Preaching the Word serves to strengthen faith in souls (Blessed Paolo Manna)
Priestly Identity and Mission: The Proclamation of God’s Word
From the Letter to the Romans
“But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?
And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring [the] good news!”
But not everyone has heeded the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what was heard from us?”
Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” (Rom 10:14-17)
From the Magisterium of the Catholic Church
“In the measure in which they participate in the office of the apostles, God gives priests a special grace to be ministers of Christ among the people. They perform the sacred duty of preaching the Gospel.” (Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis, 2)
“The People of God are joined together primarily by the word of the living God. And rightfully they expect this from their priests. Since no one can be saved who does not first believe, priests, as co-workers with their bishops, have the primary duty of proclaiming the Gospel of God to all. In this way they fulfill the command of the Lord: ‘Going therefore into the whole world preach the Gospel to every creature’” (Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis, 4)
“First, we would point out in the pages of the Gospel the insistence with which the Lord entrusts to the apostles the task of proclaiming the Word. He chose them, trained them during several years of intimate company, constituted and sent them out as authorized witnesses and teachers of the message of salvation. And the Twelve in their turn sent out their successors who, in the apostolic line, continue to preach the Good News.” (Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 66)
What identifies our priestly service, gives a profound unity to the thousand and one tasks which claim our attention day by day and throughout our lives, and confers a distinct character on our activities, is this aim, ever present in all our action: to proclaim the Gospel of God. A mark of our identity which no doubts ought to encroach upon and no objection eclipse is this: as pastors, we have been chosen by the mercy of the Supreme Pastor, in spite of our inadequacy, to proclaim with authority the Word of God.” (Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 68)
“Let us renew our confidence in preaching, based on the conviction that it is God who seeks to reach out to others through the preacher, and that he displays his power through human words.” (Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World, Evangelii Gaudium, 136)
“Not only the homily has to be nourished by the word of God. All evangelization is based on that word, listened to, meditated upon, lived, celebrated and witnessed to. The sacred Scriptures are the very source of evangelization. Consequently, we need to be constantly trained in hearing the word. The Church does not evangelize unless she constantly lets herself be evangelized.” (Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World, Evangelii Gaudium, 174)
From the Writings of Blessed Father Paolo Manna
“We must feel the spirit of our common divine vocation in us as Jesus Christ’s apostles. Just as the apostles in a remote corner of Galilee received one day from Our Lord the divine mandate to go and preach the Gospel to the peoples, so you, my beloved, at this solemn hour, will receive the mandate to continue the work of those first fortunate people.” (P. Manna, Chiamati alla santità, Naples 1977, p. 235)
“We must also take into account the effect made upon many minds by years and years of Christian preaching, which has resulted in introducing into many circles a nobler and higher idea of religion. Many pagans have come to understand that their religions, which have no solid foundation in truth, are lacking moreover in vitality, in a sense of freedom and deliverance, and do not offer comfort to the soul nor satisfy the heart.”
(P. Manna, The conversion of the pagan world. A Treatise upon Catholic Foreign Missions,
translated and adapted from the Italian of rev. Paolo Manna, M. Ap. by rev. Joseph F. McGlinchey, d.d., Boston, Society for the propagation of the Faith 1921, p. 59)
“And not only must we reflect inwardly in order for our ministry to be worthy of the Gospel: we must seek to make ourselves, to the extent possible, more worthy of the immense task which our Lord, through His Church has entrusted to us.” (P. Manna, Apostolic Virtues, translated from Italian by Fr. Steve Baumbusch, PIME, New York 2009, [P. Manna, Virtù Apostoliche, Milan 1944, p. 19])
Questions for Reflection
- To what extent do I remember that, among my various activities, my first task as a priest is to preach the Word of God?
- How do I prepare sermons, homilies and catechesis? Is their preparation accompanied by prayer?
- How is my personal relationship with the Word of God? How much time do I spend each day meditating or reading the Scriptures?
God of eternal truth, we believe in You.
God, our strength and our salvation, we trust in You.
God of infinite goodness, we love You with all our heart.
You sent Your Word for the salvation of the world, make us all one in Him.
Fill us with the Spirit of your Son that we may praise your name.
Holy Father, you so loved the world that you sent your only Son, anointing him with the Holy Spirit and power, so that he can save every person and all humanity.
Through his death and resurrection, you gave life to the world
and saved us from the power of Satan.
As you sent him, O good Father, so he sent us,
so that we can continue his work at any time to the ends of the earth.
We confess, righteous Father, that we are incapable of fulfilling such a great mission, unless you yourself clothe us with the Power from heaven.
Give us your Word that goes deep into our heart
and so we boldly proclaim salvation in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Holy Spirit, come into each of us.
Fill us with Your strength that we may be effective collaborators with Jesus Christ in the salvation of the world.
You are the One who touches hearts to convert and announce Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Only you renew the face of the earth and change hearts.
Come, Holy Spirit, and create a God’s family that calls God “Abba, Father.”
(Jose. H. Prado Flores)