Sunday, November 16, 2003

Peace, all. A presentation I heard years ago still pops up in my consciousness from time to time. The speaker asked if lay ecclesial ministry was a passing phase or an institution heading toward permanence. His thinking leaned toward the former, and I found his observations both troubling and thought-provoking. I remember shocking a liturgy committee once by saying that if I were doing my ministry correctly, I would be training them to take over my job within a few years. "What will you do then?" they asked. I replied that the parish would still have progress to make in other ministries, and that my job would merely evolve into something different. Or maybe it would be time to move on. I have considered my lay colleagues in ecclesial ministry who conduct themselves like the worst of the preconciliar clerics to be somewhat traitorous of the values of Vatican II. Often I have seen ministries set up to ensure dependence and need, if not adulation. Honestly, I have to admit I get a charge out of being needed and wanted. But ministry must be approached with the ideals of Jesus: - If I'm not making progress in three years to let them fish on their own, I've likely botched the gospel timetable. - If I'm not modelling self-sacrifice, I might be turning into a pharisee. - Christ was a "doorway" to the Father, and ministry is not about setting oneself up as an icon. Nor is it browbeating or lassoing people through the door. A minister is just the porter, if you will: standing at the door, pointing, opening, and beckoning -- rejoicing with each person who passes the threshhold and draws nearer to God, immerses more deeply in grace. There are probably many more thoughts on this topic. I'm curious as to what others think ...

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