By Brother Tim, Columnist
Being a minister of the Church is a full time job that requires constant renewal of oneself in God’s guidance, protection, and love for us. We must first realize that we are ministers not messiahs. Learning to be humbled before others in our apostolate makes room for God’s grace to flourish evermore abundantly in us and through us. Our guiding intention as ministers is to communicate the life and teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ to all corners of the world. That’s quite a mission! There are different approaches to communicate this message depending on the vocation of an individual. In particular, I would like to highlight in this reflection the ministerial life as a consecrated religious and the different charisms that come along with it.
Firstly, as with most religious communities, the core character that distinguishes consecrated religious ministers is their call to communal life. This particularity of the religious life is a guiding principle in our ministries. We are not only called to participate and contribute to communal life within our own communities, but also to bind others together in our apostolates, sharing our common identity as children of God. What can be noticed as particular to the religious dynamic of ministering, is forming communities as Christ did in our interactions with others.
My experience in the ministerial life sprang from my vocation as a religious brother candidate. The identity of a brother can be saved for another extensive reflection, but for now, I would sum it up as such: the priesthood represents Christ’s divinity, whereas the brotherhood reflects His humanity. My title as “brother” entails a task; a mission to truly be a brother to others, and a brother who is able to act with compassion, understanding, and an ever-growing desire to share God’s unending love with those I minister to.
This life, however, comes with its challenges.
When you invest your energy into a ministry, it can be tempting to fall prey to the illusion that we are the ones sustaining the works we are doing, and that somehow we are self- sufficient in our apostolate. This is a danger to a minister, because it is not a style of life that should be self-indulgent and fuel our ego. Rather, it is through the authority of Christ, who came as a brother for all, that we are able to concretely witness to others what it means to love and to be a disciple of Christ.
As ministers of the Church, we have to look beyond just seeing God in our celebrations, inspiring homilies, and uplifting liturgical music. We must also see Him in the suffering of an individual, the challenges we face, and the desperate needs of others. God is in all, and He is always present. If we pray to the Spirit to truly SEE God in everything, then there is nothing stopping us from smiling every time we begin our ministry. Admitting to our weaknesses, coping with frustrations, and working just a little bit harder for the good of others are all elements the religious minister should be willing to value as being molded into a life of holiness.
Isn’t this the goal of every minister, though? To bring others to holiness and to their full potential as God sees it? It is quite a simple paradigm to follow. Ministry—whether religious or lay—is not about self-confidence, but is about being “God confident” in every action you make towards a better Church for the future.