Sunday, June 17, 2018
A Priest Who Reads
A parish priest writing in the Catholic Times tells the readers of a dinner he had with a group of parish leaders. One was a physician who worked in the radiology department of a large hospital. He told the group of a strong desire to make a presentation the next day in a seminar but wasn't able to bring his thoughts together in his mind. The priest hearing the words remembered a book "Nagasaki's Song" (2005) in which Dr. Nagai Takashi appeared. He was a doctor who worked in the radiology department of a Nagasaki hospital in Japan at the time of World War II. He suffered from leukemia as a result of his exposure to radiation.
He was a Catholic who contributed to world peace by writing to many people while living as a victim of the bombing. The parish leader hearing the story of Takashi was pleased and thought it a good item for the seminar and said he would buy the book.
One of the priest's roles is to teach through the liturgy, scriptures, and encounters and to be attentive to the signs of the times. A fundamental part of learning is reading. A good leader is a good reader. A priest who reads will give the joy and enlightenment of the faith gained from his reading to the Christians.
Recently there is an increase in the number of parishes that regularly introduce devotional books to the believers through the parish bulletin. Believers are very receptive to books recommended by the parish priest. The writer mentions that he recommends a book to the parish every two months thru the parish bulletin.
Rather than just asking the individual to read he will every Thursday morning at the Mass cover the contents of a book in his sermon at the Mass. Not only those who have read the book but the others are able to understand have the same feelings that he had in reading the book.
A more important reason for reading is the current crisis in the Korean Catholic Church. The church has had a remarkable quantitative growth with 5,813,770 believers—11 percent of the population. However, sacramental and group activities and religious education are decreasing along with secularization and middle-class orientation of the church. It is a time for a new evangelization and spiritual maturity of the faithful.
Efforts to expand the spiritual reading culture within the church will help many believers to fill their spiritual emptiness and dryness and to taste the oasis of grace and lead the church members to a path of repentance and renewal.
Priests have a great influence on believers and should play a leading role in spreading a spiritual reading culture among the Christians. The patron saint for parish priests is John Marie Vianney who was a spiritual book reader leading him to deep reflection, contemplation, and prayer. He has been criticized for his appearance and ignorance but he was not an ignorant priest. He knew the saints, used this knowledge in his sermons and teaching and made up for his lack of theological knowledge with his reading.
If a layperson doesn't know what to give a priest as a gift, don't hesitate to give him a book, after prayers, it would be the best gift that you can give him.