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The Training of a Priest


clergy

CHAPTER 6

It is appropriate that we should include here some discussion of the training which is required for a man who is to give his life to, and draw all his cares and studies toward, the ministry of Christ’s Church in the sacred office of the priesthood. The period of training which one must undergo has much to do with the quality of his priesthood in the years after he is ordained. Men have often said that they were “formed,” both in their understanding of the nature of their ministry and in their own approach to it, by the years which they spent in preparation.

With the advent of distance learning since the original edition of this book, there are any number of cost-effective options for delivering “content” to the aspiring clergyman. Distance learning allows a man to pursue studies on a schedule that permits him to continue to earn a living and to contribute to the support of his family. The problem that remains is one of formation, an inchoate process that takes place in the life of a priest during his education. In the past, this has taken place in the context of a traditional seminary education. I note, however, that the seminary is no guarantee of orthodoxy or stability as events have sadly proven. Nevertheless, formation in community is essential, in my view, to a full preparation for the priestly vocation.

We will not need, of course, to discuss the actual canonical requirements for ordination, the studies which are prescribed by the Church’s regulations for candidates for holy orders, nor the procedure through which one must go in order to be ordained to the sacred ministry. Suffice to say, these are somewhat consistent among similar bodies in the branches of the Anglican “continuum”, although there may be wide differences in the rigor in which standards are applied. This poses a very difficult problem, and must be a focus of any discussion of Anglican unity. Our purpose, here, is rather to look at the whole question of training and see what sort of things should be included, so that the candidate may have the possibility of the richest and most serviceable ministry.

Now the conception of the priestly “call” which was developed in the earlier chapters will be of considerable importance in this context. In a sacramental understanding of the office, a man is not made a minister simply by a divine command, thereby receiving as it were “from on high” the message which he is to preach. On the contrary, if the priesthood is to be understood as requiring the commissioning, the authentication, the authorizing, of the Body of Christ in its historical, empirical expression, then it is obvious that the priest is one who stands for, labors for, speaks for, the whole tradition of the Christian Church.

If a priest is one who so represents the tradition of Christian faith, worship, and life-in-grace, it is obvious that he must know that tradition. He must know it intimately, as one who believes in it and is himself living in terms of it. He must also know it in its long development from apostolic beginnings through the centuries to our own day. Unless he has this deep knowledge, he is quite likely to be one whose approach to his people has no background of historical understanding. His proclamation of the gospel will lack the wholeness that comes from entrance into the varied yet wonderfully integrated life of the Christian fellowship.

Because a man who is to enter the priesthood must be concerned with al broad range of disciplines, he should first of all have as thorough a grounding in the liberal arts and philosophy as is possible. Normally, this implies an undergraduate college experience of four years. It is of course true that many men who have lacked this advantage have been most useful and dedicated priests. For example the Cure d’Ars, made by the Roman Catholic Church the patron saint of parish priests, was from the strictly intellectual side a very simple man. Yet he was a holy, consecrated pastor and confessor, whose spiritual insight and profound grasp of the secrets of human souls have never been surpassed.

For these reasons, exceptions can be made. It is one of the most difficult and exacting tasks of a bishop and his examiners to make sure in a given instance such an exception should be made. It is also one of the hardest duties facing seminary officials and standing committees to determine whether a man who is not adequately prepared on the intellectual side should be recommended for ordination.

By and large it is true that a priest should be a man whose secular education has been sufficiently thorough to make him acquainted with “the best that has been thought and said.” He ought to have familiarity with the whole humanistic tradition, for this is the material out of which, humanly speaking, religion is made. Broadly speaking, he ought to have a good grounding in philosophy in its several branches; some knowledge of secular history, especially in its European phase since the dawn of the Christian era; some acquaintance with the literatures of the world, in their great range and sweep; some grasp of the meaning of the scientific method and the veracity of thought which the mathematical disciplines demand. Latin and Greek, despite their unpopularity in most educational circles today, have an enormous value for the future minister, as does a knowledge of some modern language other than his own, sufficient for him to read in that tongue and understand what he is reading. This latter study is particularly important in light of the growth of immigrant communities and whether the candidate wishes to enter the mission field.

If I were asked in what particular fields candidates for holy orders tend to be particularly weak today, one would say that it is in literature and philosophy, with history and English grammar as close third and fourth subjects. For the most part, men may have some knowledge of history, although they appear to be increasingly lacking in a comprehensive understanding of European history owing to the current disfavor shown the Western canon in many colleges and universities. during its formative period through the middle ages. Again, because of the disdain for metaphysics and epistemology and the pervasive emotivism in academe, men generally have little any grasp of the great philosophical problems which have always plagued the mind of man.

What is real? What is the process of knowing? What is the relation of matter and spirit, of soul and body? How about time and eternity and their bearing on each other? Questions such as these, with the answers proposed by thinkers from Socrates and Plato through Aristotle down to Descartes and Hume, and on to Kant and more contemporary thinkers like Kierkegaard, are not usually questions with which candidates have wrestled long and earnestly. In fact, they may not even be questions about which they have done much thinking. Yet their answers to these basic questions will have a profound effect upon their ministry.

When it comes to the great writing in the non-technical fields, many men entering seminaries these days are very badly off. The roll of names from Homer to Hardy seems to mean little to them. One might well ask how it is possible for a man to understand the depths of human experience unless he has felt “the surge and thunder of the Odyssey”; has followed Aeneas on his long journey to Italy and has seen Anchises “stretch forth his hands in longing towards the farther shore”; has gone with Dante in exploration of the Inferno, the Purgatorio and the Paradiso; has heard Lear cry, “Tears, tears, tears, tears”; and with Hamlet has pondered the lot of man in this “weary, unintelligible world.” Surely, too, he ought to know the writers like Goethe, Dostoyevsky, Dickens, and the rest. This need not necessarily be in detail or with scholarly exactness, but at least well enough to see with them the heart of man as he tries to live significantly and with dignity in this world where he has been placed by God.

So, in purely secular pre-theological training, it is good that a man who is to be ordained have as rich an acquaintance with the culture of the world as he can acquire. The priest ought to continue his reading and keep up his study in this wide cultural field after ordination. Otherwise, he is likely to grow stale intellectually or, worse perhaps, to be so sunk in his own immediate situation, culturally speaking, that he is shallow and superficial in his thinking and preaching.

But beyond this, and much more important, a young man looking forward to the ministry ought to be very sure that he is learning the things of God. He needs a knowledge of Scripture to be attained only by constant and devoted reading of the Bible from day to day. It is astounding, and disconcerting, to see how few men seeking ordination have a deep knowledge of Holy Scripture. At best they may know the passages which appear in the Sunday lections in the appointed services of the Church. Such ignorance handicaps them in their seminary studies, requiring them to spend hours in learning that which they could just as readily have mastered during earlier years.

Of course it is not the Bible alone which is needed. We hope that we may assume regular churchgoing, especially the fulfilment of the duty of assisting at the celebration of the Eucharist Sunday by Sunday and at other times. But a man who plans to be ordained should see that his own personal spiritual life is not neglected. For this reason, a rule of life is invaluable, since it guarantees that proper time will be allowed for prayer and the cultivation of one’s inner life. It is not necessary to go into detail here, since it is included in the techniques of the devotional life to be discussed in a later chapter. Perhaps the only difference is that the postulant or candidate for holy orders is not likely to be so far advanced in this respect as the ordained man, but he does need to learn the vital lesson that the spiritual life is central, and that prayer is the very breath of the Christian without which his life as a believer cannot flourish.

Those who know college students well, and especially those students who have a sentimental attachment for the priesthood as a possible vocation, know also that much that passes for incipient vocation is nothing of the sort. It is very easy for a student to fancy himself as a future priest and in this to be guilty of self-regarding wishful thinking. The test of a true vocation, discussed in a preceding chapter, lies frequently in the willingness of a student to live under a rule, of which more will be said. later. The student even in college must learn to take heed to his own spiritual growth, relying upon God’s grace in prayer and sacrament. Something must be learned, and learned before seminary, of the need for discipline.

Men who think they have a vocation, and who yet cannot get up in the morning in time to serve at the altar when scheduled, have all too often substituted a sentimental notion for the rigorous demands which are made upon one who is seriously concerned to become a priest of the Church. It is in the days before one has gone to the seminary that one can best acquire the sense of discipline and the habits of religious practice which should mark the life of a servant of God in the sacred ministry.

In the theological seminary, whether in house or by distance, the course of study is carefully prescribed. Few “electives” are permitted, since the necessary subjects have been set down in the canons of the Church and must be acquired by the ordinand. A great deal depends, however, on the way in which the seminarian approaches his studies. Are they merely something to be got through in order to be ordained? Or do they have a deeper value and meaning? Surely, one who is to be a faithful priest must try to learn from his seminary studies more than those minimum to pass canonical examinations. He must seek that profound understanding of the Christian tradition which will make him a worthy representative of the Church, wherever he may be.

Certainly, he will study the Church’s theology, both in its development and in its dogmatic form. To appreciate these, he must know the Scriptures, which record the events from which our religion took its rise and which always constitute, for the Anglican, the “proving-ground” for all doctrine. He will learn of the way in which the Christian Church has developed through the centuries. He will study the Christian moral tradition, both in its theological statement and in its practical application. He will learn of Christian worship, its theological grounding, its liturgical expression, and its implied results in the life of the worshipper. He will be acquainted with the principles of pastoral care, and he will learn how to conduct services to the glory of God and the edifying of His people. He will be instructed in the cure of souls, so that he may ad-minister counsel and absolution to sinners. So one could go on, through the whole round of the theological curriculum.

All of this is taught, all of this is learned, not by rote so that one may “get it out of the way,” but in the heart so that one may have it at the very root of one’s being. The priest is to be the Church’s man. The life of the Church is to flow through him to such a degree and in such a fashion that he thinks and speaks, works and lives, the Church’s tradition.
Not the problem of distance learning. It is not the classroom which is at the heart of seminary life. The chapel is there, and it is in chapel, as the future priest joins in the daily round of worship with his brethren who like him are preparing for holy orders, that he can most effectively develop the disposition and bent of personality which will make him a worthy priest.

Dutiful and devoted participation in worship in the chapel, especially at the Eucharist, will do much to deepen and strengthen his personal conviction. It will clarity and meaning to classroom studies and the underlying reading and writing which he must follow. He is learning to serve God with his mind; and he must also learn to bring to the altar that which, intellectually speaking, he has made his own. There his mind, his heart, and his soul, together with his very body itself, are offered to God for His service in the priesthood. It is in chapel, too, that he can acquire that habit of saying the daily offices of Morning and Evening Prayer which will give stability and form to his life in the priesthood as he joins with the whole Church throughout the world in its fulfilment of what St. Benedict called the opus Dei, “the work of God.” This becomes far more complex for the distance learner, and the local priest and mentor needs to arrange for the parish seminarian to have this experience in the home church.

In his life with his brethren, in classroom, in dining hall, on the walks of the seminary campus, at social functions, as well as in the worship of the chapel, the future priest learns the charity and forbearance which are the marks of the Christian man, and above all the marks of the Christian priest. Here, in a place where everything is directed toward one end, God and His will, as known in His Church,there is a unique opportunity to grow in the grace of Christian life, with its little courtesies, its remembrances, especially its willingness to let others be themselves and not merely serve as adjectives which modify one’s self.

Here is a supreme opportunity to discover, and to incorporate into one’s own life, the truth that the Church is indeed, as St. Augustine said, a corpus permixtum; and that its very variety of membership, and its rich differentiation in thought and approach, is a sign of its divine quality and nature. In the seminary one can begin friendships in Christ, friendships which perhaps are deeper and more enriching than those known anywhere else, because they are grounded in an undergirding devotion to Christ and His Church, and are set in the context of the life of Him whom we cannot lose because He is our God as well as our Brother. Again, for the distance learner, the sponsoring parish must make accommodation to replicate this experience, at least in part, by working to draw the seminarian into the various aspects of the community’s life.

The life of a seminarian is not without its problems. He must learn discipline, and the average young American certainly does not like this. However, many, particularly those who have had military service, have found themselves in situations where discipline was both necessary and enforced, and have come to recognize that one of our greatest needs today is precisely such a patterned and ordered life as discipline provides.

In other ways, too, life in a seminary is not always easy. The studies are exacting; the obligations regarding chapel attendance may be irritating; there may be many other community problems, quite apart from personal ones. Above all, there is the readjustment of one’s whole life to a new point of view. For even if a man, before he has come to seminary, has been a devout Christian, loyally practicing his religion, he has not been obliged constantly to bring everything into line with this single all-encompassing aim: the knowledge of God, the service of God, as this is expressed in the Church’s ministry. Thus, there may come periods of disturbance, emotional upset, staleness or dryness in prayer and worship, a sense of partial frustration. But these can be met and conquered, if the initial commitment has been made and if the seminarian will follow the advice given earlier and learn where necessary to “take it easy.” Most men now in the priesthood will say that with all the questions and problems that seminary years raised for them, those years were among the happiest, the most fruitful, and the most rewarding they have ever known.

I would offer two or three remarks in conclusion. The first is that the man who is planning on entering the ministry must be one who is teachable. Far too often, a seminarian, or even one who has not yet reached that stage of his preparation, thinks and acts as if he were in complete possession of the face of it. Yet, the lesson of humility before the tradition, and teachability in the presence of those who are commissioned to train ordinands, needs to be learned over and over again.

Intellectual freedom is encouraged in most seminaries. The future priest must learn to think through the content of Christian teaching and make it come alive to himself, as he freely studies it with no other commitment than the great commitment to God and his revelation as the Church proclaims them.

It is plainly true that the Christian faith and much that is contained within the tradition must be studied critically and analyzed fearlessly; and the seminary is the place where this is done. Students in seminary are often startled by new ways of stating the faith or by new theories concerning its origins, by biblical criticism both of the Old and New Testament, by distinctions between “central” and “peripheral” beliefs and the like. In the face of these new and different ideas, they need to remember that their teachers, men who have given their lives to the Church’s tradition, are themselves men of faith as well as men of intellectual integrity. Their task in a theological institution is so to think through and so to present the truth, that the historic faith may be soundly and firmly based in the light of modern knowledge and with relevance to modern problems.

Secondly, I would offer a word about the need for a wholesome “secularity” on the part of those training for the priesthood. While it is true that such men are concentrating on one goal, which is their future ministry in the service of God and his Church, it is also true that they need some “nature” upon which “grace” can work. This principle holds true for the ordained man as well as for the man looking forward to ordination. Baron von Hugel used to recommend to those who came to him for spiritual counsel that they should have some non-theological or non-religious interest to which they could turn from time to time.

It may be music, it may be poetry, it may be current affairs, it may be any one of a number of things. Yet it is necessary that there be something which is not strictly directed toward the theological or religious goal. Of course, in the long run and ultimately, any good thing is God’s and leads to God, even though it be God under one of his million incognitos; but it is right that it should not be “religious” in the narrower sense. In this way, the ordinand will have a balance which will make him a healthier and better integrated person.

In sum, the years spent in the seminary provide the opportunity for a great development in the personal religious life of the future priest. Here, he can learn the techniques of meditation and mental prayer; he can strengthen his grasp on the principles of the spiritual life so that he may himself be one who walks with God and hence one who can help his people. Here are older and more experienced men to whom he can turn for advice and assistance, and from whom he can learn much that he needs to know about the spiritual life.

All that we have said in this chapter leads directly into our next subject. For the man who is training for the priesthood is training so that he may be a worthy representative of the Church’s tradition, functioning for Christ in His Mystical Body and carrying on Christ’s work in the world today. But he is a priest in one branch of the Church, the Anglican communion, and more particularly that part of it known as the Episcopal Church in the United States. He will soon promise to be loyal to the doctrine, discipline and worship of that Church. He will be a “man under authority.” To that subject we will now turn.

Psalms That Speak


I always am amazed, but never surprised, at the way Scripture speaks to my condition or needs at any given time. This particularly is the case with the Psalms.  This morning at Matins, we came around to Psalm 56.  It is spot on for me on this rainy Saturday.Psalm 56

Psalm 56. Miserere mei, Deus.
BE merciful unto me, O God, for man goeth about to devour me; * he is daily fighting, and troubling me.
2 Mine enemies are daily at hand to swallow me up; * for they be many that fight against me, O thou Most Highest.
3 Nevertheless, though I am sometime afraid, * yet put I my trust in thee.
4 I will praise God, because of his word: * I have put my trust in God, and will not fear what flesh can do unto me.
5 They daily mistake my words; * all that they imagine is to do me evil.
6 They hold all together, and keep themselves close, * and mark my steps, when they lay wait for my soul.
7 Shall they escape for their wickedness? * thou, O God, in thy displeasure shalt cast them down.
8 Thou tellest my wanderings1; put my tears into thy bottle: * are not these things noted in thy book?
9 Whensoever I call upon thee, then shall mine enemies be put to flight: * this I know; for God is on my side.
10 In God’s word will I rejoice; * in the LORD’S word will I comfort me.
11 Yea, in God have I put my trust; * I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.
12 Unto thee, O God, will I pay my vows; * unto thee will I give thanks.
13 For thou hast delivered my soul from death, and my feet from falling, * that I may walk before God in the light of the living.

Blessing of the Badges


Badge

ST. MICHAEL (AND ALL ANGELS)
PATRON OF LAW ENFORCEMENT

“BLESSING OF THE BADGES”
FOR
LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS AND FAMILIES

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2003

NOON

ST. ALBAN’S PARISH
4600 HERMITAGE ROAD
RICHMOND, VA 23227

Gather in the parking lot, weather permitting for blessings and presentation of St. Michael’s medals. In the event of rain, the blessing will be in the sanctuary.

For Further Information Please Contact:
Fr. Charles H. Nalls, Rector
202-262-5519
stalbansrector@outlook.com

What to Look for in a Bishop


LJ

We all know them.  These are the blokes who have a miter, ring, pectoral cross and crozier carefully stashed in the closet on the first day of seminary.  They yearn for the episcopal state, and can be very inventive with reasons they believe that they are entitled to the office.  Some claim with dewy eyes that the Holy Spirit has revealed their elevation to them.  Others view it as a deserved “promotion”-a sort of key to the ecclesiastical executive washroom, if you will.  Indeed, one of these “bishops-in-waiting” solemnly shared to all in the zip code that day that God viewed his military service and subsequent executive positions as qualifying for the office.

Today’s bit of unsolicited advice is, “Fear the man that wants to be a bishop.  Look for the one who tries to flee at the thought of it.”  That latter bit, and, of course, an holy life are the “gold standard” of qualifications.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the life of St. Lawrence Justinian whose festival w mark today.

St. Lawrence was born 1380, of very pious parents. When still quite young, he lost his father, Bernard, and his mother took up care and education of the family. One day, she expressed he concern to the boy that he harbored ambition or pride. Lawrence answered: “fear not, mother; I have only one ambition, and that is to become a great servant of the Lord, and to be more pious than my brothers.” Although he lived at a period when the morals of Venice were very corrupt, his life was regarded by everyone with surprise and admiration.

To escape the danger which threatened him, he prayed most fervently to God to give him the grace to know the vocation to which he was called. One day, kneeling before a crucifix and an image of the Blessed Virgin, he prayed this intention and then felt deep an intense desire to leave the world, and to serve God in the religious state. He obeyed, renounced the world and all its pomp, and went to the Regular Canons of St. George on Alga, an island near Venice. There, the young man requested to enter the order, and he began his novitiate cheerfully. Soon, he showed that he was no beginner in the science of holiness, but a proficient. His superiors had much more difficulty in moderating his zeal than in animating it.

Among other austerities which he practiced to mortify himself, he never warmed himself by the fire even on the coldest days. In summer, he took nothing to allay his thirst except with his meals at noon and evening. At night, he slept on a pallet of bare boards.
After Lawrence had been ordained priest, he daily said Mass with great devotion and seldom without tears. During the Mass on Christmas-night, he received the grace to behold his Saviour in the form of a lovely child.

He constantly fought to remain free from all offices of honor, especially the episcopate. Nevertheless, he was chosen general of his order, and sometime later was named bishop of Venice, by Pope Eugenius IV. However, this humble servant of Christ tried in every possible manner to escape this dignity. At last obliged by obedience, he accepted it. As bishop, however, he altered nothing of the austerities he had practiced in the monastery. He visited his whole diocese, and with apostolic zeal, animated his flock to observe the Commandments of God and the Church.

He used the income from his family for the benefit of the Church and the relief of the poor. Besides several collegiate Churches, he founded fifteen religious houses, and daily fed a great number of poor.

Pope Nicholas declared St. Lawrence the first Patriarch of Venice, an office that eventually caused his strength gradually to give way. On the feast of the Nativity, he felt, during Holy Mass, an intense desire to be admitted into the presence of his God. A fever, which seized him soon after the Mass, ended with his death in a very few days. He lay on the bare floor, and, not even in his last days, could he be persuaded to make use of a softer bed.

“Jesus Christ,” said Lawrence, “died upon the hard wood of the Cross, and you desire that a sinner, like me, should lie soft and comfortable!” After receiving the holy Sacraments, he gave his last instructions to those around him. “Keep the Commandments of the Lord,” said he; “nothing is more noble or excellent than to serve God.” He then raised his eyes to Heaven and said: “I am coming, O my Jesus!” and his soul went to God. Thus, he began his life in heaven in the seventy-third year of his age. the intercession of the Saint, miracles took place at his tomb, in favor of the infirm and the possessed.

Humble, pious, charitable to a fault, austere in life, prayerful and not desiring any higher office than that of a priest.  Now, that’s a bishop.

Suffer the Little Ones


chrysostom

In the context of the saint’s day and the latest scandal involving the abuse of children by clergy as well as those in power who promote anti-life agendas, we have solemn admonitions in an “Homily by St. John Chrysostom” for August 27th (emphasis added).  The saint says to us:

Take heed that ye despise not one of these least little ones, saith the Lord, for their Angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. It was as though he had said: it was for them that I came, because this is the will of my Father. Thus doth he make it our duty to be full of thought and care for the protection and safety of these little ones.

Yea, he pronounceth extreme penalties on them that despise them; and for them that undertake to care wholeheartedly for them he promises most high rewards. In all these things of his teaching, he doth further enforce by his own example and by the example of the eternal Father himself.

Let us therefore take to heart what he saith, and imitate his example. Let us neglect nothing which is in our power to do for these our little brothers and sisters. Let us be ready to undertake any work on their behalf, even the most homely and mean, (that is, homely and mean in the eyes of men).

And if there should be some further need of our assistance, even to the point of self-denying and laborious effect on our part, let us render it graciously; and let us do these things the more so when our help is required for one that is tiny and unloved and unwanted.

And let us practice ourselves in these things until they become tolerable to us, and even easy, because we do them for the sake of one who is our little brother or sister in Christ.

For God hath made evident that every soul is worthy of so much diligent care that he spared not his own son for the sake of such.

-From The Anglican Breviary


 

Calasanza

As we reflect on the extraordinary evils perpetrated by clergy upon the young as revealed in the recent Pennsylvania cases, we do well to reflect on the life and witness of those in the Church of those who have sought the good of our “least little ones”. In particular, today is the Feast day of St. Joseph Calasanz, Sch.P. (September 11, 1557 – August 25, 1648), also known as Joseph Calasanctius and Josephus a Matre Dei, a Spanish Catholic priest, educator and the founder the founder of the first free public school in modern Europe. It was a revolutionary initiative, a radical break with the class privileges that kept the masses marginalized and in poverty.

St. Joseph Calasanz displayed great moral courage, in his attitude to victims of the Inquisition, such as Galileo and Campanella, and in the acceptance of Jewish children in his schools, where they were treated with the same respect as other pupils. Similarly, Protestant pupils were enrolled in his schools in Germany. So great and universal was St. Joseph Calasanz’s prestige that he was even asked by the Ottoman Empire to set up schools there, a request which he could not, to his regret, fulfill, due to a lack of teachers. He organized and systematized a method of educating primary school pupils through progressive levels or cycles, a system of vocational training, and a system of public secondary education.

In an era when no one else was interested in public education, the saint managed to set up schools with a highly complex structure. He was concerned with physical education and hygiene. He addressed the subject in various documents and requested school directors to monitor children’s health. He taught his students to read both in Latin and in the vernacular. While maintaining the study of Latin, he was a strong defender of vernacular languages, and had textbooks, including those used for teaching Latin, written in the vernacular. In that respect he was more advanced than his contemporaries.

As well, St. Joseph Calasanz placed great emphasis on the teaching of mathematics, but his main concern was undoubtedly the moral and Christian education of his students. As both priest and educator, he considered education to be the best way of changing society. All his writing is imbued with his Christian ideals, and the constitutions and regulations of the schools were based on the same spirit. He created an ideal image of a Christian teacher and used it to train the teachers who worked with him.

COLLECT

O God, who for the teaching of youth in the spirit of understanding and godliness didst through thy blessed Confessor St. Joseph vouchsafe to provide thy Church with a new succor, grant we beseech thee; that by his example and intercession we may learn so to do and to teach , that we may be found worthy to attain to the reward of everlasting felicity. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and forever. Amen.-From The Anglican Breviary


‘It’s been a very meaningful experience, vicar. We must repeat it sometime.’

The sacred ministry is a many-sided calling, eliciting a great variety of gifts and talents. For example, the worship of the Church requires the abilities of men of artistic bent. Art must never be left outside the sanctuary in the worship of the Lord of beauty. Again the Church must have preachers and teachers. It must have scholars, able to commend the faith to our day.

It must have men of true pastoral insight. All of this the Church must have because the ministry assumes so many forms and types. There are many, many ways in which the priestly vocation finds expression. In this chapter, we will look at several of these “vocations within vocation” always with the understanding that the need is critical in every area as traditional priests become ever more scarce.  However, there first must be a small jeremiad.

I note at the outset of this chapter, that these areas of ministry are largely a “wish list”.  Until traditional Anglicans, particularly Anglo-Catholics, seriously address the woeful lack of clergy education and formation, these vital ministries will go begging.  Unless the “jurisdictions” take to heart the serious lack of funding outside of military and institutional settings, young men, particularly those desiring to raise a family, will simply be unable to serve the Church in a full-time capacity.  A priesthood comprised largely of retirees, men with working wives and a few independently-wealthy souls is not sustainable.  It is a recipe for decline and loss, a situation that already is manifest to those willing to address reality.  The wonderful ministry opportunities outlined in this chapter will go unfilled and unsupported.

There must be a paradigm shift, not “sometime”, or in a “couple of years” or even tomorrow.  It must happen now, for the hour is very, very late and the opportunity almost gone..

The Parish Ministry. Here is, perhaps, the normal vocation for most men in holy orders. Most of our clergy work in parishes as pastors to the people. The oversight of a congregation may seem to some a cramping and uneventful task, but such an estimate could only be offered by one who knows very little of the life of a parish priest. The parish ministry, as we shall see in a later chapter, provides scope for every manner of ministration and is demanding in countless ways.

The priest in parochial ministry must lead his people in the common worship of God. He must administer the sacraments of the Church worthily and with a glad heart. He must be a prophet, proclaiming the Word of God and doing it in such a way as to make the Church’s scriptures relevant to the human scene. He must be a pastor, acting as a true spiritual father, bringing the people to a realization of their kinship in Christ. He must be the rector, as well, administering the affairs of the parish and providing leadership in its corporate life. More than this, he must stand for the Christian faith in a community largely secular, having a care for those outside the immediate fellowship of the parish.

How many different kinds of parishes there are! A man in parochial ministry may find himself drawn to exercise his priesthood in an industrial community or in a suburban town. He may find himself in a depressed area of a large city or at a vacation center beside the ocean. There are large parishes with curates to help in the discharge of priesthood, although these are fewer and fewer. There are small parishes large enough, none the less, to test and tax the resources of a deeply consecrated man. There are parishes of all classes and groups of people. Parochial ministry affords an infinite variety of opportunities and calls forth from any man all that he can hope to contribute.

The Religious Life. One of the most hearten¬ing developments in the past was been the growth of monastic discipline with its life of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Sadly, there are few such religious orders remaining, and even fewer that are, quite frankly, legitimate. Nevertheless, all single men thinking seriously of the priesthood should consider this special vocation within the Church.

The life of a monk is not for all, but for those truly called to it there is there real satisfaction and significance. There has always been such a special vocation within Christ’s Church, for our Lord’s “counsels of perfection” are an outstanding means toward sanctity. Here is a “bound” life, patterned after Christ’s life; and it gives a wide measure of true freedom to those who embrace it.

It is hard to explain the merits of the religious life to our modern world intent on self-expression and anxious for personal liberty. Why should one voluntarily seek hardness and deprivation? To those who are half-hearted and easy-going in their Christian profession the sight of souls with a passion for heroic sanctity seems embarrassing. But if prayer is as important as the Church declares it to be, the very breath of the soul, then we desperately need communities of prayer within the Church.

More than once the Church has been saved from worldliness and apostasy by her religious communities. More than once the Church has been saved from smugness and superficiality by those who have forsaken all to follow Him who was born in poverty and died in perfect obedience to a loving Father who commanded his whole heart. The monasteries are strong spiritual centers. They ought to be stronger. From them, one prays, will come an ever stronger tide, flowing into the life of the whole Church.
Our religious show us how central is the ordered worship of God to our Christian life, how important is life lived by rule, how brotherly love can be expressed in community.

The Church is empowered by the religious who are among our best missionaries, giving retreats, preaching missions, befriending the friendless, providing hospitality for the sinful and care-worn. The religious life is an extraordinarily desirable way in which a priest may exercise his ministry.

Chaplains and Teachers in Schools. The “continuing” Anglican Church has recently come to a new understanding of the importance of religious education at every level of the Church’s life. We have a new awareness of the great importance of an integrated Christian curriculum in our private schools. We are beginning to establish parochial schools for day pupils. We are experimenting with choir schools. Within those schools, d “sacred studies” courses are being recast and given a greater prominence. Above all we are learning the critical importance of teaching our young people how to worship.

More and more, chaplains are required in our schools to assume responsibility for all religious activity, for personal counselling and the like. More and more there is a demand, too, for teachers in holy orders, for clerical masters, who may teach many subjects not counted “religious” in nature. We are learning that it is of great value to have men on a faculty who are in holy orders representing the whole tradition of our faith and life to the students and so giving them some conception of the breadth and inclusiveness of the Christian faith. Men who are interested in young people, men who sense the importance of a true Christian orientation in all of human knowledge, will find this type of ministry especially appealing.

Chaplains in Colleges. Few students reading this book will need evidence as to the importance of the Church’s work on the American campus. The effectiveness of the Church’s ministry on the campus varies greatly from college to college and carried out by a competent priest, the results are instantly seen. All will grant that the Church’s ministry on our modern secularized campus is of vital moment. It is one of the most important mis¬sionary fields open to the Church. It requires ded¬icated priests of maturity and insight. It is best served by men of keen intellect and with deep in¬tellectual honesty.

The college chaplain is a priest in a pagan community. He must know apologetics-how to commend the faith to faculty and students alike, as both groups are confused. He must serve both teachers and students. So far as the latter are concerned, he knows them only for four brief years, but these are very critical ones. He meets the student as a maturing person who should come in college years to a new and mature understanding of the faith he has earlier known as a child and as an adolescent. Much will be and should be discarded of that former understanding. What will take its place? The chaplain’s task is to assist the student to a new and true understanding of the Christian way, striving always to insure that it will be full and complete. This applies not only to the faith itself, but also to an understanding of its implications for life.

The chaplain must also be a ready friend and from university to university. Where the work is well conceived, generously supported, and wise confessor, for these qualities will certainly be required of him. Such a chaplaincy is in many respects a lonely calling, and it requires of the man who enters it a depth of Christian conviction and a marked ability to discipline himself. But surely there is no more strategic a mission field anywhere than this one, a field among those who will guide the life and thought of the nation during the decades ahead.

Teachers in Colleges. In our few remaining Church-affiliated colleges, but also in many independent in¬stitutions of learning, there are faculty positions for men in orders. There may be “departments of religion” in such institutions, although the and the tendency has been to weaken then them through modernism and neo-Marxism. Those concerned with higher education and the faith are agreed that abandonment of religious instruction is has bred religious and cultural illiteracy. Beyond this, there is a waning awareness of the central importance of religion in Western civilization. To the contrary, one cannot understand Western history, art, philosophy and the like without a searching exposure to Christian faith and life.

Most clergy, entering the field of teaching in colleges, will find themselves giving courses in the Scriptures, ethics, Christian literature, philosophy, and similar subjects, but there are also openings in the scientific, classical, and other fields. Faculty members of this sort  will exercise a formal ministry by assisting at a local parish or assuming weekend responsibility in some diocesan mission. But all such priests have a unique opportunity to commend the Christian faith to those whom they teach, whether in religious or in “secular” studies. The Christian witness is needed within the faculty as well as from without.

However, the specialization and fragmentation of the curriculum in higher education today, the prevalence of secularism and the disdain for the moral and spiritual factors in life make academe hostile territory. Years ago, author Paul Lehmann, in his History of Bible Teaching at Wellesley College, 1875-1950, aptly described the critical status of the matter in this way:

“The present predicament of higher education in America is its failure to provide the creative leadership for a responsible society. This failure is traceable in large part to the cleavage in under-graduate education between substance and significance; between conviction and criticism. Objectivity as an educational aim has brought a vast accumulation of information and a critical detachment from commitment and meaning. In its own way this has been a necessary and a desirable aim of college instruction. But its inadequacies have been exposed by the rigorous tensions of a society in transition. Without abandoning the critical search for the substance of things as they are, the American campus must wrestle again-as universities in other days have done-with the problem of the loyalties and purposes in terms of which we shall live and die.”

The same holds doubly true today in these post-modern times.

We need the Church’s voice on the campus, within the faculty.

Military Chaplains. In the present and for an indefinite future our armed forces always need priests to serve as chaplains in the army, navy, and air force. This is a particular type of ministry calling for a particular type of man, making tremendous demands, presenting innumerable problems, offering rare opportunities.

The chaplain is traditionally the one to whom the service member takes all sorts of problems. If he is a good counsellor with the confidence of his men and women, the chaplain is in position to do great good for Christ and His Church. His position in military life makes him easily accessible. He shares duties and dangers with all others. He knows as well as all others in his unit the boredom and the horror of war. He has the opportunity to send service members back home to civilian life better soldiers of Christ than they were when they entered a branch of the service.

Meanwhile, he must minister the grace of God, preach God’s Word, be a shepherd and pastor to men in loneliness, in danger, separated from natural ties and normal life. He must do all of this against a constant assault from “social engineers” and frank atheists who have no regard for traditional Christian teaching and, often, would punish the chaplain who holds vast to orthodox Christian beliefs. Never the less, we have reason to thank God for the ministry of such military chaplains, men who helped in the conversion of many a person away in the armed services.

Urban Mission. All over the country in the great industrial and metropolitan areas, parishes have died as the demographics shift to the suburbs. The churches stand empty while thousands pass them by. The churches likely stand empty because their doors have not been opened to the unchurched, the poor, the members of other na¬tional and minority groups. We forget the obligation placed upon all who call themselves Christians to bring into the Body of Christ His beloved poor.

Some studying for the priesthood, may wish to consider turning to the vocation of stimulating the rebirth of these old parishes, founding Christian communities in neighborhoods where little sense of community exists. Such work is very different from that of the average parish: a priest here must work into the lives and ways of his people, sharing insofar as he can their burdens and frustrations, patiently accepting the endless pastoral problems of life in a “blighted area.” He must be lawyer, doctor, banker, psychiatrist, athletic coach, social worker, chauffeur, lobbyist, civic leader, and much else, and all as a part of his priesthood. No drunk or addict on his doorstep can be too repulsive for him to ignore, no child too un¬important to overlook, for he and his colleagues set the tone of the community of love whereby so many may be healed, and in being healed, find Christ.

In many ways, this greater dependency of the parish on its priest gives him a greater opportunity to exercise his ministry. Although he may be an amateur in much that he has to do in some fields in meeting the secular needs of his people, he must develop all of his own professional skills as priest and pastor to channel effectively the grace of God to souls in such various situations. In the rush of his business, he must never forget that only through much prayer may he hope to find the Holy Spirit working through him.
Whatever the methods he uses, and these will vary with each different situation, the overwhelming principle, is to bring to the city a ministry of love.

The agencies and professional social workers with which the people ordinarily must deal make a fetish of impersonality and frequently are hostile to traditional Christian values and morals. The Christian must above all be personal-far from avoiding emotional involvement in his relationships, he must seek to love his people, because there are some for whom this will be their only experience of love. This concern, to be effective, reaches out beyond individual lives into the structure of society itself, necessitating an intelligent and liberal point of view on social issues and a willingness to be courageous in the field of social action.

Although the demands of such a ministry are heavy, although the priest may have to give up such things as privacy, a scheduled life, orderliness, and even efficiency, the general atmosphere of such a parish is one of gaiety and joy, so much so that he is more than compensated for any hardships. There seems to be more laughter in the rectory kitchen, as people come in and out of it all day long, more natural warmth and friendliness in parish calling, more true affection from children, a readier acceptance of leadership in the commu1nity, and above all, a deep sense of Christ’s presence and companionship in the day to day ministry. Perhaps this is because in a place so devoid of love, love finds its greatest return; perhaps because here Christ dwells sacramentally in the suffering of His Body and in the loneliness of the social outcast dying on the cross.

Whoever seeks this vocation will never be disappointed and will find the priesthood a most glorious and joyous life.

Rural Ministry. Our small town and country parishes provide almost unlimited opportunity for a creative and imaginative priesthood and so many have closed are on the verge of closing. For little or no financial compensation, there is a comprehensive ministry.

A rural priest may have a tremendous influence in an entire countryside and the rural parish can become a real community center in every way. The rural priest will find that his ministry includes that of educator, evangelist, handy-man, and leader in every conceivable kind of enterprise (including, one may note, the development of leadership in the local citizenry). Like the farmers who make up his parish, he must be able to do just about everything. Whatever his abilities and interests may be, the rural priest will discover that his vocation demands a full use of all of them and many another as well. In addition, these abilities may be necessarily used to take on outside employment in the manner of St. Paul so as to provide a modest income. (“tent making”)

The rural priest must be an educator not alone in his own parish but in the whole community. He must give educational guidance in the rural school system. He must open up windows on the world outside his own community, trying to relate town and country life to the whole national entity. He must help provide cultural opportunities that will stir the imaginations and broaden the horizons of his people.

He must be a community leader and builder and his voice must be heard in every welfare and social agency. He must see to it that the best possible use is made of available resources, and arrange for the development of unusual or unknown skills. His parish must be a decisive Christian force and a rallying point for all manner of worthy Christian enterprise. The rural priest surely has a comprehensive ministry and one that is of tremendous moment in the life of the whole Church.

Institutional Chaplains. Here we have a largely forgotten ministry to forgotten men and women. What of the priestly duty toward those in prison, in mental hospitals, homes for the aged, and even ordinary hospitals? The Church has a special responsibility for the sick in body and mind and this special obligation is increasing exponentially in intensity in our modern society. Hospitals have become increas¬ingly numerous and complex. Hospital management has become a vocation demanding special training. Who will bring the glorious gospel of Christ to those who stand so greatly in need of it? The need cannot be met by the part-time activity of a local parish priest.

There are millions of people in the institutions of this country on any given day. The Church has not begun to realize its mission in this area of responsibility, but, rather, has shrunk from it. We need more chaplains for penitentiaries, jails and prisons. There are veterans’ institutions, homes for the mentally ill and others all of whom cry out for the charity of Christ. The number of people over sixty-five has grown astronomically as life expectancies have increased, many are in homes for the aged and others in home care. Modern life has created many new demands on the Church, but nowhere as obviously as in this particular direction.

A priest who would give his priesthood to answering this growing need must be specially trained. He must have a knowledge of psychiatric study, social case work, community welfare work. It is missionary, pioneer work; and it is utterly necessary to the Church’s life.

Teaching in Seminaries. The current author of this book is deeply committed to theological education. I believe that a well-edu¬cated ministry is essential to the well-being and future of traditional Anglicanism. I would not have re-written this book otherwise.

Contrary to the current sad state of affairs, “read for orders” programs and local, denominational “theological colleges” are inadequate for the training and formation of clergy. This is particularly so because of the lack of objective standards and personal preferences that have been the rule for such educational avenue for the last forty years. This is not to say that good clergy have not come out of these programs to serve the Church. However, solid results and consistent standards are few and far between.

So, the Church must have strong seminaries for the training of its future priests. The faculties of those seminaries must be made up of men whose devotion to truth and whose scholarship are beyond question. There must be priests who are willing to adventure in the intellectual service of the Faith, who will have a courage and fearlessness in study. We need priest-scholars, men competent to guide and direct the candidates for the priesthood in their only a conception of the Catholic faith in its many-sided aspects but also a passionate devotion to its spread among all men everywhere. Such vocations are greatly to be desired and we should pray constantly for them.

A young man in college who has a natural inclination to scholarship, and ability as well, should understand that the Church’s seminaries need his particular gifts. Too little has been said of this in the past, nor has the Church supported and encouraged its potential scholars and teachers to any perceptible degree. As a result, we have suffered from a marked dearth of scholarship and the few seminaries that existed in the years following 1978 have foundered and certainly have been hard put to it to fill up faculty ranks. Men have been pressed into teaching positions without sufficient training, and our few actual scholars have been overloaded. Research and writing have suffered. All our inadequacies here have had repercussions on the successive generations of clergy.

The Church has no more devoted sons than those priests who at great personal sacrifice, and with little understanding from without, have given themselves to theological study and to the teaching of our priests-to-be.

The Mission Field. Here is something which, though mentioned last, will come first in the mind of many an inquirer. In truth every field is a mis¬sionary field for the dedicated priest. There is but one Gospel, that God has acted salvifically in Christ Jesus and that the Holy Spirit still works in and through the Body of Christ to bring all men every¬where to the knowledge and love of the Father. This is the Church’s mission and she has no other. We cannot speak of the missionary gospel of the Church as though this were one phase of her life. The Church has no other gospel.

By nature and by divine commission the Church is a missionary Body. It has a relevance for all men, in all lands, in every age, in every circumstance of life. It is for those who do not yet know Christ and His salvation, as well as for those already within the immediate sphere of divine grace. The life of the Church has been strengthened and refreshed again and again by the sacrificial heroism of those who have given themselves for the conversion of pagan lands, to bring many to acknowledge the reign of Christ in foreign lands and alien tongues. When the Church is strong in her missionary outreach, she is true to her essential nature and spirit. When the missionary effort lags, the Church needs revival.

The Church today requires a re-dedication to her essential missionary endeavor. There is no gift that is not needed in the mission field and no man’s life or abilities are ever wasted in this vocation. Not only in foreign lands, but also especially here at home throughout America. Who will go to proclaim God’s sovereignty, to carry the gos¬pel of His Son, to bring to men the life and strength of the Holy Spirit?

I have tried to indicate some of the ways in which priesthood may be expressed. The listing is not exhaustive and there are many other avenues through which the priesthood is realized. Yet it is all one priesthood, though it must be used to meet a host of varying needs and conditions. Roman Catholics on meeting a priest for the first time used to frequently ask, “Where are you stationed, Father?” It is a good question, interestingly phrased. The priesthood is one. Its members are stationed in every walk of life, in every imaginable circumstance, to meet every sort of human need.

The priesthood of the priestly Body must embrace all of life. Surely there is variety enough in the priesthood to challenge the varied gifts and talents of every sort of man. Indeed, there are so many ways today in which a priesthood may be lived that no human ability or gift is wasted in its ranks. The student at college ought to study the priesthood with a view to its usefulness and relevancy today. The Church has a place for each and every man provided he senses the divine activity in his soul exerting its pressures upon him, and himself answers the call. But only the individual soul can make his response and offer [himself] for this ministry that thereby mankind may be drawn to [God’s] blessed kingdom.