The CAPG's Blog
Saturday in Ember Week of Advent:
Blessed art Thou, Lord God of our fathers, praised above all, renowned above all for ever;
Blessed is Thy holy and glorious name, praised above all, renowned above all for ever.
Blessed art Thou, who reignest on Thy kingly throne, praised above all, renowned above all for ever.
Blessed art Thou, who art throned above the cherubim, and gazest down
into the depths, praised above all, renowned above all for ever.
Blessed art Thou, high in the vault of heaven, praised above all, renowned above all for ever.
Then they cried out upon all things the Lord had made, to bless him, and praise him, and extol his name for ever.
The Sufferings of Mary as Co-Redemptrix
"O Mother of pity and of mercy who, while thy sweetest Son was bringing about the Redemption of the human race on the altar of the Cross, didst stand next to Him, as a Co-redemptrix, suffering with Him...; preserve in us, we beseech thee, and increase day by day, the precious fruit of His Redemption and thy Compassion."
Pope Piux XI, April 28 1935
The Sufferings of Mary as Co-Redemptrix
How Did Mary Make Satisfaction For us?
The purpose of satisfaction is to repair the offense offered to God and to make Him once more favorable to the sinner. The offense offered by mortal sin has about it a certain infinity, since offense is measured by the dignity of the person offended. Mortal sin, by turning the sinner away from God, his final end, denies in practice to God His infinite rights as the Supreme Good and destroys His reign in souls.
It follows from this that only the Incarnate Word could offer to the Father perfect and adequate satisfaction for the offense of mortal sin. For satisfaction to be perfect, it must proceed from a love and oblation which are as pleasing to God as, or more pleasing than, all sins united are displeasing to Him. But every act of charity elicited by Jesus had these qualities for His Divine Person gave them infinite satisfactory and meritorious value. A meritorious work becomes satisfactory (or one of reparation and expiation) when there is something painful about it. Hence, in offering His life in the midst of the greatest physical and moral sufferings, Jesus offered satisfaction of an infinite and superabundant value to His Father. He alone could make satisfaction in strict justice since the value of satisfaction like that of merit comes from the person, and the Person of Jesus, being divine, was of infinite dignity.
It was, however, possible to associate a satisfaction of becomingness (de congruo) to Jesus' satisfaction, just as a merit of becomingness was associated to His merit. In explaining this point, we shall show all the more clearly the depth and extent of Mary's sufferings.
Mary offered for us a satisfaction of becomingness (de convenientia) which was the greatest in value after that of her Son.
When a meritorious work is in some way painful it has value as satisfaction as well. Thus theologians commonly teach, following upon what has been explained in the previous section, that Mary satisfied for all sins de congruo in everything in which Jesus satisfied de condigno. Mary offered God a satisfaction which it was becoming that He should accept: Jesus satisfied for us in strict justice.
As Mother of the Redeemer, Mary was closely united to Jesus by perfect conformity of will, by humility, by poverty, by suffering— and most particularly by her compassion on Calvary. That is what is meant when it is said that she offered satisfaction along with Him. Her satisfaction derives its value from her dignity as Mother of God, from her great charity, from the fact that there was no fault in herself which needed to be expiated, and from the intensity of her sufferings.
The Fathers treat of this when they speak of Mary " standing " at the foot of the Cross, as St. John says (John xix, 25). They recall the words of Simeon, "Thy own soul a sword shall pierce " and they show that Mary suffered in proportion to her love for her crucified Son; in proportion also to the cruelty of His executioners, and the atrocity of the torments inflicted on Him Who was Innocence itself. The liturgy also has taught many generations of the faithful that Mary merited the title of Queen of Martyrs by her most painful martyrdom of heart. That is the lesson of the Feasts of the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin and of the Seven Dolors, as well as of the Stabat Mater.
Leo XIII summed up this doctrine in the statement that Mary was associated with Jesus in the painful work of the redemption of mankind. Pius X calls her " the repairer of the fallen world " and continues to show how she was united to the priesthood of her Son: " Not only because she consented to become the mother of the only Son of God so as to make sacrifice for the salvation of men possible, but also in the fact that she accepted the mission of protecting and nourishing the Lamb of sacrifice, and when the time came led Him to the altar of immolation— in this also must we find Mary's glory. Mary's community of life and sufferings with her Son was never broken off. To her as to Him may be applied the words of the prophet: My life is passed in dolor and my days in groaning. To conclude this list of Papal pronouncements we may refer to the words of Benedict XV: "In uniting herself to the Passion and Death of her Son she suffered almost unto death; as far as it depended on her, she immolated her Son, so that it can be said that with Him she redeemed the human race ".
The Depth and Fruitfulness of Mary's Sufferings as Co-Redemptrix
Mary's sufferings have the character of satisfaction from the fact that like Jesus and in union with Him, she suffered because of sin or of the offense it offers to God. This suffering of hers was measured by her love of God Whom sin offended, by her love of Jesus crucified for our sins, and by her love of us whom sin had brought to spiritual ruin. In other words, it was measured by her fullness of grace, which had never ceased to increase from the time of the Immaculate Conception. Already Mary had merited more by the easiest acts than the martyrs in their torments because of her greater love. What must have been the value of her sufferings at the foot of the Cross, granted the understanding she then had of the mystery of the Redemption !
In the spiritual light which then flooded her soul, Mary saw that all souls are called to sing the glory of God. Every soul is called, to be as it were a ray of the divinity, a spiritual ray of knowledge and love, for our minds are made to know God and our wills to love Him. But though the heavens tell God's glory unfailingly, thousands of souls turn from their Creator. Instead of that divine radiation, instead of God's exterior glory and His Kingdom, there are found in countless souls the three wounds called by St. John: the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life: living as if there were no desirable love except carnal love, no glory except that of fame and honor, and no Lord and Master, no end, except man himself.
Mary saw all that evil, all those wounds in souls, just as we see the evils and wounds of bodies. Her fullness of grace had given her an immense capacity to suffer from the greatest of evils: sin. She suffered as much as she loved God and souls: God offended by sin and souls whom it rendered worthy of eternal damnation. Most of all did Mary see the crime of deicide prepared in hearts and brought to execution : she saw the terrible paroxysm of hatred of Him Who is the Light and the Author of salvation.
To understand her sufferings, we must think too of her love, both natural and supernatural, of her only Son Whom she not only loved but, in the literal sense of the term, adored since He was her God. She had conceived Him miraculously. She loved Him with the love of a virgin — the purest, richest and most tender charity that has ever been a mother's. Nor was her grief diminished by ignorance of anything that might make it more acute. She knew the reason for the crucifixion. She knew the hatred of the Jews, His chosen people — her people. She knew that it was all for sinners.
From the moment when Simeon foretold the Passion — already so clearly prophesied by Isaias — and her compassion, she offered and did not cease to offer Him Who would be Priest and Victim, and herself in union with Him. This painful oblation was renewed over years. Of old, an angel had descended to prevent Abraham's immolation of his son Isaac. But no angel came to prevent the immolation of Jesus.
In his sermon on the Compassion of Our Lady, we read the following magnificent words of Bossuet: " It is the will of the Eternal Father that Mary should not only be immolated with the Innocent Victim and nailed to the Cross by the nails that pierce Him, but should as well be associated with the mystery which is accomplished by His death . . . Three things occur in the sacrifice of Our Savior and constitute its perfection. There are the sufferings by which His humanity was crushed. There is His resignation to the will of His Father by which He humbly offered Himself. There is the fruitfulness by which He brings us to the life of grace by dying Himself. He suffers as a victim who must be bruised and destroyed. He submits as a priest who sacrifices freely; voluntarie sacrificabo tibi (Ps liii, 8). Finally He brings us to life by His sufferings as the Father of a new people . . . "Mary stands near the Cross. With what eyes she contemplates her Son all covered with blood, all covered with wounds, in form now hardly a man! The sight is enough to cause her death. If she draws near to that altar, it is to be immolated there: and there, in fact, does she feel Simeon's sword pierce her heart . . . " But did her dolors overcome her, did her grief cast her to the ground? Stabat juxta crucem: she stood by the Cross. The sword pierced her heart but did not take away her strength of soul: her constancy equals her affliction, and her face is the face of one no less resigned than afflicted. "What remains then but that Jesus Who sees her feel His sufferings and imitate His resignation should have given her a share in His fruitfulness. It is with that thought that He gave her John to be her son: Woman, behold thy son. Woman, who suffer with me, be fruitful with me, be the mother of my children whom I give you unreservedly in the person of this disciple; I give them life by my sufferings, and sharing in the bitterness that is mine your affliction will make you fruitful."
In the sermon, of which the paragraphs I have quoted are the opening, Bossuet develops the three main points outlined and shows that Mary's love for Jesus was enough to make her a martyr: " One Cross was enough for the well-beloved Son and the mother." She is nailed to the Cross by her love for Him. Without a special grace she would have died of her agony.
Mary gave birth to Jesus without pain: but she brings the faithful forth in the most cruel suffering. "At what price she has bought them! They have cost her her only Son. She can be mother of Christians only by giving her Son to death. O agonizing fruitfulness! It was the will of the Eternal Father that the adoptive sons should be born by the death of the True Son. What man would adopt at this price and give his son for the sake of strangers? But that is what the Eternal Father did. We have Jesus' word for it: God so loved the world as to give His only begotten Son (John iii, 16).
" (Mary) is the Eve of the New Testament and the mother of all the faithful; but that is to be at the price of her First-born. United to the Eternal Father she must offer His Son and hers to death. It is for that purpose that providence has brought her to the foot of the Cross. She is there to immolate her Son that men may have life . . . She becomes mother of Christians at the cost of an immeasurable grief ..." We should never forget what we have cost Mary. The thought will lead to true contrition for our sins. The regeneration of our souls has cost Jesus and Mary more than we can ever think.
We may conclude this section by noting that Mary the Co-Redemptrix has given us birth at the foot of the Cross by the greatest act of faith, hope and love that was possible to her on such an occasion. One may even say that her act of faith was the greatest ever elicited, since Jesus had not the virtue of faith but the beatific vision. In that dark hour when the faith of the apostles themselves seemed to waver, when Jesus seemed vanquished and his work annihilated, Mary did not cease for an instant to believe that her Son was the Savior of mankind and that in three days, He would rise again as He had foretold.
When He uttered His last words " It is consummated" Mary understood in the fullness of her faith that the work of salvation had been accomplished by His most painful immolation. The evening before Jesus had instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice and the christian priesthood; she sees now something of the influence the sacrifice of the Cross will exercise. She knows that Jesus is the true Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world, that He is the conqueror of sin and the demon, and that in three days He will conquer death, sin's consequence. She sees the hand of God where even the most believing see only darkness and desolation. Hers was the greatest act of faith ever elicited by a creature, a faith higher than that of the angels when they were as yet in their period of trial.
Calvary saw too her supreme act of hope at a moment when everything seemed lost. She grasped the force of the words spoken to the good thief: "This day thou Shalt be with me in paradise"; heaven, she realized, was about to be open for the elect.
It was finally her supreme act of charity : so to love God as to offer His only Son in the most painful agony: to love God above everything at the moment when He tried her in the highest and deepest of her loves, even in the object of her adoration — and that because of our sins.
It is true that the theological virtues grew in Mary up to the time of her death, for these acts of faith, hope and charity were not broken off but continued in her as a kind of state. They even expanded in the succeeding calm, like a river which becomes more powerful and majestic as it nears the ocean. The point which theology wishes to stress is not that of Mary's subsequent growth in the virtues but the equality between her sacrifice and her merits at the foot of the Cross itself: both her sacrifice and her merits were of inestimable value and their fruitfulness, while not approaching that of Christ's sacrifice and merits, surpasses anything the human tongue can utter. Theologians express this by saying that Mary made satisfaction for us de congruo, in proportion to her immense charity, while Jesus made satisfaction de condigno.
Even the saints who have been most closely associated with the sufferings of the Savior did not enter as Mary did into the most secret depths of the Passion. St. Catherine de Ricci had every Friday during twelve years an ecstasy of pain which lasted twenty-eight hours and during which she lived over again all the sufferings of the way of the Cross. But even such sufferings fell far short of those of Mary. Mary's heart suffered in sympathy with all the agony of the Sacred Heart to such a point that she would have died of the experience had she not been especially strengthened.
Thereby she became the consoler of the afflicted, for she had suffered more than all, and patroness of a happy death. We have no idea how fruitful these sufferings of hers have been during twenty centuries.
Mary's Participation as Co-Redemptrix in the Priesthood of Christ.
Though Mary may be termed Co-Redemptrix in the sense we have explained, there can be no question of calling her a priest in the strict sense of the word since she has not received the priestly character and cannot offer Holy Mass nor give sacramental absolutism. But, as we have seen already, her divine maternity is a greater dignity than the priesthood of the ordained priest in the sense that it is more to give Our Savior His human nature than to make His body present in the Blessed Eucharist. Mary has given us the Priest of the sacrifice of the Cross, the Principal Priest of the sacrifice of the Mass and the Victim offered on the altar.
It is more also, and more perfect, to offer her only Son and her God on the Cross as Mary did, by offering herself with Him in community of suffering, than to make the body of Our Lord present and to offer It on the altar as the priest does at Holy Mass.
We must affirm, too, as has recently a careful theologian who has devoted years to the study of these questions that "it is a certain theological conclusion that Mary co-operated in some way in the principal act of Jesus' priesthood, by giving, as the divine plan required, her consent to the sacrifice of the Cross as it was accomplished by the Savior. In another context he writes: "If we consider only certain immediate effects of the priest's action such as the Eucharistic consecration or the remission of sins in the sacrament of penance, it is true that the priest can do certain things which Mary, not having the priestly power, cannot. But to look at the matter so is not to compare dignities but merely particular effects which are produced by a power which Mary lacks and which do not necessarily indicate a higher dignity".
But even if Mary cannot, for the reasons given, be spoken of as priest in the strict sense of the term, it remains true, as M. Olier has said, that she has received the fullness of the spirit of the priesthood, which is the spirit of Christ the Redeemer. That is the reason why she is called Co-Redemptrix, a title which, like that of Mother of God, implies a higher dignity than that of the christian priesthood.
Mary's participation in the immolation and oblation of Jesus, Priest and Victim, cannot be better summed up than in the words of the Stabat Mater of the Franciscan Jacopone de Todi (1228-1306).
The Stabat Mater manifests in a singularly striking manner that supernatural contemplation of the mystery of Christ crucified is part of the normal way of holiness. In precise and ardent words it speaks of the wounding of the Savior's Heart and shows the intimate and persuasive manner in which Mary leads us to Him. Not only does Mary lead us to the divine intimacy, in a sense she produces it in us- that is what the repetition of the imperative " Fac " in the following strophes brings out:
Eia Mater, fons amoris,
Me sentire vim doloris
Fac, ut tecum lugeam.
O Thou Mother! Fount of Love!
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with thine accord!
Fac ut ardeat cor meum
In amando Christum Deum,
Ut sibi complaceam.
Make me feel as thou hast felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ my Lord.
Fac ut portem Christi mortem,
Passionis fac corsortem
Et plagas recolere.
Let me, to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of thine.
Fac me plagis vulnerari
Fac me cruce inebriari,
Et cruore Filii.
Wounded with His every wound,
Steep my soul till it hath swoon'd
In His very blood away.
— Fr. Caswall
This is the prayer of a soul which, under a special 'inspiration, wishes to know in a spiritual way the wound of love and to be associated in these painful mysteries of adoring reparation as were John and the holy women on Calvary — and Peter, too, when he shed his bitter tears. Those tears of adoration and sorrow are what the Stabat asks for in the following strophes:
Fac me tecum pie flere,
Donee ego vixero.
Let me mingle tears with thee,
Mourning Him who mourn'd for me,
All the days that I may live.
Juxta crucem tecum stare,
Et me tibi sociare
In planctu desidero.
By the cross with thee to stay.
There with thee to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of thee to give.
— Fr. Caswall
Mary exercised therefore a universal mediation on earth by meriting de congruo all that Jesus merited de condigno and also by making similar satisfaction in union with Him.
Source: The Mother of the Savior and our interior Life by Garrigou Lagrange, O.P
The priest should attract others to the priesthood by his own personality. He should strive to live a life so truly Christ-like that his character will be manifest as being beautifully and delightfully Catholic. The young love to see realized in themselves an ideal. Hence there is no doubt that the number of those entering the priesthood would be doubled, even trebled, if we who are now living the priestly life would endeavor scrupulously and continually to live before God and man as "other Christs." Then the young would be filled with respect, reverence, and love for the priest and his sacred office; and, drawn by personal attraction, they would feel a yearning desire to become like unto us.
Archbishop Lynch of Toronto used to say: " The average priest secures the salvation of five thousand souls." The more thoroughly and minutely this statement is examined, the more manifest becomes its truthfulness. Hence the priest who secures but one successor to his sacred office has a perennial source of hope and consolation during his declining years, such as is particularly inspiring at the moment of death. But, why should any priest rest content with having secured one? The more the better. It is related of an aged and venerable priest of Orleans, France, that when about to die he gave expression to this beautiful thought: "I am eighty-three and shall soon die. I have not done all the good I would, but one thing consoles me - I leave after me thirty-three priests whom I have formed to the ecclesiastical state; they will do better than I have done."
Some years later, one of these thirty-three, on the occasion of his silver jubilee to the priesthood, had gathered around him twenty-five other priests, whose vocations to the religious state he in turn had fostered. To him his pastor had said on the day of ordination: "Always have pupils in your presbytery; you will be their angel, and they will be yours." (Quest on Vocations.) Would that God might inspire more to emulate the zeal of such priests as these.
Comparatively few dioceses can be found which are not in actual need of more religious workers who have consecrated their lives to the service of Christ. Pastors are petitioning the various religious communities for Sisters and Brothers to teach in the parish schools. Bishops, especially those of the West and South, as also of our newly acquired possessions in the Orient, are appealing for priests to take charge of missionary work. "Send us priests, wise zealous, holy priests," comes as a cry almost universal. Vast multitudes in every land are groping amid the darkness of error and in the shadows of death, seeking for some one to lead them forth into the light of truth and unto the life of Christ. This need is both instant and imperative, and unless there are found some followers of Christ, ardently devoted to His Church and nobly obedient to His call, who will voluntarily offer themselves for this service and consecrate their lives to this endeavor, these benighted ones, so unfortunate in their error, so well disposed for the right, so precious in the sight of God, will continue, in all probability, to search in vain for the way of salvation; and at least many of them, will be lost.
"The harvest indeed is great but the laborers are few." The work to be done is the work of Christ. He is present all days, directing an assisting and blessing. He calls for help. He chooses some favored ones from among His followers and commands them to go forth into the highways and byways and search our laborers and bring them into His vineyard. Some are found who leave this command practically unheeded, not from malice, but rather because they do not thoroughly realize how intense is the desire of Christ for additional laborers in His work and how dire is the need of the Church at the present time for their consecrated service. Thrice blessed, therefore, and well assured of eternal happiness is the priest who can truthfully say at the hour of death: "I shall soon die; I have not done all the good I would, but one thing consoles me - I leave after me others whom I have formed to the priestly life; they will do better than I have done. "
Ember Days: Fall Wednesday Sept. 18
Let us, therefore, revive Embers days!
Let us again pray, fast, and abstain for more faithful priests!
"The Observance of ember-days is of great antiquity in the Church.
Their connection with the ordination of the ministers of religion
renders them particularly worthy the regard of the faithful. We cannot
be too deeply impressed with the blessing granted a people, whose
priests are according to Godʼs own heart. To obtain such, no humiliation
should be deemed too great; no supplication should be neglected. Whilst
therefore we thank God for
the fruits of the earth, and humble ourselves for the sins we have
committed, we should beg
God to supply his Church with worthy pastors."
St. Vincentʼs Manual, 1854
Ember days are:
Wednesday: the day Christ was betrayed (Fast and half-abstinence)
Friday: Christ was crucified (Fast and abstinence)
and Saturday: the day Christ was entombed. (Fast and half-abstinence)
These fasts were instituted to sanctify each season of the year, and
thus obtain the favors of God, especially His mercy. They were also
established to obtain the blessing of the Almighty on the fruits of the
land. In spring we pray for fertility; in summer, for preservation of
the crops; in autumn, for a good harvest; and in winter we offer up our
grateful thanksgiving for the blessings received.
The Church, too, wishes us to pray for those who are to be ordained priests on these days, that they may obtain the graces necessary to fulfill all their obligations, and the virtues that adorn their sacred calling. “And when they had ordained for them priests in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, in Whom they believed.” (Acts xiv.22.)
As alms generally accompany fasting and prayer, a donation toward the education of priests for the foreign mission would be in keeping with the spirit of the Church on these occasions. We ought also to pray for vocations, especially for the foreign missions. “The harvest is great, but the laborers few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He send laborers into the vineyard.” (Matt. ix. 37,38.).
These days should also remind us of asking ourselves how we stand with regard to God. If there be anything troubling our conscience, we ought to set it right, and then make good resolutions for the coming quarter. Thus, keeping ourselves always ready for the final summons, death will be disarmed of its terrors, and the close of life will be marked with a beautiful serenity.
“And grant us, while by fasts we strive
This mortal body to control,
To fast from all the food of ins,
And so to purify the soul.”
Source: Curé d'Ars Prayer Group
We admit without the slightest reservation that the celibacy of the clergy is of vital importance to the Catholic Church in the prosecution of its divine mission. None but an unmarried clergy could wield the influence or win the credit or authority needed for the successful guidance and government of the faithful of Christ. None but unmarried clergymen are fitted to go as missionaries to foreign lands and labor there for the conversion of souls. This statement is amply borne out by the history of non-Catholic missions. The missionaries of Canada, the Far West, and South America have a unique place in history owing to their self-sacrificing devotion. How changed their story would be if wives and offspring and domestic finances figured in its pages!
Nay, even in Christian countries none but unmarried priests could risk their comfort, to say nothing of their lives, as Catholic priests do today in their ministrations to souls. Without her unmarried clergy the Catholic Church could never have accomplished all that she has in the course of centuries. The salutary influence of clergy upon people which is one of the fruits of celibacy may be styled universal dominion if our critics are minded to call it such; we shall not make that a casus belli.
The objector seems to regard the compulsory element in celibacy as the secret of the Church's power; but in no absolute sense does the Church compel any of her children to be celibates. No one is under nay obligation to enter the priesthood. To force one into the priesthood is forbidden by the laws of the Church. It is only after a voluntary reception of the higher orders that one is obliged to remain unmarried; and the obligation then imposed upon her clerics by the Church is justified and to a great extent necessitated by the nature of their clerical functions.
Why should it be a reproach to the Church to require in candidates for the prieshood conditions that will make them more efficient priests! Add to this the fact that the young men who present themselves for orders not only voluntarily but cheerfully make this sacrifice of their liberty in order to devote themselves the more to God and the Church.
But we are told that celibacy is contrary to the teaching of the Bible. Strange that the statement should be made by only one who has read the Bible. Is it not well known that Christ have the highest praise to voluntary celibacy when it was chosen for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and that St. Paul places voluntary virginity far above the married state?
When Protestant readers of the New Testament come to the seventh chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians they would do well to pause awhile and ask themselves whether they have ever understood the plain meaning of that chapter, which really seems to be very Catholic and very un-Protestant. Let them read that chapter as well as the nineteenth of St. Matthew, referred to above, and if then they can regard the effect of celibacy on morality as dubious, their opinion is clearly at variance with the words of Christ and His Apostle.
Source: The Catholic's ready answer; a popular vindication of Christian beliefs and practices against the attacks of modern criticism. 1915
The Preacher who likes applause.
What is the end of a preacher? Is it to please? To gain applause? To obtain promotion? Or is it to give men life; to make them " Sorrowful unto penance"?
I am of opinion, writes St. Francis of Sales, that a preacher ought not to aim at the gratification of the ear, which is the result of artifice, of worldly elegance, of merely ornamental oratory. He who desires to please his audience says only "pleasant things". The craving for applause blinds him to the truth. He relies almost exclusively on the persuasive words of human wisdom, he makes little or no account of the Word of God, which ought to be the chief source of sacred eloquence, and he speaks in a style more suited to the platform than to the pulpit, more profane than sacred.
Hence there arises amongst the people and even amongst the clergy, a vitiated taste in respect to the Word of God, which gives scandal to the pious and no profit to the incredulous; for these latter, although they sometimes come to the church, especially if attracted by such high-sounding words as Progress, Fatherland, Modern Science, and loudly applaud the preacher, go forth from it no better than they entered.
Source: The Priest of Today, Rev. Thomas O'Donnell
Christ could not give his divine nature to his clergy, for that would make them sons of God by nature as so many Gods. But he gave them his supernatural power, that is his Priesthood, his complete power over his mystic body the church. But the powers or faculties and the acts of creatures are not the same, for they cannot be infinitely perfect like unto God, who is the infinite Act, because of his infinity simplicity God cannot be divided.
In the Priesthood given to men the power of holy orders is the substance while jurisdiction is the regulation of the acts, or the exercise of these holy orders. By ordination or by holy orders we come forth from Christ. Then we are born into his eternal Priesthood. As Adam is the father of the race according to the flesh, so Christ is the father of Christians according to the Spirit. By natural birth we come forth from Adam while by supernatural generation we come forth from Christ. Each person baptized is born again of "Water and of the Holy Ghost." By confirmation we are strengthened by his Holy Spirit. But by holy orders we receive in a higher way the Holy Ghost the Spirit of Christ, for by that we enter in to his eternal Priesthood.
The World Hates Truth
The world has decided accordingly that there is no certain truth. What must be its attitude then toward any institution which puts itself forward as the organ of THE TRUTH?
One of hostility necessarily. Is there such an institution?
There is: the Church.
The Church and (this) century therefore are enemies. The world of today does not admit any Truth; it does not want any exponent of the Truth. The world and all that are of the world agree to say there is no ONE truth, and that is the doctrine she, alone, imparts. Therefore the world must hate the Church. For let the world put on what garb of impartiality it will, it knows that is and the Church are foes; and he who is the Prince of this world, above all knows that she is his foes, and destined to crush his head.
Our Duty to non-Catholics
It may be readily assumed that every sincere Christian is zealous for the spread of the Gospel and desirous to communicate its light and peace to others. Christ sent His followers to announce the good news throughout the world and to bear testimony to the truth, as He did, by their words and their lives. He who is not with Him is against Him; and the individual or congregation that becomes self-centered, that does not earnestly wish "all men to come to the knowledge of the truth," that in no way strives to enlarge God's kingdom, such an individual or such a community is weak in faith, stagnant in charity, and already in the early stages of decay.
It is true that the Church is indefectible, that the terrific forces arrayed against her can never prevail. But the extent of her victory from year to year, the number of those who submit to her, will in the last resort depend upon the militant spirit of all her members, laity and clergy alike, upon their energy in making known the truth, upon their skill in combating error, and upon their zeal in kindling in men's hearts the fire the charity which Christ brought down from Heaven. The practical question, therefore, arises, What is our duty to our separated brethren and non Christians? How are we to remove their prejudices and convince them of the truth? Is it by sermons and instructions directed at them? By controversy? By satire? By ridicule? By a self-satisfied superior attitude of aloofness? No, not by these methods, but quietly and wisely, by prayer, by grace, by good example, and by the character of our own lives and the lives of our people. By our fruits shall we be known.
What benefits does Catholicity bring to to individual or to society? that is the test question of outsiders.
Are Catholics no better than others - perhaps not even as good? that is often their greatest difficulty.
If, on the contrary, Catholics are good citizens, upright and honorable, if their home-life is pure and peaceful, if they are reverent and rich in faith, then the Church will be respected, hungry and thirsty souls will be satisfied, and the true religion will need none of the "slings and arrows" of theological controversy.
The divine lineaments of Catholicity, if not lost or obscured in its local presence, are sufficient to convince any thoughtful enquirer. "The Church herself," says the Vatican Council "...is an enduring motive of credibility, an irrefragable proof of her own divine mission, like unto a standard unfurled to the nations, calling on those who have not yet believed, and giving certainty to those who have." Her marvelous unity and symmetry, her under caying vigor and buoyancy, her broad human sympathies, her manifold methods of satisfying the restless human heart; above all, the peace, the purity, the steadfast of her children - those are the features, the well marked outlines, that proclaim the divinity of our creed and its title to be not merely the truth but also "the way and the life." "If we do our duty," that is, if by our lives, by our sympathy, and by the intelligent exposition of our doctrine we keep alive the Christian ideal of manhood, "truth will make progress among our non-Catholic fellow-citizens, and once made Catholic, they will by their zeal and activity rank amongst the most loyal and most devoted of the children of the Church." " It is not controversy, above all not biting controversy, not even argumentative discussion, that will bring souls to the Church, but rather exposition touched with piety, explanation warmed with devotion; the presentation of faith, not a system to be accepted, but as the holding lovingly fast to what God has taught." It is not a syllogism that touches and converts men - it is virtue, it is God's grace. Augustine was captivated, not by the reasoning and learning of Ambrose, but by this kindness and courtesy.
"Faith of our Fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach thee, too, as love knows how,
By kindly words and virtuous life."
Faithful Dispensers of the Mysteries of God
How important it is that priests should be faithful dispensers of the Mysteries of God. With what interior and exterior reverence they should treat Sacraments and ceremonies. How pure ought be their hearts, how decorous their outward bearing, how free from levity their words and looks; in the house of God and in all the functions of the ministry how modest and reverent ought be their whole deportment.
Yet it sometimes happens that the influence of the liturgy and its sacred accessories is weakened, even spoiled, by the negligence if not irreverence of a priest. He loves not the beauty of God's house, he neglects the altar, he allows vestments and altar linen to be shabby and soiled, he talks unnecessarily in the Divine Presence, he genuflects in a slovenly way, he robs the sacred Mysteries of their native dignity, he hurries through the ceremonies of the Mass as if rushing for a train, he administers the Sacraments in a perfunctory fashion, he mumbles his sermons, he recites the Rosary and other prayers with a sort of mechanical routine, at offices for the Dead he betrays an utter lack of sympathy and reality.
What wonder if onlookers are disgusted rather than edified, if their confidence is shaken, if they come to the conclusion that such a priest hardly believes what he professes!
A priest is not one merely chosen to read public prayers, or preach, or take a leading part in local good works. No sacramental symbol is required to enable a man to discharge these offices. The main function of the priest is to sacrifice; and, in the new law, to absolve from sin. Divine service is not necessarily Divine sacrifice. The rite of sacrifice, as essential, indeed , the main central act of worship, can never perish from the earth, not a priesthood to offer it. Forms, rites and ceremonies may change - not the priestly offering.
The abrogation of the sacrifices of the old law was only the introduction of the one majestic sacrifice of the new, still carried on in the Mass, and offered daily by the new priesthood " from the rising to the setting sun."
There is, and was, only one sacrifice worthy of God, and adequate to atone for sin - that of Christ on Calvary. That one sacrifice is still offered in an un-bloody manner in the Mass by the visible priesthood, representing and sharing in the power of our one invisible High Priest, Christ. Mystic powers are conveyed in Holy Orders, the chief of which is the perpetuation of the sacrifice of the Cross, "Do this in commemoration of me." This command to sacrifice, i.e., offer Christ's precious Body and Blood, the Church faithfully carries out through her priests. The Victim is the same, the priest the same, Jesus Christ, speaking through His priest, the manner only differs.
The Mass is the Sun of Divine worship. It sums up in solemn splendor and spiritual beauty all other outward forms of sacrifice. We may say, in a reverent sense, that the old and new law survive in the Mass. Nature, in the form of grape and wheat, all that men can bring in the way of art, and wealth, and taste, flowers,a nd music, and, on occasions, majestic rites, are embodied in the great Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass. All men's gifts to God circle round the altar, or are collected in the church, where holy Mass is offered by the priest, "first for his own sins, then for the people's" (Heb. VII, 27). The Mass is the one changeless Sacrifice of the Cross, offered up all the world over, to the quick and the dead.
Source: Holy Orders, by the Rev. William Graham. A Pulpit Commentary on Catholic Teaching: The liturgy of the ecclesiastical year. 1910
The priesthood is a supernatural institution, charged, from the time He was promised to the world, with representing Christ: with figuring Him and prophesying Him before His coming, with continuing Him, serving as His instrument and organ since His advent; and as human paternity reminds us of the Divine paternity; as the regal office among men shadows forth the sovereignty of God; as the idea of sacrifice is explained by that of sin and expiation, so does the priesthood presuppose and show forth not Christ only, but the whole of Christianity which is summed up therein.
Source: Catholic Doctrine as defined by the Council of Trent by the Rev. A. Nampon, S.J.
Absence of Vocations to the Priesthood
To what shall we attribute the absence of vocations to the priesthood, of which we are compelled to make complaint?
It the cause in the absence of vigorous Catholic faith - a faith grasping in its narrow range of vision the fullness of the
responsibilities that a plenary loyalty to the Savior imposes upon His followers - a faith prompt to the call of those
responsibilities, ready in generosity of soul and willingness of sacrifice to obey their every behest?
At first sight, this, I confess, would seem to be the cause. Where Catholic faith reigns supreme, youths not the few
there should be to rise in aspiration and self-consecration to the mountain-tops where the rays of the supernatural
shine the brightest and unfold in clearest light the splendors of divine life. Youths not the few there should be to
instantly answer the call from on high: "Speak, O Lord, for Thy servant heareth Thee. " The call from on high is surely
spoken, since it is His will that the Church be supplied with priests, and His call it to the whole Church. To every land,
in every diocese, to every parish the word is said, once said to Simon and Andrew - "Come follow me." Now, where
this call is the voice crying in the wilderness, should we not be tempted to believe that there something is awry, that
their Catholic faith is somewhat weak and timid? In an army of soldiers the general level is low, where all clamor to
be led, where none are willing to lead, where none spring to battle, so soon as the commander speaks, and rush to
the heights of valor and sacrifice.
Given the community of Catholics, which seldom or never makes offering of a candidate to the priesthood - given the
diocese, unable to supply itself out of its own bosom with a full legion of priest - what the verdict it at once suggests!
Is it not this - that faith there is weak, unable to do more than hold its life, without ever bursting forth into luxuriant leaf
or blossom? Is it not this - that the soil, into which the divine word is cast, is wanting in native nutriment, or is without
that art of cultivation which not only begets the common crop of plant and shrub, but, now and then, here and there,
bids upward the tall tree, the fragrant rose-bush, where with to adorn the landscape and cause the passerby to pause
and be gladdened?
The cause is this - people and priests have not been asked to advert to the problem confronting us, have not been
made to understand its bearings and the obligations it imposes. A trumpet sound is in order to re-echo far and wide,
proclaiming needs and duties, summoning priests and people to the charge to the work, which once seen will surely be done.
Source: The Maine Catholic Historical Magazine