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Monday, September 22, 2008

Encountering our First Love for Priesthood

By Fr. Jeffrey Steel
From his blog De Cura Animarum

The great challenge for priests today is falling into the 'performance trap' of looking for 'results' in our ministries that in the end does nothing but put an emphasis on ourselves. Priesthood is not a buisiness of building the self. This means that priests must be men who know Jesus intimately and who encounter him in real ways in his life where great love and devotion to Christ are the spiritual substance behind his service. This challenge is for anyone really who has put their hand to the plough in full-time Christian service. Pope Benedict XVI rightly reminds us that:

"Without a strong spiritual substance, a priest cannot endure in his ministry. Christ must also teach him that the main purpose of his life is not self-realization and success. He must learn that he is not in the business of building himself an interesting or comfortable life, or of setting up for himself a community of admirers and devotees, but is working for another and that it is he who truly matters. This is initially opposed to the natural emphasis of our existence, but with time it proves that precisely this process in which the self becomes inconsequential is what truly liberates.

He who acts on Christ's behalf knows that it is always the case that one sows and another reaps. He does not need to bother incessantly about himself; he leaves the outcome to the Lord and does his own part without anxiety, free and cheerful because he is hidden within the whole. If priests today so often feel overworked, tired and frustrated, the blame lies with the a strained purpose of results. Faith becomes a burdensome piece of baggage that the priest just barely manages to keep dragging along, whereas it should be a wing that bears us aloft."

I have been reading Pope Benedict XVI book Called to Communion of late and have about finished it. The Holy Father reminds priests that the central core of labour is foundationally an intimacy with Christ and love for him. Out of which will flow rivers of life and love. Without which the tongue will dry up and will not be able to water a parched earth as quoted from Gregory the Great. May God give his priests the desire to drink from the well of love in order to be able to replenish the parched earth after having returned from the inner sactuary and teach who they learn to love by their living!

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