Saturday, October 19, 2013

Need to Pray for his Parishoners

Being pastor of your first parish is usually your first priestly love. It usually happens when one finally lives the ideals presented in the seminary, putting into practice what had been learned and briefly experienced as an assistant pastor, says a pastor after two years in a small country parish.

Writing in a bulletin for priests, the newly assigned pastor reflects on his two years as pastor and his resolutions to give life to his ideals of how a pastor should interact with his new community. He was told by his seniors in the ministry that his first parish would be happy years, but what he found was far from what he expected. 

He knew that regardless of the circumstances he should find joy in his work. However, he soon learned that the Gospel  message and the reality of church life were often at odds, dampening his spirit.

In his area, plans were underway to build a nuclear power plant, and though knowing nothing about nuclear plants and their problems, even after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, he was aware of the protests, on three separate occasions, against the use of the area for nuclear waste disposal. However, though many were against building the plant, the economic benefits, despite the Fukushima disaster, made the plant attractive to some of the citizens.

A person of faith should be able to speak out and express his opinion, but most of us are not able to do this, he maintains, without being quickly ostracized by the community. Civil servants, especially, are in favor of the plant, and because he believes his community would not welcome what he would like to say on the subject, he too remains silent.

He also has to be careful about talking  about radiation levels in the sea water because many of his Christians are in the fish business.  A  priest, like all Christians, has the duty to  speak the truth, he says, as part of their prophetic calling received at baptism, but Christians in his area of the diocese, he's learned, don't want to hear that kind of talk--the truth he would like to speak. Many of them have not been baptized long, and many would have a traditional conservatism, making it difficult for them to hear what he would like say.

He confesses to being  more afraid of the people in his community than of God. He is embarrassed, he says, to read about the prophets who were not afraid to speak out , even to kings, and he continues to respect their courage.
Why are Christians more intent on doing what the world wants, instead of following the words they hear from Scripture? He finds this difficult to understand and accept. However, he is coming to the realization that he should spend less time asking why and spend more  time praying for them. The prophetic calling demands courage, he admits, but he has concluded there exists, more importantly, a need to pray for his people.

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