Friday, February 13, 2009

Absentee Fathers.

One of the interesting (and sometimes disheartening) things about being a priest is the opportunity to observe the human condition. We see the good and the bad; maybe more of the later as we tend to see people in crisis.

I have been thinking a lot about absentee fathers, absentee parents actually. A lot of parents have very little to do with their children. Sure, some provide them with a nice house, clothes, toys, after-school programs ad nauseam. Others of course do nothing but leave the kids at home and go partying. The point is that too many parents just aren't there. I get to see the consequences; basically good kids who get tragically off the track because the people that are supposed to be guiding them just aren't there. In my mind, the worst offenders are fathers who put their job before their family. Children need their fathers' time more than they need a vacations to Disneyland and comp soccer.

But physical fathers are the only ones absent. Spiritual fathers are too. Pastors are all too frequently absent from their parish. One particularly troubling trend is that of priest living outside the rectory and/or outside the parish. This leads to treating the priesthood as a 9-5 job. And this is being encouraged in some quarters! How can one be a father to his flock if he is not with them. This does not mean that I am opposed to vacations or days off, they are critically important. (They keep the priest off the roof and away from the magnum.) But priests need to be with and available to their flock. Sometime they are absent for trivial reasons. Sometimes for important extra-parochial work. But in either case, the needs of the souls in their care must come first. It is not enough simply to ensure that their is a supply priest to say Mass.

(And yes, I am writing this on my day off.)
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