Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests (Presbyterorum Ordinis)

The sharing of the word is done with practising and non-practising people and is presented in different ways and contexts. Preaching the word is one way of sharing the word. Priests preach at various times — the Sunday liturgy, at baptisms, weddings, funerals, prayer services of different kinds. As it says in n.4 of the decree: “In the Christian community, especially among those who seem to understand and believe little of what they practice, the preaching of the word is needed for the very ministering of the sacraments. They are precisely sacraments of faith, a faith which is born of and nourished by the word. This is especially true of the Liturgy of the Word in the celebration of Mass, in which the proclaiming of the death and resurrection of Christ is inseparably joined to the response of the people who hear, and to the very offering whereby Christ ratified the New Testament in his blood. In this offering the faithful are united both by their dispositions and by their discernment of the sacrament.”

It also refers to the preaching of the word to those who are not part of the faith community: “In areas or communities of non-Christians, the proclaiming of the Gospel draws people to faith and to the sacraments of salvation.” This would be most common in places where there are missionary priests and they are introducing the people to the Christian faith. Preaching and proclaiming are very precise terms and cover what happens in formal circumstances or unique circumstances when it comes to missionary work. The phrase ‘sharing the word’ can include more informal settings. In conversation with someone a priest can share the word depending on the topic of conversation and lead the person or persons they are conversing with to understand an aspect of the faith through using scripture as an example or as a template. There have been times when discussions have begun with people at Station Masses when they take the opportunity to ask a particular question and leads on to further exploration and the word, scripture, can be brought in to the conversation to highlight a point in relation to our faith. When visiting a classroom, especially in second level, to share the word in the conversation that may ensue can introduce young people to an aspect of faith that they have not heard of or explored, or help them understand something that they have come across that may not be in tandem with our faith but the don’t know why? ‘Sharing the word’ can help in times of uncertainty.