Friday, 30 November 2018

The Pastor's Primary Role is to Preach and Teach

Many people, even many priests, have a mistaken understanding of what constitutes a pastor's (what the British call a 'parish priest') primary role:
It's not offering Holy Mass,
it's not visiting the sick,
it's preaching and teaching.

While we can properly say that the priesthood, per se, is primarily ordered to the offering of the holy sacrifice of the Mass,
the primary pastoral task entrusted to a priest when he is made a pastor, in virtue of the care of souls given to him in his appointment, is to teach and preach.

Here are some Church document quotes:

“priests, as co-workers with their bishops, have the primary duty of proclaiming the Gospel of God to all.” (Vatican II Pres Ord n.4.)

“We must now consider upon whom rests the obligation to dissipate this most pernicious ignorance and to impart in its stead the knowledge that is wholly indispensable. There can be no doubt, Venerable Brethren, that this most important duty rests upon all who are pastors of souls. On them, by command of Christ, rest the obligations of knowing and of feeding the flocks committed to their care; and to feed implies, first of all, to teach. "I will give you pastors according to my own heart," God promised through Jeremias, "and they shall feed you with knowledge and doctrine." Hence the Apostle Paul said: "Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel," thereby indicating that the first duty of all those who are entrusted in any way with the government of the Church is to instruct the faithful in the things of God.”(Pius X, Acerbo Nimis, n.7)

“If what We have just said [that a priest’s primary role is to teach, c.f. n.7] is applicable to all priests, does it not apply with much greater force to those who possess the title and the authority of parish priests, and who, by virtue of their rank and in a sense by virtue of a contract, hold the office of pastors of souls? These are, to a certain extent, the pastors and teachers appointed by Christ in order that the faithful might not be as "children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine devised in the wickedness of men," but that practicing "the truth in love," they may, "grow up in all things in him who is the head, Christ." “(Pius X, Acerbo Nimis, n.10)

“For this reason the Council of Trent, treating of the duties of pastors of souls, decreed that their first and most important work is the instruction of the faithful.[Council of Trent, Sess. V, cap. 2, De Reform.; Sess. XXII, cap. 8; Sess. XXIV, cap. 4 & 7, De Reform.] “(Pius X, Acerbo Nimis, n.11)

“These prescriptions of the Council of Trent have been summarized and still more clearly defined by Our Predecessor, Benedict XIV, in his Constitution Esti minime. "Two chief obligations," he wrote, "have been imposed by the Council of Trent on those who have the care of souls: first, that of preaching the things of God to the people on the feast days; and second, that of teaching the rudiments of faith and of the divine law to the youth and others who need such instruction." Here the wise Pontiff rightly distinguishes between these two duties: one is what is commonly known as the explanation of the Gospel and the other is the teaching of Christian doctrine. Perhaps there are some who, wishing to lessen their labours, would believe that the homily on the Gospel can take the place of catechetical instruction. But for one who reflects a moment, such is obviously impossible. The sermon on the holy Gospel is addressed to those who should have already received knowledge of the elements of faith. It is, so to speak, bread broken for adults. Catechetical instruction, on the other hand, is that milk which the Apostle Peter wished the faithful to desire in all simplicity like newborn babes.”(Pius X, Acerbo Nimis, n.12)

“The principal way to restore the empire of God in the souls is religious instruction… this is why Christ commanded the Apostles, ‘Going forth teach all teach’(Mt 28:19)”:(Pius X, E supreme, n.12)

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