Monday, March 19, 2012

A New Beginning for a New Evangelization

Attempts at self-improvement are always valuable and welcomed. Our Catholic bishops have set their sights on life-long educational programs for clergy. An article and an editorial  in the Peace Weekly report that these programs have been in effect in many dioceses for years in the form of retreats, seminars, and sabbaticals, but that the bishops wanted to establish the programs nationally to give them more importance.

An e-mail recently received contained the well-known  poem "Desiderata," written by the American Max Ehrmann, and introduced as being on the wall of the Pope's studio. A good preamble to the programs would be one of the following lines from the poem:

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
Do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

A national program will allow for variety, a more systematic approach to renewal, and a decrease in the expenses and use of personnel in the dioceses. It will also facilitate the fellowship of the clergy beyond diocesan borders. Programs will begin this year with retreats and seminars; the number of programs for the future will be determined by the attendance this year.

Blessed John Paul II, in the Apostolic Exhortation on the Formation of Priests, expressed the need for providing our priests life-long educational opportunities, citing as reasons the rapid changes in society, the difficulties of accommodating our methods to the culture of the times, and assuring that the call to the priesthood is based on human maturity. 

Others who have worked in this area in the many research centers of the dioceses have expressed themselves similarly, especially pointing out the need to understand postmodernism, and how to deal with it and the growing secularization of culture, a vibrant atheism, and priests not acting as servants to the community but with an  authoritarian attitude. With overwork, priests can act like mere functionaries or misguided activists. Without a deep spirituality, anyone can become a victim of loneliness and listlessness; even disease, laziness, and burn-out can appear, and habitual behaviors can easily take over.

The contents of the programs will concentrate on humaneness, spirituality, knowledge, and pastoral sensitivity. The article, quoting Blessed John Paul II, said that unless the human element is present in any educational program then all the rest will be going into a  a pot without a bottom.

The editorial hopes that this new effort will be a way of recharging the priests as they begin the new evangelization here in Korea.