About a week ago, the story broke that Father Francis Mary Stone of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word is questioning his vocation. Supposedly, Father has fallen in love with a widow he’s been assisting.
I think the first priority is to make sure the young Catholics who watched Father on EWTN's Life on the Rock
, or the daily Mass broadcast, understand that just because the earthly messengers may be flawed and have internal conflicts, does NOT mean that the message itself is flawed. Scratch that. I think we ALL need to understand that just because the earthly messengers are flawed does not mean the heavenly message is.
Our kneejerk reaction should be to examine ourselves in relation to the Faith. NOT to examine the Faith in relation to ourselves. Meaning, we should not be using this event as an excuse to dump Church teachings on celibacy because, hey, here's another example of how HAARRD it is. Yes, it is.
Every thinking person who has made a commitment to ANYTHING, whether in marriage, career, living arrangements, or holy orders is constantly re-evaluating (discerning) if they are still satisfied or not. If they are still fulfilling their mission, or not. If they are still living up to their vows, or not. If they need to make changes, or not.
Father may very well decide to remain in his order. I pray that he does. However, if he does leave or if he stays, I pray he has a long and blessed life in Christ.
People leave orders all the time. People change all the time. I’m not trying to minimize the enormity of what is happening here. I’m sure Father is not finding this a simple time. It’s not easy analyzing whether or not your entire life needs to change or if you are being called by God to a different state in life then what you perhaps thought.
When I was in College there were two Sisters who left the order. Both of them were my professors. I remember feeling betrayed and upset because it seemed like it happened overnight and they just decided to leave for no good reason.
Why did I think that?
Because the College was not forthcoming and open about information. The entire thing was kept very hush-hush. There was no “statement”, no discussion. Just one term they were suddenly not on the course list. There was no information to be obtained just rumors and conjecture.
That was, absolutely, the wrong response.
These types of vocational crises, need to be discussed openly. No, we don’t need all the details but we need to be told it’s happening and reaffirmed in OUR vocations which have not changed in spite of someone else changing theirs or questioning theirs.
I think EWTN is making a big mistake by seeming to erase Father Stone from their history (His materials have been removed from the EWTN library and website). Just pretending he never existed and the whole thing is not happening is wrong. Or, we aren’t going to talk about it anymore after the initial announcement on EWTN. It makes it seem like sinners have no contribution to make to Holy Mother Church by pretending they are not around. If sinners have no contribution to make to Holy Church then there will not be anyone in it. What’s the point? We may as well all pack up and leave: me first. Of course, Father did, and does, exist. Of course, he had an impact. Just because he may not be on TV everyday from now on doesn’t mean he’s not still around and can’t teach us anything valid: either directly or indirectly.
I pray that one day Father will tell us his story. I pray that he remains in the Church (whether as a priest or a layman). I pray, especially, that he has an extremely good spiritual advisor at this time. Father Hotstuff News
that a priest “came out” during a Homily. This is shocking stuff. Really shocking that there were 400 students at Mass on Sunday EVENING at a Jesuit college. THE FAITH IS ALIVE!!!!
Do you think maybe they knew what Father was going to announce ahead of time? I can see the bulletin board e-mail now.
Friends, Faculty, Students: A reminder that, for your convenience, we have Mass on Sunday evenings at 10. The homily will be a surprise; but, in the meantime read my chapter from "A Tale of Two Comings Out: Priest and Gay on a Catholic Campus."
XXXXOOO, Father Brennan
Should the homily BE a big surprise? Gee, is it not supposed to be a lesson from the Gospel/Readings for the day? Sure, Father can get creative to get the point across; but, I think, in this case, Father was a little too creative.
I have no problem with priests inserting personal tidbits into the Homily to make it connect with the parishioners. However, I have NO desire to hear about Father’s foot odor, underwear starch, conflicts with his Mother, how he fantasizes about Jessica Alba, whatever. There is such a thing as TMI (too much information). Why, is it when some people are told they should make things more personable they insert embarrassing tidbits into the discussion (like me! Ha-ha) But, I'm not giving a Homily.
My Pastor has Homilies where he has mentioned he goes to Confession once/month as a way of reminding us that priests have to go too. Or, he ties in his garden growing as examples of growing in the Faith. These are not embarrassing and they are entirely appropriate things to mention. I wish we heard more of this type of APPROPRIATE personal tidbits during Homilies.
Too often, we hear Homilies that have absolutely nothing to do with the readings, much less, church teaching. Too often, it’s all about Father. Apologies, but who cares? If Father wants us to know all about him, why doesn’t he start a blog or a page on Facebook or MySpace? Then, we can blast him for not spending enough time on who really matters; us! LOL! In the end, it should be about God. Not Father, not us.