This not only refers to the faithful, but especially to His consecrated, ordained priests; those men who Christ has chosen to perpetuate the Bread of Life. Without the priests, we have no Blessed Sacrament. Without the priests, we have no Holy Mother Church. The shortage of priests today is something we should take very, very seriously. The answer is not watering down the priesthood by advocating women priests or married priests, but praying all the harder that God will send good holy young men to carry on the work in His one, true Church. Though priests are human, we must remember they are very special. This, unfortunately seems to be lost on society today as the priestly profession has become a prime target for Catholic and priest-bashing with an emphasis on pedophilia and homosexuality. True, there are some who have fallen, but the majority are loyal to their vows. We need to recognize this and not judge by man's viewpoint but allow God to be the final Judge. In order to foster a renewed vigor towards vocations, the sublime image of the state of the priesthood needs to be returned to the pedestal of holiness. As Catholics we must recognize the succession of priestly power in the presence of all the priests throughout the world who have been validly ordained by the bishop of their diocese. Though we may not always agree with this bishop or that bishop, they are successors of the Apostles and must be accorded all respect. As Catholics we are obliged to be obedient to our bishop and to follow him. The only time we are permitted to go against his command is if it is contrary to the Dogmas, Doctrines and Teachings of Holy Mother Church or the explicit directives of the Holy Father. If and when this would occur, we have recourse to appeal to the Holy See who is the ultimate authority. However we are still bound to obedience to the bishop on all other jurisdiction in which he would be in accord with the Church. The same holds for his priests, Our Lady's special Knights who have donned the armor of Holy Orders in this war with satan. Ordination carries with it the responsibilities and privileges of priesthood. Our priests are the "Shepherds" who guide, guard and protect the Good Shepherd's flock.
Yet, one of the biggest problems in the Church today is that the shepherds are dwindling and the sheep are wandering throughout this world in a state of confusion. Where once this lineage of power and authority was understood, where once obedience was a given and humbly accepted, we have now come to a time in the history of Holy Mother Church that every crack, crevice and nook of the Church is up for discussion, debate and outright disobedience. As mentioned earlier, the Church's consecrated priests are dwindling. Over the centuries, whenever there were shortages, the people would intensify their prayer-life, commit themselves to a virtuous life of sacrifice so that Holy Mother Church would be replenished with a fruitful harvest of new priests to carry on the miraculous unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass and to forgive sins as Jesus commanded in Matthew 18:18. Today, rather than turning to prayer and asking God to multiply the ranks of priests and religious, the majority turn to an easy solution: ordain women priests, allow priests to marry. Their rationing is that the Church will then have an abundance of priests. They're putting quantity over quality. It was quality that has nourished Holy Mother Church for well over nineteen centuries. Quality begets quantity. Quantity does not necessarily beget quality. Regardless of that argument, we forget that human logic has no merit when guided by Divine Reasoning for God is Supreme Being. God said it; we believe it; that settles it! Jesus left us the structure of His Church and the ultimate role model - His very Own Blessed Mother to personify all that He asks of His flock.
Our Lady serves as the ideal example for all religious and laity, the latter having taken a larger role in the governing of the Church. But too many are trying to conform the Church to today's standards, trying to force a democracy, where the very tenants of faith are put up for vote, and the majority vote carries. This is the structure of most Protestant churches. Those Catholics who advocate and persist in this are then not Catholic but Protestant. Let's call them this and end the debate. The Roman Catholic Church is a hierarchy - not a democracy. It never has been and never will be. In essence, Holy Mother Church is a monarchy for she has as her king the King of Kings - Lord Jesus Christ Who has delegated His authority on earth to His vicars of Christ and the successors of His Apostles. They in turn delegate authority to the priests who delegate certain authority to the laity. In this "organizational chart" the laity are a vital component, yet they are not and should not be delegated the authority commensurate with Christ's consecrated and ordained. Yet, in contrast to this it's almost like the inmates are running the asylum. While the increased role of the laity has led to many fruits in the Church, tapping their talents for the good of God's people, it has also led to a complacency in praying and fostering vocations. Many whom God has called have turned a deaf ear to Jesus' beckoning. The result has been an erosion within the foundation of the Church, but His Church was not built on sand but upon a solid rock (cf Matthew 8: 24-27) and Christ promised He would be with us always (cf Matthew 28: 20) charging Peter with the charge of His Church, "thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16: 18).
Therefore, we know God will prevail and vocations will resurrect, but we can expedite the process through prayer. In the next installment, we will focus on prayer - the lifeline of the Church and the guidelines Our Lady has outlined at Medjugorje for prayer from the heart. For those who pray, those who submit their wills to the Divine Will, can be assured of one thing: they will be counted among the chosen ones in whatever vocation God so deigns and be robed in the garment of grace for the Heavenly feast that awaits those who are faithful to Him and His Holy Church.