Thursday, February 15, 2007

Lamenting the loss of Fr. Floss

He seemed the perfect priest. Young, energetic and orthodox, Fr. Chris was fresh from Rome—one of those on-fire, John-Paul-II-inspired young seminary students. And now, Visitation Parish, who just lost a saintly pastor in Fr. Michael Lane to reassignment, was blessed to have a newly ordained priest who shared his vision. And then came the news . . .

"This past week," began the official statement that was both read from the pulpit and written in the bulletin, "Bishop Sartain granted Fr. Chris Floss a leave from parish ministry . . . Respecting Fr. Chris' privacy but to provide some perspective, I can share that over the past several months, Fr. Chris has become increasingly aware of some important personal and vocational issues he needs to address . . . To do this effectively, he will be entering a several month program of pastoral counseling and spiritual direction. . . ."

"Why does the devil always go after the really holy priests and lay people?" asked Fr. Kelleher, a veteran priest with a healing ministry and a Brooklyn accent, repeating a question he had often been asked himself. "Why doesn't Satan go after the drug dealers and prostitutes on 42nd Street? The answer is that he doesn't have to. He already HAS them!"

Indeed since the issues with which Father Chris is struggling with would remain "private" (except for the assurance "that this is not a case of clergy sexual abuse"), the only thing we know for sure that Fr. Chris is struggling with is the devil. In Elmhurst's other two Catholic parishes reigns a pastor who prefers group absolution and people standing at the consecration (yes, they have kneelers!) and a woman (yes although a priest is allowed in to say Mass there on Sundays, a woman runs the parish) who on Saturdays leads a communion service that is either scary or Episcopalian depending on your opinion. Thus, Visitation, with its 24/7 Eucharistic Adoration and orthodox teachings was the O'Tooles' last refuge. But now even this is threatened, as Fr. Floss, whose diminutive stature but passionate Masses (and compassionate penances) reminded me of a young John of the Cross, wrestles with demons we can only imagine. Certainly we miss Fr. Chris, but that is not the point. The fact is, we need him back in battle if we are to win this apocalyptic fight for the town's soul.

He seemed the perfect priest. But now that we know that even Fr. Chris is human, we must appeal more than ever to He who Is; God the Father, Son and Spirit, as well as to the intercession of His mother, whose perfect obedience magnifies all prayer. Although Fr. Chris may be temporarily missing in action, pray that Fr. Floss is not lost for good—that although the fire burns all around him, he, like the prophet Daniel, is not consumed by it.

1 comment :

JimAroo said...

We had already been praying for Father Floss and will double up for his intentions. It takes a good man to admit he needs help and take what seems like a loss of public esteem. Mary and I with all our Carmelite daughters have a daily prayer intention to pray for priests, to support them, and to help them in any way we can. We will enlist the sisters to pray for him too.

I undersdtand the dilemma of Elmhurst - we were there in July and went to several parishes for daily Masses- every single one had serious liturgical abuse. Dissent is so common and established that orthodox priests like Father Floss are isolated, ignored and even persecuted. Trust me I know - we have a Cardinal here who apparently doesnt even believe in the Real Presence! We have tremendous persecution from inside!

Pray for priests! Pray for our Holy Father that his desires will be carried out and not undermined by underlings.

Remember that the church will prevail for all time against the gates of hell- She might not survive in America but survive she will!