Community Setting of Ordained Ministry

To understand the relational nature of priestly spirituality, we must remember that the presbyter is ordained to three interrelated roles in the community: shepherd, prophet, and priest. … the glue which holds the three together is pastoral leadership. The presbyter acts, first of all, in persona Christi – in the person of Christ who is the head and shepherd leader of the community. In his role as shepherd leader, the presbyter is empowered to be prophet or proclaimer of God’s word and priest or leader of divine worship. The uniqueness of the preaching of the presbyter or his priestly ministry in worship rests on his sacramental role as the shepherd of the community. Others also proclaim God’s word and lead in worship. The presbyter does this as pastor of the community, or as one joined to the bishop and the presbyterate in the sacrament of pastoral leadership in the Church. The separation of community leadership from the prophetic and priestly functions of the presbyter strikes a blow at the integrity of both the community and the sacramentality of ordained ministry. The presbyter cannot be reduced to a sacramental circuit rider without doing great harm to our understanding of community, liturgy and the significance of sacramental ordination.

Robert M. Schwartz, “Servant of the Servants of God: A Pastor’s Spirituality”, in The Spirituality of the Diocesan Priest, Donald B. Cozzens, ed. (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1997), p. 3. ISBN: 978-0-8146-2421-0. (Emphasis added)