Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Review: The Priest as Beloved Son

The stack of books I'm trying to read is much larger than what my calendar allows for. When I do actually finish a book though, I want to use the blog to tell you what I thought about it. I'm happy to lend this or any other book in my library if you live near me and don't look like a hooligan.

The Priest as Beloved Son was given to me by Deacon Andrew Kinstetter as a birthday gift. He said it helped him immensely in his journey through seminary and so he wanted to pass it along to me.

The idea of beloved sonship is something that is gaining a lot of traction in seminary formation. If priests are configured to Christ, then they need to see themselves as beloved just as Christ saw himself as beloved. This is an indispensable aspect of priesthood because it allows the priest to find value and self-worth through who he is rather than what he does. As a priest, I love offering the Sacrifice of the Mass for the sake of my people. I love helping people and I am honored when people entrust their burdens to me. Like any basically good-hearted person, I derive a holy self-satisfaction from getting to help people with their burdens.

But that isn't where I should primarily derive my sense of self-worth. My self-worth, that deep heart-felt knowledge that I am good, shouldn't come from what I do. It should come from who I am. But if it's to come from who I am, then the identity of who I am can't be entirely derived from myself, because I know myself to be a sinner. My identity, who I am, is something I have to receive from God, and that's where the identity of Beloved Son comes in. I am beloved by God, and that love gives me my identity and my self-worth.

A priest identifies as a beloved son in a unique way, but it's something all Christians need to grow into: we all need to see ourselves as beloved sons and daughters of God. In the western world especially, where we derive great value from what we do, we need to understand that our primary value comes from simply being loved by God. If you grow in filial identity, it won't make you more productive or fix all the problems in your life, but it will add a deep and unshakable value to how you perceive yourself because your identity will be fixed in the Father who loves you.

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