Friday, March 12, 2004

Steps to Authentic Reform: St. Barnabas
For the next couple of weeks, I will be putting up some ideas I have been having about Reform in the Church. The idea is to give an idea and a way to implement it. The most important part is that they are relatively simple and can be done by anyone. Reform doesn't require a big pointy hat to make happen.

I have always found this comment from the Acts of the Apostles interesting. Acts 4:36 reads, "Thus Joseph, also named by the apostles Barnabas (which is translated "son of encouragement"), a Levite, a Cypriot by birth." Barnabas is not the man's given name, it's a nickname that describes the character of his apostolate. Therefore, it seems that encouragement is a necessary assistance to those who have apostolic ministry.

So, Step One: Encourage a good priest. As pastor, I have come across this strange paradox. Your enemies are the most outspoken. The people who support you never or rarely open their mouths. In situations where a new pastor is trying to clean up old messes, he needs all the support he can get. Today, or at least on Sunday, encourage the orthodox, excellent priests of your parish universe.

How? Compliment them on the things that they are doing that promote the Gospel and especially the Gospel of Life. If they are good homilists, compliment that. Or good counselors. Or what ever. It could be a note or a dozen cookies, although I would deliver cookies after Lent. Give the compliment now. But whatever it is, be specific. Generic comments are not as helpful.

Why? Priests are like the front line soldiers and nothing is more disheartening than run out into the battlefield of the world only to find yourself alone. Make your presence seen in the army of the Lord. I can guarantee that knowing that the people support him, this will embolden him to go for more.

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