10 Danger Signs Your Priest Has Serious Problems with His Vocation

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Pope Francis condemns careerism among priests and religious. Treating one’s priesthood as a career rather than a personal calling from God to live a life of service and holiness is contrary to the Church’s teachings on the true nature of Catholic priesthood.

“Using especially strong language on one of his favorite themes, Pope Francis decried a plague of careerism among priests and urged them to renounce their personal ambitions for service to the church — warning that failure to do so would make them look “ridiculous.”

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“Careerism is a leprosy, a leprosy,” the pope said June 6, in a speech to students from the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the school for future Vatican diplomats. “Please, no careerism!”

All types of priestly ministry require “great inner freedom,” the pope said, which calls for “vigilance in order to be free from ambition or personal aims, which can cause so much harm to the church.”

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Priests must make their priority the “cause of the Gospel and the fulfillment of the mission” entrusted to them, not self-fulfillment or public recognition, he said.

Such self-denial “may appear demanding,” the pope said, “but it will allow you, so to speak, to be and to breathe within the heart of the church.”

By “cultivating a life of prayer,” he told the priests, one can transform daily work into the “gymnasium of your sanctification” (Catholic News Service).

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Here are some signs that your priest is infected with the leprosy of careerism and, therefore, has serious problems with his vocation as a servant of God. This calls for the laity to pray for priests and be vigilant against clerical abuse to help them overcome careerism:

1. He is often conscious about his physical appearance.

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Priests are expected to be role models in hygiene and decency with regard to attire. But if he is too conscious of his looks and acts like ordinary teenagers, be warned that he have fallen in love with somebody or is having personal issues he cannot let go. It is normal for a person who falls in love to be extra conscious about their appearance and health.

2. He is often unavailable in the parish church.

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Priests are normally busy on weekends, especially Sundays, because most of the sacraments in the parish are celebrated during these days. Except if priests has other duties in the Church or seminary, they are expected to be available on weekdays. If they are not available and always out-of-town, then be warned that they may have personal affairs or relationships they are busy with during ordinary days.

3. He lacks enthusiasm when celebrating the sacraments.

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If the priest celebrates the sacraments such as the Mass, Baptism, Matrimony, etc as if he is only doing them as a chore, without enthusiasm, then be warned that he may have problems with his prayer life. One can easily feel the sanctity of the priest through his aura, demeanor, and level of spiritual enthusiasm in celebrating Christ’s sacraments.

4. He is often in need of money.

Priests have allowances and can receive stipends when celebrating masses. But if he engages in funding raising without a reasonable cause, be warned that your priest might be financing something such as a fancy car or supporting his own family which can be contrary to his vocation.

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5. He is often temperamental.

It is understandable that a priest might get angry if something goes wrong in his parish plans and see wrongdoing of his parishioners. After all, priests are also humans. But if he is suddenly different from his usual self and becomes easily irritable even in trivial things, then be warned that he might be in serious crisis with his vocation. He might have some serious personal problems which may be contrary to his vocation.

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6. He doesn’t prepare well his sermons.

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One can easily tell through the aura and sermon of the priest if he is a holy and spiritual person or he is just doing a chore. A good priest prepares his sermons well. He must not exceed 15 minutes in his homily as suggested by Pope Francis. He must not also use his sermons to vent his personal issues and unfulfilled needs.

7. He loves to show off his latest gadgets.

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Priests who love to show off his latest gadgets, such as iPhones, hoover boards, Mac Pros, and other expensive equipment, are giving wrong impressions to the laity. Why would they act like secular persons if they are spiritual leaders of the Church? They are supposed to be role models in Christian virtues and not commercial models for the latest expensive gadgets. Lay people would then start to doubt the sincerity, spirit of poverty, and holiness of their parish priests if they see them owning and using expensive gadgets.

8. He likes fancy cars.

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Craving for fancy cars and SUVs seems to be the common preoccupation of the new generation of priests. Instead of making themselves role of models of practicing the spirit of poverty mentioned in the Beatitudes, they become status symbols of a middle class lifestyle. The diocese must have a strict policy on owing and using luxury vehicles for their priests as this practice is contrary to the simple lifestyle of Jesus.

9. He is worldly in his ways.

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Priests can be sociable beings but not socialites.As pastors and witnesses of the Gospel, they must be aware that there personal actions, tastes, and activities must not be interpreted by the laity as worldly or materialistic. Lay people can easily spot a priest who is spiritual from a worldly one.

10. He is having an affair.

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Although lay people can sympathize with priest’s loneliness and lack of intimacy in parish church, they are also alarmed if they know their priests are having an affair with women or men. Persistent concubinage and other forms of illicit sexual union by priests are forbidden by the Church’s Canon Law. Once a priest engages in concubinage or sexual abuse, he loses gradually his vocation and lives a double life. He loses his credibility and becomes a liability to the Church. The Catholic church paid millions of dollars as damages in courts due to clerical sexual abuse in the US and around the world. The most common challenge faced by many priests today is how to satisfy their need for intimacy without leaving the priesthood.

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6 Most Misunderstood Beliefs and Practices in the Catholic Church

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1. Venerating the Saints is Idolatry.

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Venerating the saints is not idolatry. Catholics are not actually praying to the saints but only honoring them as heroes of the Catholic faith and asking them to intercede for them to Christ. Catholics only worship God and not the saints according to official Church teachings. It’s true that worshiping material things is idolatry and a serious sin against God. But the statues inside the Church are mere symbols and representations of their personhood of the saints as true disciples of Christ, worthy of emulation. They help Catholics to recall their heroic deeds for God. A symbol, such as the statue, only points to the reality. The piece of wood or cement of the statue is not being worshiped by Catholics but only served as a visual aid to remind Catholics to imitate their extraordinary faith in Christ..

2. The Sacred Host in the Mass is only a Symbol.

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For some Protestant Churches which use the sacred host in their public rituals, the consecrated host is only a symbol but not the reality itself. This is not the Catholic Church’s official teaching. For the Church, the consecrated host during the Mass is not just a symbol but the reality itself. Under the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, the ordinary unleavened bread is transformed into the real Body of Christ after the consecration in the Eucharist.

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“Transubstantiation is the process by which the bread and wine of the Eucharist is transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Catholics believe that through transubstantiation, the risen Jesus becomes truly present in the Eucharist. The word transubstantiation is made up of two parts: ‘trans’ and ‘substantiation.’ The first part is a prefix that means ‘across’, ‘beyond’, or ‘through’. It suggests that some kind of change has taken place. The second part of the word, ‘substantiation,’ refers to the philosophical term substance. According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, substance is a thing’s deepest being, what it is, in and of itself. The substance of a thing is what it really and truly is beyond all appearances” (Troolin). After the consecration of the priest, the substance of the bread and wine is transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ.

3. The Personal and Moral Life of the Priest can Affect the Sacredness of the Mass He is Celebrating!

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It is true that persons who are ordained by Catholic bishops as priests remain human beings and sinners. But the sacrament of ordination has transformed them into ministers of Christ and the Church. What they are administering in the Church, such as the Eucharist and the sacraments, are not affected by their personal and immoral life as sinners. These public rituals are done by priests in the name of the Church of Christ and not in their own name and power. As ministers, they are only instruments, the real dispensers of divine grace in the sacraments is Christ Himself. Of course, it is ideal that the priest who administers the sacraments is also a holy person and a worthy human instrument of grace.

4. Direct Confession to God is Better than Confessing to the Priest.

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Direct confession to God is usually done by Protestant and Christian churches. But the Catholic Church only allows direct confession for venial or minor sins. Grave or serious sins must be confessed to the priest in the sacrament of reconciliation. In the Gospels, following his resurrection, Jesus appears to his disciples. After breathing upon them, he said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:22-23; see also Mt 18:18). The sacrament of reconciliation encourages us to go and to try to sin no more. This teaching is found also in Ephesians 4:25-32 and 1 John 1:5-10. By virtue of his ordination, the priest is authorized by the Church to forgive sins in the name of Christ.

5. Unbaptized Babies will go to Limbo!

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“It is clear that the traditional teaching on this topic has concentrated on the theory of limbo, understood as a state which includes the souls of infants who die subject to original sin and without baptism, and who, therefore, neither merit the beatific vision, nor yet are subjected to any punishment, because they are not guilty of any personal sin. This theory, elaborated by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, never entered into the dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium….” (ITC).

“However, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992), the theory of limbo is not mentioned. Rather, the Catechism teaches that infants who die without baptism are entrusted by the Church to the mercy of God, as is shown in the specific funeral rite for such children. The principle that God desires the salvation of all people gives rise to the hope that there is a path to salvation for infants who die without baptism (cf. CCC, 1261) (Ibid).”.

6. Praying is Asking God’s Favor!

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Prayer is God’s gift. It has different forms. It is not always asking God’s favor. Not all prayers are petition or intercessory prayers. The Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2259) describes the Church’s teaching on prayer as follows:

“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”2 But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or “out of the depths” of a humble and contrite heart?3 He who humbles himself will be exalted;4 humility is the foundation of prayer, Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,”5 are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. “Man is a beggar before God.”6

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References

Troolin, A. (n.d.). Catholic Doctrine of Transubstantiation: Definition & Overview. Retrieved from https://study.com/academy/lesson/catholic-doctrine-of-transubstantiation-definition-lesson-quiz.html.

International Theological Commission (ITC) (n.d.). “The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized”. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html.

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Who is the Real Author of the Bible? How Did God Inspire the Human Writers?

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Introduction

There seems to be a confusion among Christians and Catholics regarding the true author of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Some believe that these books are written by human authors and thus may contain errors. Other believe that the writers of the Bible were dictated by God what to write in the Sacred Scriptures. The human writers were mere instruments of God’s hand in describing the divine message to humanity.

So, who is the real author of the Bible? How did God inspire the human writers to jot down His message to humankind if He is the real author?

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The following  passages from the the Catechism for Filipino Catholics (CFC, #85-87) constitute the Catholic Church’s teaching on divine inspiration. They explain how writers of the Old and New Testaments  were inspired by God to write the Sacred Scriptures:

The Church’s Teaching on Divine Inspiration

“The Sacred Scriptures are said to be “inspired” in a special sense — not just as some artist or author may be “inspired” to paint or compose.

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Rather, biblical inspiration means that the sacred and canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, whole and entire, were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so that we can call God their “author” and the Bible “the Word of God” (cf. DV 11; CCC 105-6).

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God chose certain human authors, who as true authors made full use of their human powers and faculties, yet were so guided by the Holy Spirit who so enlightened their minds and moved their wills, that they put down in writing what God wanted written” (CFC #85).

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Biblical inspiration, then, is a charism referring to the special divine activity, communicated to individual authors, editors, and compilers belonging to the community, for the sake of the community. It produced the sacred texts both of the Old Testament and the New. These texts ground the apostolic Church which remains uniquely authoritative for us and for all generations of Christians” (CFC, #86).

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But the Holy Spirit’s work in Scripture touches more than its human authors: in some fashion it also touches both the proclaimers and the hearers of the word. “In the sacred books the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet His children, and talks with them” (DV 21). Scripture thus supports and invigorates the Church (cf. CCC 131-33). It strengthens our faith, offers food for our souls, and remains a pure and lasting fount for our spiritual lives.

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Through the Spirit “God’s word is living and effective” (Heb 4:12). But we realize that what was written in the Spirit must be proclaimed and heard in the Spirit” (CFC #87).

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Becoming a Christian Leader

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Introduction

Among all models on leadership, there is one significant image that can be used as a template for all Christians who want to understand leadership and become a leader–the servant model. According to this model, a servant must always be a person who serves other people and not the other way around. A leader is, above all, a servant to his/her followers or constituents! The teaching of the Gospels on leadership is still the best model for all those aspiring to become Christian leaders in their chosen field.

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Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the last of all and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Matt. 20:26).

John Maxwell on Leadership

John Maxwell, a well-known Evangelical Christian pastor and popular guru on leadership knows more about the Christian model of leadership, being an expert on the Bible and Christian ministry. Maxwell is a leadership expert, speaker, and author and founder of INJOY, Maximum Impact, The John Maxwell Team, ISS and EQUIP, organizations all focusing on leadership development to help business leaders. Overall, Maxwell basically applies the servant model in the field of business management and aims to form Christian leaders.

Qualities of a Christian Leader

The Biblical model of leadership transcends all other theorizing on leadership. The Christian model has the following important characteristics as illustrated by some Biblical stories:

  1. The Story of the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-12). A Christian leader protects his/her followers from external threats to their personal and social security. With great faith in God, a Christian leader is ready to die for what is good for his/her constituents. A Christian manager, for instance, knows how to protect his/her employees from retrenchment, unjust accusations, violence, threats, politics, and unfair labor practice in the workplace.
  2. The Last Supper (Mt. 26:17–30, Mk. 14:12–26, Lk. 22:7–39 and Jn. 13:1–17:26) . A Christian leader joyfully serves his/her followers. S/he does not desire to be served by those who depend on him/her. Christ washing of the feet of the apostles symbolizes a humble leader who does aim for public praise and social prestige of becoming a leader. A Christian leader does his/her job as a shepherd to his/her followers because it is part his/her response to  God’s calling that those want to be the greatest must be a servant to all. Christian leadership is not driven by the desire for success or wealth but to establish God’s Kingdom in the workplace or society. It requires a strong spirituality of work and a drive to follow what Christ said that He came to earth to serve and not to be served.
  3. The Story of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-12). The story of John the Baptist in the Gospels implies that a Christian leader must also be a prophet to society. To be a prophet is to preach the Christian message in the midst of oppression and exploitation of people in the workplace or society. A Christian leader must have a strong social awareness of what is going on in his/her social environment and courageous enough to point out to powerful people and enemies the social injustices they have done to his/her constituents or followers. This personal courage of the leader emanates from his/her strong faith in God.

For Christians, there is no other model but Christ Himself who died on the cross to save humanity from personal and social sins. Christ does not expect people who want to imitate Him as a leader to live a comfortable life. There will be persecutions and all forms of suffering for Christian leaders who aim to establish God’s Kingdom on earth. But Christ assured them with these words:

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“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3, NKJV).

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