I have found another piece of treasure this evening while browsing Fr. Z’s Blog. This time a reader writes to Fr. Z to tell him that on Good Friday the new priests in the parish advertised that they would be available in the Confessional from 8 am until 2 pm.
What happened is that eventually the parish had a second priest also hearing confessions because of the constant queue of people waiting to make their confession from 8 am that morning. They did not stop at 2 pm as had been advertised and were still hearing confessions at 9 pm that evening.
Absolutely, fantastic news! This is really what priests should be focused on. Making the Sacraments available to their parishioners.
When lay people come knocking on the priests door and say that they really want to become more involved in the parish, don’t go making them extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. Don’t task them with visiting the sick. Rather, ask them to do the administration and logistical functions in the parish. Delegate every single one! After all, lay people are called to achieve personal holiness in the ordinary circumstances of everyday life. A priest, on the other hand, is ordained for a very special ministry and it is certainly not to do admin and logistics.
The priest should be able to free himself, with the help of his parishioners, so that he can focus on the Sacraments: saying Mass; hearing confessions; visiting the sick; hearing the confessions of the sick and old at home, or in hospital, wherever they are and of course taking them Holy Communion and, when appropriate, the Anointing of the Sick. (Which is a Sacrament which is not only for those who are dying, though some people sadly seem to think that it is!)
Also, we should never forget, the priest needs to have lots of time to pray the Divine Office and to generally spend time reading and praying, otherwise the priests homilies will become dry and without value, as so many Catholics have written and complained about in The Southern Cross.