When I retire later this year, I am going to offer myself to any seminary willing to have me as Professor of Priestcraft!
Our seminarians learn Greek and Hebrew, Liturgy, Church History, Old and New Testament, and many other very necessary things. But I have noticed that an awful lot of them emerge from seminary without a clue how to be a priest. That is appalling, considering that their parishes and Bishops and others helped them to go to seminary just for that purpose.
My Priestcraft professorial syllabus will contain many splendid things of which these are but a few of the more obvious:
How to say Mass. How to vest decently. The name and use of everything at the altar or in the sacristy. High Mass, Sung Mass, Low Mass, Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper. Eastward facing, facing the people, North end. Mattins and Evensong, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Stations of the Cross etc etc.
Preaching. How to write sermons. How to preach from notes. How to preach with no notes. How to preach to children/ city councillors/ clergy conferences/ that maddening woman who suggests stupid subjects. Retreat addresses.
How to hear confessions. Suitable penances. When to withhold absolution. General services of Penance and Absolution. How to stop penitents from gossiping about their neighbours (or using the Box to get at you!)
Visiting parishioners in their homes. Hospital visiting. Anointing the Sick. Training lay people to carry the Sacrament to shut-ins.
(I’ll be on shaky ground on this one, but I know someone who will write most of my lecture notes for this – you know who you are!) Designing and maintaining a web site. Building up a Friends of the Parish organization. How to use it to raise millions of dollars and to get all wills changed to leave you (I mean the parish!) the residue. Recording sermons, music, Vestry meetings (no, I’m kidding!).etc.
Days off and months off and Sabbaticals will also be covered, as will singing, and avoiding Liturgical dance and long banners on bendy poles.
I have no doubt the seminaries will soon be lining up to hire me. My long experience of Priestcraft will come in handy when choosing which one to go to – I’ll go to the highest bidder!