Devotional Thought of the Day:
10 The One who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. 11 And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. 14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head —Christ. 16 From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth s of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part. Eph 4:10-16 HCSB
They are to be carefully instructed in the art of directing souls, whereby they will be able to bring all the sons of the Church first of all to a fully conscious and apostolic Christian life and to the fulfillment of the duties of their state of life. Let them learn to help, with equal solicitude, religious men and women that they may persevere in the grace of their vocations and may make progress according to the spirit of their various Institutes.
In general, those capabilities are to be developed in the students which especially contribute to dialogue with men, such as the ability to listen to others and to open their hearts and minds in the spirit of charity to the various circumstances and needs of men.
675 It’s true that he was a sinner. But don’t pass so final a judgment. Have pity in your heart and don’t forget that he may yet be an Augustine, while you remain just another mediocrity.
There is a term I was introduced to when I became a Lutheran pastor.
It was “seelsorge” or caretaker of souls. It is similar to the idea in the Anglican Church of being a curate of the church, The person responsible to see people guided into God’s presence so that their hearts and souls (and often more) can be healed.
But that just doesn’t include the members of a congregation or parish. It is the entire community. As St Josemaria reminds us, those whom we might discount because of their past may be called to something “more.”, they may become the giants we are looking to as examples.
It doesn’t matter if they are the mouth of the church, or the heart, hidden away, praying in their prayer closet. Our job as the caretakers is to make sure they have what they need, the ability to depend on God because we know Him. This drives the ministries of the church, This drives the work of helping everyone mature in the presence of God,
To help people grow in their dependence (for that is what faith is) in God, to help them grow in knowing and experiencing His love as He is present in their lives, Vatican II was correct. Those who minister, those of us who pastor and care for souls need to know how to guide them. to help them be conscious of their calling and being sent out into the world, of what Catholics call their apostolate, what Protestants call being missional.
We are to train them, to guide them into the presence of Jesus, into knowing His mercy, His love, His gift that cause us to dwell in peace. This isn’t just the pastor’s job, it is the work of every minister in the church.
It is who we are… it is why we exist, and it was what we need to be trained to do. I really think that needs to become more and more how we train our pastors, our deacons, our elders and various ministers of the church. It is more important than knowing the trivia of scripture or knowing the all the theological information there is. We have o know God is with us, and we have to teach God will be with them.
We have to know how to use God’s word, to administer the sacraments in such a way that people know they belong in God’s presence, whether they are young or old, male or female, whether their sin is hidden or notorious. Whether they become ushers in the church or the next Augustine or do the really critical work of teaching the children of the church. (which is all to often overlooked!)
This is the ministry of the church. The caretaking of souls entrusted to it by God. Not just the recognized members of the church.. but the church.
Lord have mercy on us and help us to be trained and train people to care for souls. AMEN!
What do you think the hardest part of caring for souls is?
What do you think the greatest blessing is?
Catholic Church. (2011). Decree on Priestly Training: Optatum Totius. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1568-1570). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.