Review: Broken for You: Jesus Christ the Catholic Priesthood & the Word of God

Broken for You: Jesus Christ the Catholic Priesthood & the Word of GodBroken for You: Jesus Christ the Catholic Priesthood & the Word of God by Francis J. Moloney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The celebration of Eucharist is central to the life of the Church and has been since Jesus said we should “do this” in his memory. For those ordained to the ordained priesthood, the celebration of Eucharist is also a central part of their ministerial life in a profound way. It is, to be sure, right and proper that this is the case. In his book Broken For You, Frank Moloney brings together three addresses from recent years, each with “their own history”. In doing so, however, Moloney provides the reader with his reflection on exactly why the celebration of Eucharist is so central to the life of the Church.

In the second and central essay contained in Broken For You, Moloney captures what he considers to be central to an understanding of the Catholic priesthood today. Recognising that the Catholic priesthood is in dire need of being based on something more than ‘mere clericalism’, in something, therefore, that enables the priesthood to have solid and secure foundations, Moloney turns to a reflection on the significance of the place of Eucharist in the life of the Church.

The celebration of Eucharist, which is based on complete self-offering of Jesus for the sake of the other, provides a model for all Christians to live by – and for those who are called to the ministerial priesthood to model their priesthood upon. It is not about a celebration of privilege but rather on one’s preparedness to give one’s all for the sake of the other just as Jesus did. This willingness, of course, is not something restricted to those who have been called to the formal ministry of the priesthood; it applies to all those who have Jesus as their light, their hope, and their guide. The ‘audience’ of this willingness may differ depending on an individual’s role within the Church, but the willingness to offer one’s life for the sake of the other – just as Jesus did – is central to both Eucharist and the Christian life.

To support his thesis in the middle essay, Moloney first looks at Jesus in the scriptural revelation, reflecting on the relationship of Jesus with his Father and the significance of what Jesus did and thought he was doing. It becomes clear in reading this first essay that the significance of these questions cannot be underestimated in trying to renew a ministerial priesthood that needs that renewal. Modelling a life on that of Jesus might sound easy, but the consequences can be very significant. Moloney points out some of this significance quite dramatically in the first essay in Broken For You.

The third essay, which focuses on Pope Francis, sees Moloney highlight the significance of delving over and over again into the scriptural revelation and then, as Pope Francis suggests, “understand what you read and hear, preach it, and practise what you preach”. There could be worse advice and encouragement for any Christian, and any ordained minister, then to constantly and consistently return to the very source of our identity – Jesus, the Word of God.

Taken together, this book is not just about the difficulties facing the contemporary Catholic priesthood. It is, but is also about all followers of the Way of Jesus returning again to the example that Jesus has given us and being prepared to live life in keeping with that example – not for ourselves, but for the sake of others.

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