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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended, 10 Mar. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Christian Priest Today (Paperback)
I first discovered this book something like 5 years ago. At the time, I was seriously considering joining the priesthood but, despite my aspirations, I still had doubts. This book was a revelation.
It is essentially broken down into separate chapters, each one dealing with a particular aspect. Each chapter is in fact, an address made by Archbishop Ramsey to ordination candidates, on the eve of their ordination.
It provides a clear cut, incisive guide to the inherent duties of a priest, to what it really means to be a priest. After reading this, you can be in no doubt as to exactly what is expected of you, and what you should expect.
The subject is explored, chapter by chapter, and evolves into an all encompassing appraisal of the priest's role, in the modern world.
This is a truly inspirational book, one that will be read and re-read over the years. I know, I've read it 3 times now over the last 5 years, (I'm just about to re-read it yet again) and have found it just as inspiring on each reading.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughts about vocation, 27 May 2005
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Christian Priest Today (Paperback)
As I reflect on the different things that led me here, and the experiences I have had in the few years since my ordination, I thought that Michael Ramsey's The Christian Priest Today would be a worthwhile text to read and contemplate.
'Today' for Ramsey is not in fact today--the book is derived from lectures first published in 1972, and revised again in 1985. These are available in a slim volume published in the United States by the Cowley Press, well known for liturgical and theological works. Michael Ramsey was Archbishop of Canterbury, and one of the men to have held that job in the last century particularly noted for his theological ability. (Most, but not all, have been regarded as theologically unsophisticated and lackluster -- William Temple is another exception to this rule.)
Ramsey credits Karl Rahner and Edward Schillebeeckx as particularly valuable theological mentors; interesting intellectual friends, given that both were Roman Catholics. Ramsey also gives mention to the influence of Henry Chadwick, Richard Baxter and P.T. Forsyth. It is gratifying for the theological scholar to have such influences noted up front, so that further research can be carried out and the guessing game of 'where did he find that?' is made much less mysterious.
Ramsey begins the book by talking about the general decline in Christendom, and the decline in particular societies of religious sentiment and affinity. However, he also notes that `...there are priests and would-be priests as devoted and as intelligent as at any time in history. This book is designed to hearten them and to help them in their understanding of their calling.`
It is for this reason that I consider it a valuable aid for reflection at this anniversary date of my own ordination. Ramsey discusses the tensions that exist for priests: the tension between this-worldliness and other-worldliness; the problem between varying kinds and tempers of biblical interpretation; the difficulty of maintain a balance between traditions and modernity.
Ramsey's lectures are short and practical -- how to preach God today; how to preach Jesus today; the priest and politics; the priest as a person of prayer. These are all insightful snapshots of key issues that should be of concern to the priest, who is very easily distracted by the day-to-day cares of a parish or, in the cases of those of us who do not run parishes, in the rush of doing a 'real' job while also trying to give pastoral care to appointed communities.
Ramsey warns against a clerical hubris that seems to permeate the clergy of many denominations, but particularly those who have strong hierarchical markers. He urges humility that is ever-present in the gospel messages, especially the gospel of ordination.
By your humility, you will prove that the authority entrusted to you is really Christ's.... Everyone possessing authority is liable to become bossy and overbearing.... Everyone possessing privilege and security is liable to a subtle worldly enjoyment.
Perhaps the most important chapter to me is the one entitled The God Who Calls, as it helped me clarify what I was being called to do, and how to navigate out of the church in which I had found myself blocked. Ironic that an Archbishop of Canterbury should help me leave the local incarnation of the Anglican church. However, I had been blocked by personalities without explanation for many years, one person of whom even stated that, with firm conviction, that the process for finding and ordaining priests is an infallible one, as God doesn't make mistakes.
I found in the words of Ramsey (a much better authority than this misguided cleric) my redemption:
'"Is this man truly called?" The Church has its procedures for deciding the acceptance or otherwise of a person for ordination to the priesthood. Here, if mistakes are made (and there can be no infallibilism) there may be confusion of the two questions. The one question is whether X has been called by God and wants to respond to the call. The other question is whether X looks like the sort of person we want as a priest in our Church.'
It became clear to me that it wasn't that God wasn't calling me to the priesthood, but rather that for fairly prejudicial reasons, the Episcopal church in which I found myself didn't think I 'looked' like a priest of the sort they wanted.
So the God who calls and is the author of our vocation is the God whose theology we study and teach, and the God who never ceases to be with us as we make him known.
I have followed this God into uncharted territory, but still find support in the intellectual and spiritual grounding of my Anglican heritage, regardless of my official status with another church.
Ramsey ends on a note of hope, community, and inclusiveness. The priest, in the church and without, is called to empower all people. Ramsey anticipates the later developments of theologians in the anglo-catholic traditions of recapturing a sense of the priesthood of all believers and making it whole and important to the life of the church. This is a development of which I am fully in accord, and see in Ramsey's messages to new priests and priests-to-be words that can reinvigorate my own ministry.
This is not a book just for clerics, however. It is written with the intention of being useful to any who look for a deeper relationship with the church. It is very anglo-catholic; protestants from traditions that do not have strong hierarchies may have trouble internalising some of the chapters as useful to them. However, each of the chapters is short and meant to be taken as a piece of a larger whole while also being able to stand alone as a useful offering of wisdom.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catholically Anglican, 13 Mar. 2009
S. Davies "swjdavies" (East Anglia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Christian Priest Today (Paperback)
This is a really good book. It contains a selection of essays and letters by the archbishop to ordinands in the Anglican communion. He covers various 'big' aspects of ordained ministry. Being an Anglican book, I thought, as a Catholic, it would be useless, and though he does point out the differences in areas (e.g. confession) he writes from a very Catholic perspective.

A good book for reflections on priestly ministry.
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The Christian Priest Today
The Christian Priest Today by Michael Ramsey (Paperback - 14 Nov. 1985)
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