Revisiting the priesthood PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 03 April 2017 13:48



ON the occasion of the Chrism Mass which normally is celebrated in the morning of Holy Thursday, it might be a good idea to revisit the nature, importance and relevance of the priesthood which unquestionably plays an indispensable role in the Church.

There in that Mass which celebrates the anniversary of the institution of the sacrament of Holy Orders, the whole clergy of the diocese, led by its bishop, concelebrate and renew their priestly promises.

“Are you resolved to be more united with the Lord Jesus and more closely conformed to him, denying yourselves and confirming those promises about sacred duties towards Christ’s Church which, prompted by love of him, you willingly and joyfully pledged on the day of your priestly ordination?”

That would be the first question the bishop would ask his priests, and the second one is: “Are you resolved to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God in the Holy Eucharist and the other liturgical rites and to discharge faithfully the sacred office of teaching, following Christ the Head and Shepherd, not seeking any gain, but moved only be zeal for souls?”

These are the questions that we, priests, should answer with utmost conviction, aware also that they require a continuing effort to fulfill these promises with increasing love and generosity.

The priesthood is a never-ending, lifelong adventure of faithfulness that demands endless efforts and sacrifice. Nothing less than genuine personal sanctification is required here.

I would like to ask everyone to pray for all priests so that we, your priests, would be up to the demands of priesthood as we accompany the people with our ministry in utmost fidelity to our vocation as well as openness and versatility to the changing circumstances and conditions of the world.

I know that there are quarters who are asking if the current model of priesthood as articulated fundamentally in the Tridentine times and simply given “cosmetic” modifications, is still relevant.

They point to the dwindling of men entering the seminary, the deterioration of the qualities of these men, plus the increasing number of defections from the priesthood, as bases for their questioning.

Of course, this is an issue that has to be given due attention. But what I can say is that we go through this issue very slowly and with a lot of prudence. We have to know what can and should change in the formation of priests and what should not change.

To be sure, we already know what the identity of the priest is, what his ministry involves, etc. We just have to figure out how these essential things of the priesthood can be made to effectively engage with the current and changing conditions.

We need to look into the personal and collective means of formation of the priests and seminarians. These definitely have to continue to be updated, and the inputs of everyone as to how this can be done should always be welcome.

For now, what I can say is that priests should tighten their identification with Christ as priest, take their continuing formation seriously, and wage a never-ending process of personal spiritual struggle and conversion.