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The Job that Pastors and the Church Needs to Be Better Trained to Do

Good News BibleDevotional 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!

Questions:
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.

Good Change is often slow…

Devitional/Discussion thought of the Day:

“The end of a matter is better than its beginning; Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit. “Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NASB77) 

“Say slowly and in all earnestness: Nunc coepi—now I begin! Don’t get discouraged if, unfortunately, you don’t see any great change in yourself brought about by the Lord’s right hand… From your lowliness you can cry out: Help me, my Jesus, because I want to fulfil Your Will… Your most lovable Will!”  (1)

It is amazing how God can use the simplest of things to create lessons for us.  For the last week, I have been putting eye drops – more like a gel in my eyes to counteract the effects of a eye infection.  I push the kell through a tube and into my eye, and then wait.. I never knew how long three minutes could be.  Then 10 minutes later – another eye drop and more time waiting, eyes closed.  Five times a day.. I repeat this – and now, 8 days later, my eye is a little less affected by light.

Change can take forever, especially when it is for the good.

Thirty years ago, we became a culture that sped up.  Things like microwaves and cordless phones and the first remotes for our 13 channel televisions came out. And patience as a virtue became ever more rare, and ever more valuable. Back then – being connected to the internet (remember Prodigy) meant you could communicate online and the speed of 2 letters a second…with a good connection!   Now with Smart Phones and testing  with wireless routers and all the other changes, our attention spans and our patience is even more…. rare.  ( sit at Jack and the Box drive-thru for 4 minutes with a five year old if you want to see what I mean!)

Change is needed in our lives, but not often the kind of transformation we think.  The kind that is spoken of in Romans 12 – the transformation of our minds  This is known another way as well – the churchy word “repentance”.  Scripture talks often of that change – as we are transformed into the image of Christ – the work that God does in our lives and the lives of those around us.

But sometimes, this transformation is very slow in appearing.  In fact – it will not be fully revealed until Christ’s return.  (see last Sunday’s sermon blog)  The challenge is not to look at ourselves – not to grow in despari – but to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, cry out to Him, meditate on His love and sacrifice.   You may not see the difference, but others will!  And take this thought in closing…. it is not you that completes the work  – look to Him and keep looking…

“I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
Philippians 1:6 (NLT)  

 

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1550-1553). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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