Everytime I’m dealing with other people, I always remind myself, that just like me, they’re also human. It doesn’t matter if one’s a priest or a renowned celebrity; we’re all human. And to be human is to err. A few years ago, when I was in my last year of high school, I came across a friend’s prayer book. While perusing through the pages I saw an interesting piece. It wasn’t exactly a prayer, but the words changed my entire perspective on how I deal with religious people.
It was written that everytime one sees/hears a priest doing/saying wrong things, one shouldn’t go about discussing them but they should pray for them. At the time, I remembered all the weird things I’d heard about priests… Just because they’re ordained to lead God’s flock doesn’t stop them from being human. I remembered all the rumours I’d heard about some priests having affairs with women when they were sworn to celibacy; I remembered of a particular priest, who always came to celebrate mass with his eyes red as cherries because he’d been drinking. I remembered of a certain priest, who was alleged to have fathered a girl I schooled with.
Before that day I had freely taken part in talking about those ordained men of God; criticizing them for their misdemeanours. Normally, when we see/hear wrong things about others, even when we can’t quite do anything about it, we discuss it with others. That piece opened my eyes though. Priests and other men of God are representatives of Christ, but at the end of the day, it still doesn’t change the fact that these same people are only human. They are prone to temptations just like any person.
It’s like teachers; they fall in love with their students even when they know it’s against school policy. We don’t will for these things to happen; they just happen. As I read that book I realized we also had a responsibility to pray for our shepherds. It takes more than enough will to walk on a straight path. I know it’s not as easy.
A few months ago, I was following three telenovelas. Naturally a large part of the Spanish population is Catholic. As I watched the three soaps at different times, something happened; in all the three soaps, three priests had been made privy to life-changing confessions, and none of them could reveal any of the information as they had received it under the secrecy of confession. I couldn’t help pitying them.
Priests know so many things but they can’t reveal any of it as they’re bound by the confession oath-the seal of the confessional-which prohibits them from repeating anything revealed to them during the sacrament of penance. I imagined what strength it took walking around, carrying such heavy loads on their shoulders and I came to one conclusion; it’s not easy being a man of God-the real anointed ones, not the fake ones. It takes strength to defy all temptations, especially knowing that they are under public scrutiny, and that above all they made a solemn vow to God; to be priests forever.
In some unfortunate instances, unscrupulous men hide behind the cloth and commit preposterous obscenities, but there are those genuine men/women of God, who in their human weaknesses falter and make wrong choices. The best thing to do is not to sit and judge, but to pray for them.
In my opinion, being an anointed servant of God shouldn’t stop one from being subjected to the law of man; don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time… but I believe prayers help put things into perspective. In the wake of all the atrocities committed by the servants of God, who we put so much faith in but who many detest now, I feel that it’s our duty as their flock to pray for them.
In Colossians 4: 2-4, Paul says, “Be persistent in prayer, and keep alert as you pray, giving thanks to God. At the same time, pray also for us, so that God will give us a good opportunity to preach His message about the secret of Christ…”
We may not be able to help the choices they make, but we can intercede for them, so that God guides them as they spread His word.