Presbyterorum Ordinis 12: Seeking Holiness

Presbyterorum Ordinis 12 is a pep talk to encourage priests to stay on the track toward holiness.

Like all other Christians (priests) have received in the sacrament of Baptism the symbol and gift of such a calling and such grace that even in human weakness they can and must seek for perfection, according to the exhortation of Christ: “Be you therefore perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48).

More good reinforcement for the baptismal call: every Christian is called for holiness and given grace to transcend human weakness to achieve it.

Priests are bound, however, to acquire that perfection in special fashion.

PO 12 makes an excellent distinction, calling all Christians to holiness, but stressing the priest’s call is “special,” not stronger, not more expected, not already accomplished.

(The priest) is enriched by a special grace, so that, as he serves the flock committed to him and the entire People of God, he may the better grow in the grace of him whose tasks he performs …

In like fashion, priests consecrated by the anointing of the Holy Spirit and sent by Christ must mortify the works of the flesh in themselves and give themselves entirely to the service of men. It is in this way that they can go forward in that holiness with which Christ endows them …

Note a few things: holiness is not a state given with the conferral of ordination. More than that, the lifestyle of the priest–the conscious choices of personal sacrifice and service–these are where the priest works out his daily walk with Christ. Like all of us, priests are just works in progress. They possess special graces to assist in the fulfillment of their life. But each person has his or her own special graces in work, vocation choices, and other opportunities.

Hence, this holy council, to fulfill its pastoral desires of an internal renewal of the Church, of the spread of the Gospel in every land and of a dialogue with the world of today, strongly urges all priests that they strive always for that growth in holiness by which they will become consistently better instruments in the service of the whole People of God, using for this purpose those means which the Church has approved.

Puts it in perspective. Note the clearly stated Vatican II goals:

  • internal renewal of the Church
  • spread of the Gospel everywhere
  • a dialogue with the world of today

Thoughts?

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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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