Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Good Advice for an Old Timer

This is from Fr. Ronald Rolheiser.

While talking to an older priest, he asked him, "Father, if you had your life as a priest to live over again, would you do anything different?" Here's the answer he gave.

"If I had my priesthood to live over again I would be a gentler with people the next time. I would console more and challenge more carefully. I was one of those people who was taught and who deeply believed that only the full truth can set us free, that we owe it to people to challenge them with the truth, in season and out. I believed that and did it for most of the years of my ministry. And I was a good priest, I lived for others and never once betrayed in any real way my vows and my commitment. But now that I am older, I regret some of what I did. I regret that sometimes I was too hard on people! I meant it well, I was sincere, but I think that sometimes I ended up laying added burdens on people when they were already carrying enough pain. If I were just beginning as a priest, I would be gentler, I would spend my energies more trying to lift pain from people. People are in a lot of pain. They need us, first of all, to help them with that!”"

I think the words are insightful. It's a challenge to courageously uphold the truth but in a way that is truly pastoral, meeting people where they are and raising them up through God's grace to where He wants them to be, ultimately in His arms.

It reminds of what Fr. Paul Murray said in my Spiritual Theology class last semester. Jesus did not start his ministry by giving lectures. They needed something else. He started with love and mercy. Obviously he challenged them to recognize their sins but he did it through his love. It's the same way with men and women grieving over past abortion. You need to be sensitive to their hurt and help them to realize God can and does forgive them. But it does not help them to mitigate the truth and say it was not a sin. They need the truth but through a ministry of love.


No comments: