By FATHER JIM
Through so many generations and times passed, the Catholic priesthood has served the people of God — the faithful, the Church — in essentially two ways.
The most significant of these is for the priest to represent Christ in the grace and blessings that flow from our sacramental life. The priest stands for Christ in consecrating and making present the Risen Lord in the Blessed Sacrament (Eucharist). This the source and summit of our Catholic life in the spirit. Priests, deacons and lay people involved in ministries hope and pray that all the sacraments sustain and encourage the faithful.
The second way our priests nurture and nourish the faith in the parish and wider community is to be present in pastoral moments and situations, as well as in friendship and nearness. Though priests are fragile vessels and sometimes even broken, they carry the character of Jesus in every season.
The parish priest especially has been called, will be called, to be pastor and spiritual “father” — to appreciate parishioners as almost a spousal relationship that hopefully be lifegiving, wholesome and efficacious.
As to the future shape and style of Catholic priesthood, what is a blessing is that the Spirit has provided the changes and adaptations needed to meet the challenges and times. Some ways that would seem to us now to be not be possible might happen led by that same Spirit.
The church is a living and pulsing body, the Body of Christ, and so is the priesthood.