What should priests do to meet people’s expectations?

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It was a meaningful day for me when I attended the Pre-Synod Seminar of the Archdiocese of Hanoi on “The Priestly Life” at the Archbishop’s House on January 8. Indeed, after listening to the presentation “Lay wishes for priests” given by Mary Tran Lan Anh, I was deeply touched by the personality traits of priests.

Mary, who represented the local laity, raised five big expectations of their priests.

Priests are expected to be neatly dressed, decent in appearance, and always wear clergy robes.

They should take great care of their physical and mental health and live a simple and frugal existence.

In their relationship with the laity, priests should always be bright, cheerful and strict but attentive, have close ties with the laity, listen attentively and intuitively understand their feelings, guide them and explain them willingly. People honestly expect their priests to pour out their hearts, their anxieties, their restlessness and even their weariness.

In their relationship with the local presbyterium and the diocesan superior, priests are encouraged to develop strong attachments to other priests and to treat each other well, and always respect and obey their superiors. They should deal with government authorities at all levels in a moderate and balanced manner.

To live the priestly qualities means that the priests of God are invited to love the spiritual life. They must celebrate daily Masses with the same great fervor as their first Masses.

With regard to the liturgy, priests must hold liturgical celebrations punctually and fervently, deliver short, succinct and clear homilies, pay great attention to activities related to the faith and moral life of people, regularly hear confessions to elevate penitents and not be involved in mass movements and entertainment.

I was deeply touched by his solemn presentation and I understand the ardent desire of the laity for ideal priests. On the other hand, I also think of the priests and really sympathize with them because they are unable to fulfill everyone’s wishes.

Priests are also ordinary people with certain personal traits, abilities, and limitations. However, weak and vulnerable as they are to the temptations of the world, the devil and the flesh, and however weak their abilities, priests – who are specially chosen by God – need to train themselves and to strive daily to live out their priestly qualities in a way that pleases God and honors his name in the world.

To live the priestly qualities means that the priests of God are invited to love the spiritual life. They must celebrate daily Masses with the same great fervor as their first Masses. They should set aside time each day to kneel in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament to ask God for support, guidance and strength. They also fulfill their obligation to recite the divine office and like to recite the rosary to be in communion with the Church and to appeal to Mother Mary’s intercession with God to offer herself all the blessings.

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Priests of God must build harmonious relationships with others by coming out of their ego and selfishness to be ready to go out, meet, listen and understand the deepest desires of each person’s situation. It is their intimate encounters with other people that will bring the image of Christ—the Good and Merciful Shepherd—to those they meet.

Priests are inspired to form themselves every day: to improve spiritual and pastoral life, to broaden general culture and to promote human values. They should always cherish the time God gives them to learn to become more like God.

Thus, to live the priestly qualities well, priests must maintain an intimate relationship with God and live in harmony with others and with themselves.

Lord, make the priests look like you every day even if they are weak and fragile. Please grant them holiness, wisdom, joy, peace and above all your presence in their lives. Amen!

Francis Xavier Minh Bang is from the Archdiocese of Hanoi. The opinions 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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