“If you are looking for a seismograph that can register the vibrations of our world today, can know the positive and negative developments of the consciousness of our times with its imminent dangers and new experiences, look at the priest. In a certain sense he is the heart of Our Lord, placed by God Himself in the heart of humanity with this calling to be completely available to the Lord and sensitive to all people, with whom he is called to make himself one and be close to; but this availability also involves a great vulnerability.
Whoever deals with a theme such as The Priest Today – an essential question for the life of the Church in our times – finds himself faced with countless theories, experiments and projects. The documents of the Second Vatican Council and the 1971 Synod of Bishops, the talks and letters of recent Popes, especially our present Holy Father, John Paul II all offer support and mark out the way. But they do not dispense us from making the personal effort of carrying them over into our own lives so that they may be comprehensible for others and express a shining witness for all people, both within the Church and outside of it.
With the directives of the Church in my heart and keeping my eyes fixed on the experiences and problems of humanity, I sought an image that could shed light on the figure of the priest today – who is he? How does he appear to us? In my search I came across a text that can provide that answer to the question about the priest’s identity today, even though it does not mention the priesthood at all.
This is the great attraction of modern times:
to penetrate to the highest contemplation
while mingling with everyone,
one person alongside others.
I would say even more:
to lose oneself in the crowd
in order to fill it with the divine,
like a piece of bread
dipped in wine.
I would say even more:
made sharers in God’s plans
to embroider patterns of light on the crowd,
and at the same time to share with our neighbour
shame, hunger, troubles, brief joys.
Because the attraction
of our times, as of all times,
is the highest conceivable expression
of the human and the divine,
Jesus and Mary:
the Word of God, a carpenter’s son;
the Seat of Wisdom, a mother at home.
This text of Chiara Lubich speaks to me of our times and highlights the priest as God’s answer to our world today. This text speaks to me of Jesus Christ and makes me understand the priest from this point of departure: Christ. This text speaks to me of being a Christian – and reveals to me the life of the priest from this point of departure: the life of an ordinary Christian. This text speaks to me of the Church – and shows me the place and meaning of the priest within the Church.”
(To be continued)
. Chiara Lubich, Essential Writings, New City Press, New York and New City, London (English translation), 2007, p. 169.