Ministry
Part 3 Theology

Chapter p33 Spirituality of Ministry

Preliminary Questions

Bibliography

Beginning Ministry

The Cruise Ship Metaphor

Spirituality of the Parish Priest

To Think About

For my introductory, general notes on spirituality in general,  see chapter Chapter d33 Spirituality

Preliminary Questions

What is spirituality?   How would you describe the spirituality of marriage?  What is the relationship between faith and spirituality and faith and marriage?  Compare the spirituality of marriage and the spirituality of the diocesan priest.  What is the relationship between spirituality and theology?  Is there a "vocation" to the single state (one who is neither married, ordained, or a vowed religious)?  Is there a spirituality of the single state?  How does marriage make one holy?  How does marriage "change" the way the couple love one another?

Return to   Top of This Page   Ministry Index   Home Page

Bibliography

Evelyn Eaton Whitehead and James D. Whitehead,  "Spirituality and Lifestyle,"  Chapter 35, pp 411-424 in Kieran Scott and Michael Warren. Perspectives on Marriage: A Reader (Second Edition). Oxford University Press.  ISBN 0-19-513439-7

Return to   Top of This Page   Ministry Index   Home Page

Beginning Ministry

When a person, moved by the Holy Spirit, begins to take a more active role in one of the ministries of the parish community (e.g. by volunteering to be a catechist) and/or begins to study theology, the person is often motivated by a great love for the faith and the Church. However, it sometimes happens that when such a person begins to pursue formal theological studies (e.g. a Master's Degree in Theology) they are confronted with a Church that is "less perfect" than the Church which moved them to take up these studies!  This "confrontation" is frequently painful; it can cause shifts and collisions under the theological iceberg (in the person's subconscious), and can even tempt one to "doubt one's faith!"

At this point the person usually experiences (often subconsciously and unreflectively) a transition through the stages of 1) confusion, 2) anger, 3) integration, and 4) peace.   Often the person moves quickly from stage one (confusion) to stage two (anger).  This "anger" stage can be long and painful; sometimes the person never passes through stage 2 (anger) and remains there.  I have heard students at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of theology who have not begun this "tansition process" or who have already passed through anger to integration and peace, tell me they are "confused" by the anger expressed by certain other students!   "How can the study of a God who loves us so much make them so angry and resentful?"  they ask.   There is no easy answer to this question. 

We know that the "Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness [PLEROMA] of divine truth." (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, #8) but sometimes those who are new to the study of the "history of the Church"  are scandalized to find that the Church has not always "moved forward to the pleroma" nearly as far, as fast, or as smoothly as they had previously thought.  In this context, some have found the "Cruise Ship Metaphor" informative and helpful.

The Cruise Ship Metaphor

Have you ever taken a vacation on a cruise ship?   My (limited!) experience of cruises has been very pleasant.  You wander around on this big ship where everything is taken care of for you at a relatively modest price.  People are there to wait on you, to serve you, and to supply whatever you need.  You have many possibilities for food and fun.  Of course, there are decks that you never see, and there are doors that say "employees only", but the passengers don't usually care what goes on behind those doors and usually don't even give it much thought.

But imagine that instead of being a passenger you decide to go to work for the cruise line; now you go through those "employee only" doors.  Another world opens up.  [I know that this would never happen on a reputable cruise ship line, but for the sake of this teaching metaphor ... ] 

The passengers may be completely unaware that their fresh sheets, spotless napkins, and carefully pressed linens have been prepared in a laundry that is run by 54 twelve year old Indonesian girls who have been sold to the cruise ship line by their parents to escape debtor prison and are indentured to the cruise line for ten years, never leaving the lower deck of the ship. Nor do the passengers ever hear the disputes among the officers.  One officer feels that they should increase their speed during the night so that the passengers would have more time to visit the next port of call; but another officer feels that the safety of the passengers would be jeopardized were the nighttime speed to be increased.   Usually these disputes go on behind closed doors; if they would take place (God forbid) in areas where the passengers might overhear, the passengers would be scandalized for they are under the impression that everything works "like clockwork" behind those "employee only" doors and all is "peace and harmony" just as it is on the tourist decks!   These arguments may grow heated;  one officer may even do all in his power to get another other officer fired.

This new employee may also be shocked to learn that there are those high up in the administration who realize that the captain who has recently been transferred to this ship from another cruise ship is not particularly familiar with this ship and its capabilities and has made some rather dangerous decisions out of his lack of experience with this particular vessel. The officers may have sent internal memos which the passengers never see. However, should one of the officers happen to make his concerns public and publish an article in the New York Times, the cruise line might feel endangered and worry that it would harm their customer base and diminish bookings on the cruise line.  The article in the Times would probably result in the officer who wrote the article being fired.

The cruise ship is like...  (Metaphor)   I find there are many similarities between this scenario of the imaginary cruise line and beginning ministry or the study of theology.  Most Catholics, for a rather moderate price (Baptism), get on board and comfortably go about their lives little disturbed by theology or the inner workings of the Church.  They are fed at regular intervals (Eucharist). Should medical needs arise, those are taken care of (Reconciliation / Anointing).  They journey from festivity to festivity (Christmas, Easter, First Communion, etc).  They presume that behind the "employee only" doors (magisterium, hierarchy, ministry, theology) everyone is in agreement and that "up stairs" everything is peaceful and works smoothly. 

Should they enter through the "employee only" door and begin, for example, the study of theology, they are often shocked to find that everything is not as harmonious and they had formerly believed. To find that a Church that preaches justice might not act justly toward its own members often comes as a shock. To find that those who are "running the ship" are not in perfect agreement with one another can be disheartening.  Should they study the history of the cruise line and find that that there were times when the company was "off course" in its decision making, they may find this scandalous.  When they learn that there are disputes as "how best to protect the passengers" they can end up confused and angry and often wish that they have never entered through those "employee only" doors and wish they had remained in blissful ignorance on the tourist deck!  

But this new employee can continue to fulfill their responsibilities and over time gain deeper insight into why these things happened, become realistic about how humans do things, and eventually (often through "reframing") come to some understanding and peace with the job, all the while living in a certain "tension" to do all they can to correct the things that need correcting. 

Or again:  An employee of the cruise line might have some questions about their operating procedure -- perhaps even very serious questions. You may object to certain decisions that had been made and they even disagree with certain elements of company policy. This does not mean, however, that he cannot be a loyal employee of the cruise line; nor does it mean that he does not love his job and the company. One of the marks of a mature person is the ability to hold contradictory views of a person or situation. For example, Margaret and Joe (a happily married couple) are lying in bed reading before turning out the light to go to sleep. Joe is eating pretzels and Margaret begins to feel a residue of pretzel crumbs in the bed where she intends to sleep. She might say, "Dear, I love you very much; but the next time you eat pretzels in bed I'm going to wring your neck." The mature person can carry these contradictory emotions simultaneously.  Similarly a mature Catholic might have questions about Church teaching or disagreements with Church operating procedure and, at the same time, love the Church very much and be a loyal and faithful member of the Body of Christ

Beginning theological studies

Those of us who were "brought up" without a Bible -- we studied a "Bible History Book" which took out all the difficult passages -- are distressed when we first learn that the nice unified story of the nativity of Jesus in the Bible History Book is not found in the Bible where there are two stories. 1) In Luke: Mary and Joseph live in Nazareth, go to Bethlehem for the census and the baby is born in a stable and then they return home to Nazareth. 2) In Matthew: Mary and Joseph live in Bethlehem and the baby is born at home and they have to flee to Egypt and can't return home and move to Nazareth. -- When one starts serious scripture studies, the student can -- often under the iceberg -- get the feeling "I have been lied too all these years!" And this can give one a feeling of anger one can't always explain. The anger is in the part of us (see the iceberg metaphor) that lies unseen under the water line.

Anger / Sense of humor

To remain in the "Anger Stage" can be very detrimental to ministry.  A joyful spirit is essential for good ministry. I am reminded of a quote from Navajo Sister Gloria Davis, who said,  "I noticed that the holy people in our [Navajo] community, the ones we turned to for spiritual guidance and who conducted the blessing and healing ceremonies, were always the people who had the keenest sense of humor.  You could spot them by the laugh wrinkles near their eyes."   "The hallmark of holiness was not a gaunt, hollow-cheeked, aesthetic look or one of otherworldly serenity, but just a common lively sense of humor, honed from birth on the lathe of life's ups and downs, its absurdities and sorrows, its joys and unpredictable encounters. Humor is a side effect of living deeply. Are applicants to Catholic seminaries ever checked for a funny bone?"   (Rich Heffern, NCR, May 2, 2003 p 13)

Return to   Top of This Page   Ministry Index   Home Page

Spirituality of the Parish Priest

The following essay was originally a talk given by Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M., S.T.D. to seminarians at Saint Meinrad School of Theology on October 16, 1996 at the request of Rev. Laurence Richardt, [then] Director of Formation, Saint Meinrad School of Theology.

Spirituality is life by God's Spirit  When Fr. Larry Richardt asked me to talk about "spirituality" I wanted to be sure that I knew what the word "spirituality" meant so that I would talk about the right subject. The dictionary tells me that spirituality has to do with things that pertain, not to this world, but to the ideal world, spiritual things, things that are not substantial but intangible, ghostly, and disembodied. In a word, "spirituality" pertains to the "unreal."

Am I asked to talk on "The Unreal World of the Diocesan Priest?" Rather than go down that road I consulted another reference library, Sacred Scripture. There we find that "spirituality" has to do, not with the unreal, not with the other worldly, but with "being filled with the Holy Spirit of God." This is the starting point and the end point of all that follows.   But before I get to the heart of the matter I would like to mention several presuppositions.

God's Spirit fills all that is.     God's Spirit fills not only human beings, but all creation waits for the full realization of this Creating Spirit. St. Paul tell the Romans:

"For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies." (Romans 8:18-23)

Priestly spirituality is not unrelated to the spirituality of all created things. Priestly spirituality or any Christian spirituality is ecological.

God's Spirit fills every human being  God's Spirit fills not only priests, not only Christians, but every human being. Because the Spirit fills every human being, every human being is radically equal before God. This is the first of the "self-evident truths" enumerated in the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." (The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies, in Congress, July 4, 1776) Every human being possesses access to the Spirit: the young and the old, the quick and the slow, Jew, Christian, Muslim, Animist, Buddhist, Confucianist, Hindu or Atheist.

No one can claim more "Spirit" based on status.  No one can claim more "Spirit," spirituality, or holiness based on rank or status. Man or woman, ordained or not, vowed religious or not, pope or priest, Protestant minister, Jewish Rabbi, or Muslim Imam.

The Second Vatican Council was divided on the issue of priestly status. The scholastic view of priesthood was that the priest was "ontologically" changed by the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Vatican II does not speak of an ontological change, but says that the priesthood of the faithful is "essentially" different from ministerial priesthood (Constitution on the Church, 10) and leaves it to theologians to "spell out" what that essential difference is. The Council is explicit in stating that all are called to holiness.

The distinctive feature of Christian spirituality is that we live by the Spirit of Christ.  Although all creation and every human being possesses God's spirit, the distinctive feature of Christian spirituality is that we live by the Spirit of Christ. As we read in the Gospel according to John: "On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (Jesus) said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.' And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the holy Spirit.'" (John 20:19-22)

The Spirit of Jesus enables us to continue the mission given to Jesus by the Father. We remember this commission at each Eucharist: "Do this in memory of me." That is: "Live as I have lived. Do as I have done. Love as I have loved."   And what did Jesus do?

Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God.  Jesus came among us announcing the kingdom of God. The first words Mark places in the mouth of Jesus are these: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:14-15)

This proclamation of the kingdom, God's dream for the world, is the primary mission of the Church. The Church continues the work of Jesus; the ministry of the Christian is to continue the ministry of Jesus. The priest is the icon, the sacrament, of that ministry. The Vatican Council states explicitly that the first task of the priest is to announce the Gospel. (
Ministry and Life of Priests, 4)  Priestly spirituality is first of all a spirituality of proclamation.

Jesus was the holiness of God.  The Christian community from its beginning recognizes Jesus to be the holiness of God. As we read in the Gospel of John: "No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father's side, has revealed him." (John 1:18) Today this holiness is revealed in the Church. "We believed in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church." The second ministry of the priest is to "make holy." He does this in many ways, but primarily through the Eucharist and the sacraments.

Jesus was servant leader.   Jesus taught. While he taught with authority, as we read in Matthew's gospel, "he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes," (Matthew 7:29) and gave this authority to his disciples, "[H]e summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness," (Matthew 10:1) at the same time his authority was not "that of the world." As we read in Matthew's Gospel, "Jesus summoned [the disciples] and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.'" (Matthew 20:25-28)

The authority of Jesus presents us with paradox. We see his authority exercised most clearly as he hangs on the cross: naked, abandoned, powerless. Clearly authority is distinct from power. The authority of the Church -- and the Church's ministers -- is the authority of the cross.

Jesus prepared the disciples for this authority on the night before he died. For during that supper which we have come to call "The Lord's Supper" Jesus got up and "took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and dry them with the towel around his waist... So when he had washed their feet (and) put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, 'Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.'" (John 13:2-15) Fr. Kenan Osborne, in a talk to the National Federation of Priests Councils, suggested that the best gift one can give a new priest or a new bishop is a towel -- the symbol of his authority.

This servant ministry was perhaps the most difficult aspect of Jesus for the apostles to grasp. When he spoke of suffering, they didn't want to hear it. When he spoke of being lifted up, they wanted thrones. Often it takes a serious "wound" in the minister himself to be able to understand the hymn quoted by Paul in his letter to the Philippians:

"Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:5-11)

The "second founder of the Franciscan Order" St. Bonaventure spoke of Christ as prophet, priest, and king. However, this three-fold model was not widely used by the Scholastics. It was popularized by John Calvin at the time of the Reformation, and consequently, Catholic theologians seldom used this understanding. Catholic theologians explained the function of the presbyter narrowly, focusing on his priestly role and particular saying Mass and hearing confessions. The Second Vatican Council wished to expand the ministry of the presbyter and speaks of the three-fold function of Christ proclaiming, sanctifying, ministering.

Ministerial spirituality is an encounter with the Spirit in ministering.  What I have said thus far forms the background for what I am now going to say about the spirituality of the ministerial priesthood. The priest -- in particular, the parish priest -- encounters the Holy Spirit
in ministry. It has taken me some years to become convinced of this fact because it so contradicts what I learned in those days before the Second Vatican Council when I was being prepared for parish ministry.

Perhaps, my recollections are inaccurate (I know that many seminarians cannot recall from month to month what a professor taught, much less remember after thirty years) but the message I received was that I drank in the Spirit in quite times of prayer and meditation and gave that Spirit to others during times of ministry and liturgical prayer. Each time I entered the "world" I became less spiritual. (Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ, 1418 C.E.) For example, the Roman Missal provided me with prayers to say before and after Mass -- presuming that during Mass I would be too distracted with rites and rubrics to do much praying. Even the Divine Office was not always seen as prayer. And if Mass and Office were "distractions" from spirituality, how much more so was ministry and the care of God's people.  (I acknowledge that there are times "drinking in the Spirit and times of giving that Spirit to others."  The passage back and forth between these two is, I think, explained in a very helpful manner in the Oscillation Theory developed by Bruce Reed.)

Today, however, we see that ministry is not a distraction for the priest -- ministry is the very place in which we encounter the Holy Spirit. Pope John Paul II writes (
Pastores Dabo Vobis, #24)  "An intimate bond exists between the priest's spiritual life and the exercise of his ministry.  ... the Spirit leads the priest to evaluate all things in the light of the Gospel, helping him to read in his own experience and the experience of the Church, the mysterious and loving plan of the Father."

This new perspective was already beginning to be voiced in the years preceding the Second Vatican Council. We see this development reflected in the naming of The Decree on the Ministry and Life of Presbyters. Was the document to treat the life, (essence, ontological status) of the priest first before considering his ministry? This position was rejected by the bishops. The document treats first of the ministry, the function, of the presbyter and from this ministry flows the presbyter's life and spirituality.

Spirituality is found in ministryThis is not exactly the same thing as saying "my work is my prayer." Emptying the dishwasher, doing the laundry, changing the oil in my car are not necessarily encounters with the Holy Spirit. However, assisting the dying, proclaiming the homily, preparing a couple for marriage -- these are (or can, and should, be) encounters with the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit and proclamation.  First of all, I encounter the Spirit in proclaiming the Gospel. My work as a priest necessitates that I spend many hours with the Word of God -- daily homilies, numerous weekend liturgies, funerals, weddings, anointings, reconciliation ...  There are many "methods" for preparing a homily. They all involve familiarity with the Word of God.

Long years ago one of my seminary professors suggested that each time we prepare a homily we would do some serious exegesis on the text. Through the years I have always tried to do this. I find that seldom do I have time to sit down and read a book on recent developments on our understanding of the Scriptures. However, I have those books in my library and each time I prepare a homily I do not only the exegesis needed for the homily but more exegesis than is needed for the homily. And in this way I try to keep contemporary in my understanding of the Scriptures.

Whatever method of homily preparation you may employ, one of the steps will involve
preaching the homily to yourself. Unless I myself find meaning, inspiration, and challenge in the homily, I have found that the congregation won't either. Consequently, I must be in touch with my own life and how the Spirit is active in my life and how that life is a response to the Word of God. My daily life must be a meditation on the word to be proclaimed.

I cannot preach to others unless I know these others: their hopes and fears, their joys and sorrows. This means that I must live in the world. I must know my parish and the real world in which they live. This, of course, takes time. Visiting homes, attending wedding receptions, helping build a house -- these things all take time. However, they are not distractions from prayer but again are the source of prayer.

Ministerial spirituality is reciprocal. We become holy in and through the people to whom we minister. They are not obstacles to our holiness, they are the means to holiness. The parish is the sacrament, the window, through which I view God.

I have come to see that commitments are woven together to form our common human fabric. When I see the commitment of parents to their children. Particularly to a sick child who may require medical treatment at great financial sacrifice. When I see the commitment of married couples, faithful to one another through the most difficult of circumstances. At this time my own commitment is strengthened.

Each time I witness a marriage my thought is not "Gee, I wish I could do that. Why does the Church demand a celibate clergy?" These are not my thoughts, rather I see in the love and trust of this couple a visible sign of God's love for me. Ministerial spirituality is reciprocal. We receive by giving; we are helped in helping; we are graced in gracing.

The Spirit and sanctification.  Similar remarks could be made for the ministry of sanctification. When I stand at the altar to celebrate the Eucharist, the congregation which surround me is the congregation which is and becomes the Eucharistic Body of Christ, the Body which strengthens me and supports me in my day to day ministry. "This is my Body given for you." It is the "Body" standing around the altar in which I recognize the sacrament of Jesus given and Jesus broken.

Reconciliation is larger than a dark box on Saturday afternoon. Reconciliation is my life. Unless the parish sees me as a reconciled and reconciling person, who would ever approach me to celebrate the sacrament?

And when the deepest secrets of the human heart are entrusted to me, how can I help but feel that I am standing on the threshold of mystery immersed in the Spirit of God.

When I anoint the sick and as so frequently happens, witness healing of spirit, mind, and body,  the overwhelming sense of being a channel of God's grace is often tangibly present.

The Sprit and leadership.  The ministry of authority in today's Church is not found in usurping the ministry of the baptized. Rather, the authority of the presbyter is to assure that the ministry of the faithful is indeed "faithful," that is, consistent with the ministry of Jesus. Are the lives and ministry of my parishioners consistent with the actions and attitudes of Jesus regarding racism, economic opportunity, stewardship, capital punishment, nuclear disarmament?  Christian attitudes can so easily become "American" attitudes and the presbyter continually calls the baptized to Christ.

The Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of reconciliation. Reconciliation is at the heart of the Ministry of Jesus. The presbyter continually reminds the parish by word and example that they are ambassadors of reconciliation.

This is in harmony with what most studies indicate that the laity expect in their minister. "When asked to rank the trait they most value in a pastor, parishioners named sensitivity to the needs of others by a wide margin over holiness, learning, good preaching skills, good organizing skills, or anything else. They want a pastor who understands them, who consults them, who respects them as contributors to the common life of the parish."  (David Leege. "The American Catholic Parish of the 1980's" in The Parish in Transition, USCC publication 967, p 16.)

A seminarian's spirituality is not the spirituality of the parish priest.  A seminarian's spirituality is not priestly (ministerial) spirituality simply because what you do day by day is different from what a parish priest does day by day. And if the premise is true that priestly spirituality flows from priestly ministry, then this type of spirituality is available only to those involved in this type of ministry. Consequently, the spirituality of the seminarian is not the spirituality which we have been describing here.

What is the "Seminarian's Spirituality?" I know that there are various and sometimes conflicting answers to this question and I will not attempt to give one here. However, I am convinced that talking about something is not the same as doing it. For example, during marriage preparation I can talk about the meaning of sexual intercourse in a loving marital relationship. The couple can describe the role they expect sex to play in their married life. But talking about it is different from experiencing it -- or so they tell me.  A seminarian's experience of ministry is different from that of a parish priest and while he can talk about it, talking about it is different from doing it.

Seminary life is a "ministry" but it is not the ministry of the parish priest. You are not presiding at the Eucharist and preaching each day.  You are not hearing confessions, counseling, visiting the sick, burring the dead, comforting the bereaved, receiving advice from the parochial council, and coordinating meetings with the parish staff.

Seminary "ministry" can prepare you for priestly ministry.  However, the seminary can, and I believe should, prepare you for the transition to priestly spirituality. Even now you know -- intellectually if not experientially -- what a priest does. And you can prepare yourself to do those things.  For example, you can begin now to become immersed in the Scriptures. You can begin now to be comfortable dealing with the holy, especially by knowing your own sinfulness and shadow.   You can prepare for the ministry of reconciliation by being right now a reconciling person -- a person of compassion and understanding. You can begin now to empty yourself of the spirit of arrogance and judgment. Who would come to you for compassion and reconciliation when it is evident that you don't get along with your classmates, teachers, bishop, etc.  A priest encounters the Spirit when people entrust to him the secrets of their heart.  Who would trust you with their secrets when they know you are the class gossip. Some things don't change with ordination. 

Even now, as a seminarian, though you perhaps cannot have a priestly spirituality because you are not yet a priest, you can and should look to what priestly spirituality is and prepare yourself for that ministry and spirituality. Following Christ as a seminarian and being filled with the Spirit of Christ is the best preparation for ministerial spirituality. 

Ministerial spirituality implies that the Holy Spirit is guiding our decisions. Even now you know that the Spirit of Christ is not the spirit of ignorance and rivalry, the spirit of prejudice and apathy, the spirit of narrow mindedness and hatred, or the spirit of arrogance; but rather the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of wonder and awe in God's presence. 

Return to   Top of This Page   Ministry Index   Home Page

To Think About

1.  If as Gaillardetz says (page 12) "For Christians salvation is never a private undertaking,"  how does the "private" spirituality of the diocesan priest become Christian?  Where does he enter into relationship with another human being? 

Return to   Top of This Page   Ministry Index   Home Page

Copyright: Tom Richstatter. All Rights Reserved. This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M. Every effort has been, and is being made to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own. Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it. This site was updated on 08/31/11. Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org