Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Church: The Mission: The Priest

"The Church is the mystery of the Incarnation prolonged throughout the centuries, the Church is essentially a mission. That is the meaning of the word "apostolate." It is sent. It is a mission: "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." (John 20:21).

This mission character of the Church is of infinite importance because the authority of the Church is derived from this mission. It is because it is sent that the Church can address itself to the entire world, because, precisely, it is totally entrusted with the presence of Jesus it bears throughout history in order to gather all humankind in one flock under the leadership of one sole Shepherd.

We are all sent by the One who sends us, by the Only One who sends us, who is Jesus Christ, ad each degree of authority is essentially the repetition of being sent, of mission: Ite Missa est. This is of absolutely prime importance. It is clear that as a priest I am not myself. I am a priest precisely so as not to be myself, in order to be the sacrament of Jesus Christ.

It is clear that if men entrust their soul, their deepest secrets, to a priest, it is because the priest is not himself, it is because he is the sacrament of Jesus. It is clear that the priest could never enter into the mystery of man if he was not sent. And, even if he is mediocre, he is sent. And even if he is mediocre, he has the grace of the mission.

It happens that the priest gives some souls some counsels that are infinitely beyond him, because he is a sacrament and that , insofar as he conforms to this mission, he can count on the help of God.I have experienced that, I know that I must never undertake anything on my own, because I am sent.

- Father Maurice Zundel

From the Magnificat, September 2010, Vol.12 No. 7