Monday, August 2, 2010
Priests and Secular Pursuits
A second note on the feast is the second reading (Epistle) which the Church places before us. It is taken from the second letter of Blessed Paul the Apostle to Timothy 2: 1-7. Especially important for the feast is the following line from the Epistle: “Labour as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No man being a soldier to God, entangles himself with worldly business.” (2 Tim 2:4) Saint Paul, when speaking to his successor Timothy, warns him not to get entangled in secular business. This is a salient warning for priests today; especially for priests today. Priests are tempted more than ever to engage in the things of the secular world. However, the Church ordains a man to the priesthood for one reason; to offer sacrifice. A priest offers sacrifice for himself and the people, for the propitiation of sins. Vivis atque defunctis. Therefore, the priest is ordained to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and everything else he does is only to bring others to the altar of God. That is why the Second Vatican Council’s decree on priestly life and ministry, Presbyterorum Ordinis, says the primum officium (first duty) of the priest is to proclaim the Gospel. Is that not a contradiction to what has just been said though? No. Faith comes through hearing as Saint Paul tells us and therefore no one can approach the altar of God who has not first faith and then supernatural charity. A priest must preach the Gospel in season and out so that people may approach, with faith, the Sacraments of Faith. Further, a priest hears confessions so as to render souls just again if they have lost sanctifying grace through mortal sin or to render them more perfect through an increase of grace. Either way, it is ordered toward the worthy and fruitful reception of Jesus Christ substantially present in the Most Holy Eucharist.
Finally the 1983 Code of Canon Law has an important word on the matter.
Canon 285: ß2. Clerics are to avoid those things which, although not unbecoming, are nevertheless foreign to the clerical state.
Saint Alphonsus, pray for us.