Monday, August 01, 2005

Ministry of the Sacraments and Shepherding

Ministry of the Sacraments
The priest leads the community in prayer and sacramental worship, especially the Eucharist. Liturgical life is central to his identity. What does this aspect of the priest’s ministry mean to you?

This aspect of the priest’s ministry is what means the most to me. I am constantly amazed at how high a privilege it is for a man, ordained in the Catholic Church, to stand in the person of Christ at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Here the ordained priest participates in Christ’s own and same priesthood re-presenting the Last Supper and the Crucifixion for the perpetual sanctification of the faithful. I am extremely humbled by the notion that I could study for such a ministry, let alone participate in it.
Another Sacrament that means much to me is the Sacrament of Confession. Being able to minister to someone’s soul in such an intimate way, to be Christ’s instrument to reconcile the faithful to Himself and His Church, and to counsel them in the virtues necessary to live a life free from the clutches of sin has all done much to attract me to the priesthood as well.
Working with Christ through the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church to be His agent of Grace to a world in need is a life that means much to me and one that I highly honor and respect.

Ministry of Shepherding
The priest as a pastor also leads a community of faith. Caring for a community and the individuals that make it up is a fundamental part of his life. What does priestly leadership mean to you, and what leadership ability do you have?

I am inspired by the way that the Church has adapted to use new technologies from T.V. to movies, to message boards to extend her guidance and direction to the faithful in their daily lives. But these technologies are also being used by those who would like to pose as guides and mislead the faithful. Therefore, I feel it is important that pastors not only use these technologies themselves, to counterbalance these forces, but also effectively draw the community of faith into the liturgical and sacrament life of the Church were he can lead them more fully and formally. It is important that the pastor work hard to make sure his flock is securely anchored to the parish, its primary source of guidance and direction outside the family, which is a person’s most immediate “church.” Here he leads them to prayer, reconciliation, holiness, and ultimately eternal happiness with God in Heaven. I myself have grown much in my spiritual life through the leadership of the local and global Church and I would be honored to lead others in this way. Lastly, I highly respect and appreciate the hierarchical structure of Church leadership, guidance, and government.
I have been blessed with opportunities to do my own small part in leading others toward a closer relationship with each other, Christ, and His Church. I have been the “Spiritual Chairman” along with a friend of mine for the young adult group at my parish, Ministry of Catholic Adults (M.O.C.A). I, along with another friend, started and led a Catholic Scripture Study group at my parish as well. We have done nine-month studies on the Gospel of John and the Book of Exodus and are preparing for one on the Book of Revelation. Finally I have been on the planning committee for five seasons of Theology on Tap as well as the planning committee with the Vocation Office of the Archdiocese of Louisville.These activities have shown me that I am able to come up with new ideas for guiding the faithful in the journey toward Christ, develop these ideas unto fruition, and then lead them accordingly. I also have the courage to accept leadership opportunities that are presented to me if I feel doing so could benefit the group or help me in my own growth. Similarly, I have the courage to decline them as well if such opportunities create an unbalance between an active and contemplative prayer life in the Church. Finally, through each of the activities I listed above, I’ve been able to inspire others to pursue their leadership potential to take my place as I pursue discernment of the priesthood in seminary.

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