Week 18, Thursday. Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Evangelizing Thought of the Day (ETD)

DAILY SEQUENTIAL EXCERPTS from The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith – Instrumentum Laboris:

84. Separate consideration is given to the question of the lack of priests. All the responses voiced concern about the insufficient number of priests, which negatively affects a calm, effective exercise of the manner of “being Church”. Some responses made a detailed analysis of the problem, treating this crisis alongside that of marriage and Christian families. Many mentioned the need to envision a more integrated organization of the local Church, involving lay people along with priests in the animation of the community.
These responses mentioned that synod discussion could bring clarity to the matter and result in prospects for the future. Almost all the responses call for the whole Church to engage in a strong pastoral programme on behalf of priestly vocations, which begins in prayer and calls upon all priests and clerical religious to live in such a way as to bear witness to the attractiveness of their vocation and to seek ways of speaking to young people. The same applies to vocations to the consecrated life, especially those for women. In view of the new evangelization, some responses also stressed the importance of an adequate formation programme not only in seminaries and novitiates but also in academic institutions. (Instrumentum Laboris, “Chapter 2: Time for a New Evangelization,” paragraph 84)

Create a clean heart in me, O God. (Psalm 51:12, Mass).

God of our Fathers, Who brought
the Martyr Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
to know your crucified Son
and to imitate him even until death,
grant, through her intercession,
that the whole human race
may acknowledge Christ as its Savior
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today’s selection, paragraph 84 concludes chapter 2’s examination of “Parish Transformation and the New Evangelization” by addressing the topic, ‘lack of priests’ particularly when it comes to “a calm, effective exercise of the manner of “being Church.” The Instrumentum Laboris notes that many responses to the Lineamenta reflected on this reality “alongside that of marriage and Christian families.” Perhaps the following 2 observations are worth some discussion:
1) Maybe the phrase ‘lack of priests’ needs some critiquing and nuancing. The document raises an interesting point when it speaks of “a calm, effective exercise of the manner of “being Church.”” The question worth raising is what exactly is “a calm, effective exercise of the manner of “being Church” that a ‘lack of priests’ apparently impacts negatively? Are we talking about “being Church” of a previous era? If that is the case, the Instrumentum Laboris has presented clearly that the New Evangelization may involve new expressions, new ways of “being Church” (more on this in the following chapter on Christian Initiation). If that is the case, could or might the label and reality of ‘lack of priests’ in the present expression and experience of Church be the Spirit moving the Church in a direction that is not presently and clearly seen?
Another caution with the phrase ‘lack of priests’ is that it could, in the minds of some, suggest that the Lord is not adequately providing for the His Body, the Church. We know of many lessons recorded in the Sacred Scriptures, lived throughout the Sacred Tradition and continuing to unfold in our midst of the Lord providing all that is necessary (not luxurious) for life. While it is certainly valid and necessary to ask whether or not men are responding to the Lord’s call (more on that in the following section), to suggest that we might not have all that is needed for “being Church,” could in fact call into question whether or not we really, honestly trust Our Lord and Savior.
2) On the proverbial other hand, both the Lineamenta and the Instrumentum Laboris have identified a key hermeneutic of the New Evangelization: the Encounter with the Person, Jesus Christ that sparks actions of metanoia (a radical turning in body, mind and heart from selfishness of sin to the selfless of Jesus lived ultimately on the Cross) and believing (a radical trust - called faith - in which I as an individual and we as a community of faith commit with body, mind and heart to Jesus’ actions and words as the only Way of living in this world with a view towards the World to come). This Encounter reaches its most intimate and deepest level in the Most Holy Eucharist and other Sacramental celebrations all of which are Encounters with the Divine Person Jesus, Who leads all in the power of the Holy Spirit to communing with His Father. In this context, it is fair to ask, are there sufficient priests to offer the Sacramental celebrations at times that reflect most visibly the assembled Body of Christ and that are offered at a reasonably accessible time for all the members of Christ’s Body? The Lineamenta and the Instrumentum Laboris (even more forcefully) made the point that life has changed significantly in the various examined sectors and perhaps as a result of these changes, maybe the times that Sacramental celebrations have been offered need adjustment. Perhaps Baptism only after the last Mass on Sunday, Penance only for 30 minutes on Saturday late afternoon, the Sunday Holy Eucharist only Sunday morning - to name only a few - are areas for discernment (another vital action sounded throughout the pages of the Lineamenta and Instrumentum Laboris) to know what the Lord wants and where our communities are along journey of faith. Discernment is also necessary in that these ‘time adjustments’ MUST enhance the sense of Sacred Time and especially Sabbath Rest which many contend have all but sadly vanished in our culture.
On a personal note, as one who teaches part time in our Archdiocesan Seminary, it is privilege to be part of the formation of the Church’s next generation of priests. More and more are responding to the Call from Our Lord to be priests and these men are good and balanced seekers of holiness, sociable and imbued with a deep sense of service to the Body of Christ. Thank you, Lord, for these seminarians and may your Spirit, Who has begun a good work, “bring it to perfection” through Christ our Lord. AMEN!

  • What thoughts cross your mind about the ‘lack of priests’?

1 comment:

  1. There is no shortage of priest but a shortage of the faithful. If you look at the numbers, the ratio of priest to faithful (not including the 80% missing in action) in 2012 is better than it was in 1969. Why the fear of changing a parish's schedule? Loss of $$ because if the faithful don't like it they will vote with their feet? When did fear of the faithful rise above fear of the Lord? Ven. Fulton Sheen, especially in retreats with priest often reminded them that Jesus expected them to "SPEAK OUT, DO NOT BE AFRAID, I AM WITH YOU!!!