The Way of Disciple By Fr Lou Jaeger: We are all baptized into a vocation, a call from God to live a holy life, to be a “good and faithful” servant.
Many people choose to get married and advance the Church and themselves by loving God and their family. Others choose religious life by being a priest, brother, sister or monk. I chose to be a diocesan priest, choosing to stay and work in the Archdiocese of Dubuque.
My baptismal call is to recognize my gifts and talents. When I started this journey, I had no idea what my God-given gifts and talents were. I was just a brother and child in my family doing the same things as everyone else. However, from an early age I thought of priesthood. I have been told that I used to “play” priest as a child. That thought never left me. My parents and pastor encouraged me to pursue this calling. All through high school, college, and seminary I was tested and asked myself, “Do I really want to do this?” Each time the answer was “yes.” I am sure it was the Holy Spirit talking to me. As I built my relationship with God, I was more and more convinced that this was right for me. It was not always easy. There were challenges that had to be faced and overcome, but by the grace of God I was ordained on March 31, 1973.
The priesthood I was ordained into has changed a lot in these 43 years. This Archdiocese had a large number of priests then. There were small parishes with two or three priests. Today one priest may have two or three parishes by themselves. We had priests in all types of ministries. I did not want to teach. I started out as an Assistant Pastor, but soon found myself teaching due to an unexpected opening mid-year. I taught formally part-time then full-time until I was moved into an administrative role. Even then, I was a pastor, an assistant principal, and I taught. I was eventually assigned as only a pastor, but I kept teaching adults as time permitted. My decision not to teach was MY decision, but God had other plans. God got His way. The priesthood has been a great vocation for me. I learned to love teaching and ministering to people. I enjoyed helping people see that God loves them. Celebrating the Sacraments is especially fulfilling for me. My disabilities have changed the way I minister, but God finds ways to still use me according to His plan.
Those who might be thinking of the priesthood, remember it is a journey. You do not have to have a super faith or know everything about the Church. That comes with time. What you need is to answer God’s call, and He will take care of the rest.
Fr. Lou Jaeger
The Sacraments in Scripture… Holy Orders By Fr David Schatz The sacrament called “Holy Orders” refers to the sacraments of service for the good of the Church. They are called the Order of Bishop, the Order of Presbyters (Priests), and the Order of Deacons. Each of these orders flow out of the relationship Jesus established with the Apostles. While bishops, priests and deacons are mentioned in Scripture, it is better to think about these orders through the lens of the relationship between Jesus and the Apostles.
Throughout the Gospels, the call of the Apostles is a central reflection on the ministry of Jesus. Jesus was doing something fundamentally different. His contemporary prophets and philosophers would go to the main culture centers and try to attract followers. The follower chose the leader, and leader’s power would grow based upon the number of followers. Of course, the leader would also benefit from his followers being rich and powerful themselves.
In Jesus’ case, he did the calling. He called fisherman (Matthew 4:18-22) and tax collectors (Matt. 9:9) to name a few. Not exactly the cream of the crop according to the culture. Yet, Jesus’ call became a fundamental aspect of our understanding of the Church. In the Gospel of John, Jesus states, “It was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you to go forth and bear fruit” (John 15:16). Every “Order” is never simply for the good of the individual. There is an expectation that the “Order” will bear fruit for the good of the community. As the Church grew and was more deeply understood, the roles of the Apostles manifested themselves in different ways. The concrete example is the calling forward of the Order of Deacon. In the Acts of Apostles, the needs of the community grew beyond the Apostles’ ability to provide proper care. The community brought forth the deacons and the apostles laid hands on them – “ordained” them (Acts 6:1-6). The Order of Deacon is symbolic of the Church’s responsibility to respond to the needs of our world.
The use of the term “bishop” and “priest” and even “deacon” was very fluid in the New Testament. Further, the language surrounding the “priest” in the Old Testament was very broad and shaped our understanding of these orders as well. The primary understanding must focus on the relationship between Jesus and the Apostles. An Apostle never acted in his own name. He proclaimed Christ in everything that he did and that was to be true of every order in the Church. Yet, we do have specific reflections upon the qualifications of a person who feels called within Scripture. In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, Paul lays out the following requirements: “A bishop must be irreproachable, married only once, of even temper, self-controlled, modest, and hospitable. He should be a good teacher. He must not be addicted to drink. He ought not to be contentious but, rather, gentle, a man of peace” (1 Tim. 3:2-3). While he goes on further, the sense of any call to Holy Orders must be of one who is truly for others in the likeness of Christ.