On the Catholic Priesthood

Sunday August 12, 2018

The Titles of a Catholic Priest.

1. He is a king, reigning not over unwilling subjects, but over the hearts and affections of his people.

2. He is a shepherd, because he leads his flock into the delicious pastures of the sacraments, and shelters them from the wolves that lie in wait for their souls.

3. He is a father, because he breaks the bread of life to his spiritual children whom he has begotten in Jesus through the Gospel.

4. He is a judge whose office it is to pass sentence of pardon on self-accusing sinners.

5. He is a physician because he heals their souls from the loathsome distempers of sin.

Cardinal James Gibbons.
Source: Our Church, Her Children and Institutions, 1908

Tuesday August 07, 2018

"Go Teach," Teach what?

“Go teach,” said Christ to His Apostles. Teach what? Not the opinions of Peter, James or John, not the sayings of Matthew, Philip or Bartholomew, not this or that system of belief, or these or those deductions of human reason; but “the things that I have commanded you.” And the command laid upon the twelve Apostles is still honored and obeyed by the priest in the Church of God. The priest, then, teaches, not in his own name, nor does he propose a doctrine thought out in deep study, but, “God exhorting through him” on account of his unity with the chair of Peter, he but echoes the divine voice, heard throughout Judea in the dawn of Chris­tianity. The priest speaks and the world listens, not because of his words of deep reasoning, nor on account of his faultless diction, nor because of his fervent eloquence, but because he speaks as one having authority, the authority given by Jesus to His Apostles, and by them transmitted to him.

Source: The Priesthood by Rev. M.S. Smith (The Homelitic Monthly and Pastoral Review, Trinity Sunday, May 1922)

Special thanks to Robert Olson

Monday August 06, 2018

The Catholic Priest

IT is quite generally believed that of all the mortals who journey through life’s weary pilgrimage, the Catholic priest is the most fortunate. For the priest, who is true to his exalted vocation, lives of the life of grace, has God as his portion in time and eternity, may well be envied. It is not, however, to the spiritual blessings enjoyed by the true priest men refer when calling him fortunate. “What a fine time the priest has,” says one, “plenty to eat and nothing to do.” Such is the popular view of priestly life. The real priest is a very different sort of man. The guide and ruler of his flock, his every word and act is closely observed. His most heroic acts of self-sacrifice and virtue pass unnoticed, his slightest imperfection is magnified and trumpeted abroad. Though he labors for years with the most disinterested zeal for the good of religion, depriving himself of the pittance to which he is entitled for his own support that the poor may be provided for and the faith preserved among the youth; though for long years he makes of himself a very martyr for the benefit of his people, if but one error of judgment be found in his life’s work, all the good effected is forgotten and his one mistake alone held in lasting remembrance. The approbation of men not being the object of the priest’s life, the world’s verdict matters little to him so long as he is conscious of having done his duty; nevertheless, men should endeavor to be just to one another, even in trivial matters.

The ideal priest has a pleasant life of it. He says his daily Mass, recites his office, amuses himself with the little children, visits his people, and lives to a ripe old age. No trouble, no labor of any kind. The real priest finds souls going to perdition for want of religious instruction. He must found and support Catholic schools. He finds the intemperate habits of the people undermining faith and proving a stumbling-block in the way of searchers after the truth. He must wage war against a powerful element among his flock. He finds family feuds of long standing to be overcome. There are perhaps several opposing factions in the congrega-tion. The church, through some cause or other, is burdened with debt, or stands in need of repairs. The poor of the parish must be attended to. Here is work enough to do, and done it must be. Money is needed to support the schools. The expenses of the church must be met and money is required wherewith to meet them. The poor must live, and money is necessary for their support. The orphans require aid. Again money is needed. As Catholic charity knows no limit, the real priest makes known to his people these various needs of religion, confident that many will heed his words and correspond with his wishes. But how many there are who seem to think that the priest is begging for himself when he appeals for money on these different occasions! Listen to some members of the congregation leaving the church on a Sunday after a “money-sermon” has been preached. We recently heard a young man, the recipient of many favors from his pastor, pouring forth his pent-up indignation because his good pastor had asked him to contribute a few dollars toward a charitable object. The ungrateful wretch could not understand what the priest did with all the money he received, though he understood very well that the priest had never received any money from him. This young man’s parents died when he was six years old, and the writer of this article knows for a positive fact that the priest’s money was once used for paying for food and clothing for this same young man. He was educated by his pastor, and it was owing to his influence that this young ingrate now holds a splendid position.

Busy days and often sleepless nights, financial difficulties, disappointments, misrepresentation, exposure to heat and cold and contagion—these are a few of the temporal blessings enjoyed by the priest here below. Add to these the fact that after a long life of usefulness one mistake may suffice to cast him adrift upon the world without means and without friends, and the life of the average priest appears in its true colors—a life of weary anxiety and suffering; a life awaiting no human reward, but expecting the reward of the life to come.

Source: Truth, (A Monthly Magazine for the Disseminatation of the Truth concerning the Doctrines, History, and Practices of the Catholic Church.) Published by The International Catholic Truth Society. Rev. Fr. Wm. F. McGinnins, D.D. Editor-in-Chief NY Vol. XIX. April, 1915 NO.4

Special thanks to Robert Olson

Sunday August 05, 2018

The Priest is a Man of God.

He, of all men, must be a man of faith, a man of sacrifice.

He must be a lover of God, a lover of God's people, the example of God's love for men. He bears faith to men, for he is the instrument through whom God works.

His faith should be full, it should be clearly defined, intelligently appreciated, and intelligently made known. He should be a man of faith, who believes in God in the full meaning of belief; who believes in his Church, in the teachings of the Fathers and Councils, who is loyal to his Bishop and the Holy See, who trusts implicitly in Providence.

His life should be above reproach, for he deals with sacred things, he handles holiness; he must be as Timothy, “Blameless, sober, prudent.”

Albertus Magnus and St. Thomas have said that no greater power or dignity than the power and dignity of consecrating the body of Christ was ever bestowed on man; and no greater sanctity or perfection can be conceived than the sanctity and perfection required for so divine an action, in the priest. To him, above all men, is said the word of Christ, “Be perfect, imitate Me, be My disciple.”

Woe to him, if by him any scandal comes.

To him is given power over the body of Christ, At his word, Christ the Lord comes in the sacrament of the Eucharist and dwells upon our altars to be the food and nourishment of our souls. By his acts, in conjunction with man's repentance, sins are remitted. In his hands, according to the scheme of salvation, are the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.

Oh, indeed he should be a man of faith!

Rt. Rev. T.J. Conaty, D.D.
Source: Our Church, Her Children and Institutions, 1908

Thursday August 02, 2018

Infallibility of the Pope

Some seem to think that the claim of infallibility for the Pope means that the Pope is never wrong and can never err as other people do. Every Pope is a free man, personally responsible for his own salvation, personally capable of obeying or transgressing the law of God. Christ has endowed the Popes with infallibility only in the teaching of Christ's doctrine, not in their personal lives.

So You May Know the Truth

Protection from error is received by the successors of Saint Peter, not for their own personal advantage but for the advantage of the Church. They are protected from error in teaching so that the followers of Christ will be protected from error in believing.

 It is given for the sake of the whole Church, in order that members of the Church throughout the world may always be preserved in the truth. It has nothing to do with the Pope's opinions or habits as an individual.

 It does not mean that the Pope is incapable of human weaknesses or shortcomings. Nor does it have anything to do with science, the state of the nation or the best way to build a house.

The Pope has no authority to invent new doctrine. He has no more authority to break a divine law or to distort a single word of Scripture than anyone else. His function is to hand down unchanged the divine truth revealed by God to all generations of men. In this alone is he infallible, as promised by Christ.

Sunday July 29, 2018

The Priest is a Father

The priest is a man of the people, a father, a friend, a guide, a defender. It is his duty to commend good, to denounce evil, to lead the people into virtue, to keep them from vice, to guard the fold from the ravening wolves, to feed the sheep with life-giving food, to train them in the ways that lead to strength and beauty of goodness.

What a work the Christian priesthood had done in the history of the world! It preached the Gospel to pagan Rome and Jewish Palestine, it converted Constantine and his empire; and evangelized the barbarians; it brought the Gospel of Christ to every nation; it built the Christian altar by the running brook, on the hillside and in the mountain fastness, that everywhere the people might have salvation; near the altar; it built the Christian school; it preserved letters and science, and civilized the world.

The saints of old, who taught men morality, established Christianity and ruled the Christian Church, were priests. The missionaries, who gave up life and its ambitions to consecrate themselves to the service of God, were saintly priests of the Christian Church. They built the Church of God into the life of every nation; they have brought the Church to this land and to our day. We are the successors to that same priesthood, and upon us falls the same responsibility.

The priest of today must be prepared to meet the exigencies of the times; he must have the spirit of his vocation and courage of his convictions, manfully and fearlessly standing for the truth. He is called to be a leader.

By Rt. Rev. Thomas. J. Conaty, D.D.
Source: Our Church, Her Children and Institutions, 1908