Friday, December 21, 2012

Book Review: Strengthen Your Brothers

Those of us in ordained ministry, whether deacons, priests, or bishops need inspiration, encouragement, advice, and comfort. Ministry is a very difficult vocation which comes with a lot of trials, tribulations, challenges and choices. Every day we fight isolation, despondency, being overworked, and barraged with emails or phone calls. How to deal with all of this?

Thanks to the latest publication from Liturgical Press we have a very good resource for those of us in pastoral ministry.

Strengthen Your Brothers: Letters of Encouragement from an Archbishop to His Priests is by J. Peter Sartain, the current Archbishop of Seattle.

Several years ago he began writing regular letters to his priests as a away not just to keep them informed of events and projects in his diocese but as a way to keep in touch with them. After all a bishop is supposed to be a "pastor of pastors" which unfortunately isn't always the case. Too often bishops are far removed from their clergy.

This book is divided into three sections:

Priestly Identity in Christ 

Priestly Practicalities 

Priestly Prayer 

Of all the sections I found the second one to be the most inspirational since it is here in the day to day ins and outs of ministry which I find the most challenging. In this section he covers topics such as gossip, loving difficult people, maintaing faith in dark times, and overcoming isolation and lonliness. The short chapters can be read in a few minutes but really they could take hours or days to reflect on each one.

I liked the fact that Archbishop Sartain spoke from his heart and included not just personal stories but also stories from the desert fathers, modern writers such as the famous Jesuit Walter Ciszek and Church Doctors like Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.

The hardcover edition makes this a special volume as well.

For more information about Strengthen Your Brothers click here