In this third segment I will reflect on the priest as providing guidance to individuals in their lives of Faith. After 9/11 I had numerous conversations with people trying to understand where God might be found in this horrible event. Similar conversations happen during times of illness, job loss, grief, divorce and other family issues. It is always my fear that all I will have to offer is pious platitudes or some theological gibberish. Pat answers are inadequate as people are expressing their deepest thoughts and feelings about life’s difficult issues. Listening to and discerning the movement of the spirit is a struggle. Often times the priest needs to refer people to trained professionals who have more expertise than he possesses. Yet in making these referrals he does not abandon the individual.
Over the years I have found it helpful to consult with trained counselors and spiritual directors. I do not heal alone or minister alone. So many times a fellow priest or a counselor has given me valuable insights into the affairs of the heart. Often times I am asked to refer them to retreat centers, monasteries, spiritual directors. Knowing local resources is an important part of a priest’s ministry.
Fr. Bob Hawkins