Presbyterorum Ordinis 5: Priests as Guides, but Big Expectations for the Laity

Presbyterorum Ordinis section 5 begins with a treatment of the priest’s role in the Church’s sacramental life. What one might expect, really. Paragraph 2 underscores the importance of the Eucharist in the life of the Church. Again, nothing surprising for liturgists.

Priests likewise must instruct their people to participate in the celebrations of the sacred liturgy in such a way that they become proficient in genuine prayer. They must coax their people on to an ever more perfect and constant spirit of prayer for every grace and need.

Ah! A rejection of the ancient notions of priesthood. The council foresaw that the laity should become “proficient” in prayer. More than that, the priest’s role is to “coax” (not browbeat, intimidate, or bully) people to a progressively better spiritual life. Progress, what a concept!

They must gently persuade everyone to the fulfillment of the duties of his state of life, and to greater progress in responding in a sensible way to the evangelical counsels. Finally, they must train the faithful to sing hymns and spiritual songs in their hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Liturgy and life: the great connection for the laity.

The next few sentences emphasize the importance of the priest’s prayer life, but note the nod to continuing education in liturgy:

Let priests take care so to foster a knowledge of and facility in the liturgy, that by their own liturgical ministry Christian communities entrusted to their care may ever more perfectly give praise to God, the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit.

A good note to encourage frequent and ongoing learning in preaching, presiding, art, architecture, and music.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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