I could never have been a priest. I never had a call from God to be one, but looking at the priesthood I know I would have made a bad one. Not because of celibacy or rotten pay. Those are sacrifices of course, but if the job is worth doing it is worth such sacrifices, just as someone signing up for the military knows that it could mean an early death, or having a crippling injury. No, the main reason I would have made a bad priest is contrasting myself to Father Gregory Shaffer, as detailed by The Motley Monk in this first rate post here. Father Gregory Shaffer showed infinite patience in dealing with Damian Legacy, and what a treat that name is, who had the odd belief that he could study to be a Catholic priest while having sex with men:
During his freshman and sophomore years, Legacy spent nearly all his time outside of classes at the Newman Center, and regularly served the altar during mass. When Legacy called Shaffer in the middle of the night, he knew his spiritual adviser would answer.
But when Shaffer found out that Legacy was in a relationship with another male student, and he and Bergen were both running for leadership positions in Allied in Pride, they were shoved out. Legacy, then a sophomore, said he remembers Shaffer calling him wicked and faithless for being gay, and said it destroyed his “sense of self.”
“To have my faith leader view me that way, just because of one piece of the way that God made me, and to think that one part is responsible for the destruction of my human dignity, it just didn’t, I can’t even begin to describe the mental conflict that it creates,” Legacy said.
Legacy, who was on the path to Catholic priesthood, said Shaffer’s counseling and teachings, in which he indicated that Legacy was “intrinsically disordered” because he was gay, set him on an emotional rollercoaster for months.
And while Legacy said he is now more comfortable with both his sexuality and his religion, and has since become an ordained priest in the Old Catholic Church in October, he said he doesn’t want anyone else seeking Shaffer’s counseling to feel that same torment.
And there would be the reason why I could never be a good priest. Father Shaffer had superhuman patience with Legacy, who is obviously a nut case. My impulse would have been to say, “Scram you doofus!” Unlike me, Father Shaeffer showed love and compassion for a badly twisted and confused individual. Of course that is the whole point about being a good priest. They, through the grace of God, become the Alter Christus for us, reflecting the love that Christ has for each of us, no matter how much of a doofus we might be. I think with iron discipline I might be able to do that for a while, but like Father William Van Horne, ably portrayed by Robert Mitchum in the 1972 movie The Wrath of God, I fear that I would end by picking up a tommy gun and blasting away! Ah well, the world needs lawyers (?) also, I guess.