Food plays an essential role in our priestly ministries
Fr. Leo Patalinghug

The Catholic Church’s shepherds have one task: to feed their flocks. In a way, it’s that simple.

If priests feed their flocks well by leading them to verdant pastures and still waters with dynamic homilies that nourish the soul, feeding their minds with inspirational messages and providing a festive approach to a person in search for God, then the flock will be less inclined to wander far from the fold. If the pastor is good at shepherding, the sheep usually responds to his voice — even when he’s asking for extra donations for some church project.

Priests who work in the vineyard, and even those who “smell” like their sheep, know that feeding the sheep is not that easy. It’s similar to a parent trying to feed junk-food-addicted children a bowl of spinach. On a practical level, priests may want to spend that time educating and inspiring people, but they just don’t have time to do that with all the administration. And, unfortunately, it can be very discouraging to see how RCIA numbers don’t compare to those who leave the Church.

But there is hope in helping priests to feed the flock! It’s called a “theology of food”! It’s an invitation for shepherds to return to the basics of their calling: feed their flock! I don’t want to oversimplify the priests’ responsibilities, but I certainly don’t want to complicate it either. So, let’s chew on this Theology of Food, especially since Jesus reveals himself in the edible elements of bread and wine.

By way of introduction to a theology of food, we can simply say, priesthood and food go hand in hand.

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