What to do if you don’t know what to do. Wherein Fr. Z … advises. | St. Benedict's

What to do if you don’t know what to do. Wherein Fr. Z … advises.

Posted on 28 January 2017 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

My in-box is filled with email from people who are frustrated, angry, confused.

I am with you. I jot people’s names down and I pray for you. I am shifting my other practices around to include mortifications. After all, as St. John Vianney said to another priest: “You have preached, you have prayed, but have you fasted? Have you taken the discipline? Have you slept on the floor? So long as you have done none of these things, you have no right to complain.” Therefore, I have to do more.

So, I pay attention to your notes and I can offer a bit of advice here and there (mainly about being patient). However, I can’t do anything more for you than that. Right?

That said, you are NOT without options. Allow me to spell out a couple of them.

First, put your time and treasure where you don’t doubt that it will be well used and not abused. Get my drift?

Next, write to your bishops and tell them exactly what you think and feel.

Of course, you need to follow also my rules for writing to ecclesiastics… unless you really want to be thought of as a crank and subsequently ignored. Go ahead and be a jerk, if you want, and hurt your cause and ours. Otherwise, keep it brief and be respectful, but also be crystal clear about what you think and feel.

Think about this. Bishops talk to each other. When they meet, they discuss what’s going on. They share what they hear. Give them a lot to think about and don’t let them off the hook.

You have the right and the obligation to make yourselves known:

Can. 212 … §2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

If they write a snippy letter back to you… write again! And keep writing.

Bishop can (and do) grind priests into the gutter and wash them down the grate.

They can’t do that to lay people.

So, if you want something to happen – sure, you can write to me, but I am not in a position to do much.

YOU, dear lay people, have all the power.

And if your bishop is wonderful, doing great things, LET HIM KNOW! Tell him that you support him and even send him a check to apply to whatever he wants. “Your Excellency, I enclosed a check for a small amount. Get yourself a new zucchetto or take seminarians to supper. Whatever. You are appreciated.” Even if it is $10, the gesture will not be lost. Believe me. I get small donations from people and I am grateful for the gesture. There is no priest on earth worth his salt who doesn’t respect and venerate “the widow’s mite”.

And, if you support him and you tell him that you do, also tell him what you are concerned about.

Do NOT sit silently, wringing your hands. Fill that hand with a pen.

Tips for writing to the Vatican, bishops and priests


Fr. Z's original blog post can be found HERE. We are sharing it from our own blog only because adding a photo to the link makes this important blog post less likely to be simply scrolled by.

Please make yourselves known, please write your bishop, and please share!

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