Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Catching up on paperwork

Last week with one thing and another I was out of the parish a fair bit and inevitably a lot of paperwork has built up. Fortunately we have an excellent secretary in the parish who deals with everyday things like accounts and register searches as well as answering the telephone and responding to enquiries. Without her we would grind to a halt! Nevertheless a great deal of stuff comes that I need to read and check through and so I spent a good part of today catching up on paperwork.
This is part of the stewardship which is entailed in a vocation to diocesan priesthood. Unlike a religious, a secular or diocesan priest lives in the saeculum, the world, he does not withdraw from it. Administration and stewardship are entailed in the vocation. I get nervous of those who have a 'consecrated hands' view of priesthood - the idea that a priest's consecration means that temporal work is somehow beneath his dignity. As one seminary Rector put it, "Where's that in the Bible?" Our Lord worked for the years of his hidden life. He, the great High Priest, dedicated the best part of his life to manual labour. We shouldn't be surprised, therefore, if diocesan priesthood sometimes requires of us that we roll up our sleeves in order to get done whatever needs to be done.
That, of course, is a digression because there was no manual labour to be done today. Instead I had the rather more pleasant task of going through the papers of the six men who are applying for the priesthood in Southwark this year. Please keep them in your prayers.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your words, "This is part of the stewardship which is entailed in a vocation to diocesan priesthood. Unlike a religious, a secular or diocesan priest lives in the saeculum, the world, he does not withdraw from it." I am sure Father that you did not mean to mislead at all by these words but I think you are not quite right to imply that those priests in orders do not have their 'sleeves rolled up'. A considerable number, are Parish Priests and involved like yourself with such labours entailed. I know of many in missions who far from withdrawing from the world are engaged in daily toils.....including the 'delights' of paperwork.

This is not meant as being negative in any way about your blog - it is excellent.

Fr Stephen said...

Thanks for the comment Anon
Point taken! I didn't mean to imply that religious don't work! What I mean is that the vows represent a withdrawal from the 'world'. A religious is called to holiness through the fulfilment of his vows. That fulfilment may well lead him to do the work of Carthusian or of a parish priest. The diocesan priest doesn't have vows that change his state: he is secular. Therefore his call to sanctity is lived in the fulfilment of 'everyday' priestly things, including administration.
If I've got it wrong about religious life do let me know. I don't claim any expertise. It would be interesting to have some posts on the Religious vocation.