Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Good Advice for You Priests

As this week finds me doing all kinds of things Fr. Jonathan counsels against, here is his advice:

* Avoid handling money and politics

* Wear black socks, shine your shoes, be well-groomed

* Speak and write English simply and well

* There may be no difference between a mood and a passion

* Avoid anger

* The most dangerous part of a speech is the joke

* Grow a simple routine, savor productive boredom

* Only a fool would legislate ascesis and arcane rubrics before he first lived them himself

* Parochial gossip isn't always bad, but it is frequently toxic ... if you don't want the toxin, don't be a gossip yourself

* Carry yourself with dignity

* Do not complain about how busy you are ... or about how poor you are ... or about how sick you are ... if you do, you will gain the pity of old women, and lose the respect of young women and old men, and you will join the party of ne'er-do-well middle-aged male malcontents, who will be happy to welcome you as their chaplain

* Avoid aristocratic detachment, but avoid familiarity ... do not drink with the boys

* Write little notes of encouragement

* In counseling, or in visitation, or in sermons, beware of talking about yourself

* Turn off the TV and read Scripture, read the Fathers (certainly the Fathers before the Elders), read good literature ... avoid mainline protestant theology and most modern novels (both are at war with the English language)

* Force yourself to understand old poetry

* Do not be opinionated ... opinions take little to no intelligence

* Do not make excuses ... say simply, "I was wrong," or "Forgive me, I sinned against you"

* Be well-known for your forgiveness ... never get famous for your tantrums

* Do not demand attention, and never count on appreciation -- these things will never come when you think you most deserve them

* If you think you are popular in your parish ... or, on the other hand, if you think your stock is low ... wait for the weather to change -- the opinions of the crowd are as fickle as the wind

* Be surprised, often, by Jesus. Never be ashamed of the noble gestures of a young man

* Go on many walks: the Good Shepherd of the green pastures will take care of you

* Always remember that anger makes us energetic, but stupid ... I cannot think of one good thing I ever did or said in anger: but I can think of many regrets

* Beware of thinking that you simply must get an advanced degree -- theological degrees are rarely worth the money, and nothing is stopping you from getting the education you really need, right now

* There will be many times that you will be afraid of communion. The fear of the Chalice is a good thing, but the fear of communing with persons is not. This fear arises, more often than not, from sin (and we all know this but don't like to talk about it). Repent, confess and pray. Start small again, and let prayer grow again: it may be smaller (after all, you renounced, for a while, your predestination), but it may be this time, and because of infinite grace, even more beautiful

* Use simple tools. Write with a pencil instead of complexity. Let no man stand between you and the land: mow your own lawn, pick your own cotton, sweat yourself under the sun

* Walk into the cold morning, sunrise, wind and rain. Pray and breathe wind again.

* Garden and cook, hike, raise a rabbit or a pig. Give up on hobbies that require microchips or gas engines. Build a fire at night and watch it down to the coals

* Smile at people, weep for them in the evening. Doubt your anger, never assume motive: you can discern spirits, but you must not be telepathic

* Be loyal to Bishop and Priest and to your elders. As you sow, so shall you reap: at midnight, complainers are afraid to grow old

* Keep your mind in hell and despair not: this means that you should always keep that possibility in mind as you walk between the earth and sky ... even a tangled culvert, in a factory town, will show green life and flower when the alternative to creation is considered -- when you think about the death from renunciation of Creator and creation, then in relief your neighbor will show himself as a son of Adam, and you his brother, and the two of you as inheritors of the Vineyard ... any gleam is an impossibility made possible, in this light

* Bake your own prosphora

* Pray ...

* Teach others to pray, for that is your quality and your vocation

From Second Terrace


  1. Doorman-Priest said...

    "savour productive boredom"

    I've never had a problem with that.