33. Ministry in Practice

Read by Br. Geoffrey Tristram

Discerning which opportunities for ministry we should respond to brings into play the wis­dom of the whole community, the responsibility of particular brothers and the skillful supervision of the Superior.  In deciding which ventures to pursue or invitations to accept we take into account the resources of the community, the availability of particular brothers and their needs, the mission priorities of the Society, as well as the needs of those whose claims upon us are under consideration.  We must remember that we are called to exercise demanding ministries within the community for one another and amongst our employees and those who work alongside us. The prudence that in­forms this practice of discernment, however, is not meant to hold us back from responding gener­ously and spontaneously to unforeseen and urgent claims that the Spirit makes upon us.

The coordination of our tasks, responsibilities and ministries means that we must often turn down requests and opportunities.  Without faithfulness to our limitations we can jeopardize our com­munity life and its balance.  It will often be painful when we are unable to respond to the needs that touch our hearts.  It is important to share this frustration in prayer.  Christ can help us to accept our limitations as expressions of our poverty, and the constraints he imposes as ways in which he is shaping and molding our lives.  In a community such as ours it is unrealistic to expect that the balance between meeting our own needs and those of others can be kept always in perfect equilib­rium.  Instead we must be resilient enough to embrace the emergencies and stresses that belong to apostolic life.

Our reliance on the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit in our ministry does not replace the need for training, preparation and supervision.  We may only engage in ministries for which we have received training and whose disciplines we have embraced.  It is especially important in those minis­tries involving confidential work with individuals that we observe those boundaries and guide­lines binding on ministers of the Church.  A brother must never be left feeling isolated in his ministry.  The leaders of the community must make sure that resources of consultation and super­vision are available to him.

We make it known to groups and individuals who call upon our ministries that the Society needs donations to support our work.  Normally we help them in the exercise of their stewardship by suggesting amounts in proportion to our outlay of time and effort.  God’s generosity in supplying all our needs gives us the freedom to make our ministries available to certain groups and individuals who lack the resources to make these normal donations.

1 Comment

  1. Polly Henninger on March 30, 2009 at 02:29

    It is painful when my elderly, dementing mother’s says she wishes that she could live with me, or my young grandson who lives 3000 miles away tells me again that he wants to visit me. I feel sad that I can’t respond to their needs satisfactorily. I take my concern to God in prayer but I rarely take my frustration. Nor do I think of my limitations as expressions of my poverty and the constraints Christ imposes as he shapes and molds my life. It is good to see this larger picture.

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