February 10, 2010 // Uncategorized

Faith Sharing

Ambassadors of Jesus Christ
Opening/closing song: “We Are Many Parts” (Gather Comprehensive No. 727); “They’ll Know We Are Christians” (No. 728)

Opening prayer:
Prayer for Priests
Gracious and loving God, we thank You for the gift of our priests. Through them, we experience Your presence in the sacraments. Help our priests to be strong in their vocation. Set their souls on fire with love for Your people. Grant them the wisdom, understanding, and strength they need to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

Inspire them with the vision of Your kingdom. Give them the words they need to spread the Gospel. Allow them to experience joy in their ministry. Help them to become instruments of Your divine grace.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns as our Eternal Priest. Amen.
— From the Web site: www.catholicdaughters.org.

Excerpt from Pope Benedict XVI’s Letter to Priests
“I think of all those priests who quietly present Christ’s words and actions each day to the faithful and to the whole world, striving to be one with the Lord in their thoughts and their will, their sentiments and their style of life.”

Commentary from Franciscan Capuchin Father Ron Rieder, pastor Ss. Peter and Paul, Huntington
These words of Pope Benedict XVI mean a lot to me: “I think of all those priests who quietly present Christ’s words and actions each day to the faithful and to the whole world. …” I have been a priest for almost 47 years, most of them in parish life, 32 of these as a pastor. I have ministered in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and now for the past 26 years here in Huntington, in this wonderful Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

I have always been impressed, intrigued and amazed at the power of the office, of being a priest, and how people of all faiths have a truly deep respect for the Catholic priesthood. If we use our priesthood wisely and generously, we can do so much good, not only in bringing Christ’s words and actions to our faithful, but also to the non-Catholic world around us. I have always tried to get deeply involved in the “bigger” world around the parish. I have tried very hard not to be a “sacristy” priest. I have always gotten very involved in the civic and social affairs of the community in which the parish exists. This involvement has not taken away from my work as a parish priest, but I feel is an integral part of true parish ministry, reaching out to the whole world, as the pope writes about.

I feel very strongly that this involvement has been a very positive influence in the larger communities in which I ministered. Much of my ministry has taken place in predominantly non-Catholic communities. I feel the involvement of the Catholic priest does much to give a good impression of the Catholic Church and of Catholic priests.

A great deal of this ministry is nonverbal, simply good example. St. Francis of Assisi once said to “preach always, and if need be, use words at times.” I have truly tried hard to make people like me, not for my sake, but for the sake of the Church. I believe that if people like me as a person, they will like what I stand for. They know I am a Catholic and a priest. I never hide this fact. I wear my Roman collar at all times in the public arena so the people know who and what I am.

I am thrilled to be a priest, to be an ambassador of Jesus Christ. I pray that I will always present His words and actions to the people whose lives I touch.

Common priesthood of our Baptism
It is through our Baptism that “… all the members of the Church share in the priesthood of Christ. The ministerial priesthood of bishops and priests and the baptismal priesthood of all the faithful participate in the one priesthood of Christ, each in its own proper way.” — U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults, 273-4.
Like Father Ron, we are all called to be ambassadors of Christ. We should follow Father Ron’s lead and “… always present His words and actions to the people whose lives we touch.”

In the sense that we are all ambassadors of Christ, our common priesthood and the ministerial priesthood are united in purpose, striving to be one with the Lord in thoughts and in will, in sentiments and in lifestyle. The Church — and all its members — is a sacrament, a sign and instrument of God’s salvation.

The Church as sacrament is based upon the interaction of these two priesthoods, the living expressions of Christ’s ministry to transform the world. This brings us to the heart of the Church’s mission: to spread the Good News of the Gospel message to the world. As Father Ron tells us, we draw others to Christ if we act as Christ to others.

Both the baptismal and ministerial priesthoods are nourished as they come together for worship at Mass. The laity comes to the Eucharistic community to offer their humanity and their human actions to Christ for the salvation of the world. They come to be nourished by Christ who is present in the word and sacrament made possible through the priest who stands “in persona Christi” so they can “Go forth (once more) to love and serve the Lord.” Laity and clergy alike “go forth” from their Eucharistic celebration — as new creations, a royal priesthood, the people of God — to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world today, ambassadors of Christ, presenting His words and actions to the people whose lives they touch.

Reflection questions:
• Do I “wear” my Catholicism at all times? In what sort of situations do I find it difficult to wear my Catholicism?
• What is my understanding of “sacrament?” How am I a sacrament? How are we, as a church community, a sacrament?
• What are some ways I non-verbally minister to my family and others? What are some additional ways I can “preach always”? How am I an ambassador of Jesus Christ?
Closing prayer
Lord, our God, help us to walk with You on the pathway of the beatitudes and to live out Your mission in today’s world. Bind us to all men and women so that together we may bring the Good News to the ends of the earth. Open our hearts and our communities to the needy, the afflicted and the oppressed. May we radiate the Living Christ and transform our lives in the hope of the Resurrection. This prayer we make to You, our living God, now and forever. Amen.
— Prayer for Mission No. 2: adapted from the Web site: www.catholic.org/prayers

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