religion

Live long and prosper

On the blog A Priest Downunder,, there is a discussion on promoting vocations to the priesthood and to religious life. A discussion prompted by an address by the Holy Father.

A discussion centred on how we, as members of a parish community, as individuals , can encourage vocations to prosper.

” ‘Every Christian community, every member of the Church, needs consciously to feel responsibility for promoting vocations.’ What are we doing in our local area, our parish, our deanery, our school, to promote vocations?”

Last year, our parish women’s group devoted each first Thursday and each first Sunday to prayer for vocations.

And that is good.

However, I also think that we need to look at our actions and how these may help to prosper vocations.

There are a number of things I could discuss here but I will, instead , bring up a recent conversation between myself, my sons and a friend.

On why a priest only uses extraordinary ministers rarely, that is to say, in extraordinary circumstances, when needed.

Well, apart from the obvious statement re extraordinary , we talked about valuing and devaluing the role of the priest, of the religious.

You know, if the extraordinary minister (usually a woman ) serves at the time of communion of the faithful, instead of a religious, say, a Brother , who is also present at mass, what message does that send?

If the acolyte cleans the sacred vessels after Holy Communion and holds the relic for veneration and serves at communion, always, what message does that send?

I am not underplaying the role of the laity here. I understand the concept of the priesthood of believers.

However, it remains to be said that over use of laity and under use of religious, especially in the public liturgy of the Church, does tend to devalue the role of priests and religious. Young men in particular are less likely to look towards vocations … Not because they are not called but because they can serve in the Church, in ministries, in many instances undertaking that which the priest and religious can and should undertake, but without that final commitment.

It seems to me that one way to prosper vocations then, is to fully understand the role of priests and religious in our communities and in the liturgy, in the Church. To fully appreciate and value this role. To fully understand the contribution of lay people.

And to avoid the clericalization of the laity, to paraphrase Pope Benedict XVI.

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4 thoughts on “Live long and prosper”

  1. I undersatnd yourpint, especially in an instance of having an extraordinary minister WHEN an ordained minister is peresent, though I cannot say I've seen that occur. I don't know that state of the priesthood in Aussie-land, but the shortage is very felt and real in USA. And while I see your point, I find it a sticky and gray situation becasue of that fact that it's essential to honor each member of the Christian community. Maybe it's having grown up in post-feminist America, but I continue to sort out the meaning and the actualization of women as part of the Body of Christ.I must also raise another int whne it comes to prayers for vocations. Marriage is a vocation, too, and I feel stringly that when praying for vocations, ALL of them need be included. It would be far better, in my mind,to pray that each Christian seek and find God's will for thier vocation, from ordained minister, to consecrated single, or simply single, to vowed religious, to marrige with what that really means. I find that when those are discluded, and only prayers for Sisters and Brothers and priests are said, that it tends to promote an attitude that soem vocations are somehow "better than" others, when all are for God's glory, especially when they are prayerfully discerned.

  2. Susan, when we pray for one particular intention or one particular vocation, when we emphasize roles and differences, we are not saying that the contribution made is not appreciated. We are not sayig that one vocation is better than another. We are, instead, discussing our emphasis,…for, without our priests, there is no Eucharist. We need our priests. And we can best make up for the shortage by praying for vocations to the priesthood, by promoting these vocations..and by supporting families from whom vocations to reilgous life come. I feel my role and my involvement in the parish are valued; but that does bot mean I need to undevalue the role of the priest.I guess I don't see it as an either or, a better than situaton? Thasnks for your comment!

  3. I could add that I believe keeping altar serving as a male role also helps to promote vocatons to the priesthood, but there may be people out there who do not agree so I won't mention it. God bless, Leonie.

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