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NOVA ET VETERA
from issue no. 01/02 - 2009

ORDAINED MINISTRY. The principal aim of the priest

Not to transform customs but to save men



by Lorenzo Cappelletti


“At the invitation of many confrères” a few years atter his ponderous exegetical commentary, Fr. Spicq published a more accessible text of meditation on the Pastoral Letters: Spiritualité sacerdotale d’après Saint Paul, Paris, Les Éditions du Cerf, 1950. The title and year suggest that this text is dated but, as in every work by a true scribe, it happens that totally traditional notations meet the expectations of modern men more than all those presumed novelties.
Here, 30Days re-proposes a few passages from the first chapter entitled “The Mystery of our Religion” (from I Timothy 3, 16).
“With mystery of our religion, St Paul means to define the deposit of doctrine entrusted to te Church, the object of Christian preaching, the very nature of the new religion. This great sacred mystery is more properly the secret of God regarding the salvation of men. A priest is at the service of the Church only to receive communication of it, to instruct himself in it and then to reveal it to men by applying all its saving power to them. There is, perhaps, no more important truth to keep in mind these days than this ‘essence of Christianity’ and this function of the Christian apostolate. The priests of Christ are continuing the work of their Master; they are not the depositaries of an earthly civilization nor the agents of a social revolution; their principal aim is not even to transform customs and even less to guarantee the happiness of their contemporaries in this world. All their vocation consists in saving men, not just anyhow as they think fit, so to speak, but by setting them on the path to knowledge of the essential religious truth, which is God and his will to save… This mystery, which originally was none other than a divine proposition, was put into practice by its acquisition of a real existence. In Christ, it became an historical event; the apostles proclaim its realization and, one could say, its ‘contemporaneity’... Such an initiative on God’s part, a gift so gratuitous and generous offered to the wretched sinners that we are, stirred wonder and enthusiasm in the apostles, the first to have the benefit of this revelation... They had but to proclaim what they had seen”. See and believe and, sometimes, read and believe!


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