Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Ministry to Priests

Yesterday I was at a 'Ministry to Priests' meeting. Some people have the mistaken impression that the life of a diocesan priest is a lonely one. I think they imagine that we celebrate Holy Mass and then have nothing to do all day long! The truth is quite different and one of the joys of priesthood is meeting up with fellow priests who are engaged in the same mission, even though they may be exercising their priesthood in different ways.
Our Ministry to Priests Group meets up about every six weeks. We have three parish priests in the group, a theology professor, a priest involved in full-time doctoral research, full-time hospital and school chaplains and a couple of priests involved in vocations work. So the conversation is always stimulating and rewarding.

Yesterday we had an excellent paper on the philosophical background to Humanae Vitae. It considered the significance of Humanae Vitae and also why the philosophical formation current in seminaries prior to, and at the time of, the document meant that some priests were inadequately prepared to receive it. It also considered the great contribution of John Paul II's personalism as well as his Theology of the Body. In a fascinating reflection at the end of the talk we were invited to consider the importance of 'reverence'. The document was published at an iconoclastic time and the interesting suggestion was made that just as we have seen a diminishing of the sense of reverence in the religious sphere so also the 'contraceptive mentality' may have led to a lack of reverence of spouses one for the other. It would be interesting to develop this further, perhaps as part of the a spirituality of marriage.

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