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As recently as , paintings by artists of the Dutch Golden Age, the Italian Renaissance and other major eras of European history dominated the international art market. But in a digital, now-oriented time, in which there is a steady shift in the global balance of power last year China became the second-largest art market in the world, behind the United States , European old masters have come to seem In , 85 percent of the ARTnews list of top collectors said they collected contemporary art in one form or another; only 6 percent said they collected old masters.

And while the top names — Rembrandt, Titian, Raphael — still command top dollar, everything else has dropped in value. Seascapes, Flemish still lives: Many of these have diminished in value. Related to the decline in sales is the aging of the field. Duparc said that in the Netherlands there is exactly one professor fully devoted to the field of Golden Age Dutch art. Matthew Teitelbaum, the director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, says that a new Center for Netherlandish Art that his institution is developing will aim to counter this trend. Despite this inhospitable landscape, Jan Six decided in to set himself up as an independent dealer in Dutch old masters, with a particular specialty in portraits.

Six flourished as a dealer. He spent the next several years shuttling among New York, London, Paris and Amsterdam, buying and selling, developing trust and an ever-more-discerning eye. He became versed in the high-tech methods for analyzing paintings, which can yield details about canvas, wood and pigment that can offer insight into a work and its creator. He did well as a dealer — a Govert Flinck here, a Gerrit van Honthorst there — but he felt he was biding his time.

What mattered to him was Rembrandt. Six worked doggedly to make himself an expert. Petersburg, Russia he has seen 80 percent of them so far , and he amassed an archive of tens of thousands of documents and images related to the artist. When we first spoke about the portrait he discovered, he made it clear what finding it meant to him. That was enough for Six: He was ready to bid.

But if anyone else suspected what he did, the price would shoot up. Rembrandts, of course, can sell in the tens or hundreds of millions. Each figure is wearing the telltale bobbin lace. Six had the painting cleaned, restored and scientifically analyzed. For this he went to the top team in the country for high-tech art analysis. Museums, however, try to avoid being used by dealers as marketing tools, and Noble was not willing to be so declarative.

Six next lined up prominent scholars to support his attribution of the painting to Rembrandt. For such a painting, which seemingly came out of nowhere, there is no way to achieve absolute certainty about its provenance. He went on to elaborate the particular difficulties that Rembrandt poses for authenticators: the variety of styles he painted in, his many pupils, the likelihood that in his studio more than one person worked on a given painting.

Schwartz is one of a number of art historians who, when it comes to questions of the authenticity of works by famous painters, would like people to focus less on the artist and the monetary worth of the painting than on the work itself. The most important opinion on whether or not the painting was by Rembrandt was that of van de Wetering.

The Rembrandt scholar withheld judgment while the painting was being analyzed. Eventually, however, he added an important caveat. One tipoff was the fact that the face is slightly blurred. Rembrandt does this in group portraits, van de Wetering told me, in order to guide the eye to the central figure in the composition. It may have been a female figure, and the original painting was possibly a wedding portrait that was later cut apart.

He was coming off a difficult divorce; the two hit it off almost immediately. Palache was an editor and publicist for a Dutch publishing house. Here was the scion of a family that is famous in the Netherlands for its connection to great art, and to Rembrandt in particular. And now he had discovered a Rembrandt on his own. Her idea was to unveil the painting in the same way a blockbuster book would be introduced, with a full media blitz.

Six resisted at first. Over the next few days, the news echoed around the world. The book became an instant best seller in Dutch, and English and French editions went to press. Dutch people like to point out that they are an aggressively egalitarian and plain-spoken lot. There are several sayings in the language about the danger of hubris: The tallest tree takes the most wind; stick your head out too far and it will get chopped off.

The old-masters world, too, tends to prefer discretion — if not modesty — to showiness. The flamboyance with which Six announced his find defied both cultures. Yet the gatekeepers of traditional art, far from turning up their noses at the showiness, were initially wowed by the extra attention the field was getting. Bijl went on to claim that he had approached Six about buying the painting together, that Six agreed and that the two men further committed to cap their joint bid just above , euros, which was as high as Bijl was able to go.

When the painting sold for , euros, Bijl said, it never occurred to him that the winning bidder was Six. Bijl was accusing Six of entering an agreement with him, then separately putting in another, higher bid of his own through an intermediary in order to hem in a competitor who saw the true value of the work. Six told me last September that he never agreed to buy the portrait with Bijl. He did seem to suggest, however, that he had led the other dealer on.

The Dutch found the new development especially titillating because of the parallels between the two art dealers. They are about the same age. Like Six, Sander Bijl grew up surrounded by old Dutch art. But there was a difference in status between the two men. Earlier, I asked him about a rumor going around that he had discovered a second Rembrandt. He denied it. Now he said it was true. But this accusation from Sander Bijl, Six told me, changed things.

In order to explain what happened between himself and Bijl, he said, he needed to go public with the news that he had found a second Rembrandt. He did so on Sept. Six told me that he first noticed this painting, a biblical scene depicting Jesus surrounded by children and onlookers, in the online catalog of a German auction house in All those years of looking at Rembrandts seemed to pay off in a flash.

THE SECOND WORD

What caught his eye was what appeared to be a self-portrait of a very young Rembrandt in one of the minor figures. The painting was heavily painted over by a later artist — robes redone in different colors, a naked boy covered up. To try to return it to something like the state the master intended, Six decided to have the overpainting removed. Once again he consulted van de Wetering, who, he says, all but insisted that he have Martin Bijl do the extremely delicate restoration.

He said it was clear to him from this message that van de Wetering had violated his confidence by informing Martin Bijl that Six was on the hunt for another Rembrandt, and that the father had told his son. Meanwhile, he said, Martin Bijl was demanding more money to complete the restoration of the first painting — not just an hourly fee, as per the original agreement, but a percentage of profits from the sale of the painting.

I emailed Martin Bijl for his response to this charge. He did not reply, but his son did, saying that his father asked for more money after Six demanded that he speed up his restoration work, which would have required him to turn down other clients. He sent me a chain of WhatsApp messages between Six and the elder Bijl that suggested a cordial relationship.

He said that he and Six had done business together on occasion — he bought a couple of small works from Six early last year, he said — so it was normal for him to approach Six with the idea of buying the painting together. I have to pay for his personal family issues? He cheated me. I now know that he can lie. When Six and I met again in October, he was in a defiant mood. He has long dark hair that, when he is exasperated, tends to fall across his face like a curtain.

He raked it back in place with one hand as he made his case.

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Despite its decline in the market and in university syllabuses, Dutch old-masters art continues to have great popular appeal. Since the Rijksmuseum and the Mauritshuis reopened after renovations a few years ago, each institution has seen visitor numbers roughly double. If some in the Dutch old-masters world, who know how popular the art is among ordinary people and are hoping to reverse its decline in academia and the marketplace, cheered on Jan Six when he made his discoveries, it was surely because they saw him as an appealing young champion of the cause.

He has the pedigree, of course. But beyond that, he so thoroughly grasps what makes this art special. By turning away from strictly religious subjects and highlighting the world around them — still lives, landscapes, pictures of one another — the painters of the time created works of art that are windows into who we are.

People who devote their lives to the field do so out of a sense of dedication and treat it like a cause. Some of the top people in the field — museum directors, curators, academics — expressed disappointment in Six after his debacle, though none wanted to go on the record discussing it. In the broader world, though, controversies fade. The last time I spoke with Jan Six, in February, he was in an altogether different mood. Some have an old painting they want me to look at. A woman just called me. She asked if there was some way I would stop in at their birthday lunch and talk about Rembrandt for 10 minutes.

This has given me a great boost. I realized that being so obsessed with a painter is not necessarily a good thing. But of course I still am. If you happen to be strolling in central Amsterdam, there is one spot from which it is just possible to make eye contact with Jan Six — the original Jan Six, that is.

This one, of his ancestor and namesake, seems caught in a swirl of melancholy, a knowing, weary consciousness of the frustrations and limitations of human life. That was the epiphany that Jan Six XI had as a teenager, looking at the portrait of his ancestor, which set him off in search of his own identity, distinct from that of his forebears: that someone from three and a half centuries ago could, with paint on canvas, convey the human essence in a way that is utterly intelligible today.

That therefore, perhaps, identity, with all its flaws and insecurities, its jets of insight and pools of empathy, as individual as it is, is at the same time universal. Supported by. Most Reverend Carmelo J Giaquinta 2. The image of the priest in Pastores Dabo Vobis is found fundamentally in chapter II of the postsynodal apostolic exhortation, dedicated to the Nature and Mission of the Ministerial Priesthood. The topic includes an existential question of major interest: how ought the priest today concretize his own existence and own ministry?

This topic requires the consideration of other elements. First, the occasion and the purpose for which the synod was convened: "the formation of priests in the present situation. Third, it is absolutely necessary to recall that the exhortation is none other than a new step of the self-consciousness on the subject that the Holy Spirit has given rise to, above all after the Council. The exhortation underscores the origin of every gift, also of that of the priesthood, in the mysterious unity of the Trinity. To understand the ministerial priesthood it will be necessary to compare it directly with the mystery of Christ.

The relationship with Christ, head and shepherd is found in numbers , that between the priest and the Church in n. Peter Welsh. To live the priestly identity fully, it is necessary that the ideal corresponds to the way of acting: the exterior image ought to correspond to the interior and vice versa. The subject of a lifestyle, which is found principally in numbers 3 and 18, has been most neglected in recent decades and, therefore, ought to be stressed now.

It is necessary also, at this historic moment, to focus attention strongly on everything that pertains to the radicalism of the priest, the radicalism which is demonstrated through the practice of the evangelical counsels. Such practice makes its mark profoundly on the interior and exterior life of the priest. This has not always been that way. In the past in seminaries there was discussion on chastity, poverty, and obedience but not always in direct connection with the counsels, as if these were imported from religious life.

An important aspect of the priestly image is "the particular bonds of apostolic charity and of fraternity. There has been a confusion between the communitarian life of the priest and that of the religious. Many times this confusion causes rejection. It does not seem that this was the intention of the Lord when he formed the group of the Twelve around himself: they were the new patriarchs for the governing of the twelve tribes of the new Israel.

The collegiality of the apostles, which the council highlights to rediscover episcopal collegiality, today is able to inspire fraternal forms of life among the bishop and his priests, and among priests themselves. On January 31, , the Congregation for the Clergy published the Directory for the Ministry and Life of Priests, a document of great interest and usefulness which offers a magnificent synthesis of the principal questions, dealing with this subject, treated by the conciliar and postconciliar Magisterium.

From the overall picture and the individual chapters there emerges a clearly delineated figure of the priest. It is essentially identical to that offered by the conciliar decree and by the postconciliar apostolic exhortation. Nevertheless it has specific characteristics which are derived principally from the particular goals of the Directory. The document wishes to respond to the principal questions both of the doctrinal and of the disciplinary and pastoral orders, posed to priests by the task of the new evangelization cf Directory, n.

It also treats of the text conceived and elaborated with an eminently practical goal: to give priests precise help, offering them light and guidance on central questions of their ministry and life. The Directory begins with the following words taken from Pastores Dabo Vobis: "Today, in particular, the pressing pastoral task of the new evangelization, that involves all the People of God and requires new fervor, new methods and a new expression for the proclaiming and witnessing of the Gospel, needs priests who are deeply and fully immersed in the mystery of Christ and capable of embodying a new style of pastoral life" PDV, n.

This is the horizon in which the Directory is placed and in which it ought to be read: a horizon of renewal to the service of the mission of the Church. Speaking realistically of the life and pastoral ministry of priests, what does it mean to say: to be a priest "radically and integrally immersed in the mystery of Christ and capable of realizing a new style of pastoral life"? The apostolic exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis had certainly outlined the beautiful figure of the priest of our time, who immersed in the mystery of Christ and of the Church, dedicates himself effectively to his work in the service of all men, and especially of his brothers of the faith.

What are its essential traits? The chapter reserved for priestly identity constitutes a complete synthesis of the different levels on which the light of the mystery of Christ the priest is projected on the ministry and the life of priests. The document calls these dimensions trinitarian dimension, christological dimension, pneumatological dimension, ecclesiological dimension , and develops them, with extraordinary depth, above all, beginning with the notion of consecration and of mission, along the line of the tradition inherited from Presbyterorum Ordinis.

Always in the context in the chapter reserved for the identity of the priest, of which an essential part is his being in the Church, like the other faithful, and at the same time being in front of the Church, as minister of the word and of the sacraments for the service of others cf. Directory n. The text of the second chapter, entirely reserved to priestly spirituality, allows certain strong ideas to shine forth clearly. The principal of these on which the others are based, consists in highlighting, as a specific path of priests toward holiness, the unity and inseparability between the spiritual life and the exercise of ministry.

The document also warns against the dangers which derive from activism, from functionalism, or in general from the lack of unity in the life of the priest, which renders his works sterile. The document treats ongoing formation beginning from its theological base, which is as a "need which begins and develops from the moment of receiving the Sacrament of Holy Orders" PDV, n. The importance of ongoing formation is also clearly expressed: it consists in "helping all priests respond generously to the commitment demanded by the dignity and the responsibility which God conferred upon them through the sacrament of Orders; in guarding and defending, and developing their specific identity and vocation; and in sanctifying themselves and others through the exercise of their ministry" PDV, n.

That is to say, in harmony with what has been affirmed previously, what is sought with ongoing formation is to help the priest to "avoid any dualism between spirituality and ministry" PDV, n. Experience shows that the application of those proposals and guidelines constitutes a great help for the particular Churches, for their pastors and for their priests, in the endeavor to prepare those new heralds of the gospel who, with the words of the Holy Father taken from the Directory, "are the priests who strive to live their priesthood as a specific way to holiness" PDV, n.

Most Reverend Viadas Michelevicius 2. Who is the priest? What is his identity? As the Holy Father said to newly ordained priests, the first response is "we are called. It is Jesus who takes the initiative. He points this out: "You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you" John. With the sacrament of orders the priest becomes qualified to lend to Jesus his voice, his hands all his being.

In this way Jesus himself, through the ministry of priests, celebrates the Holy Mass, forgives sins, announces the word of God. This gift of the priesthood is a marvel which is realized in us but not for us. It was given for the Church. The priest is therefore one who is sent. Here is a new essential connotation of the priestly identity. Therefore: we are called, we are consecrated, we are sent. This triple identity clearly illustrates the true image of the priest as dispenser of the divine mysteries cf.

It is not the world which determines his status, as though it depended on changing needs or ideas about social roles. The priest is marked with the seal of the Priesthood of Christ, in order to share in his function as the one Mediator and Redeemer. So, because of this fundamental bond, there opens before the priest the immense field of the service of souls, for their salvation in Christ and in the Church.

This does not mean in any way that the priest can remain remote from the human concerns of the laity: he must be very near to them, as Jean Marie Vianney was, but as a priest, always in a perspective which is that of their salvation and of the progress of the Kingdom of God. It is essential to the Church that the identity of the priest be safeguarded, with its vertical dimension! On September 3,, in Turin, the Holy Father, speaking about priests as living models of ministerial holiness, among other things said:. The dominant mark of his life and of his mission is found in his very strong sense of identity as a catholic priest according to the heart of Christ, Don Bosco was priest at the altar, priest in the confessional, priest in the midst of his young people, and as he was priest in Turin, so he was priest in Florence, priest in the home of the poor, priest in the palace of the King and of the Ministers.

Today it is necessary to underline this reality: the priest is the one who transmits divine life to men. Just as Don Bosco has said:. Vatican Council II presents the life of the Church as a pilgrimage of faith. Each one of us has a special part in this pilgrimage. As stewards of the mysteries of God, we ought to possess a maturity of faith appropriate to our vocation and to our tasks.

According to Saint Paul in his letter to the Christians of Corinth: "You should consider us as servants of Christ and stewards of the secrets of God. Now it is of course required of a steward that he be trustworthy" 1 Corinthians Memorie biografiche 6, In this union of Holy Thursday we find Him once more and at the same time through Him, with Him and in Him, we find ourselves We attempt now to gather in a necessarily synthetic manner the fundamental lines of the identity, spirituality, and mission of the priest: from the mystery of the redemption of Christ is born a new people called to partake, through the effusion of the Spirit, the same divine life and to live in history the mission of Jesus Christ.

Here is the royal priesthood of the People of God: but so that this royal priesthood may be able to generate itself, to be regenerated and realized in the heart of the Christian, the hierarchical and ministerial priesthood is necessary. The priesthood in which we share through the Sacrament of Orders, which has been forever imprinted on our souls through a special sign from God, that is to say the character, remains in explicit relationship with the common priesthood of the faithful, and, at the same time, it differs from it essentially and not only in degree Letter, Holy Thursday is every year the day of the birth of the Eucharist, and at the same time the birthday of our priesthood, which is above all ministerial and at the same time hierarchical.

It is ministerial, because by virtue of Holy Orders we perform in the Church that service which it is given only to priests to perform, first of all the service of the Eucharist. It is also hierarchical, because this service enables us, by serving, to guide pastorally the individual communities of the People of God The priesthood is completely at the service of this life, it bears witness to it through the service of the Word, it generates it, regenerates it and spreads it abroad through the service of the sacraments.

Before all else the priest himself lives this life, which is the deepest source of his maturity and also the guarantee of the spiritual fruitfulness of his whole service! Called in the Church by the Spirit to stand in the forefront of the Church as Pastores Dabo vobis records for us, the priest is called above all to live this new ontology of his life, belonging unconditionally to Christ, assimilating in the imitation of Christ the fundamental criteria of judgment and the fundamental movement of the heart which is charity.

The prayer of the priest, in its various forms, totally involves the heart of priestly existence with the presence of the Lord and daily raises the existence of the priest to the greatness and inconceivable dignity contained in the yes of Simon Peter: "Lord, you know that I love you. From this new ontology, lived personally with integral dedication to the mystery of Christ present, is born pastoral charity, the intense love for Christians because the people of God exist objectively! It is by means of the celebration of the sacraments, first of all, that of the Eucharist, that the Christian people continually come to be generated, regenerated and educated to their mission.

With an opportune series of catechetical initiatives this Christian people should be helped to assume a more profound consciousness of the definitiveness of the gift of faith and helped.


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Therefore it is necessary that the priest form in the Christian people a new mentality, " This capacity of a new mentality expresses itself in history as charity in the tension towards an inexorable proclamation of Christ which gives every detail and every action of human existence dignity and merit. The priest, who lives the new life of Christ in himself, is the instrument of communication of this life inseparable from the Spirit, and is actively involved in the maturation of this life in the people. This drama of the love for Christ together with the love for the brothers is developed by way of reference to the mother of the Lord.

The lack of time does not allow us to quote in detail the many beautiful passages of the Holy Thursday letter of ; let this suffice: " Let us take Mary as Mother into the interior home of our priesthood Permit me to conclude this talk for you by reading a short extract of one of the most lofty pages of the entire teaching of John Paul II, drawn from number 10 of Redemptor Hominis: " It is also called Christianity. So that this wonder becomes a human and therefore historic mission, Holy Orders is necessary: here lies the entire dignity, the greatness, the sacrifice, the joy of our priestly service.

We have to deal responsibly with the fact of the ongoing crisis which, in the seventies, unsettled the priestly world and, with surprising persistence still continues to unsettle it. The rushed pace of change from one cultural model to another, from modernity to the crisis of its myths reason, science, progress, democracy which gives life to the so-called postmodern era, from a religiosity that is partially remote to its basic reasons, to its secularization and, its leap into the arms of the postchristian era with the loss even of the extrinsic relationship mentioned before, could only upset and obscure the vision of the priesthood.

There was an effort to reshape a new priestly identity that took place in a piecemeal fashion. The meetings at Chur, Switzerland , Geneva , Rome and were useful stages. At the time everyone thought that there was no need to shape a new identity but the need was to learn how to live in a new social context. Paul VI, of venerable memory, convened the third assembly of the synod of bishops , with adequate preparation of all the issues in the hope of giving a focus to the issues and moving them towards a solution.

At the same time many works of considerable theological import were published examining the genesis of the priesthood and its sacramental foundations. It was necessary to reestablish a vital contact for the priest, caught in the grip of his crisis, with the origins of the Christian priesthood. Through that contact, which is really contact with Christ and with his sacramental continuity in and for the life of the Church, one would recover:.

The sacramental nature of Holy Orders in its three grades episcopacy, priesthood, diaconate in order to reverse the reduction of the priesthood to its ministerial dimension and to view the ministry as a simple community delegation to specialized functionaries R. Bunnik, S. Schoonenberg, J. Moingt, I. Flamand ;. The indelibility of character, sometimes was not presented in accord with the rich scholastic-tridentine theology of an "interior sign," and "impression and inherence in the soul.

Muhlen , demystifying E. Schillebeeckx and desacralizing view advanced by a large group of theologians who are liberal in their attitude toward the ecclesiastical Magisterium;. These are recoveries of great importance. Meanwhile the transformation of the modern era and its movement into the postmodern era on every front of the predominant culture is clear to everyone. Here we face the problem of how to accelerate the translation of the recovered teaching on the priesthood into applicable forms. Theology did its part, justifying the new presentation of the teaching in the light of revelation and of its statute as the science of faith.

I refer to valuable and persuasive interventions, converging on the same goal. I wish to mention among others, J. Coppens, G. Rambaldi, A. Pompei, G. Gozzolino, J. Galot, H. Denis, J. Le Guillou, J. Lecuyer, Y. Congar, A. Martimort, in addition to K. Rahner and others, many of whom remain anonymous. Among the various problems examined, that of the priest-in-relationship attracted the most interest.

It was a question of establishing, in the new cultural climate, how the priest relates to the bishop and to the lay world, as well as to history in the making. More than theological-dogmatic, the problem was theological-pastoral. The image of priest-in-relationship, in fact, did not capture "directe et immediate" the nature of being priest, but focused on the network of his vertical and horizontal relationships. Bishops and priests, indeed, are not owners of different priesthoods, but they exercise in different ways the one and only priesthood of Christ.

And priests do not function "in persona Christi" through the effects of baptism and confirmation, but through a specific consecration that constitutes them Christ-in-sacrament and channels of grace for the priestly people. As a result we find a triple relationship: to the bishop, to other priests, to the people of God. In the broadest sense one could also speak of a relationship to the world. Regarding the priest-in-relationship serious and prepared theologians published the fruit of their research, demonstrating that, to be "the man of God ready for every good work" 2 Timothy , that same loyalty to Christ and to the brothers which characterized the priest of yesterday and characterizes the priest forever, is indispensable to the priest today, so that he may be equipped with all the courage and prudence that the difficult moment demands.

A priest functions as a priest in the prophetic work of evangelization, in the sacramental life, in his responsibility as spiritual guide, in his giving himself to prayer each day, and in the face of new social demands and even political commitment. In view of such considerations, the tension between the present and the future assumes a symptomatic importance. We have read the persistent headlines: The priest of today, the priest for today, the priest of tomorrow, is there a tomorrow for the priest?

Behind each of these headlines, whether hidden or in the open, there is a great deal of ambiguity, as if the priest were subject to constant change. But together we can deal with changing reality and the urgency of the future which these headlines express; we can still claim that the ambiguity is groundless. These headlines, in fact, do not point to an ever changing identity of the priest, but only to a change of his image. The complex cultural situation of today and the warning signs which loom large today have to affect the image of the priest.

What is he? The question of the image of the priest requires the marshaling of the proper means so that the question of his identity not be submerged nor clouded over. The priest is only priest, he remains priest, holder of tremendous and exalted powers which have come from Christ to make him His sacramental prolongation.

Not a man like others, notwithstanding the fact that he is a man like others. Not one who is approved. Not one who is hidden. But one distinct from the others, although he is a "brother in the midst of his brothers" P0, 3. Distinct because consecrated. Vowed to a most special mission, for which he, the priest, unlike the others, is sacramentally equipped. Consequently, the outline of a change in image, which is proportionate to the situation which is developing, is becoming clearer. The new image does not cancel the constitutive features of the priest, but channels them into attitudes and behaviors always less inadequate to the expectations, if not also to the challenges of the predominant culture.

Not because this submerges the identity of the priest, but because it is open to incorporating the evangelical values which the priest proposes. The priest has a new image only because it gives a new sense and vigor:. To those theologians, who have contributed, in the whole Catholic world, to better defining this image of the priest, we all have to convey the gratitude of the Church and of her priests.

Monsignor Alfonso Crespo Hidalgo 2. To speak of the priest and the mass media should not be something extra-ordinary. The Family Portrait. In the mass media the clergy appears only occasionally, in restricted circumstances: when the "public person of the priest" makes the news. This "public person" can appear from a favorable light the Pope with children, an apostolic nuncio operating as mediator, a priest-religious engaged in the social field: it is calculated to reduce charity to simple philanthropy and overlook the basic religious dimension placing the activity of the Church on the level of any other organization or in an unfavorable light that presents the priest in an impersonal way as the functionary of an institution.

There is also the frivolous and ridiculous photograph like that which appears in the commercials or in television or radio interviews. Moreover there is the still undeveloped frames:. The keys for the interpretation of these photographs. The interpretive frame is that of modernity and of the secularization of society. Modernity finds its roots in the technical-scientific rationalism which eliminates the preaching of transcendence. This transcendent preaching exists neither in "ideological and religious pluralism," nor in the "new political Machiavellianism" nor in the view that faith is something completely private.

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All this results in secularism and in the famous priestly identity crisis which pushes the genuine figure of the priest out of focus. What can be done for the development of a "new photograph"? One important premise is this: the mass media are a concrete reality and have a very great power to steer the world. Granted this indisputable premise, the priest ought among other things:. Cardinal Christian Wiyghan Tumi 2. Vatican II Lumen Gentium, nn. All the people of God are called to holiness just as their heavenly Father is holy.

It is also the whole Church which is missionary. It continues and actualizes the mission of Christ the Redeemer. In the person of the apostles, the Church has received a universal mission, which knows no limits and which concerns itself with salvation in all its richness, in accordance with the fullness of life that Christ has come to bring us cf. John : it the Church has been sent to reveal and communicate the love of God to all men and to all peoples on earth" Ad Gentes, n.

This mission is unique, because it has one sole origin and one sole goal, but it entails diverse tasks and activities Redemptoris Missio, n. The common fundamental mission of the Church does not eliminate the particular mission of every baptized person according to his state of life. There are various and distinctive features of vocation and consecration, just as there are of mission. The mission of the Church presupposes diversity in its realization. Unity in diversity manifests itself also at this level.

From this prospective, the priest, insofar as he works with his bishop and in virtue of his consecration, has a specific role to play in the common mission of the Church. It is this specific, missionary ministry that we are going to try to highlight in this exposition composed of three parts. We shall examine, gradually, the particular function of the diocesan priest in the mission, that of the priest-religious contemplative and active , and education in the missionary spirit of candidates to the priesthood.

Every priest is before all else a man chosen, consecrated and sent by God through the agency of the Church of Jesus Christ, to teach, sanctify and guide the people of God toward its true happiness the God of Jesus Christ. Ordained to be a co-worker with his bishop, the priest is associated with him in the priestly function of serving the people of God. Configured to Christ, the eternal, Sovereign Priest, the diocesan priest is consecrated to announce the Gospel, to be the pastor of the people of God and to celebrate the liturgy in offering, above all, the eucharistic sacrifice of the Lord.

He can be defined as the disinterested servant of God and of the Gospel, by his words and witness to priestly holiness for the salvation of souls beginning with his own. In virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, every priest is called to share the concern of the bishop, with whom he collaborates, for the mission: "the spiritual gift which priests have received at ordination prepares them, not for a limited and restricted mission, but for a salvific mission of universal scope, "unto the ends of the earth The priest joins with the Holy Spirit Protagonist of the mission to become the person responsible for and the principal agent of the pastoral mission.

This necessitates a "missionary heart and mentality. Redemptoris Missio, n. The missionary apostolate embraces a double salvific activity of the Church: the announcement of the Gospel and the "foundation of new Churches among peoples and groups where they do not yet exist" Redemptoris Missio, n. The internal missionary dynamism, maintained by pastoral charity and in depth evangelization of the faithful, leads to the mission Ad Gent es. There is a fundamental interdependence between the mission ad intra and the mission ad extra. Also missionary activity ad intra is a credible sign and stimulus for the missionary activity ad extra, and vice-versa" Redemptoris Missio, n.

There are means which help pastors of souls to realize the mission ad intra, to arouse in Christian communities the internal dynamism which leads to the mission ad gentes. Priestly ordination configures the priest to Christ, Head and Spouse of the Church. This interior source makes him act in the name of Christ and as the sacrament of Christ. Thus, through his ministry, he must try to illustrate consistently the prophetic mission of the Church. This manifests itself by pastoral charity which drives him to abandon himself for his sheep the Christian community which is confided to him.

He is, therefore, called to serve his brothers and sisters without exception, loving them with the very love of Christ. This is only possible if the priest accomplishes his pastoral task in the spirit of Christ, sent by the heavenly Father. To do this, he is asked to pay attention to the action of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of the Word, of sacraments, of prayer, of welcoming people, of listening, of visiting, etc. Particular importance should be accorded to the eucharistic celebration, source, foundation and summit of missionary priestly spirituality.

The priest brings there the concerns of the whole Church for the whole of humanity. The source of the mission is Trinitarian. But this reality need not call into question the gift of the Holy Spirit that is called the ministry of authority in the Church bishop, priest, deacon. It is a matter of a specific service which leads certain men set apart to live the mission as an act of their faith. Thus, they agree to make their life an intimate communion with the being and the activity of Christ.

In joys and pains or failures they strive to have confidence in the mission itself work of the Holy Spirit , and to be adamant about conducting missionary activity in the manner that Jesus Christ himself lived it. This implies today that the absolute priority, or the central preoccupation, of every priest in a parish apostolate should be the concern for missionary animation and cooperation. As Cardinal Josef Tomko said on the occasion of the presentation of Redemptoris Missio to the press , priests secular and religious must be the principal agents of "the missionary revolution of the Church.

They include also missionary information and missionary formation of the People of God. Priests are asked to help all the baptized to acquire the missionary spirit and to open their spiritual, cultural and social life to universal dimensions. This missionary animation is facilitated by Catholic action associations or movements and by groups especially the youth. These give rise to and promote, not only missionary vocations ad gentes, but also good cooperation for evangelization Redemptoris Missio, n.

The priest hereby communicates above all a life, or better an experience of life. But if he himself does not live in Christ, how is he able to communicate this experience to others? Hence, the call to sanctity is for the good fulfillment of the mission. The renewed impulse to the mission ad gentes demands holy missionaries. The priest, to be truly missionary, must try diligently to be holy.

He must become a "contemplative in action" who draws the power for his actions from the divine Word, and from individual and communal prayer. In effect, he evangelizes much more by his life, and his deeds, in short, more by witness than by theories. Consequently, to accomplish his mission well, every priest must show that he is the witness only of the one Master: Jesus Christ who the whole of humanity is called to recognize as its Lord.

It is a matter of a consistent style of life in the setting where he exercises his priestly ministry. This is born out in a life marked by apostolic obedience, evangelical poverty, chastity in consecrated celibacy, and priestly unity with the diocesan bishop -"with Peter and under Peter. Ordination and incarnation connect with the diocese, the priests, who cannot have an isolated existence.

All priests participate to the same degree of ministry and can only realize the mission effectively within the presbyterate constituted by their brother priests. This corresponds to the will of the Lord who never sent his apostles on mission alone, but instead two by two Mark We comprehend why the presbyteral body is necessary for all priests who work for the common mission Lumen Gentium, n.

All this inspires the priest to work in a unity of views, of hearts and of action, animated by the very love of Christ, in fidelity to the same evangelical doctrine of which the Church is the guardian. Pastoral charity for brother priests and for the faithful should not make the priest forget the missionary requirements of dialogue with and evangelization of the "de-christianized," non-Catholics and non-Christians present in the area where he lives ecumenical dialogue, dialogue with the Muslims and believers of the traditional religions.

He is consecrated for the salvation of the whole world Ad Gentes, n. For this, he must be available for the mission ad gentes beyond the borders and limits of diocese and even of country. The mission ad gentes manifests in a fitting way the gift and gratuity of the Church. It aids those who are in spiritual and material need. It expresses growth toward maturity of faith. One goes beyond the temptation to rely on oneself in order to open his spirit and his heart, not only to the infinite horizons of the mission, but also to the essential ecclesial dimensions which follow:.

The communion which must exist among the diverse particular Churches demands the exchange of gifts, and especially of the living and personal gifts who are the priests. The example that confirms this is the experience of priests today cf. Fidei Donum. They provide a precious contribution to the growth of ecclesial communities in need, and for their part, they receive from these communities new energy and vitality for their faith" Redemptoris Missio, n.

This experience demands, among other things:. Interdiocesan priestly associations, clerical societies of apostolic life, secular institutes of priests and even congregations of religious priests" whose specific charisms and qualified ministries ensure an undeniable benefit to the mission of the Church Pastores Dabo Vobis, n. This leads us to examine the specific place of the religious priest in the mission of the Church. The religious state is a way of living which is organized in view of holiness J.

Hamer, "La dimension missionnaire de la vie religieuse," in "Les dossiers de la documentation catholique," Les religieux, Paris, Centurion, Religious life does not belong to the hierarchical structure of the Church, but to its life and its holiness. An essential element of the holiness of the Church, it is characterized by the profession of evangelical counsels.

In virtue of their detachment, total consecration in a life of poverty, chastity and obedience, the religious carry out a fruitful, generous and creative apostolate. The religious life, as a school of holiness, has in itself an undeniable missionary importance, if one accepts that the saints are the most effective actors in evangelization, as Pope John Paul II just recalled in Ecclesia in Africa chapter VII.

Thus, the missionary dimension of the religious life cannot do without apostolic holiness the personal and intimate experience of Christ through the life of prayer and evangelical charity. The principal mission of the religious priest must consist in the witness of his consecrated life. The Synod of Bishops on the Consecrated Life October affirms that there is a fundamental interdependence between consecration and mission.

The member of the consecrated life receives consecration for the mission of the Church in keeping with the charism of each Institute" Message, n. Beyond the diversity of charisms, it is also a question of the difference of juridical or canonical status.

As the same Synod emphasized, the members of contemplative institutes must organize their life and mission by granting absolute priority to the mystery of Christ praying. Their specific mission is to make known in the Church the dimension of Christ praying P. It is a matter of a life of adoration and intercession for the world. One accompanies, by means of "prayer and sacrifice, the apostolic works of the brothers" and sisters M.

Here the effective service of prayer for the Church and for souls is underlined. The members of institutes of apostolic life cannot carry out their apostolate outside of the hierarchy. But the juridical status of religious autonomy of life protects their distinctiveness and helps them to respond not only to the needs of the local Church, but also to those of the universal Church. This advantage frequently places them "on the frontiers of the mission" Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. This missionary impulse, inherent in the religious vocation, must find its place in the task of evangelization in the depths of the diocesan Church.

Hence comes the necessity to create healthy relations between religious priests and diocesan priests on the one hand, and on the other, between the diocesan projects and institutional charisms. Finally, the religious priest like the diocesan priest, in short, the pastor of souls, must flee the danger of a consuming activism in the mission of evangelization.

The missionary incentive or zeal finds its source and its strength in prayer and intimate union with God. It is necessary to find a vital synthesis between consecration and mission. This dynamic nourishes itself and reinforces itself by listening to the Word of God, personal prayer the Divine Office, etc Thus, every pastor is called to imitate Jesus Christ, the supreme model of pastoral life. Our Lord and Master, even in the most intense periods of his ministry, always reserved privileged moments for exclusive dialogue with the Father in solitary prayer Mark ; Luke ; The regularity of prayer allows the priest to carry on his apostolate in profound communion with Christ the Savior.

And as the Synod of bishops on the consecrated life emphasized, "prayer is one of the most beautiful expressions of spiritual, fraternal communion with all the members of the People of God" P. There remains for us only to see how one can develop the priestly missionary spirituality in our seminaries and other priestly houses of formation.

For every priest, missionary spirituality can only be developed by the seminary or another institution of priestly formation. In Cameroon, we have emphasized in the Ratio Nationalis that the seminary must form men who have a pastoral sensibility which is apostolic and missionary men of their people, disciples of Jesus Christ and true pastors to all in the image of Christ.

It is a matter of initiating future priests to the apostolic and missionary spirit. Certain means can help to reach this fundamental objective of priestly formation:. In his message for the World Day of Missions June 11, , Pope John Paul II affirms that: "gift of the Father to humanity and prolongation of the Mission of the Son, the Church knows that it exists in order to carry the joyful news of the Gospel to the ends of the earth, as long as this world lasts cf.

Matthew Therefore, the mission cannot be the private enterprise of a priest; but the latter is the principal agent and animator of it. For the priest, the mission is a movement which brings him toward the other, as his servant, through and in the steps of Christ. Consequently, he must allow his personality to be modeled progressively by the Spirit of Christ and the Gospel which he announces.

He becomes with Christ the Suffering Servant who has "come not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many" Mark , in order that all men might have life and that they might have it in abundance John It is for this reason that the warning of the Apostle must always resound within each priest: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" 1 Corinthians ad gentes and ad vitam. The documents of the council constantly place the priest in relationship to Christ. One aspect of such a relationship, which will be also strongly underlined in Pastores Dabo Vobis and in the Directory for the Ministry and Life of Priests, is his "conformity" to Christ.

The constitution Lumen Gentium 28 speaks of "consecration to the image of Christ"; the decrees Optatam Totius 8 and Presbyterorum Ordinis 2,12, 17, speak explicitly of "conformity" or "configuration. What does the conciliar decree mean by such a configuration? In certain cases, the decree speaks about a configuration conferred by the sacrament cf P0, 2 ; in other cases, it speaks of a configuration to which priests ought to commit themselves.

In the first case it is dealing with a fact, in the second with a goal. In the first case, in dealing with a conformity according to which the priest receives, through the sacrament, a certain number of powers that are proper to Christ the Priest; in the second case, it deals with a conformity by which, through priestly ordination, the priest receives, as a rule, a specific help which renders him more fruitful in the use of these powers for the good of the Church.

In traditional terms, on one hand, it is dealing with the character as it says explicitly in Presbyterorum Ordinis, 2 , on the other hand, with the sacramental grace; sacramentum et res, on one hand, and res tantum on the other. By means of the character, the priest is configured forever, in an indelible way and independent of personal holiness , to Christ the priest, and is rendered a participant in the priestly powers of Christ, that is, in the three-fold gifts.

It is necessary to underline that such a conformity has a limited sphere: it is actuated when the priest performs those proper acts of the spiritual powers which he has received when he celebrates the Mass, administers the Sacraments, teaches ex officio, and governs his own flock.

The second type of conformity, "priestly grace," is justified and described by St. Thomas in these terms:. It touches on divine liberality to give to the one who has received a determined power, that without which, such power would not be able to be exercised in a suitable way. Now, the administration of the sacraments, to which the spiritual power is ordered, is not able to be done suitably unless one is helped to this end by divine grace. Accordingly, in this sacrament of Orders, as in the others, a grace is conferred 4 CG We are dealing with an increase of sanctifying grace, specified by its end, that is, the "suitable" exercise of the priestly ministry.

It is necessary therefore, to specify that this "priestly grace" is not different from sanctifying grace, it is only its specification. As sanctifying grace, it configures to Christ, because it is a participation in the same grace of Christ, and as such, it is radically common to all the faithful, to all those who are all called to become images of Christ.

In the priest, however, it assumes a very particular coloration. It is that which P0, 12 teaches, when it affirms that every priest, having received in baptism, just like every other Christian, the grace which allows him to tend toward perfection, in so far as he represents Christ himself, he receives a particular grace which more renders him more capable, through serving the people entrusted to him and the people of God in its entirety, to tend toward the perfection of him whom he represents, a grace with which his weakness as a sinful man is healed through the holiness of the one who made himself for us the High Priest Since sanctifying grace, in general, requires the cooperation of man who ought to seek to configure himself to Christ, this priestly grace invites priests to seek to imitate Christ, in particular in the priestly tasks, as for example P0,14 exhorts.

Finally it is necessary to add that while the character is not. For this reason, St. Acts who descended upon Him cf. Matthew "to bring the good news to the poor Four concepts are essential here: consecration or sanctification, mission or apostolate, functions or ministries, anointing or gift of the Holy Spirit, which describe the existential situation and mission of Christ and, moreover, the many other ways through which He is present in His Church.

The essential nature of the ordained priesthood means that to be a priest it is necessary to have received the priestly order. Those to be ordained, through the sacramental ordination are anointed with the Holy Spirit, signed with a special character and are configured to Christ the Head in such a way that they can act in His name and in His person in the mystical body which is the Church. In virtue of this sacrament, a man is consecrated, that is, he is "taken from among men" and is constituted a dispenser of the mysteries which refer to God.

Through this consecration, the man becomes "a minister of God" and "totally given" to God: God assumes him, God absorbs him.. As such, the priest receives a special charge: to administer the divine gifts for the life of men. It can be said that, through the sacrament of orders, the priest is transformed into "Christ himself," for carrying out the works of Christ. In such a way the ontological assimilation to Christ the head takes place in the priest. The priestly consecration has as its inseparable mark the indelible character: a gift of God that is given forever!

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The priest anointed in the Holy Spirit ought to bind himself to absolute and unconditional fidelity to the Lord and to his Church, because the commitment of the priesthood has in itself the sign of eternity. The priest, like Christ and in Christ, is sent. The salvific "mission," which is entrusted to the priest for the good of men is required by his own "priestly consecration" and is implicit already in the "call" with which God addresses man.

Therefore, "vocation, consecration, and mission" are three elements of one same reality, constitutive elements of the priestly being or of the essential nature of the priesthood. We ask ourselves: what role has the essential nature of the priesthood in the life of the Church? Christ "calls" the disciples because once "consecrated" they are then "sent" to reestablish a richer divine life in every man. Today the priests are called, consecrated and sent as "property of God" to act "in persona Christi," as Christ the head over the mystical body. Thus the priest becomes in this way an instrument to be used by Christ to effect the salvific mysteries of redemption.

Only in the light of faith of the mystery of the incarnate Word are we able to comprehend the nature and the end of the Christian hierarchical priesthood. The traditional teaching constantly repeats to us "sacerdos alter Christus," and it does so not to express to us an analogous meaning, but to point out to us how truly Christ is made present in every priest and how the priest acts "in persona Christi. Clothed with such dignity, a tremendous responsibility burdens his shoulders before God, the Church and the people whom he must serve.