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Posted October 17, 2005

Book: The Joy of the Priesthood
Author: Stephen J. Rossetti
Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, IN, pp. 221

An Excerpt from the Introduction:

This book has been written over a period of fifteen years, during which I have been working with priests who suffer with psychological and spiritual problems. The have taught me much and I gladly share what I have learned from and with them.

Over these fifteen years, each of these chapters has slowly taken shape, beginning as articles and talks. The ideas therein have been gradually refined and integrated and now they comprise a unified reflection on the priesthood.

An Excerpt from the Book:

One of the current mantras of our anticlerical period is the statement, “Priests are no different from the anyone else.” This is precisely the phrase uttered by the head Eucharistic minister who asked the new pastor to distribute communion in the choir loft. It is clearly a reaction against a rank ordering of vocations in a previous era. The Second Vatican Council spoke of a universal call to holiness. Our society hold the equality of all peoples as a sacred value. This is good.

However, in the United States, equality is often equated with being the same. We reject discrimination in all its forms and vehemently claim that all are equal. Thus, many conclude that there is “difference between the priest and everyone else,” because we believe that all are equal and thus must be the same.

It is indeed true that God has created all people as equals. But their equality does not derive from their being the same. In fact, there are a plethora of differences. Some people are smarter than others; some have different skin color; and we are regularly faced with gender-based differences.

. . . If we priests are to recover a sense of our own identity, we must eschew the mantra that priests are the same as everyone else. While we are decidely human and thus inherently flawed because of sin, as we have been painfully reminded these past few years, the truth of the priesthood is that it is different and it carries a unique and powerful grace for the good of the People of God. Priesthood has its own identity that shapes the priest and offers a unique and necessary gift to the Church. At the same time, we must quickly add that his does not make the person of the priest better than others; but it does make us different.

Table of Contents:

1. Priesthood is difficult

2. A work of ultimate concern

3. Men of prayer

4. The priest as a friend of God: Today’s struggle for priestly identity

5. Self-will run riot

6. The priestly call to passionate living and loving

7. The priest as male: in an era of the ascending feminine

8. The priest as man of communion

9. The priest among the people: A spirituality of priestly ministry

10. The priest as a grateful person: developing a Eucharistic heart

11. When things go wrong

12. Renewal of the priesthood

13. A priesthood of joy