Last week, I attended a Day of Recollection for retired priests of the Diocese. It was conducted by one of the outstanding speakers and counselors in the State of Texas, Monsignor Michael Jamail of the Diocese of Beaumont. It was a wonderful presentation and he was dealing with the rather complex reality that priests who were ordained before the Second Vatican Council, and immediately afterwards, sometimes find themselves to have very different frames of reference regarding pastoral care at the parish level with priests ordained in the last 20 years or so. Older priests are sometimes described with disdain by the younger men as “Vatican II priests.” The older men take it as a great compliment. In return, the younger priests are often seen as being extraordinarily conservative having been formed and ordained during the long pontificate of Pope John Paul II.
Monsignor Jamail has pointed out that today providence has placed us in a difficult situation, namely the dialectic of a monarchical Church and a democratic society that each of us brings both enculturations into all that we do, and at times understandably we fail to distinguish the proper norms that we should use. Monsignor Jamail holds that we are polarized over a ministry of the prophetic office or a ministry of the pastoral office. These two offices, prophetic and pastoral, are inseparable and complimentary, and containing nevertheless the potential for mutual opposition. We need to bring both into ecclesial life with more balanced deacons, priests and bishops moving fluidly between the two ministries – prophetic and pastoral – without polarizing at either extreme.
Monsignor Jamail goes on to say that:
“In selecting ministers, that selection is going to be of maximum effectiveness only when wisdom is prized above prophetic rhetoric and pastoral triumph.”
Let me ask my lay friends to be patient but I feel so strongly that Monsignor Jamail is right that I wanted to get this idea out to the many priests who follow this blog.
Thanks for your patience.