Green light to priests
Fr Ireneusz Skubis
Today about home visitation by the priests, i.e. priests visiting families. During this time the parish priest or his assistant visits homes of his parishioners in order to bless families, to pray with them, to have a brief pastoral conversation. I want to stress again: a priest comes with God's blessing and brotherly friendship and what does not motivate him is financial reasons although you can hear this opinion sometimes.
This is a very difficult task for every priest. It is not easy to go from door to door and meet people whom you sometimes do not know. We are living in the times of big migration, people change flats, addresses, move to other towns. A priest often comes to people whom he sees for the first time and who can treat him impolitely, sometimes they are cynical and even malicious. And the priest must be prepared to face various situations.
Naturally, it is extremely nice to come to believers whom you know, whom you meet at Mass, who participate in the parish life, receive the sacraments. Then you go to friends who wait for priestly blessing and rejoice that they can talk to the priest, confine to him, tell about their joys and concerns. Many a time the priests are strengthened by their parishioners' faith, their deep prayer and trust in God. Sometimes they do not realise how pious people are, and during the visitation it occurs that they listen to some Catholic radio, watch Catholic television and often pray the rosary or unite themselves with the sufferings of Lord Jesus meditating the Way of the Cross or reciting the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. The priest notices and rejoices that weak and sick people do not suffer in vain but they can offer their sufferings to God so that his glory grows and their prayers can help them endure many troubles. This is a unique relationship that the priest establishes with these people, relationship that is both comfort and challenge for him. The priest gets to know people's problems and can see that they are plagued by poverty and he feels more as their father who wants to help. During home visitation the priest has the opportunity to talk tactfully about difficulties in the religious lives of family members, sometimes he can discreetly ask about their sacramental lives or get interested in their possible problems with addictions or contacts with some sect. It is a good occasion to encourage the family and even restore hope or help in a concrete way.
Many a time priests are surprised by the charges levelled against priests. Sometimes ordinary questions become too difficult to answer them quickly and in-depth. One should thoroughly consider such problems, analyse them and consult them with competent people, and when the opportunity arises one should try to solve them. This is a very important task of home visitation.
I think that priests should also pay attention to people's reading Catholic press and books. Unfortunately, the situation is not good in our families as far as this issue is concerned. People are formed by secular papers, which are sometimes unfriendly to Christianity and which later affect people's morality, attitudes and manners. We must know that life undergoes constant changes and man should accept anew God's teaching, which never changes in its essence. Traditional faith will not meet the new demands of our times. One should get to know the catechism better; today we have an easy version: 'The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church'. When an adult reads the catechism he can re-discover the mysteries of the faith, understand more and admire God more. Home visitation provides favourable chances to talk about these issues.
The faithful often see the priest through the prism of information given in the media or films, which are generally unfriendly towards priests. Only when you meet a priest in your house, more privately, in a normal conversation, you may change your attitude towards him. Therefore, let us prepare our homes for the visitation by the priests and as far as we can, make all family members be present during the priest's visit. Let us speak about the home visitation to our neighbours and other parishioners so that there would be no closed doors before the priests. One should also know that information about home visitation must be recorded in parish books, which can be of help for us in the future.
Home visitation is a test for priests and parishioners, and the whole parish. May we use this moment of the Church approaching our families properly so that our home Church can anchor more strongly to God and trust people who have decided to be his priests.