Thursday, January 6, 2011

A new vision of the priesthood - Part 10

This is the tenth in an ongoing series of columns about the priesthood by an activist priest from the Dominican Republic, Fr. Rogelio Cruz, that he published in El Día. English translation by Rebel Girl.

Part 10 - 12/21/2010

It's difficult to say, think, describe how the priest of modern times will be. How will he be in the society of the future, the man who, living among men and being in all things like others, is called to a spiritual mission?

The man who evaluates every human action with the eyes of God.

The man who discovers God hidden under all things.

The man who directs all our life towards God.

The man who focuses on all human activity with divine eyes to give it true value.

The man who studies God's plan for our existence.

If it's hard to know why so many young people don't enter seminary, it's equally difficult to know why so many abandon the path of the priesthood or priestly ministry once they have been ordained.

Many started with poor initial motivation and when they get to the age of rational and emotional maturity, they are already priests and here, the crisis comes.

Many entered seminary incorrectly, with good will, but without knowing where they were going and why they were going to that place, and when they got to adulthood, they discovered that what they were already into, wasn't for them.

Many others who were more motivated, better prepared than the majority, discovered that their personal contact with Christ and their love for the Church impelled them to news kinds of apostolates, which frequently clashed with the views of those who rule. But they feel clearly that this is the kind of apostolate, of priestly action, that people ask of them today.

And they have fought, they have endeavored to be priests of their time, but have encountered a thick concrete wall; they have found a parochial routine that imprisons them, with a pastor, very conservative superiors, and a bishop for whom prudence is greater than other virtues.

And after much forcing and insisting, they discover that there's no room for them or their methods and are disappointed, and God grant that they not be embittered for life.

Add to all this:

* The wrong approach to the spiritual life that is given in the seminaries.

* A psychological unpreparedness to deal with current life that has such a different pattern of conduct.

Let's be clear that it's not renouncing the faith, it's not rebellion against authority, it's not loss of love for Christ or the Church, it's not irresponsibility or a breach of contract.

The problem is that many priests are asleep; they haven't realized the very deep social changes that have been happening in the world for years. Changes not only in the external structures of society, but within the minds of men and women.

Against all this, can the Church maintain its structure? Can it give the flavor the world needs today? Will priests be able to respond adequately to this complex situation? Let's not forget that the priesthood is a ministry and God will send the priests His people need. A vocation is a ministry.

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