News & Media

December 2, 2003
The annual inaugural lesson: The profile of the priest

Lecturer(s): S. E. Mgr Joseph Abssi

The annual inaugural lesson was given this year by His Eminence Joseph Abssi (Greek Catholic patriarchal vicar in Damascus) in the chapel of the University on December 2nd, 2003.

In its introduction, His Eminence Abssi said that the aim of his intervention was to define the characteristics common to all priests, whether they are secular or religious, single or married. The criteria defining the various aspects of this desired profile, i.e. its cultural, human, spiritual and pastoral aspects, are not widely accepted or even defined. Hence, the task is difficult and entails asking many questions such as: should the priest have an academic degree and which one? Should the priest devote himself to scientific research, or rather to prayer, manual labor or parochial and social action? How should he act nowadays amidst the dimming of faith and religious practices whereas the needs of technological progress and globalization are taking precedence over fundamental values, thus leading to moral and doctrinal crises and to division among Christians?

Starting from these questions, His Eminence Abssi addressed two aspects of the theme: the cultural aspects on the one hand, and the human and spiritual aspects on the other. With regard to the first one, His Eminence Abssi presented the cultural education of today’s priest after a brief definition of culture. For instance, he should acquire a fundamental education defined by the Church. He should also develop a taste for culture and the capacity of communicating his knowledge.

Finally, he should be open to different sciences and master at least one foreign language. According to His Eminence Abssi, the cultural formation of the priest will allow him to live his faith and reinforce it with reason and knowledge, and to face new challenges with a developed critical sense and a true spirit of dialogue, thus giving an accurate reading of the signs of the times and living true Christian charity to the fullest. With regard to the human and spiritual aspect, the lecturer highlighted the special relationship between the priest as a believer and the Holy Spirit. He later tried to define the broad outlines of sacerdotal spirituality. In this context, the priest is called upon to accept his human condition, to have confidence in the love of God and to listen to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit so as not to lose sight of faith and the presence of God. The principal means to realize it is through prayers, the Eucharist, holy reading, self-sacrifice and obedience.

Holy Spirit University of Kaslik
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