Sunday, June 21, 2009

Year of the Priest Rolling Unit Study

I'm just compiling resources here so that over this year of the Priest we can focus on praying for and learning about the Catholic Priesthood and the men who serve the Bride of Christ as her priests.

Priests are really an exotic concept in the modern world. Imagine giving up sex for God? I think most people nowadays find this unfathomable. It really is as strange and aesthetic as Buddhists monks or something, only since we've grown up with the idea we can't grasp it in all its strangeness. In this day and era, a good priest is a hero, living heroically every day. A parish priest especially does not even have the comfort of a monastery that will reinforce his commitment to a religious life by its daily rhythm and the isolation of its community. A parish priest must run a multimillion dollar enterprise in the world. He must deal with all the irritants of unhappy, unlikable, meddling parishioners (as well as the supportive and likeable ones). He has to deal with people getting up and walking out of Mass if he happens to mention that abortion is evil. He has to deal with people who complain that he doesn't talk about the evils of abortion enough. He has to small talk after Masses and at parish events. He has to be up for the 6:15 a.m. Mass as well as the Midnight Mass for Christmas and Easter. He has to hear confessions! He is on call for spiritual or health emergencies. People need Anointing of the Sick at all hours of the day. He has to bury the dead of the parish and comfort the survivors in their grief. He has to deal with people wondering if he is gay or a pedofile. He has to bear the brunt of the hatred of those who see the Catholic church as some evil archaic institution that refuses to modernize.

I am so grateful to these heroic priests. Without them there is no Eucharist. Without them there is no actual, historical link to Jesus and his apostles.

So I think we'll do a rolling unit study on priests and the priesthood. A rolling unit study is one that unfolds at its own pace over the course of time.

To begin with I found this neat article on Movie Priests. In that blog post there is another link to the top ten movie priests. I think we should try to watch as many of these as we can over the course of the year. Recently I have watched Monsieur Vincent which is an excellent French movie about St. Vincent de Paul. I also recently watched The Keys to the Kingdom. Gregory Peck does a great priest! He is also excellent in The Scarlet and the Black.

One movie that I think is missing from either list is Alec Guiness playing Father Brown. I'll have to look that up.

Other priests on the screen: right now I am watching a wonderful lecture series from The Teaching Co entitled Natural Law by Father Koterski. He's a priest! Up there in his collar, teaching this profound subject with such a pleasing humility and eloquence.

Also, there is that concert given entitled The Priests of the three Irish priests who are friends and wonderful singers. That is a very enjoyable concert. I have seen it a couple of times now.

There was, a few years back, a TLC (The Learning Channel, at least I think that's who did it) production that followed 4 young men as they tried to discern whether they were called to the priesthood. I can't remember what it was called, but it was excellent. My oldest two teens watched it but maybe it is time to see it again.

St John Vianney is now proclaimed the patron saint of all priests. My father liked this particular saint very much but I have yet to learn much about him. I think a children's biography of him will be in order here. I note here that poor St. John never could learn his Latin and they thought he was too dumb to become a priest but he struggled and eventually did. I am noting this because I've been having an on line discussion about the value of classical education and how some Catholic homeschooling educators seem to confuse a Classical education with being a good Catholic. And I am not comfortable conflating those two things! Not all Catholics are cut out for rigorous Latin and Greek but all Catholics hope for heaven.

I'm wondering about books on or by priests. One of my favorite books ever is The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. Last year I read Priestblock which was the true story of a priest held in a concentration camp during WWII.

One book that I read ages ago by Richard Bausch was called Real Presence and it reminded me very much of The Power and the Glory only it was set in rural Virginia!!!

Well, this is just the beginning of my brainstorming on the subject of resources and priests. I'll jot down more as I think of it!

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