Young Catholic priests have been cautioned against imitating the dramatic church services and other abracadabra going on in Pentecostal Churches.
Rev. Msgr. Raphael Madu gave the warning in his homily during the Silver Jubilee of the priestly ordination of Very Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Oparaugo held at St. Helen’s Catholic Church Irete, Owerri West LGA, December 5.
Msgr. Madu reminded the Jubilarian that after all these years of service with single minded devotion, he must ensure that the faith entrusted to him and which he has helped to nurture is preserved until the last day.
“Do not allow some misguided younger priests to derail you from the path of orthodoxy with their modern summersaults and preaching of cross-less Christianity gathered from imitating their Pentecostal counterparts and so find it difficult to stand by the truth, to act on the truth and to stand on the truth.”
“As you celebrate 25 years of faithful service, I want to remind you that as a priest you are a bridge, a signboard, a judge, reconciler, teacher, a prophet, etc., but not the type of prophet who predicts election results or sees visions for people – that would make him a soothsayer. A prophet is concerned with the truth of God. He prays and leads the people to genuinely seek God and to do His will.
The homilist, who was recently elevated to the rank of Monsignor, regretted that the temptation today is to equate worship with merely the preacher’s dramatic church services that promise material prosperity or success in life. “Like John the Baptist, a prophet or a man of God tells the truth and is ready to suffer the consequences, today, there are a lot of abracadabra. How many of our so-called prophets or pastors are ready to suffer for the faith or for the nation?
“A priest is not one who tells people what they want to hear, about prosperity, miracles or one who thinks he can compel God to do people’s will.
“What marks Catholic spirituality out is that a Catholic prays and patiently allows God’s will to be done. Many of those who move from one church to another Church are not really doing so to worship God but are in search of motivational speakers who will assure them that there is a cheaper Christianity that does not tolerate suffering but only celebrates success and miracles. For good Catholics, religion is about adoration and worship of God. While doing this, God can at His own time quietly provide our needs even exceeding our expectations (cf. Eph. 3:20).
“The pastors who woo people to their Church at 6 pm are no different from politicians who desperately want to win over the electorate by promising them the impossible such as making streams flow and beautiful flowers bloom in the Sahara desert!
Turning to Fr. Oparaugo, Msgr. Madu told him, “Twenty-five years down the line confers on you the status of an elder and an older member of our priestly fraternity. After all these years of service with single-minded devotion, you must ensure that the faith entrusted to you and which you have helped to nurture is preserved until the last day.
Take care not to enter directly into the political arena or party disputes, which remain the duty of the laity, whom you have the important duty of ceaselessly educating and encouraging. There are enough tribal warlords and political juggernauts out there to divert your attention from your spiritual work, which you alone can give the world.
“As priests, we are richly blessed with powers, not earthly but spiritual powers. We have powers in our hands when we bless; power in our eyes, which transmit compassion and therapy when we look at people. There is power in our clerical garments, which remind people of holiness and bring healing to many who look up to us in faith. In other words, our life is a blessing to others. May you remain forever a source of blessing to the distressed Nigerian people.”