, by Mary L. Gautier, Paul M. Perl, and Stephen J. Fichter. Liturgical Press (Collegeville, Minn., 2012). 244 pp., $24.95 PB.
, by Patrick Bergquist. Liturgical Press (Collegeville, Minn., 2010). 144 pp., $16.95 PB.
It was by accident that this reviewer picked up Same Call, Different Men: The Evolution of the Priesthood Since Vatican II by Mary L. Gautier, Paul M. Perl, and Stephen J. Fichter, and The Long Dark Winter’s Night by Patrick Bergquist. The former had just arrived, and the latter had been sitting on the to-be-read shelf for a few years.
Same Call, as the introduction states, “is the latest in a long line of research on priestly life and ministry in the United States that stretches back some 40 years and involves five major surveys of priests.” The surveys were conducted in 1970, 1985, 1993, 2001, and 2009.
This book brings together the research garnered from all the surveys and presents the results in text and in tables. The text is easy to read, and the tables are easy to understand. The reader must keep in mind that this work is a narrative of survey results and can get very uninteresting at times!
Chapters include: “Demographic Changes and Changes in Priestly Ministry,” “Satisfaction in Priestly Life and Ministry,” “Challenges in Priestly Life and Ministry,” “Collaboration in Ministry,” ‘The Multicultural Reality of Priestly Ministry Today, “Effects of the Sexual Abuse Scandal,” “The Sexual Abuse Scandal and the Stories of Nine Priests,” “Looking to the Future: Who Is Encouraging the Next Generation of Priests?”
Long Dark Winter’s Night consists of Alaskan priest Father Patrick Bergquist’s reflections on the sexual abuse scandal. Throughout the book, he explores the metaphor of a long dark winter’s night to reflect upon the repercussions of the sexual abuse scandal.
Bergquist, serving in Fairbanks when he wrote this book, states that, “As the current clergy sex abuse crisis and scandal in the Roman Catholic Church continues to linger and linger on, much like the long winter’s night, I wonder how many of us have been tempted to the very same — to wrap ourselves in the warm blanket of tradition and memory, all safe and secure, reading and reading through the stories of how wonderful things used to be, just biding our time, marking our place, hoping for spring.”
While the tone of the book is very serious and dark, the reflections from Bergquist’s heart mirror those of many other active priests who have to deal with the reality of the sexual abuse crisis.
On a more positive note, there is Gerhard Lohfink’s Jesus of Nazareth: What He Wanted, Who He Was (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2012). This reviewer has read many books on the historical Jesus, but this one is the best. Why? Lohfink states, “The Jesus tradition is grounded in the interpretive community that is ‘church.’”
And so Lohfink begins his investigation of the historical Jesus with faith. “Faith always includes knowledge;” he states, “it includes recognition.” He adds, “Faith is true knowledge, true recognition, but a recognition of a different kind from that which analyzes, that is, literally, ‘dissolves.’”
Jesus preached the reign of God now. Lohfink argues that “the ‘not yet’ of the reign of God is brought about not by God’s hesitation but by the hesitance of human beings to turn their lives around.” He adds, “People prefer not to let God get too close. They would rather dance at their own weddings than at the one to which God is inviting them.”
Further, “The reign of God demands a change of rulership that human beings must carry out. It demands letting go and self-surrender. The reign of God does not come without pure receiving, and that receiving is also always an acceptance of suffering.”