I don't know how many of our Bishops - or priests - have published or are about to publish books on the Priesthood during this Year of the Priest, but one of the auxiliary Bishops of Sydney has done just that.
Bishop Julian Porteous has just published the book "After the heart of God", about the life and ministry of Priests at the beginning of the Third Millennium. After a brief appraisal, at the start of the book, of the changes in the Church in recent decades and their influence upon priests, the reader senses a shift to a level of undertanding and proclamation about the nature of the priesthood which we have previously glimpsed and overheard in the life and teaching of the both the late and the present Holy Father.
This is a book written by a Bishop who lives, breathes and desires a renewed Priesthood. The Priesthood, he says, "is more than a function: it is a radical re-orienting of the whole reality of the person. He is changed at the level of his being." The author presents, simply and clearly, a whole panorama of the life and identity of the Diocesan Priest, and he does so using the language of the New Evangelisation. Implicit in the book is a call for a renewed Priesthood - an essential ingredient of the New Evangelisation.
Bishop Porteous speaks particularly powerfully about Priestly fraternity as a basis for the daily mission of the priest. He renews the call for priests to make the preaching of the Gospel their primary focus, and for priests to become missionaries not managers.
This is a book which I would recommend to priests, to seminarians, to young men who are discerning a vocation, as well as lay people who themselves look to better undertand the nature and challenges of the Priesthood at this moment in history and who, in this Year of the Priest, wish to better support their own priests who live their lives "in the sanctuary of the Catholic faith."
Thank you Bishop Porteous for this immensely encouraging book - a book whose language, style and message has flowed out of your own priestly heart.