Laypeople highlight the five key traits they expect from their priests at Hanoi synod meeting
Priests concelebrate a Mass at Bao Long Church in Hanoi on Jan. 9. (Photo courtesy of tonggiaophanhanoi.org)
It was a meaningful day for me when I attended Hanoi Archdiocese’s pre-synod seminar on the theme "Priestly Life" at the Archbishop's House on Jan. 8. Indeed, after listening to the presentation "Laypeople's wishes for priests" given by Mary Tran Lan Anh, I was deeply touched by priests' personality traits.
Mary, who represented local laypeople, raised five high expectations about their priests.
Priests are expected to be neatly dressed, have a proper appearance and always wear clergy robes.
They should take good care of their physical and mental health and lead a simple and frugal existence.
In their relationship with the laity, priests should always be bright, cheerful and strict but attentive, have close bonds with the laity, intently listen to and intuitively understand their feelings, and willingly guide and explain to them. People honestly expect their priests to pour out their hearts, anxieties, restlessness and even weariness to them.
In their relationship with the local presbyterium and diocesan superior, priests are encouraged to develop strong attachments to other priests and treat one another well, and always respect and obey their superiors. They should deal with government authorities at all levels in a moderate and balanced manner.
Living out priestly qualities means priests of God are invited to love the spiritual life. They must celebrate daily Masses with the same great fervor as they did their first Masses
Regarding liturgy, priests should hold liturgical celebrations punctually and fervently, deliver short, succinct and clear homilies, pay much attention to activities relating to people's faith and moral life, regularly hear confessions to uplift penitents, and not be involved in mass movements and entertainment.
I was deeply moved by her formal presentation and I understand the burning desire of the laity for ideal priests. On the other hand, I also think about priests and really sympathize with them as they are unable to fulfil all people's wishes.
Priests are also ordinary people with certain personal traits, abilities and limitations. However, no matter how weak and vulnerable they are to the temptations of the world, the devil, and the flesh, and how low their abilities are, priests — who are particularly chosen by God — need to train themselves and strive daily to live out their priestly qualities in a way that pleases God and honors His name in the world.
Living out priestly qualities means priests of God are invited to love the spiritual life. They must celebrate daily Masses with the same great fervor as they did their first Masses. They need to set aside time every day to kneel in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament to ask for support, guidance and strength from God. They also fulfil their obligation to say the Divine Office and love to recite the rosary in order to be in communion with the Church and to appeal to Mother Mary's intercession with God to offer all blessings to themselves.
Priests of God have to build up harmonious relationships with others by getting out of their ego and selfishness to be ready to go out, meet, listen and understand the deepest wishes in each person's situation. It is their intimate meetings with other people that will bring the image of Christ — the Good and Merciful Shepherd — to those they meet.
Priests are inspired to train themselves every day: improving the spiritual and pastoral life, widening general knowledge and fostering human values. They should always cherish the time God gives to teach themselves to become more like God.
Thus, in order to live priestly qualities well, priests need to maintain intimate relationships with God and live in harmony with other people and with themselves.
Lord, please make priests be like you every day even though they are weak and fragile. Please grant them holiness, wisdom, joy, peace and above all your presence in their life. Amen!
Francis Xavier Minh Bang is from Hanoi Archdiocese. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News. This article was summarized and translated by a UCA News reporter from a Vietnamese article published by tonggiaophanhanoi.org here.
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