Colloquium for Priests
"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you." - John 15:18
There can be no doubt that the Catholic priesthood is under attack from all sides. This is due in part to the shortcoming of some priests, but even more so to the surrounding culture. The Gospel of Christ is a sign of contradiction to world, and thus so are His priests that bring that Gospel to the nations. At the Center for Evangelical Catholicism we seek to build up the priesthood, helping equip the clergy to better live our their gospel calling in the face of a hostile world.
The work of forming parishes according to the principles of Evangelical Catholicism falls primarily on priests, and to assist them in fulfilling their duties of teaching, sanctifying, and governing parishes as Evangelical Catholics, the CEC periodically conducts a Colloquium for Priests at St Mary's Church, Greenville. Topics to be explored include, among others, the theoretical and practical dimensions of expository preaching, celebrating the sacred liturgy in keeping with the perennial mind of the Church and the authentic reforms of the Second Vatican Council, forming and teaching Catholics of every age for lives of intentional Christian discipleship, organizing the charitable activities of the parish in keeping both with the principles of Catholic social teaching and with the understanding of social justice as a personal virtue rather than an ideology or political platform.
For more information about our Colloquium for Priests
The Priestly Ministry of Today
From Pope Benedict XVI's The Nature of the Priesthood
The priesthood of the New Testament, which appeared first in the apostles, presupposes a true communion with the mission of Jesus Christ. The person who becomes a priest is grafted into His mission.
For this reason, an intimate personal relationship with Christ is fundamental for priestly life and ministry. All priestly formation should lead to the fostering of this relationship. The priest should be a person who knows Jesus intimately, has met Him and learned to love Him. The priest should therefore be a man of prayer, a truly "spiritual" man. Without strong spiritual substance he cannot last in his ministry. From the mystery of Christ he should also learn in his life not to seek himself nor his own promotion. He should learn to spend his life for Christ and for his flock.
Such a way of living is opposed to our natural inclination, but little by little it becomes clear that only he who is capable of forgetting himself is truly free. One who works for Christ learns by experience that one sows and another reaps (cf. Jn 4:56). He has no need to look for success and thus has to rely on himself. Since he is working for the Lord, he leaves the outcome to the Lord and in joyfulness of spirit he places his concerns in the hands of the Lord. When we seek our own success, the priesthood begins to appear as a burden which surpasses our strength, and burdens too heavy for our shoulders to bear are the inevitable result. But Christ carries us in faith, and from our union with Christ an invincible joy arises which proceeds from the victory of Christ, who conquers the world (Jn 16:55) and is with us to the very end of time (Mt 28:20).
From an intimate union with Christ there automatically arises also a participation in His love for human beings, in His will to save them and to bring them help. He who knows Christ from within wishes to communicate to others the joy of the redemption which has opened up for him in the Lord: pastoral labor flows from this communion of love and even in difficult situations is always nourished by this motivation and becomes life-fulfilling.
He who loves wishes to know. A true love of Christ, therefore, expresses itself also in the will to know Him and everything that pertains to Him. Since the love of Christ necessarily becomes love of human beings, education to the ministry of Christ includes also education to the natural human virtues. Since to love Him means to know Him, it follows that a will that is eager to study carefully and diligently is a sign of a solid vocation. Because Christ is never alone, but comes to gather human beings into His body, a love for the Church must necessarily accompany a love for Christ. Christ has willed to come to us in the community of His Church. In a person's zealous love for the Church, his relationship with the Lord Himself is revealed as intimate and strong.
I would like to conclude with the words of Pope St Gregory the Great in which he shows from Old Testament images the essential connection between the interior life and ministry: "What else are the rivers of holy men which water the dry ground of the carnal heart? But... they dry up quickly, unless by the intention of the heart they keep diligently returning to the place from which they came. If they do not return inwardly to the heart, and bind themselves in love for their Creator with the bonds of holy desires, the tongue goes dry. But they do always return inside through love, and what they pour forth in public as they work and speak, they draw in secret from the fountain of love. They learn through love what they proclaim through teaching" (Hom. in Ez. lib I, hom V, 16 PL 76, 828 B).