Priesthood and crisis are two words that appear to be very closely related. Or so it has seemed for the past thirty years and more. The crisis in the priestly ministry is constantly showing new sides, however--the issue of the priest's own self-understanding, for example, the interplay of the various different vocations within the Church, and the struggle, in the face of a plethora of different offices and ministries, to discern what constitutes the speci?c priestly dimension and identity.
Again and again, in his theological writings, Hans Urs von Balthasar has addressed the fundamental issues of office and ministry, of priesthood and discipleship. He has uncovered the foundations from a biblical and theological historical perspective and has offered answers to the current problems of priestly existence. This book presents the confrontation with relevant trends, and at the same time the opposing current generated by von Balthasar, since he does not follow popular positions but instead gives us the very core of the Gospel and of revelation, like rye bread.
In order to illuminate the spirituality and meaning of the life of the priest of today, von Balthasar goes back to the origins, to the apostles, to their calling, and above all to that moment from which their apostolic mission and their entire Christian existence originates, the Paschal mystery of Jesus. On the eve of his death, Jesus establishes the Eucharist and the priesthood; immediately after his Resurrection he bestows on the disciples the power to forgive sins, entrusts his sheep to Peter, and sends them out into the whole world.
Thus von Balthasar considers the life and mission of today's priests in continuity not only with the ?rst apostles, but above all, with Jesus himself. The person and mission of Jesus Christ stand at the center of priestly spirituality. Hence all the re?ections in this work revolve unswervingly around Jesus Christ and his mission. Jesus is the source and norm of priestly existence. Only when God, made manifest in the ?gure of the Savior Jesus Christ, is understood as the center from which this priestly existence springs, and only when this enduring center is proclaimed, can the bold presumption of the Lord in entrusting his mission to weak men be understood in con?dent trust and attract new followers, even in lean times.