Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The loss of Father Floss, pt. II: the Ash Wednesday update

You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek. --Heb 5:6
Remember, man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return. --Ash Wednesday Blessing
Last week I blogged about the distressing departure of our favorite young parish priest, Father Christopher Floss. At the time, we were hoping his leave of absence was only temporary, but already we have another update, and the news is not good.

"Instead of entering a counseling and spiritual direction program," writes our pastor, Fr. Siegel, in the Sunday bulletin, "Fr. Chris has decided to take a leave of absence from priestly ministry. Bishop Sartain has granted this leave for a period of one year. During this time, Fr. Chris will continue to discern his vocation and his future, but will not have the faculties to celebrate Mass or the sacraments . . . Fr. Chris will not be returning to Visitation . . ."

Of course, there is always the chance Fr. Floss will return to the active priesthood. But the opting out of the counseling/spiritual direction program (unless the program itself was not orthodox) does not strike me as a positive. Furthermore, the one year period seems like an awfully long leave—like a dog leash that's so long it leads the animal into entanglement rather than freedom. Still, Bishop Sartain (who recently replaced one of the most liberal bishops in the nation) is himself a devout godsend for the Joliet Diocese, so perhaps his seemingly unorthodox methods will in the end bring about orthodox results.

My brother has told me that once a priest, you are always a priest. But to recall how this young man elevated the host with fire in his eyes, or to remember the compassion with which he heard my confessions—it seems unfathomable that this witness will be lost—that Father Christopher Floss will become just another mister. So, although my soul feels a bit like the ashes that today adorn my forehead, I still will offer my prayer and fasting for "Mr." Chris Floss—not for his return to Visitation, but that he one day revisits the priesthood forever.

1 comment :

JimAroo said...

Once Baptized - always Baptized
Once Confirmed - always Confirmed
Once a Priest - always a Priest
The Sacramental sign remains (the indelible mark to you old timers)
Read "Priests for the Third Millennium" by Abp Timothy Dolan of Mlwaukee. He does a good job of explaining the challenges of the priesthood. Originally a series of lectures to seminarians in Rome, it offers a lot of insight to the laity also.

St. John Vianney - Pray for Father Floss and for us.