Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Book Review: Priesthood in the Modern World

The book, "Priesthood in the Modern World" with introduction from Philip J. Murnion and edited by Karen Sue Smith has a collection of essays from several Catholic priests.  Each priest discusses how the priest exists in the modern world.

The essays describe how the priest and how he is seen by parishioners has changed throughout time in America. In the past, the priest was the focal point of a parish and community.  He was seen as the "leader." However, things are changing and many lay people are taking roles that priests once had solely to himself. The relationship of priests with their bishops is also changing.  It has become almost like a "CEO" with his board scenario in many dioceses instead of a collection of brothers.

The book goes in detail how priests often struggle to do their ministry due to lack of priests, heavy schedules and struggling parishes.  Money is mentioned as a big issue in many parishes where it is often used to "control" or sway a pastor to one direction or another.  Politics and the change of society has also effected the priest in the modern world where he has to be careful what he says in a homily or risk losing parishioners.

Moreover, more people today are more educated and are not as docile as the first Catholics who settled in America and basically did what the priest told them to do.  The Catholic laity of today will often question priests and in some cases, a priest may feel insecure, out of place or useless when parishioners present may hold more or higher academic degrees than him and may even correct him in areas he holds no expertise in.

The book is great for seminarians and priests to read.  Lay people active in their parishes can also benefit from this book.  The book can be read by college age readers and up.  It gives a good glimpse of how the priest of today lives and works describing the many hardships that come with ministering to the people in the "modern age."

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