Year of the Priest: July 2009 Archives
"Are you resolved, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to discharge without fail the office of the priesthood in the presbyteral order as a conscientious fellow worker with the Bishop in caring for the Lord's flock?"
The Archbishop-Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, Mauro Piacenza, wrote to the world's priests on July 15th reflecting on the liturgical theology that identifies and supports the theology of priesthood. Now that we are clearly in the Year of the Priest we have to make solid effort at connecting our daily prayer for priests (and, those preparing for ordination) and education on what the Church believes and teaches about the priesthood. This year dedicated to the priesthood is not only directed to renewal and reform of the priesthood but also conversion of the entire Church. The year of priestly renewal is not merely centered on prayer for the local priest (which is most essential) but also a time for some intellectual formation for both priest and people. So, the proposal of the Pope is that we give a sufficient attention to both prayer and education, not one or the other. I'd like to note that I find myself disappointed to see the lack of a public of storming heaven for the graces of renewal but also the lack of sufficient discussion of what the Church teaches and believes. What to do? In the meantime, Archbishop Piacenza offers a number of juicy tidbits to consider. He said in part:
The Church, in her maternal wisdom, has always taught that the ministry is born of the encounter of two freedoms: divine and human. If on the one hand one must always recall that, "no one claims this office for himself; he is called to it by God" (CCC n.1578), on the other hand, clearly, it is always a "human and created I", with his own story and identity, with his own qualities and also his own limitations, who responds to the divine call.
The liturgical-sacramental translation of this asymmetric and necessary dialogue between the divine freedom which calls and the human freedom which responds is represented by the questions which each of us has had addressed to him by the Bishop during the rite our own ordination, immediately prior to the imposition of hands. We shall revisit together in the months ahead this "dialogue of love and freedom".
We have been asked, "Are you resolved, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to discharge without fail the office of the priesthood in the presbyteral order as a conscientious fellow worker with the Bishop in caring for the Lord's flock?" We answered, "I Am"
The free and conscious response is based, therefore, on an explicit act of the will ("Are you resolved to discharge the office", "I am") which, as we know well, requires to be continuously enlightened by the judgement of reason and sustained by freedom, so as not to become a sterile voluntarism or, worse, to change over time, becoming unfaithful. The act of the will is enduring of its very nature, because it is a human act, in which the fundamental qualities of which the Creator has made us participants are expressed.
The undertaking, then, that we have assumed is "for the whole of life" and thus not related to fads or indulgences much less to sentiments, which might be apparent to a greater or less degree. While feelings may be said to have a role in coming to the knowledge of the truth, it is only so as to direct out focus in such a way as not to obstruct such knowledge but to assist the discernment of it. Nevertheless, this is but one aspect of consciousness and cannot be its determining factor.
Our will has accepted to exercise "the priestly ministry", not other "professions"! Above all else we are called to be priests always and, as the Saints remind us, in every circumstance, exercising with our very being that ministry to which we have been called. One does not merely act as a priest: one is a priest!
Each one of us is part of a dynamic entity, called to collaborate by demonstrating, each in his own way, the Head of this Body: always as "fellow workers with the Bishop", in obedience to the good which he indicates, and "under the guidance of the Holy Spirit", that is in praying with each breath. Only he who prays can hear the voice of the Spirit. As the Holy Father recalled in the General Audience of the 1st July last, "Those who pray are not afraid; those who pray are never alone; those who pray are saved!".