Our trade papers arrive at the weekend, and sometimes I amuse myself by looking at the job adverts, and suggesting anything particularly exotic to Hub, just for fun.  Chaplaincy in Oman, dear?  House for Duty Vicar in Dorset??  Malayalam-speaking associate pastor???

One advert has now appeared several weeks running. It starts

sought for the parish of X …’


Who would apply for this job, I wonder? Who considers him/herself holy? And if they do, does that mean that they can’t be? Surely ‘holiness’ is something that we don’t know we’ve got, if we have it at all! What do they mean by holiness? I know what I mean … but is that what they mean? Do they know?

I suppose it means someone who seems ‘better’ or more deeply spiritual than other people. In which case, the final line of the advert is surely redundant:

‘Enhanced CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) Disclosure required’



30 thoughts on “A HOLY PRIEST?

  1. CRB check definitely not redundant in view of the holinesses who have been scattered around before.

    Could the ‘holy’ element be coded for a priest who has never been known to have designs on anything other than the wee out of the way village, set in its daily ways of living and twice weekly prayer? Or, could it be that what is wanted is a man, (it cannot be a woman) who is still registered in retirement as able to practice all rites and rituals of his branch of religion?

    Then again, it could be a person who can sport a visible natural halo.


    1. :)) Any, all or some of the above??

      I do wonder what has happened in the past, that the advert should be worded in that way.

      CRB checks are compulsory for all clergy and anybody in the church who works with children, young people who vulnerable adults. The C of E does take this very seriously.


      1. Definitely all of the above (and probably more) could be on the list. :yes:

        I was aware of the CRB requirements; though I haven’t been in a position in recent times to need the certification, I do have it. it is not a perfect tool however,I think it is one worth having in place.

        The advertisement does raise questions that remain unanswered and probably will continue to be so.


  2. Isn’t this some sort of tautology given that men of the cloth are meant to be Holy anyway?
    There are few things more irritating than people who insist to me that THEY themselves are good Christians / Muslims / Sikhs etc. Surely, only God is the judge of that.
    I recently saw a young Muslim with a t-shirt that said “I PRAY FIVE TIMES A DAY”. So what does that make you, a bloody saint, you sanctimonious little prick!


    1. I can understand how it looks to us British, who think that talking about how well we practise our faith is not socially acceptable. As you say, we think it should be left up to other people – or God – to decide how ‘good’ somebody is!

      But I’m prepared to be a bit more tolerant, because it may well be considered a ‘good thing’ in the Muslim community to say what they do.


      1. Yeah, Gilly, I understand the different social perspectives of religious faith. I guess that, as a traditional Englishman, it sits very uneasily with me. I’m of the “Don’t make a fuss” / “Help out then move on” school.


      2. Yeah – and that’s buried quite deep in Christianity too, with Jesus’ teaching about ‘when you give alms, don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing’ ‘when you pray, go into your room and shut the door’ because God sees in secret (this is in contrast to the Pharisees who were praying loudly on street corners so everyone would admire them).

        So that contributes, maybe unconsciously, to our reaction too, I guess.


  3. After all we heard about the Catholic church I should steer clear of people who claim to be holy

    I wonder if it was a spellling error and if they really meant
    “Wholly retired priest (with own pension) wanted for light unpaid work in desperate inner city parish which needs extra staff but cannnot afford topay a salary/stipend.”..

    “Are you a wholly retired and bored. priest………please help out at a parish full of demons and devils not unadjacent to Westminster London UK ?”

    “Whole and retired priest Wow.Please get in touch with J.Christ@heavenabove.fishingnet.org.
    Photo email appreciated but not essential”


    1. I think you should write the adverts, Kathryn – they would be much more fun!!!

      That’s what ‘house for duty’ means, by the way – you can have somewhere to live but we want you to work unpaid!


    1. Sounds like it! I would love to talk to the church council, and ask why they put it! I would have thought it more appropriate to advertise for more general qualities, then choose from the candidates the one they felt was more ‘holy’, whatever they mean by that. But it’s impossible to answer an advert like that!


  4. this is very interesting for me, coming from a slightly different society and cultural background. Do I understand that holy means spiritual to you? I think the last line would refer to the fact that some crooks might try for the office, and these will be discovered, so please don’t apply.


    1. I can see this is very culturally bound, Shimon! I did of course write it with my tongue firmly in my cheek.

      I believe holy is something that characterises God Himself. I think of Moses being told to put off his shoes, because the place where he was standing was holy ground. I think of the Levites who put out a hand to keep the ark of the covenant from falling off the cart, and who died as a result of their disobedience. I think of Moses telling the children of Israel not to go near the mountain of God. All this tells me that such holiness is something that is fearful, which could destroy us.

      Christian ideas of holiness are governed by our understanding of the nature of Christ and the Holy Spirit – that our faith and the work of the Spirit is to gradually transform us more into his likeness, which is, as we believe, the likeness of the Father. This is a divine work of grace within us, not something we can do by ourselves. Holiness means purity, closeness to God, completeness.

      All this is shorthand, a thumbnail sketch of a fascinating and complex subject, of course. I am sure you could add much yourself. But when a church advertises for a ‘holy priest’, it really does raise more questions than it answers. Is this because their previous priest was found lacking in moral areas of life? Or is it because they want somebody to talk about spiritual things, and to help them to pray? Is it somebody who seems to other people to be closer to God than most, and who can enrich and guide them spiritually? It could be all or none of these things, but I have never seen it in an advertisement before, and it’s very intriguing.

      As for the CRB check – this is absolutely standard practice now for all clergy and everyone working in the church with children, young people and vulnerable adults. So it is normal. But the juxtaposition of it with the request for a holy priest struck me as both ironic and amusing – my deplorable sense of humour, and possibly English sense of humour (I don’t know).

      Thank you for your interesting comment!


  5. This will sound strange, but it never occurred to me that there were job adverts for priests and vicars…and as I say that, I have no idea what the difference is between a priest and a vicar!

    A funny story about a vicar. Many years ago in the States a very ‘southern woman’ was reading a book, and said in her Savannah, Georgia accent…’Jennit, what’s the vi car’? Vi pronounded like the vi in viking. I asked her in what context was this word. It turned out she was talking about an English vicar:)

    Ever since then I have called vicars…vi cars………:)s


    1. :)) I like that – a vy-car!

      You’re ordained a priest – it’s your ‘identity’. You then become either a vicar or a rector (or a priest in charge – don’t ask) of a parish somewhere – it’s the title of your job. The difference between vicar and rector is historical, and now redundant – in Jane Austen’s time a rector got more money!


    1. I would be intrigued to know if anyone has applied!!!

      A pagan would be welcomed in most churches, – but I imagine she might not feel very much at home!


      1. That is true..

        BTW…..something that just sprung into my head..

        How do you answer…

        Exodus 20:4-6

        “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I The Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My Commandments”
        P xx


      2. Do you mean, how do I understand all of it, Pauline? Or do you have a particular section in mind?

        We believe that the Bible should be understood in its context, in both its historical context, also in the context of other teaching in the Bible, and in its theological context. So we don’t believe that we should just take a bit out of the Bible, out of context, and use it as a proof to bolster our own opinions, if you see what I mean. Far too many people do that and you can get some very weird and wonderful conclusions which don’t have much to do with either Judaism (the Old Testament) or Christianity (the Old and the New Testament)!

        Anyway, I understand it like this. God has brought his people out of slavery in Egypt. He is wanting them to understand that He is the only and the true God, and that this rules out the worship of idols. So this commandment forbids the making of images, because that tempted the people to start treating them as idols, and worshipping them instead of the true God.

        The ‘visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children’ etc sounds very harsh to our modern ears. But my understanding of it is, that if someone in our past family history does something very wrong, then very often it continues to affect the family for many years. I don’t think this means that God deliberately takes revenge on people: I understand it to mean that he is warning us, that what we do now may well affect our families in the future.

        The final bit is that those who love God will be blessed by Him.

        Hope this is useful!


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