New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The priest and his ministry - Pope John Paul II

The priest and his ministry

First and foremost, the priest must be seen as the 'man of faith', since by virtue of his mission he has to convey the Faith by proclaiming the word. He cannot preach the Gospel convincingly if he has not deeply assimilated its message. He bears witness to the Faith by his actions and his whole life. Through his pastoral contacts he does his best to sustain his brothers and sisters in the Faith, to respond to their doubts and to strengthen them in their convictions.

Every priest should be prepared for his role as teacher of the Faith within the Christian community. Hence, in our seminaries, revealed doctrine needs to be taught in such a way that young men may understand what the object of their faith is, and may respond to the call from the Lord with a free, interiorized adherence to the Gospel message, assimilated in prayer.

As well as being the man of faith, the priest is also the 'man of the sacred', the witness to the Invisible, the spokesman of God revealed in Jesus Christ. The priest must be known as a man of God, a man of prayer, who is seen to pray, who is felt to pray. When he celebrates the Eucharist, when he hears confessions, when he anoints the sick or when he conducts funerals, gives blessings or holds prayer meetings, let him do this in a dignified way, taking the proper time
and wearing the appropriate vestments. hence the priest must nourish within himself a spiritual life of high quality, inspired by the gift of his own ministerial priesthood. One may indeed speak of a 'spirituality of the diocesan priest'. His prayer life, his sharing, his efforts in life, are inspired by his apostolic activity, which is nourished by a life lived wholly with God. It has been observed that a time of intense pastoral activity often coincides with a period which is strong in spiritual life. The Second Vatican Council has reminded us, moreover, of 'that love of God and man, which is the soul of the apostolate' (Lumen gentium 33).

The priest is the man of faith, man of the sacred, and also the 'man of communion'. He it is who
assembles the People of God and strengthens their unity by means of the Eucharist; he is the leading spirit of brotherly love among all. The priest cannot venture on his own on the labour
awaiting him in the Lord's vineyard. He operates with his brothers in the priesthood. He collaborates with his own bishop. He does his best to forge brotherly links between members of the priestly college; in the presbyteral group especially, spiritual friendship is a great stimulus to ministry. The priest, furthermore, unites the members of the People of God who are entrusted to his pastoral care.

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