Presbyterorum Ordinis 9a: A Priest’s Checklist

Presbyterorum Ordinis 9 contains a few surprisingly strong statements about what priests and laity hold in common in God’s household, grounding these thoughts in baptism: the great equalizer. Priests are intended to be leaders, yes, but in the example of the Savior, who “came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life as redemption for many” (Mt 20:28).

Here’s a checklist for priests:

  • (S)eeking the things of Jesus Christ, not the things that are their own.
  • (Working) with the lay faithful.
  • (S)incerely acknowledg(ing) and promot(ing) the dignity of the laity and the part proper to them in the mission of the Church.
  • (W)illingly listen to the laity, 
  • (C)onsider(ing) their wants in a fraternal spirit, 
  • (R)ecognize their experience and competence in the different areas of human activity, so that together with them they will be able to recognize the signs of the times.

Then there’s this statement:

(P)riests should uncover with a sense of faith, acknowledge with joy and foster with diligence the various humble and exalted charisms of the laity. Among the other gifts of God, which are found in abundance among the laity, those are worthy of special mention by which not a few of the laity are attracted to a higher spiritual life. Likewise, they should confidently entrust to the laity duties in the service of the Church, allowing them freedom and room for action; in fact, they should invite them on suitable occasions to undertake worlds on their own initiative.

Important what it says about the laity: the call to a “higher spiritual life” and the inclusion of lay people in “service of the Church,” which in the greater context of this document, probably is not confined to cooking, cleaning, and contracting.

Finally priests have been placed in the midst of the laity to lead them to the unity of charity, “loving one another with fraternal love, eager to give one another precedence” (Rom 12:10). It is their task, therefore, to reconcile differences of mentality in such a way that no one need feel … a stranger in the community of the faithful.

Too little of this happens, and the blame for lack of charity rests largely with the laity of a parish, at least in my experience. More on PO 9 a bit later this week.

The young miss finishes Camp Systole tomorrow. It’s been rather quiet around the house without her. The cats have definitely noticed. I’m glad our empty nest days are still in the far future, though Anita and I have been enjoying some nice couple time this week. Still on tap for this summer: possible outing to Worlds of Fun and my personal favorite, Oceans of Fun. The young miss is tall enough to pass muster on any roller coaster they toss at her, but I heard about that poor 4-year-old at Disney World who died on a ride a few days ago. My head says don’t mess with it: keep it moderately thrilling at the water park, but parents among you know how the seeds of expectant fun get planted in little brains.

With or without your priests and/or kids, enjoy the week!

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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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