Congratulations, Father. After all those grueling years of philosophy, theology and dormitory life, you've finally been ordained. Now that the bishop, that kind, fatherly figure who was so pleased with your desire to become a priest, has sent you to your first parish, you'll want to stay on his good side.
What? You thought that now that you're out of the seminary and have been ordained that you no longer have to hide your orthodoxy and you can be that great champion of souls that you always wanted to be?
Welcome to the American Catholic parish. Not all of those folks in the pews share your inspiration and they have little tolerance for anyone who rocks the boat. Monsignor is the boss and he's known the bishop a lot longer than you have. That same bishop who ordained you can strip you of your faculties or send you to the most undesirable parish in the diocese. So get your head out of the ivory tower. Now you get to walk the tightrope of survival. Here are a few pointers for the uninitiated:
1. THOU SHALT NOT OFFER TO HELP DISTRIBUTE COMMUNION AT THE PASTOR'S MASSES SO THAT HE WON'T NEED EXTRAORDINARY MINISTERS
Do you think he wants all those women yelling at him?
2. THOU SHALT NOT OFFER TO START
A PADRE PIO PRAYER GROUP
We don't need those kinds of Catholics in the parish.
3. THOU SHALT NOT WEAR A BIRETTA AT ANY MASSES
Nobody remembers what it is and
they're sure to start asking Monsignor about it.
4. THOU SHALT NEVER SAY ANYTHING ADMIRING, KIND, OR POSITIVE ABOUT VENERABLE PIUS XII
It's been decided: He's Hitler's Pope and that is that.
We don't need you confusing the folks with any facts.
5. THOU SHALT NOT TEACH AN ADULT EDUCATION CLASS USING RATZINGER'S SPIRIT OF THE LITURGY
Try Chicken Soup for the Soul instead.
6. THOU SHALT NOT WEAR A CASSOCK
ON PARISH GROUNDS OR AROUND TOWN
Why are you trying to stir up trouble?
7. THOU SHALT NOT OFFER TO HEAR CONFESSIONS FOR ANY PERIOD OTHER OR LONGER
THAN THE TIME ALREADY SCHEDULED
30 minutes is enough. What are you trying to prove, anyway?
8. THOU SHALT ACCEPT AND USE ALTAR GIRLS
AT ALL THY MASSES
That is, if you don't want to get a 20 year assignment
as a hospital chaplain.
9. THOU SHALT NOT OFFER PRIVATE INSTRUCTION IN THE FAITH TO ANYONE WHO CANNOT MAKE THE SCHEDULED RCIA CLASSES
That is Sister Randy's program and she decides
who gets to be Catholic and who doesn't in this parish.
10. THOU SHALT NOT TEACH THE CHILDREN IN THE FIRST HOLY COMMUNION CLASS
TO RECEIVE ON THE TONGUE
Who do you think you are? The Pope?