow of poverty?” Much to the surprise of the inquisitor I say, “No, diocesan priests don’t take the vow of poverty.”

Over the course of my 25 years as a parish priest, I have come to realize that although we do not take the formal vow of material poverty as in a religious order, the faithful and good diocesan priest has what I have experienced and I know my brother diocesan priests have experienced as well, what I call—the “Poverty of Time.”

In so many ways, the parish priest mirrors very closely the life of our Blessed Lord because it is the parish priest who does so many of the same things that Jesus did in his Public Life. “The next morning he left the town and set out into the open country. The crowds went in search of Him and when they found him, they tried to keep Him from leaving them” (Luke 4:42). The parish priest deals with people on a day in and day out basis. He is there with his parishioners in times of joy and times of sorrow, helping them to face the vicissitudes of life with a spirit of hope to continue on the journey of life. The parish priest is there to heal and console, as did our Blessed Lord. He is there in “the marketplace” admonishing, preaching, teaching, forgiving sins, visiting the sick, working with young couples, burying the dead, baptizing and feeding his people with the Body and Blood of Christ. He is there with the young, the school children, the religious sisters, the elderly and encouraging vocations, too!

But what exactly do I mean by a “Poverty of Time?” The “Poverty of Time” for the parish priest means that his life is not his own—is not now nor ever will be. And, with the shortage of priests becoming more acute, the parish priest is more and more feeling the “Poverty of Time.”

How innumerable are the times the parish priest plans his day, the things he has to do in the parish, and is taken away from those duties? You’re ready to go on your Communion calls and all of a sudden the phone rings and the parish secretary runs after you, “Father, you’re needed in the emergency room of the hospital, immediately!” (The family “didn’t want the hospital chaplain!”) There go all your plans for doing your Communion calls—”Poverty of Time.”

Or, what about the day you planned to take some time off, or to go visit a priest friend, or to go home—help your elderly father with some important task—and in the blink of an eye—two or three funerals come in to which you have to attend to—a “Poverty of Time.”

I remember several years ago on a Sunday afternoon preparing to perform several baptisms and on my way over to Church I was stopped in the parking lot with an emergency. A parishioner was upset and troubled and had to speak to me right then and there—literally a matter of life and death. I did the best I could in the situation knowing that I had people waiting for me in Church. I was about twenty minutes late for the baptisms—a “Poverty of Time.” Lo and behold, a few days later I received a nasty letter from the parents of one of the babies I baptized berating me for being late. Even though I explained I had an emergency, the parents sent a copy of the letter to the bishop’s office. Thank God, the chancellor of the diocese responded with a beautiful letter explaining to the parents that a priest’s life is very often interrupted by various emergencies and that, “Father Anthony probably had a good reason for being late”—a “Poverty of Time.”

Besides all the pressing spiritual needs of the people, there are always those other things the parish priest is, by default, expected to do. These include such duties as maintenance of Church, school, rectory, convent, gym, the lawns, stoking the furnaces, locking the Church and sometimes finding “the wayfarer bathing in the men’s room” or a “lady sleeping with her kitty litter in the confessional!”—a “Poverty of Time.”

The “Poverty of Time” extends to other areas of how some of the laity perceive the priest working in the parish. Although most parishioners are very supportive of their priests (and I think see them as hard working), there is a group who, because of sheer ignorance of the responsibilities of the priest, has a different picture. Some think all we do is eat, nap and channel surf! Some time ago, I celebrated my 25th Anniversary as a priest and I received monetary gifts from my family. I decided to have the parish maintenance man (who is an excellent carpenter) build a small deck outside the rectory for the priests to enjoy on occasion for a bit of relaxation. Soon after he built it, some of the parishioners were saying, “Oh, that’s where the money we give in the collection is going—a deck for the priests!” It was very hurtful to me and my assistant priests to hear such remarks since we probably have sat out there about four times the whole summer. That parishioners would begrudge their priests a little time to be together to relax a few minutes outside on a deck which cost less than $500 worth of wood was difficult to comprehend.

It seems to me that a case could be made that the “Poverty of Time” is probably more difficult than the promise of celibacy and the promise of obedience a diocesan priest makes to his bishop. Why would I say that? Simply because the “Poverty of Time” impinges on the priest’s very person, your time which is so valuable, indeed the “Poverty of Time,” like obedience, impinges on your very will. The “Poverty of Time” becomes, in reality, a pleasing oblation offered in sacrifice to Almighty God on behalf of the care of those souls entrusted to our care.

The “Poverty of Time” can become very frustrating. We can lose our cool when we must swallow hard and calmly forego all one’s plans and legitimate activities for the sake of a parishioner who needs you NOW, not tomorrow, not next week, but NOW—the “Poverty of Time.” But, we must constantly try to remember that the priest, and especially a parish priest, is called to act “ in persona Christi.” There is no greater sacrifice pleasing to God as when we imitate his Divine Son giving totally of ourselves for “the crowd went in search of him” just as the crowd goes in search of the good and faithful priest!

Anytime I’ve hired a parish secretary, bookkeeper, cook or the volunteers who may work in the rectory, they are always amazed at how many demands are made on the parish priest and how busy his life is in the caring of souls. They are simply dumbfounded and everyone has always remarked, “Father, I never knew how busy the rectory was, with doorbells and phones constantly ringing. I never knew how much the priest was asked to do.”

Now, all of this “Poverty of Time” business is mentioned not to justify or feel sorry for the parish priest, but only that the parish priest and the faithful realize that yes—the diocesan priest does take that invisible vow, that unmentioned vow—”Poverty of Time.” To the extent that the diocesan priest realizes this and says “fiat” to this unspoken vow and responds to it with great patience and love, and places the good of souls over his own will, plans and time—to that extent will he be sanctified and perfected because it is a tremendous sacrifice that our God receives with a pleased Sacred Heart. It is really the Sacrifice of his Divine Son on the Cross—the Sacrifice of our Lord throughout his public life ministering to people unselfishly in a total “Poverty of Time.”

Reverend Anthony J. Manuppella was ordained in 1976 for the Diocese of Camden, N.J. and attended St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, Pa. This is his fourth article in HPR. Fr. Manuppella is pastor of St. Peter Church in Merchantville, N.J.

At 10:45 PM, Anonymous sunshine said...

parish priests poverty of time,

This should be printed and added to bulletins that churches hand out so parishoners can get an inkling of how busy the priests lives are.

At 10:56 PM, Anonymous wandering NOW with a purpose said...

To Anon who along with me was referenced in Fr. Greg's blog,

You have really opened my eyes! I have never wanted to be sheeplike but I have been. I have been following the secular world like a blind sheep and never knew it! In my zeal to be "independent" it never occured to me that what I was hanging onto wasn't real but just an illusion!

At 11:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


How are you doing?

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Searching For Holiness said...

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At 12:44 PM, Anonymous sunshine said...

SFH. I think she is great. SHe is funny and adds so much to the site. She will be in my prayers.

Mine too!

At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I need to apologize. My comment about sticking to topic was only meant to encourage everyone to respect Father’s intentions for the blog and was not meant to be personal...SFH just happened to be the first one to post after his request (I think we all agree it will be a hard one to follow...Father IS pretty awesome!) I don’t get a chance to get on here very often, but from what I have seen, I completely agree that SFH provides valuable insights and thoughts on this blog, often backed with impressive references, and so provides a lot of the A’s to the Q and A’s intended for this site. I look forward to more of this. Unfortunately, I have not sorted through archives to follow individual bloggers’ stories. Thank you to the other posters for pointing out my insensitivity. I should have known better than to post on little sleep.

SFH and the others, may God bless you on your faith journey, and may He bless me on mine.

At 8:59 PM, Anonymous searching for holiness said...

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