Monday, January 10, 2011

Counsel for a Priest, Counsel for a Christian

Today is the anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood (1990) and I was reading from an old favorite: Michael Ramsay's The Christian Priest Today. Ramsay was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1961 to 1974. The book is a collection of addresses and retreat meditations on the priesthood.

At the end of the chapter called "Divine Humility" he gives "a few counsels for the struggle which will be before you." They strike me as good counsel not only for a priest but for any Christian. They are a description of how any Christian might rest in humility. Here they are, edited:

Thank God, often and always. Thank God, carefully and wonderingly, for your continued privileges and for every experience of his goodness. Thankfulness is a soil in which pride does not easily grow.

Take care about confession of your sins. As time passes the habit of being critical about people and things grows more than each of us may realize.

Be ready to accept humiliations. They can hurt terribly, but they help you to be humble. There can be the trivial humiliations. Accept them. There can be the bigger humiliations: some cherished plan misfires, or some injustice is done to you, or some slight or affront, or some sorrow, or some trouble caused by a mistake of your own. All these can be so many chances to be a little nearer to our humble crucified Lord.

Do not worry about status. There is only one status that our Lord bids us be concerned with, and that is the status of proximity to himself.

Use your sense of humour. Laugh about things, laugh at the absurdities of life, laugh about yourself, and about your own absurdity. We are all of us infinitesimally small and ludicrous creatures within God's universe. You have to be serious, but never be solemn, because if you are solemn about anything there is the risk of becoming solemn about yourself.

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