The arrogance of the specialist in matters of faith is just an especially obdurate form of the blindness inherent in all arrogance. The faith that rediscovers the fresh water of God’s word in the desert of a godless world, in the empty conversations at fashionable spas, may be inferior to that of the specialist in the knowledge of biblical textual criticism, but it is often infinitely more clear-sighted as to what is actually to be drawn from this source. The weariness of the elder brother will always be there, but it must not lead to a stubbornness that is no longer capable of understanding the father’s wonderful words: “All I have is yours.” The priest must always be first in believing, but he must also be humble enough to receive and share the belief of others. he strengthens the others in their faith, but he also always receives faith from them. Consequently, it is never a foregone conclusion when we say: Only if we believe do we let God’s power enter into our world. The first “work” of the priest is to be a believer and to be so always anew and always more deeply. Faith is never present as a matter of course; it must be lived. It leads us into a conversation with God that includes both speaking and hearing. Faith and prayer belong inseparably together. The time a priest spends in prayer and in hearing the word of God is never at the expense of his pastoral duties to the souls confided to his care. People can tell if the words and actions of their pastor have their origin in his prayer or only at his writing table. Above all else, he must encourage his parishioners to pray, teach them to pray, and so commit them to God’s care. Here, too, there is, of course, a question of mutual exchange. Every prayer is a prayer in common with the whole praying Church, and a true hearing of the word of God can take place only in common with the whole listening Church.
From: Dresdner Katholikentreffen, July 10, 1987; Deuthsche Tagespost, Sept 19, 1987