To Teach, to Govern, to Sanctify.

Can. 519 The pastor (parochus) is the proper pastor (pastor) of the parish entrusted to him, exercising the pastoral care of the community committed to him under the authority of the diocesan bishop in whose ministry of Christ he has been called to share, so that for that same community he carries out the functions of teaching, sanctifying, and governing, also with the cooperation of other presbyters or deacons and with the assistance of lay members of the Christian faithful, according to the norm of law.


To comment briefly on these duties of the Pastor (and yes, they’re also the duties of the Bishop whom, to get all canonical, the Pastor is merely an assistant. Everything we do is in union with our local Bishop, or in this case Archbishop):

To Teach

Teaching the Faith is difficult these days because everyone has been taught something different. Consider birth control. One generation was taught that it was fine, the next that it was not fine at all. Consider the liturgy. How much has that changed, and how many times has it changed, in the last 60 years.

A highly esteemed Priest in the diocese, very knowledgable about liturgy, writes his own prayers in the Roman Missal. Then he gets upset when younger generations of Priests do as they learned to do. Another Pastor literally made things up out of thin air, and the Parishioners were left wondering what in the world was going on when finally a different Pastor followed and did things completely differently.

In our own Parish I’m often questioned about things I say or teach, simply because people were taught otherwise by a different generation. One woman, who I do respect, left the Parish in a huff writing tersely in an email, “I”m tired of tip toeing around a conservative Pastor! Been there, done that.”

I emailed back asking why on earth she was tip toeing around me? And to many I’m the least conservative Priest around. And what is a conservative Priest anyway? If it’s someone who meditates on Scripture, takes the Church seriously and cares for the salvation of souls, then sign me up. But the same could be said for many liberal Priests.

It was Jesus who said we’d be persecuted because of Him. So be it.

At the same time, teaching can be very easy, because so many of the faithful are yearning for more knowledge. And we’re not talking simply book knowledge; knowledge of the Lord that only comes from time spent with Him. We’re saved by the blood of the Lamb, but also by the word of their testimony.

In short – we teach. Many go where they find a teaching they prefer; many absorb it like a sponge.

To Sanctify

This is pretty basic, one would think.   The Sacramental life of the Church is the most effective route to sanctification. Jesus is THE WAY, THE TRUTH and THE LIFE.  No one goes to the Father except through Him.

Believe it or not.  Jesus is Lord, or He isn’t.

Some people just haven’t made up their minds yet.  Still, they want the Sacraments, and we supply them – as we teach and govern.

To Govern

A difficulty here is that in a diverse Parish, and according to the recent Pastoral reports ours is the most diverse in our Deanery, lot of people have different ideas about what should be going on.   And someone has to balance everything out in accord with the Archbishop, the Magisterium of the Church, the eternal truths of the Faith and whatever theological drifts are wafting through the air at any given moment.

Many simply want someone to be firm and make decisions, and you can’t please everyone. The generational issue comes up again here, in that various generations have different ideas on how things should be done.  Take for instance, our Church renovations.  Having read much of what was written on Liturgical norms after the Second Vatican Council, everything about Sacred Music, and some about Sacred Architecture, I can say that nowhere is it to be found that a Church should look like a Wal-Mart.

Nowhere does division exist more than in liturgical matters, unless you’re doing a Church renovation.  But – to be honest- one can’t get that worked up about things and have an actual life worth living. Several Pastors have told me I shouldn’t have bothered bringing the matter to the attention of the diocese.  Other Pastors, the school marms, have made it a point to tell the diocese just about everything going on here – as if we’re doing something wrong (which we’re not.)

Others call in to the Office of Worship anonymously, asking if we can be doing a historic renovation.  However, in the words of both of the Rectors at the Seminary I attended – if it’s anonymous is doesn’t count.  Does it now?   I had a great conversation with one of the liturgical consultants, and can proceed to govern accordingly.

Governance is more than renovations though. It’s a prayerful management and stewardship; a proper accounting of time and resources; a faithful passing on of our Sacred Tradition.


A Thick Skin

All in all, it’s lot on one’s plate during any given day.  You have to have a thick skin at times to have conversations about matters in the Church.  But does that mean we shouldn’t be having them?

Don’t be absurd.


It’s off to Mass for me.  +



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