Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama has described a Catholic priest as an anointed person who is the bridge that leads the people to genuinely seek God in adoration and worship and to do His will. “He is not a soothsayer … or an apostle of a Christianity that does not tolerate suffering but only celebrates success and miracles.”
The Archbishop who is the Metropolitan of Jos Ecclesiastical Province and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) made this assertion in his homily at the celebration of the Mass for the priestly ordination of six Augustinian Deacons at St Monica’s Catholic Church, Rantya, Jos Plateau State, recently.
Using the readings of the day to outline the roles and expectations of the Catholic priest, Archbishop Kaigama noted that the highest liturgical task of the priest is the celebration of the Eucharist, “A rare privilege given only to a validly ordained priest.” He said. He added that this is coupled with the priest’s responsibility to preach the Good News of Christ in and out of season and “use his gifts to work for the salvation of souls,” Archbishop Kaigama emphasised.
The CBCN President declared, “The priest is a bridge, a signboard, a judge, reconciler, teacher, a prophet, etc., but not the type of prophet who predicts election results or sees visions for people – that would make him a soothsayer. A prophet is concerned with the truth of God. He prays and leads the people to genuinely seek God and to do His will.”
He however noted, “The temptation today is to equate worship with merely the preachers’ dramatic Church services that promise material prosperity or success in life. Like John the Baptist, a prophet or a man of God tells the truth and is ready to suffer the consequences. How many of our so-called prophets or pastors are ready to suffer for the faith or for the nation? A priest is not one who tells people what they want to hear, about prosperity, miracles or one who thinks he can compel God to do people’s will..,” Archbishop Kaigama said.
Archbishop Kaigama remarked that those going from one Church to another are not doing so to worship God but rather to look for motivational speakers who will assure them that “there is cheaper Christianity that does not tolerate suffering but only celebrates success and miracles”. He stated further that pastors who woo people to their Church by promising miracles “are not different from politicians who desperately want to win over the electorate by promising them the impossible such as making streams flow and beautiful flowers bloom in the Sahara desert!” he added.
The Metropolitan of Jos then declared: “For good Catholics, religion is about adoration and worship of God. While doing this, God can at His own time quietly provide our needs even exceeding our expectations (cf. Eph. 3:20). He added,“What marks Catholic spirituality out is that a Catholic prays and patiently allows God’s will to be done”
While calling on the newly ordained priests to live up to the vows of their vocation and be Shepherds after the heart of Jesus, the Archbishop pointed out that the materialistic Shepherd is a mercenary adding, “He wants to exploit the sheep but abandons them when they cannot satisfy his quest for prosperity. The Archbishop urged the new priests to be guided by truth, honour, industry and service in the course of their apostolate.
By Vatican News Agency