What a Priest can learn from a Russian Duck Farmer
We live in a time where there is a serious Catholic “man-crisis“; the statistics bear this out and the growing body of testimony from top men’s evangelists support the fact that there is widespread man-crisis in the Church.
At the core of the problem, is that the flock has scattered and spiritually starving, despite gorging on the rotten fruit of the world; consumerism, voyeurism, pornography, substance abuse, celebrity worship, gluttony and sloth. Every man has got his “hinge” sin; many men have multiple hinges and they are swinging on the Gates of Hell.
One of the emerging themes of the New Emangelization interviews is that at the core of the “man-crisis” is a “man-crisis” in the priesthood. Many priests, perhaps the majority, have no commitment to gather the scattered flock of men; some lack will, some lack skill; some lack both. Many of our priests “hole up” in the darkness and comfort of the Church or the rectory, in the comfort of the Sacraments or the cocoon of staff and administration, unwilling to go out and get down to the “hands on” work of calling the man-flock back to the Church.
This is not meant to be critical, but to speak truth. If you doubt it, ask men the last time their priest personally called them to see how they are doing. If you doubt it, look in the weekly bulletin of most parishes and see the dearth of men’s evangelization and catechetical events.
If you still doubt, here is Pope Francis:
“In the Gospel there’s the beautiful passage about the shepherd who realizes that one of his sheep is missing, and he leaves the 99 to go out and find the one. But, brothers and sisters, we have only one. We’re missing 99! We must go out and find them.”
There is, as in the time of any crisis, a great need for leadership. In a very real way, there will be no New Evangelization until large number of priests re-up on the manly call to be evangelists to men.
So here is a lesson in the priesthood from a Russian Duck Farmer.
The doors are open on the barn.
Our priests need to throw open wide the doors of the parish, to be available and able to engage the flock. The priest needs to be able to get out and the flock needs to be able to get in.
The farmer emerges from the barn, bare-chested and confident.
Our priests need to be more confident in their manly and God-given vocation. They are ordained by God Himself through the Sacrament of Holy Orders. What else is needed to build a man’s confidence? They represent in Persona Christi the manliest and greatest Man there has ever been; Jesus Christ Almighty King. Our priests need not fear anything or anyone; especially the howls of the post-modern jackals who demand “tolerance” and “political correctness.” Priests: be bold in Christ and live up to your call to proclaim Christ’s Truth in Holy Confidence to your men.
The ducks are scattered about, peeping, meandering, lacking clarity and purpose.
This is truth for men in the post modern world. Especially the peeping part; men have become chickens (or ducks), or perhaps more accurately, capons (castrated birds).
The farmer surveys the situation as he strides out into the yard.
Priests need to know what men are thinking (and not thinking) and doing (and not doing). The priest needs to know the real lives of the flock, not just theological and doctrinal points.
To quote Pope Francis again: “Priests need to smell like the sheep.” You can’t smell like the sheep from the rectory, the office, from behind the altar; only by standing shoulder to shoulder with the men.
When the famer knows the situation, he comes down to the ducks’ level and lets out a no-nonsense call to order.
Priests need to talk directly to men, at their level, in words they can understand. Priests need raise their voices to men, raised in volume but mostly in Truth. Men do respond to yelling; why do Marine officers form the men with loud voices? It works. The Truth of our Lord Jesus Christ about the need for repentance, Confession and the Eucharist must be proclaimed in a voice loud enough, and clear enough, to break through the clutter of men’s minds.
Like in the video, men, many men will respond when they are challenged and called. They will line up. They will follow the priest. This is a key theme that is repeated over and over in the New Emangelization interviews. Men need fellowship and priests need to be the catalyst to draw men together in communion.
Men are hungry. Men are waiting to be led. Priests need to lead.
Once the famer has the flock’s attention, he leads them into the open barn, exhorting them all the way in. It’s clear the farmer loves the flock.
Priests can’t just shout out, they need to lead and walk with the man-flock. Once the men are lined up, they will follow; perhaps not all, but many. The priest can lower his voice, but must continue to exhort, teach and correct the flock.
The priest must lead men back into the parish, drawn to sacred space, to kneel and pray in the confessional and in the Presence of Christ. Men need to be catechized with firmness and love in communion and fellowship with other men. Priests need to show that they love their flock; not just the children and the women, but the men.
Catholic men: pray for our priests that they may take up the call for the New Emangelization, to be leaders of their man-flocks, calling them to the Truth of the Gospel and back into the Church.