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Kevin Kroll wrote:

Hi guys,

  • Why do (in my opinion) some regular churchgoers or people who I just met at an ACTS [Protestant] Retreat seem more enthusiastic and in love with God than some priests or bishops?
  • I mean, priests and bishops love God more than those people do, correct? and
  • Doesn't God bring true happiness?

Kevin

  { Why do they seem more enthusiastic and in love with God than some priests or bishops? }

Bob replied:

Dear friend,

You can't judge the level of someone's happiness or enthusiasm for something simply by their outward exuberance. People have different temperaments and personalities, so who is to say just how a priest or bishop is on the inside. Appearances can be deceiving.

Our bishop, Cardinal Sean O'Malley may seem very low key on the outside, but I guarantee you he has tremendous faith and great joy.

People often ride the high that comes from a powerful faith experience but it is a long steady race that brings us home and sometimes the most sure, on the way, are the quietest.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

John replied:

Kevin,

Let me add to Bob's answer:

You asked if bishops and priests love God more that lay people. This is not necessarily the case.

A man becomes a priest, hopefully, because he is answering a specific call to a specific vocation.

Most people are called to married life which is supposed to mirror the life of the Trinity and relationship between Christ and His Church; others are called to a single celibate life.

Each person is called to do something in his or her life. Our entire life is a ministry.

We are called to minister to our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. God calls some to prosper greatly so as to finance the Gospel and works of charity. Ones specific vocation doesn't determine ones love for God, rather it is the way we fulfill our particular vocation, that is the better indicator.

John

Kevin replied:

But priests and bishops devote their lives to God.

They are probably a lot closer to God than most lay people.

  • Wouldn't you think they would love Him more?

Kevin

John replied:

Kevin,

All Christians are called to devote their lives to God. Bishops and priests serve a function within the Body of Christ but not all are called to be ordained Bishops and priests.

In actuality, all Christians are priests by their baptism because, by their Baptism, they are in Christ the High Priest. This is not the same as the ordained Priesthood which empowers men to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Nevertheless, as Christians we act in the name of Christ with all of our actions. This should make us pause and think before we act.

Some of the greatest saints were not part of the clergy. Priestly ordination is not a guaranty of holiness or closeness to God. It is an ontological union which enables the man to act in the authority of Christ when exercising a priestly function such as administering the sacraments.
That said, the administration of the Sacrament is valid apart from the personal holiness or even the condition of priest's soul.

Vatican II made it clear that the call to holiness is for every member of the Church. The elderly, who can only sit at home and pray, are as integral and, dare I say as, essential to the ministry of the Church as a deacon, priest, or bishop.

The point is that we must follow our calling. Let's look at the work of our AskACatholic team. We are not priests or bishops. We are lay people who have been given a gift to explain the faith. That is our calling.

Some people are artists, others are musicians, still others are doctors. All these gifts and callings are given to men and women so that they might use them to advance Gospel.

  • the Blessed Mother was not an ordained priest or bishop
  • the women who found the empty tomb and then spread the Word, were not priests
  • Mother Theresa was not a priest
  • The children who received the vision at Fatima were not priests
  • Joan of Arch was not a priest (or a nun, for that matter)

I hope this helps,

John

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