The Preacher as Person: The Bath of Rebirth in the Holy Spirit
The preacher is, first and foremost, a person. Ordination does not cancel one’s humanity. Ordination, as with any grace, does not cancel humanity, but strengthens and perfects God’s dream for our lives. Because the preacher is a person, within the mind and heart there grows weeds, thorns, and growth which can suffocate the most promising of gardens. The garden within the preacher (mind and heart) must be pruned. Pruned of what? It is easy to become lost in the tangled growth of everyday responsibilities, both within and outside the church. The demands of daily parish life can choke the need for prayer, reflection, contemplation, and being open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Rather than viewing parish ministry as either activism or contemplation (the Martha-Mary challenge), ministry in the Spirit is the integration of both the demands of the pastoral apostolate and the need to commune with the Father. Those whose vocation is one of ordained service—the diaconate—face a demanding set of challenges. The vast majority find themselves with an array of responsibilities in the world—work, marriage, children, and the obligations of overall family life. Many deacons serve in parishes through the celebration of various liturgical occasions (not the least of which is preaching). The ordained deacon is to be in the world but not of the world. This delicate balance calls for a life of prayer and a discerning spirit to the promptings of the indwelling Paraclete. The pruning with the preacher is not easy, and it is a life-long journey in the Holy Spirit. Pruning is the process of cutting and shearing that which hinders growth. To respond in faith to the Lord’s call to follow Him in the ordained ministry is an invitation to be cleansed of all that hinders growth in responding to His Person. Such a willingness to be cleansed is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Preacher as Person: The Bath of Rebirth in the Holy Spirit by Fr. Maestri and Deacon Oney is a resource for preachers to consider their role as a person who preaches the Person of Jesus Christ and the Word of God in the Power of the Holy Spirit.