I guess it’s not strange that Father shouldn’t have listened to me. He probably didn’t know who I was, even though he’d been there since before the whole scandal broke (one of our old priests was the guy accused along with Cardinal Bernardin of doing stuff with the seminarians; our priest was the one who’d actually done stuff — and wasn’t that a nice thing for us to find out?). I have to wonder how the priests can really know anybody in these big suburban parishes, other than the parish council and the neighbor kids.
See, you’re not supposed to bother the priests. Or the nuns. They’re busy. You’re allowed to say hi, or say you liked the homily, and you’re allowed to go to Confession. Anything more than that is Right Out, or at least that was always the impression I got from my mom growing up. I think most kids my age got the same lecture.
So I grew up in a church where the priests and nuns were sort of celebrity strangers, like the principal of a school. If you had to talk to them, you were in trouble.
I have to think this has something to do with the low level of vocations. It’s hard to imagine yourself being a priest or nun when you have very little idea what it’s like to be one. By the time I was nerving myself up to ask the nice German nun about it, the sisters had picked up and left our parish. (More mysterious parish politics we never heard about.)
I never talked to a priest about the times when I was having mystical experiences. I got tonguetied enough when I’d try to explain my exact sin problems when I was going in for Confession, or the few times I brought or tried to bring a moral dilemma to a priest. I’m sure I sounded stupid, but I wasn’t used to talking to a priest. My generation learned to keep its problems to itself, or deal with them by talking to another layperson. I’m sure this too has had very bad consequences. It’s probably where a lot of this schism and alienation is coming from.
I love my current parish, and the priests there are great. (Well, except for the one I never really met, who it turns out was living under a sort of house arrest because he’d done inappropriate things while a high school principal. Does this stuff follow me around?) But I still don’t feel like I really have the right to talk to them about my problems or my spiritual growth. Probably that’s why I’m blogging. I wonder if that’s why everybody else is blogging, too.