Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Art of Condescension

~Paging all Young Fogeys! From Fr. Philip, O.P., a response to Fr. Rohlheiser's "The Struggle to Bless"
I am perfectly willing to admit that I could be wrong here. . .but this is probably the one of the most condescending pieces I've ever read on the generational gap between older and younger clergy in the Church. The piece begins:
At workshop recently, as we were discussing the tension that often exists today between younger and older clergy, a middle-aged priest said: "I'd like to bless the younger priests, but they don't want my blessing! They see me as a burnt-out middle-aged ideologue and everything in their attitude and body-language tells me that they simply want me to disappear and give them space!"
Frankly, I find it very hard to believe that younger clergy are shying from a priestly blessing. It makes me wonder if there is something peculiar about the blessing itself, the form of the blessing, that is disconcerting to the younger priests. Or maybe its the attitude of the older priest that messes things up. Rolheiser continues:
Many is the parent who feels exactly that way as they stand before a sixteen year-old; the mother before her own adolescent daughter; the father before his teenage son. That's also true for many others: the teacher before her adolescent students, the priest or minister in the face of a less-than-appreciative congregation, the coach before his players, and the policeman before a paranoid and belligerent young man. It's not easy to bless someone who, seemingly, does not want your blessing, before whom it would seem a flat-out lie to say what God said to Jesus at his baptism: "In you I take delight!"
Yea. OK. Now, let's take moment to read this paragraph again. Please notice the intended parallels: younger priests who shy away from Fr. Ideologue's creepy blessing are adolescent (4 times over!), unappreciative, paranoid, and belligerent. Hmmmm. . .I wonder why Fr. Younger is reluctant to receive a blessing from a priest who considers him to be a paranoid, belligerent, unappreciative teenager?

The irony here, of course, is that Fr. Ideologue used to be the paranoid, belligerent, unappreciative teenager-priest who gleefully thumbed his nose at his elders, tossing out the ancient faith along with the beautiful vestments, the precious vessels, the transcendent language, and objective morality. And now that he is the Elder, he is deeply confused about why his "clerical children" seem so unappreciative of all his hard work to destroy the Church.
Oh, here's the link to the article.

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