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The Priestly Office: A Theological Reflection
Avery Dulles, S.J.
Paulist Press, NY, 1997

First Paragraph of Introduction:

It is not uncommon today to speak of a crisis of the priesthood in Western Europe and North America. Large-scale departures from the active ministry together with the catastrophic dip in vocations in some countries have given rise to concern in some cases bordering on alarm. The causes are doubtless complex, and I do not intend to analyze them in this volume. I believe, however, that one contributing cause has been the uncertainty about the role and identity of the priest arising from the introduction of new theological paradigms.

Table of Contents:

I. The Priest and the Church

II. The Ministry of the Word

III. The Ministry of Worship

IV. The Pastoral Ministry

V. The Priest as Disciple


Index of Names

Excerpt on Prayer and Sacraments

As a spiritual leader of the people of God, the ministerial priest has particular responsibilities in the realms of prayer and sacramental life. A priest who does not pray would be simply a contradiction in terms. The prayer of the priest in many ways resembles that of every other Christian, but the laity are entitled to look to the priest as one who may be presumed to have experience in the life of prayer, and the ability to counsel others in their perplexities. Sad to say, many of the faithful do not feel that the priests they know are qualified to direct them in the interior life. Too many priests give the appearance of being too busy and too involved in day-to-day business to take time for contemplation and spiritual direction. . . .

The fourth part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, devoted to the theme of prayer, contains many useful suggestions for fostering the priestís own union with God and helping him instruct others in the ways of prayer. The analysis of the seven petitions of the Our Father shows us how intimately connected this prayer is with the personal prayer of Jesus, as found in the seventeenth chapter of Johnís gospel.

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