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Sunlight Priests

Father Fabulous, put your “Nice” in the Nicene Creed.

Father Michael L. Pfleger celebrating the Dec. 24, 2021 evening Mass at St. Sabina Church in Chicago, where he has been the pastor since 1981. (Image: Screen shot of St. Sabina YouTube video)

In a 2013 symposium entitled “What to Look for in a New Pope”—in a reference that Commonweal writer Paul Baumann won’t let die—former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan said, “The next pope should be a man who can greet the world with a look of pleasure on his face, with a smile of joy. He should not come forward with the sad, bent posture of one who knows the world is in ruins.” Noonan also said John Paul II and Benedict XVI made the faith seem “somewhat abstract and cerebral.” Noonan wanted the next pope to “journey constantly to the outside,” to “invite sunlight” by opening the Vatican’s doors and windows.

Thanks for reminding us, Paul. So, we still need smiling sunlight popes and priests. Since you insist, here are a few suggestions.

Glad-hand people during the procession to and from Mass.

A priest must realize that people are starved for affection and look to the priest to fill the voids in their drab and wretched lives. At every Mass, he (if that is his preferred pronoun) should not miss the opportunity to greet the people as he processes to and from the altar. Make eye contact. Smile. High-five the kids. Mass should be an emotionally-fulfilling encounter with the priest.

Make eye contact and smile during ritual prayer exchanges.

In the traditional Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form), the rubrics instruct the priest to gaze down during liturgical greetings such as “Dominus vobiscum” (The Lord be with you). Sad. Priests should celebrate the moment with a broad smile and make eye contact with everyone. The gesture is essential to the weary people in the pews who look to the priest for consolation. Never be negative.

Dress casually and be accessible.

Don’t wear a chasuble during weekday Mass. Wear a flowing wide-sleeved alb, no cincture, and a rainbow stole. People love these expressions of freedom and will more readily approach you to bless gay unions.

Make jokes throughout the Mass.

The Mass is made for laughs. Joke often. A laughing congregation is a happy congregation. That’s what avoiding hell is all about. Nobody laughs in hell except — maybe — the demons–if you believe that stuff.

Show that you care.

Place the tabernacle off someplace else. Don’t let the sacred distract from you. Follow your dreams! When choosing art, take the lead from the Synod on Synodality. Contemporary art and pagan statues of Mary are hip. Enforce the exchange of the Sign of Peace option. Always go to the congregation. Hug the ladies if you’re binary, and embrace the men if you celebrate diversity.

Demonstrate your liturgical acumen.

Don’t let the rubrics get in the way of your liturgical expertise. Omit the Offertory washing of the hands (it makes you look “sinful”). Fracture the Host at the time of the Consecration. It shows you know what “broke the bread” means. Grow long hair and a beard, and try to look like Jesus!

Use technology to complement your personality.

The whole world is your stage! Rely on the Sennheiser head microphone that provides a pure, visionary sound free of intermodulation, just like Madonna’s — the pop star! You deserve it. Use a big screen TV to soothe the boredom of the kids.

Use special liturgical effects.

The Roman Missal is like an ankle shackle. Set yourself free. Do not cover the stole, the symbol of your authority, with the chasuble. Wear your power with pride over the chasuble. Use a skateboard to ride into Mass. Invite liturgical dancers to pantomime the readings. Use puppets during the homily. Trained as a mime? Do it! Love the beach? Celebrate Mass in the ocean using a surfboard as an altar. Groovy, man! And don’t forget those COVID masks!

Be diverse.

Wear a rainbow stole. OK, we get it. You’re “gay”. No worries!  The funeral Mass of Cardinal Bernardin in 1996 was diverse, with the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus providing entertainment during and after. Celebrate Cardinal Hollerich’s new anthropological studies! But know your boundaries. No need to invite a police raid. Celebrate diversity!

Celebrate equity.

Allow old women to serve at the altar while the boys and men sit in the pews. Sit down as a dozen or more lady eucharistic ministers distribute Communion. (The standard ratio is one female eucharistic minister for every five communicants.) Don’t forget the hand sanitizers. Invite the pastoral minister that identifies as a female to concelebrate Mass. What is the risk? Your bishop doesn’t care! All of us are equal, but some of us are more equal than others.

Be inclusive.

Sanitize the words of the Scriptures and the Mass. Never say “He” or “Him.” Replace gender-exclusive terms with “God.” Take the “canon” out of the Canon. Ad lib the Eucharistic prayer. Remove and replace unnerving words such as “Father,” “Lord,” “man,” “brethren,” and “beseech.” A fabulous priest can easily change these words to demonstrate pastoral sensitivity: “creator,” “redeemer,” “sanctifier,” and “brothers and sisters.” Use your imagination!

Never use the Roman Canon and avoid “damnation.” “Command that we be delivered from eternal damnation”? C’mon, this is the Twenty-First Century. As Beatles’ John Lennon—a contemporary of Peggy Noonan and aging baby boomers—famously sang:

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us, only sky.

Father Fabulous, put your “Nice” in the Nicene Creed. Be a sunlight priest!

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About Nick Bottom 8 Articles
Nick Bottom is a weaver of clothing and words, a lovable fool, and a young thespian who is best-known for his performance in "Pyramus and Thisbe". His guiding motto is, "I will roar, that I will do any man's heart good to hear me'." He blogs to roar, to delight, and to instruct, as is his wont. He reports on behalf of his news and views agency, Audacious Scoffing Services (ASS). You can follow him on Twitter.


  1. Dear Nick, with all due respects, your ‘sunshine priest’ resembles a hippie, high on booze & drugs, living in the deception that their substance-boosted subjective feeling of loving everyone & everything is what the Gospel Good News of Jesus is all about. “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die; full stop.”

    Yet, mature believers understand belief in Christ is also belief in His commands, shown by obedience to them; and sincere repentance whenever we miss the mark.

    1 John 3:24 – “The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in them. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us.” Matthew 7:21-27, makes it plain that obedience to the commands of God the Father, is affirmed and shown us by the life & teachings of King Jesus Christ, and was reminded to the Apostolic authors of The New Testament by The Holy Spirit of God.

    The Trinity’s seal emphasizes these ordinances are a non-negotiable for a true Catholic and for any other authentic Christian. In this we truly rejoice.

    Is obedience something a believer can laughingly decide for themselves, Nick? No: God has not provided that option. Off the rock of obeying Christ’s rules, so graciously given us, we will fall. Yet, there’s deep joy in that truth.

    Are we on our own? No: the beloved Holy Spirit reminds us of the rules, and fills us with love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, generosity, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. Infinitely better than any substance-induced ‘trip’.

    How can our catechists communicate the joy provided by obedience to our beloved Lord Jesus Christ? First, by being clear about the unshakeable 10 Commandments.
    The original Semitic Ten Commandments reflected cleanness of the right hand (the first five commands) and uncleanness of the left hand (the second five commands). As Jesus taught us, this duality graphically illustrates 1. loving God; 2. loving neighbor.

    Expressed for 21st Century people –

    HAND ONE, Thumb: With all my heart, mind, body and soul I will worship the one God revealed by Jesus Christ: Father, Son & Holy Spirit.

    Index Finger: I will have no other god nor any idol; I will not swear oaths, for my ‘yes’ is yes and my ‘no’ is no.

    Middle Finger: I will not use God’s name profanely.

    Ring Finger: I will keep the Sabbath Day holy, in the way Jesus taught us.

    Little Finger: I will honour my mum and dad.

    HAND TWO, Thumb: I will love every person and not hurt or kill anyone, nor think evil of them, nor hate or take revenge.

    Index Finger: I will maintain sexual purity and faithfulness in thought, word and deed.

    Middle Finger: I will not steal; I will not rob others of their reputation.

    Ring Finger: I will not tell lies, deceive, nor cheat.

    Little finger: I will not covet, for God in Christ is providing for all my needs.

    What don’t we understand about: “If you love Me; obey My commands.” That’s where all the real ‘Sonshine Priests’ (and they are many) get their joy & ministry power.

    Dear Nick, please read your New Testament & understand the deadly sin of trying to exceed the kindness of God. You can’t improve on God. God is not mocked.

    Of course, God wants all souls to be saved into a joyous heavenly eternity. The reason God’s Realm is joyful is because everyone there lovingly obeys King Jesus Christ. The obdurately disobedient & all evil things, with their false happiness, are necessarily self-excluded from this party.

    Whilst in this world we are able to fall in love with ‘The New Testament’ that trains us in cheerful obedience to our King’s rules: the Truth, the Way, the Life Eternal.

    2 Thessalonians makes the other alternative especially clear. “Satan will set to work . . . everything evil that can deceive those bound for destruction because they would not grasp the love of the truth which could have saved them . . . all those who refused to believe in the truth & chose wickedness instead.”

    Around the world The Catholic Church has offered repentance and joy-filled reconciliation to all those who have denied Christ’s & The Apostles’ authority to define right & wrong. From among those who have willfully chosen wickedness, some see sense, humble themselves, admit their error, & begin a new life of obedience. The Holy Angels celebrate! This is REAL, enduring, happiness.

    However, many outside the Church (and sadly now some within the Church) defy Christ’s headship, and gaily flout The Holy Spirit-inspired, Apostolic instructions of The New Testament (see, e.g., Romans 1:18-32). Theirs’ is a fleeting joy . . .

    Excluding the unfaithful from communion with the faithful, the Church confirms the heretics’ decision to prefer their own way to Christ’s Way. A serious warning, indeed.

    The Church’s aim is always: “Unity in Christ”; never unity in whatever makes us laugh.

    It’s great when our priests shine with genuine Holy Spirit joy but whether they do or they don’t, no one should pretend that eternal life in Heaven or Hell is a joking matter. King Jesus suffered the Cross to show us what a serious matter it is.

    Always in the gracious mercy of The Lamb of God; love & blessings from marty

  2. I haven’t even met this author and it’s simply remarkable that he’s knows the parish church I’ve attended so well. What a coincidence!

  3. Bring back the incense, the candles, the Perpetual Adoration, the warning against sin, the teaching of the Mercy of God, the Holy Vestments in all their splendor, the altar boys, the Latin, as in the Agnus Dei and the Sanctus, the kneelers, the receiving of the Blessed Sacrament on the tongue NOT in the hand, the fear of receiving the Lord of Glory in an unworthy manner and the warnings that are in 1 Corinthians 11:23-32. for doing so and much more I have not mentioned. Do we want people to flock to our Catholic faith? Then we must be peculiar, we must be different, that is to say, we must raise the Standard of Holiness so high that it shines through the darkness like a beacon on a lighthouse during a deadly storm. Because the world is in a deadly storm and there is no light except from the Catholic Church because we have the Tabernacle of Our Lord!

  4. Yes, Peggy Noonan is an idiot, we can say it now. She segued one good speech for Reagan into a lifetime career of vacuous commentary.

  5. This article is ridiculous and inflammatory. There is a huge difference between a priest using up-to-date technology (e.g., a headset microphone and a state-of-the art sound system) to help his parishioners HEAR the Good News in church buildings that are often badly-designed for acoustics; e.g., the “clamshell” auditorium, and a priest wearing a rainbow stole to openly express pride in his sexual orientation (gay). I am currently reading George Wiegel’s biography of Saint Pope John Paul II, and it is clear that Karol Wojtyla was a very friendly and approachable priest, especially with young people. I think that “Nick Bottom” should head for an antique bookstore and purchase some issues of Mad Magazine to learn how to write satire that is actually funny and not derogatory. Oh, and if using current technology is something to be criticized, then “Nick Bottom” and other Catholic writers should stop allowing their work to be posted ONLINE. Go back to handwriting (with a fountain pen and a bottle of ink) manuscripts on foolscap paper and printing them the old way, with those individual type pieces arranged backwards and pressed down hard–all done by hand, of course. I realize that all priests have their own personalities, and many are not outgoing, bubbly, smiley, or demonstrative in their interactions with people. But “friendliness” does not have to mean “in-your-face” or “hug your neck” or “happy, clappy, slappy”. But LOVE is a requirement for all Christians, and a priest who loves will, in his own way, demonstrate love to his parishioners, and be loved in return.

    • You offer a good point about priestly friendship, but ultimately it’s not about the priest. This from the 1970s, and there are still pockets of insipid banality all over the damn place:

      discovering their spiritual emptiness,
      look to the Church
      not for a breezy bon mot,
      but for the hard truths of
      mystical life, fasting and prayer.
      Lapsed Catholics,
      tiptoeing back into the Church
      on Sunday Morning,
      look not for a communal meal
      and a handshake,
      but for a holy Sacrifice
      and the promise of redemption.
      Our faith is like a strong drink,
      or a plate of hearty food.
      We can make it easier to accept,
      by watering it down
      and taking out the spices.
      But who wants a watery drink,
      or a tasteless dish? (“If the salt
      has lost its savor…”)
      Our society is begging for red meat.
      If we offer a thin soup, instead,
      we shall rightly
      be rejected.”

  6. The sappy picture is a well-deserved portrait of the vapid, unserious and un-Christ-like Church, as imagined by superficial musings of Ms. Noonan (whose superficiality is in display in these quotes about the Church, just as it was in her congratulating herself for voting for the subverted fraud Barack Obama for the merits of nothing except his skin color).

    Congratulations Ms. Noonan, you wanted it so bad that you got it bad: the smiling, subverted fraud Pontiff Francis, arch-defender of sex-abuser “Rev.” Rupnik, SJ, and all the rest of the sex abusers and coverup artists he has recruited to the cult of his ego.

    • Why not publish it? Does it hit too close to home for you? Are you offended that an author calls out the progressive stupidity that currently masquerades as the gospel in far too many parishes? “This is the condemnation, that Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.”

    • Dar Dan:

      You may not agree with every writer or every comment, yet CWR is a catalyst for positive change and personal spiritual growth. Continue to add you voice, each response is a way to better consider the Lord’s path for us.

      God bless you,


  7. Forget all those Timeless Truths of the Catholic Faith that we foolishly believed before Vatican II of the 1960s and our current pope’s Synod on Synodality. The only thing we need in these critical times is more “Bing Crosby”-type priests.

  8. Marvelous sardonic satire. Unfortunately, not for us Novus Ordo priests, the majority. Nick Bottom describes the effeminates, father fabulous the word fabulous homosexual lexicon and the liberated straights who really belong in straight jackets. The remainder of us suffer constant insult from the far right [as much as I admire Archbishop Viganò he once implored priests in NO parishes immediately abandon these parishes and join in with the TLM communities].
    The satirical Paul’s wish occurred 2013. Abandon our parishioners? That’s how far afield is where Viganò, who has become the soothsayer of the traditionalists, has gone since he did the Church a service in exposing Pope Francis. A commentator, on another website once challenged me to abandon the parish I served for a traditional. When worship of trappings replaces love of souls we know where the heart is. Satire is entertaining. Commitment to Christ is more serious business.

  9. Does sound just like Mass since 1970. To be it has been something of an evolution but the trend has been ineluctable from the seeds planted then. Catalyzed by guitars of course.

  10. Parody can an aid to change.

    Honouring God makes us into useful servants. There are enough social commentators today, we don’t need more in the church. We need God’s word to groom out the spiritual burrs that attach themselves to our psyche. The soul is eternal and must have godly grooming. The flock wants to be refreshed and able to meet the spiritual challenges we face daily!

    1 Thessalonians 5:23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Matthew 16:26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

    Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

    1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

    2 Corinthians 4:16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

    Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

    Let us uphold faithful priests and bishops up in prayer. That God would raise up men the like of Fulton Sheen that are a blessing to our eternal soul.

  11. LOL!

    I sympathize with those not realizing that this is a satirical piece.

    These days, I’m not always sure whether reality is really real or another dramatization by Babylon Bee that’s a little too on the nose.

    Anyway, Nick Bottom at CWR, keep up the sarcasm, please.

    Mockery is kryptonite to the satanic left. They’re all about being smarter and cooler than the rest of us.

    But the groupthink spell is broken, never to be returned, once you point out that the shriveled and bony emperor is, in fact, quite au natural.

  12. Thanks for including this great and very funny (and all too perceptive) article in CWR. Looking around, we need some laughs and these people need to be laughed about.

  13. I never realized it till now how ahead of his time was a priest I encountered some years ago. The first one announced at the beginning of Mass that people must be getting tired of hearing the same prayers at Mass over and over again. I didn’t quite understand what he meant, until I heard him using unfamiliar words even during Consecration. In fairness, his homily was good, so I complimented him at the end of the Mass, but adding, Father, you should not change the words of the Mass because they are perfect as it is. His reply was, “You think so?”

  14. Germany has been the curse of the last 150 years. Tyrants in the EU, provokers in two World Wars, murderers of Jews , who learned nothing and went full throttle for Abortion.
    The whole country lives in darkness. And that is how I see it, national HUBRIS
    The whole of Western Europe is in demographic collapse. So be it.

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