When asking what a priest does we can look to the tradition of the church to see that the main “work” of a priest could best be described as a share in the Tria Munera of Christ the Lord: The Sanctify, Teach and Govern. In this post we will look at the ministry of Governance or pastoring, by which a priest leads the people of God to a fuller life in the Kingdom.
The ministry of governance (munus regendi) is proper to Christ the King (Christus Rex). By this office he is King of all of creation and kingdom is lived and spread specifically in the life of the Church. As pastors of parishes and the people in those parishes, each priest shares in the ministry of governance. Pastors need to care for all of those in their parish, even the non-catholics. They need to be there for them in a diversity of circumstances and prudently give advice as only a caring shepherd can. Further, pastors administer the temporal goods of the parish. All the daily work of running a parish and taking care of the material needs (that there is heat, electricity, that the grounds are kept clean) which often cannot be done without a dedicated parish staff, is a share in this same office. If our churches are falling down, or dark, or cold where will we go to hear God’s word or receive the grace of the Sacraments? The administrative work of a pastor is not a distraction from his ministry but rather is specifically an aspect in his sharing in the priestly office of Christ. When we look to our pastors for whatever needs arise, we should look to them as acting even in the most ordinary daily circumstances in the person of Christ.
Fr. Michael Casey