I studied two years at a seminary in Mexico, (Cristo Rey, Texcoco, Edo de Mexico). When we went out to work in our apostolate we would wear our white cassock. We were given a chapel connected with a parish in very poor neighborhoods, (what you would call slums). As we would walk through the streets and the people would often confuse us for priests.
Once we began to work with them in the ‘capilla’, we would explain to them that we were seminarians. But what impressed me so much, was the great love and respect that they had for seminarians and priests. They appreciated so much that we were going to help them spiritually, and at times, help them organize building up their small ‘capilla’.
Since these people had such great love and respect for the Catholic faith, they had great respect and love for seminarians and priests. But the great danger for all of us, from the pope down to seminarians, is that we attribute this respect and love to our personality, our ability to preach or our ability to organize.
Right now, Pope Francis is so so popular. Look at all the photos, there are so many cameras photographing him. When you see a video about him, you hear the constant snapping of camera shutters and flashing lights. Pope John Paul was extremely popular in Mexico, Poland and the USA, (not very popular in Europe). Even though Pope Benedict’s personality is that of an introverted scholar, where ever he traveled, the media covered it all. Simply being elected the pope of the Catholic Church makes you an instant celebrity.
Popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, religious, deacons, (and today many lay people who are in important positions in the Church), wield incredible influence, and some times great power, just because of their office. So when people seek us, when people like us, and when people take pictures of us, we mistakenly take our popularity as coming from our own personal attributes. No, the people are seeking to be with the pope, the cardinal, the bishop, the religious and priest, because of his office in Jesus Christ’s Church.
It is easy to see this TRUTH in the cases where a popular priest runs off with a woman. Let us take the case of Padre Alberto Cutie. He was always being interviewed with CNN. He had his own talk show. He lived it up with the wealthy. That was because he was a handsome and a well spoken CATHOLIC PRIEST.
Where is he now? Is he being interviewed on CNN anymore? Are all the rich people seeking his friendship? No, he is nothing more than an ‘ex-priest’, (and a heretical false Episcopalian ‘priest’), ‘married’ to a divorced woman.
When I “duck duck go” his name, I read that he was going to do a spiritual Oprah Show that was going to discuss from ‘sex to salvation’. I couldn’t find anything on that show since 2011. What happened to ‘Father Popular’? But, in all seriousness, we should pray for Fr. Alberto to repent and come back to Jesus’ true Church. (I know he has 2 children). He had great gifts God had bestowed on him, especially the Catholic priesthood, (which it seems to me to have accredited to himself). Let us beware.
When we are a priests, many times women fall in love with ‘the priest’, not the person. And after they end up living together; surprise, he is just one more man that was dressed up in Jesus’ priesthood. That being taken away, you just have another person you have to get along with. All of you, who are married, know exactly what I mean. Romance is one thing, living day and and day out with another person, is totally another thing.
As traditional Catholics, (especially bishops, priests and seminarians), let us daily remind ourselves that it is not us whom the people seek or praise, but Jesus who has called us to such the sublime office of the priesthood. May Jesus, Mary, St. Joseph and the angels and saints remind us to stay very humble. And to do this, all we have to do is a reality check; I am a sinner, I am weak, I could fall any second into the gravest sin, I like being popular, and do not let myself forget that people like me because I am an ambassador for Jesus. It has nothing to do with ME. (And it should have nothing to do with me.)
This is why the Latin Mass is so wonderful. Jesus is the star, not the priest. The priest is hidden behind the vestments and facing the God at the altar. When he turns toward the people, he keeps his eyes down. No show offs allowed. God is who is important.
And worse of all would be if we use our office given to us by God that makes us popular and to have power and influence, to destroy God’s Church or persecute His faithful servants. Death quickly approaches us all. Woe to us if we have taught or promoted heresy in any way. Beware. We have been given this great office from God to be used to protect, teach and save souls.
The original author of this blog and passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.