The Christian Priest Today:
The practicalities of being a priest, and the world priests live in, has changed since the 1970s when this book was written, but this book remains a treasured companion for many priests. Ramsey has the ability to articulate deep and important points in a few words, and this book is full of quotable sentences and paragraphs that bear meditating on. It is neither an exposition of a theology or theologies of priesthood, nor a practical guide to everyday life as a priest, but a personal testimony from a priest whose vocation is clear and runs deep. In general the assumption here is that a priest will be a parish priest, and this needs to be borne in mind by those discerning their vocation.
The Life and Work of a Priest:
Like Ramsey’s book (on which this book is to some extent modelled), this is written from the personal perspective of an experienced priest as a reflection on and guide to contemporary priesthood. This book is more up-to-date and also more practical, and it includes real-life stories to illustrate its points. It is a helpful introduction to what you might expect of life as a priest today. This book, too, assumes parish priest as the default ministry of an ordained priest, and readers should bear that in mind.
Steel Angels: The Personal Qualities of a Priest
Again written by an experienced priest, this book also includes stories of priestly ministry that enliven and ground it. It, too, is a meditation and reflection from a personal point of view, and it is particularly useful for those reflecting on the nine ‘criteria for selection’ for ordained ministry, because its chapters are structured around those criteria and help the reader to think about the implications of those criteria as they are lived out in the day to day life and work of a priest – particularly a parish priest.
Called or Collared: An Alternative Approach to Vocation
Hilary would recommend this to anyone considering their calling. Also written by an experienced priest, and containing plenty of reflection on that experience, this book is more systematic in avoiding the assumption that calling is to priesthood. Other books acknowledge this, but Dewar puts it front and centre.
He untangles different aspects of calling in a challenging and helpful way, identifying three calls: the general call, the calling to be a Christian, to follow Jesus and become a member of his body, the Church; the call to a role – which is defined more by others than by you and involves you fulfilling expectations, whether explicit or not; and your unique or personal vocation, something which is an expression of your nature and energy, of how God made you, and which God calls out from you to be a gift to others.
The Little Book of Prayer Experiments Miranda Threlfall-HolmesPrayer is crucial to anyone considering any vocation, because prayer is the conversation part of your relationship with God. It is at once the most natural and sometimes the hardest thing to do (Steven Croft). It is little wonder that many Christians struggle with prayer – the talking part of our relationships with flesh-and-blood people whom we love dearly can be difficult at times, let alone trying to talk with God, whom we can’t see or touch and who doesn’t speak to us in words the way a person would. This book grew from the success of a similar book for teenagers, and is particularly accessible, because it contains clearly explained guides to fourteen different ways of praying, and space for the reader to record how it went when they tried.
Being a Chaplin
Miranda Threlfall-Holmes and Mark Newitt
This book gives a practical guide to chaplaincy today. Chaplaincy is a growing ministry, and is increasingly practised by a mixture of ordained and lay people. This book considers its significance in the contemporary world as well as reflecting on its joys and challenges, using the experiences of chaplains in a variety of settings, hearing their stories and exploring their ministries. Even if you are not considering a call to chaplaincy, it is well worth knowing more about it, and this book is the place to start.
Reader Ministry Explored
Cathy Rowling and Paula Gooder
There are remarkably few books about Reader ministry, and this one seeks to fill that gap. It sits alongside Being a Chaplain and Pritchard’s The Life and Work of a Priest as a combination of practical guide with personal stories and some theological reflection. It is essential reading for anyone considering a vocation to Reader ministry.
Being Disciples: essentials of the Christian life
Whatever the specifics of our vocation, we are all called to be disciples, and this book is an excellent starting point for considering vocation. It starts from the experience of the person and asks the reader to explore relationship with God from a personal and prayerful perspective. If your sense of vocation is unfocused, this book may well be for you – not that it is guaranteed to provide the road-map for your future work, but that it will ground you in the basics of your Christian life and enable you to consider prayerfully what the implications of your relationship with God are on your daily life.