09 A Single Vocational Horizon for Priest, Religious and Lay Person - Fr. Aniceto Pereira

posted Aug 1, 2018, 9:15 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 1, 2018, 9:16 AM ]
The priesthood and priests are very much in the news these days, perhaps not always for the right reasons! Every time another scandal (fake or otherwise) is flashed on screens and front pages, I humbly say to myself: "But for the grace of God, there go I!" On the occasion of Vianney Sunday, let me thank everyone for the love and care that is showered on priests, and ask that you continue to pray for priests!

I was very happy to read the Instrumentum Laboris for the upcoming Synod in October 2018 on "Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment" - which puts sacerdotal ministry in a global perspective. As is the custom in recent times, the Synod Committee has taken a lot of trouble to listen to voices from far and wide on the topic, and crystallised the reflections into a working document to form the basis of the Synod discussions. One of the key insights is the need to discover a "vocational horizon" of the whole of human life, including life in the Church and the vocation of each individual, priest, lay person or consecrated religious. It is this horizon that ensures that "the different forms of Christian life… cannot be thought of or understood autonomously, but only in the reciprocity they draw and in the exchange of gifts they realize." (IL 99)

This reciprocal level of communion between the different states in the Church is very challenging, but also very inspiring. On Vianney Sunday, I, as a priest, wish to begin by renewing the gift of the special charism of my priesthood, to the lay faithful and the religious.

I am aware that as a priest, I am called to be a leader of the flock entrusted to my care (LG 10). But who can deny that leadership comes along with power that is invested in the leader in order to enable the person to accomplish the mission? And who can deny that power has the potential to corrupt? Unless priests are watchful, the power they wield can easily make them despotic. St John Vianney became effective in the confessional, precisely because this saintly person used his clerical power, not to condemn, but rather, to make reparation for the sins of his penitents!