Monday, March 09, 2009

The Merely Decent Priest

There are many parts in the Body of Christ. (1 Cor. 12) And God knows well how to make good use of even the "decent priest."

While the merely decent priest might be of little use to those firmly within the bosom of the Church, he might be invaluable to those outside the Church, or those fallen away from Her. I've known a few "decent priests" whose service wasn't much better than that of a doorman (the same could be said for a few priests of the "progressive" sort), but without such a priest to open the door and invite people in, many people might never venture into the church building. They might never have their curiousity piqued and, thus, might never come in and sit in the back row to see what the Church is all about. Without the merely decent priest, a pleasant enough fellow, they might never feel comfortable enough to come back. The pious and saintly priest might scare them away, if they ever bother to come in in the first place. We all have a role to play, and perhaps the role of the decent priest is simply to be nonthreatening enough and inviting enough for outsiders to give the Church a try. After all, folks need to be in the Church first before they can start being pious in the Faith themselves.

I am reminded of Cardinal McCarrick. Not a particularly doctrinaire guy, not a particularly great catechist. But he was very friendly and engaging; a very likable guy. His standard homily was the warm and fuzzy homily. As a result, more than one outsider and more than one fallen away Catholic would take a look at the Church. To be sure, he was not all that brilliant a teacher from the pulpit, but his words from the pulpit reached to the back of St. Matthew's Cathedral to open the door and say, "come on in." And that is a good thing.

Once folks are in and established, then we can turn to the "more than decent" priests. But the merely decent might have a role to play as well.

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