What is Church?
Think back to when your mother would tell you to get ready as all of the family would be leaving for church services. As a child you obeyed but not without some grumbling.
Later in life, because of the insistence of your mother you adhered to the habit of getting out of bed on Sunday morning and prepared yourself for Mass. All the tenets of attendance at holy mass began to make an impression on your life and as you eventually became a parent you passed on the importance to them.
Just what effect did all this have upon your growth as a person with obedience to church involvement and learning what spirituality meant as you matured as an adult? Perhaps you were coerced to join one of the groups like the Holy Name Society, or the Ladies of Charity if a woman. From there either of you would remain doing charity work and giving an example of your dedication to God’s Church.
But for some the attraction to move on to another affiliation prompted you to seek out a higher level of ministry (not that the original was any less important) that required more attendance of your time and energy. Does that mean you should keep on moving from one ministry to the next? Absolutely not. God will use your efforts to serve his church where you are able to use your individual gifts for the growth of evangelization.
Many times the experience you acquire in one level of ministry will prepare you for another which requires more responsibility and only because the previous position gave you the background to understand and perform the position that is now demanded of you.
As an example, my own life was exactly like the previous explanation. My first church related position was suggested to join the Holy Name society, then St. Vincent de Paul society. Eventually the diaconate opened up in Pittsburgh and after retirement I am still doing God’s will by writing. In each endeavor I saw how God’s grace uses our abilities to accept more responsibility as we move from one particular ministry to another. One thing I learned is when you are given greater responsibilities in one segment of ministry you are required to answer the accountability of your actions.
If you did a good or reliable action in some areas the praise of thanks from the pastor or other levels or heads in charge thanked you. When one receives the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the responsibility becomes more acute and the accountability presents an intense requirement and the judgment of God by accepting this grace is more than some may be able to perform.
It is a reminder that accepting the Sacrament of Holy Orders is not a prize given for dedication, it becomes a serious responsibility that means sacrifice and again accountability to God. This does not relieve others in church ministry from being accountable, but knowing all facts of ministry in the church are as important as Holy Orders. Each one will have their time to answer; “What did you do with the gifts you accepted for my people.”
Ralph B. Hathaway