On the Catholic Priesthood

Monday January 14, 2019

St. Joseph and the Priest

Priests are advised to recite, before the celebration of Mass, some certain prayers in honor of St. Joseph. Pope Pius IX., who declared St. Joseph the Patron of the universal Church, has indulgenced them. Who does not know those beautiful anthems: O felicem virum beatum Joseph and the Virginum custos et pater, Sancte Joseph?

It is prompted by these beautiful anthems that I propose a brief sketch of a fruitful meditation.

First. St. Joseph, by divine election became the foster-father of the Infant Jesus as he was also the spouse of the Blessed Mother of God. All honors due him on account of the exalted position thus held and the privileges he enjoyed, come vividly before our mind, when we kneel before the Blessed Sacrament. Pondering over them we feel inclined to asked our Lord in the Sacred Host to bless us for the sake of St. Joseph; and assurance comes to us that our humble petition will be listened to. Let us remind Jesus of what the loving foster father has done for Him in his mortal life, and feel assured that St. Joseph's advocacy will be most powerful.

Second. Who has such weighty reasons to put his trust in the prayers and intercession of St. Joseph as has the Catholic priest? What St. Joseph was to our Lord in the days of His infancy on earth, that the priest is to Jesus when ministering to Him at the altar. Helpless and in the state of utmost destitution, our Sacramental Lord craves for that kind care and solicitude which he once enjoyed at the hands of His beloved foster-father. Often the priest is in no better way of finding shelter for Jesus in the Holy Sacrament than St. Joseph was, when, after a vain search for a suitable dwelling, he, at last, betook himself to a lonely stable as a resting place for the Savior to be born. And is the priest not glad, when, to such a humble abode as he may have found, the faithful come, like the shepherds of Bethlehem and the three wise men, to adore the Lord of hosts seated on a throne void of all ornaments? St. Joseph's joy is his.

Did you ever witness the care and labor of the priest in his endeavors for the construction and embellishment of a church which was to serve as the abode of the Sacramental Lord, without being reminded of St. Joseph, who labored in the sweat of his brow for the beloved Infant? Deep is the grief and unspeakable the agony, which the faithful priest experiences, when profanation threatens the Sacred Host, or when the Holy Sacrament is snatched away by an unworthy communicant and forced into the dark dungeon of a sinner's heart, or even of a God-forsaken sacrilegious priest. Then it is, that you behold St. Joseph portrayed in his anguish of heart in his flight into Egypt, to save his beloved child from the ruthless hand of Herod and his cruel soldiers. St. Joseph was the first guardian of Jesus, but we priests have received from God the guardianship of Jesus living, but persecuted and treated contumeliously in the Blessed Sacrament.

Third. Compare, if you will, the privileges St. Joseph enjoyed, with those of the priest. Is it not as if you saw the Holy Patriarch appearing amongst us, his countenance beaming with delight as he embraced the Infant with tender affection, clasping Him to his bosom, carrying Him on his arms, leading Him by the hand, working ceaselessly for his honored charge, listening to His sweet voice? Is it not so to you, I say, when you behold the priest ministering to the King of hosts in the Holy Sacrament? O priest of God, do not envy St. Joseph, but rather congratulate yourself and break forth into transports of joy, recalling the words of the holy canticle: Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est. For, you also touch the body of the Lord; you carry Him on your heart when on your way to the sick to administer to them Holy Communion and Viaticum; you more than press Him to your bosom at Holy Communion. He obeys you with the same willingness and promptness as He did His foster-father. And were you only to listen to his holy inspirations, when communing with Him, joy and consolation would be yours, as was the sweet portion of St. Joseph in his intercourse with the Divine Infant.

Fourth. Is the office of the priest in its holiest moments not similar to that of St. Joseph? and do not the highest privileges of both blend, indeed, in a most perfect manner? If so, what is the natural inference to be drawn from such a comparison? Oh! the minister of the sanctuary should strive to imitate the most conspicuous virtues of that exalted saint. By so doing, he would ennoble his life and draw from his holy functions perennial streams of genuine happiness, and blessings abundant for himself and for those confided to his care.

But what are the most conspicuous characteristics of St. Joseph, worthy to be acquired by every priest? None other than his astounding humility and his spotless virginity. Though of little account in the estimation of the world, they were the foundation of his exalted dignity. His royal crown could not have been devoid of these two ornaments. The humility of St. Joseph and his marvelous chastity were, so to speak, the frame-work on which was to rest his dignity as the father of Jesus and the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. So with the priest. Humility and chastity are the jewels of the Catholic priesthood. No priest will be honored by God, nor will he have honor before men, if he doesn't appear wrapped in the royal mantle of humanity and chastity. O priest of God, take St. Joseph for your model and flee pride and sensuality; if you do not, the royal robe of your priesthood will fall into shreds, the crown of your dignity will lose its luster and the scepter of your authority will be broken in your hands. Contemplate, admirare, imitare, Quando litas precans ad altare, Fungens Sancti Joseph opere, et beare.

Source: Annals of St. Joseph, Norbertine Fathers, 1896 Vol. 8-10

Friday January 11, 2019

Prayer

"It is not necessary", said the Curé, "to talk so much in order to pray well. We know that our good God is there in the tabernacle; we open our heart to Him; we are happy at being in His presence: that is the best sort of Prayer."

Source: The Dublin Review: A Quarterly and Critical Journal. p354

Sunday December 16, 2018

Still Relevant

I implore you, in God’s name, and all the more because of the events. full of sorrow and of shame to Christian men, which have crowded so thick upon us of late that, with all your heart and will, and all the weight of your soul, you cast yourselves on God. He alone can save. Use all your influence with those around you, in your homes, your households, your friendships; and if you have public influence, public trust, public authority, strive that all who bear responsibility shall cast themselves on God, as the only hope for society and for the people.

Do you want to see what man without God can do?

Read the history of the last eighty years in Paris.

You have there one simple phenomenon—generation rising after generation without God in the world.

And why? Because without Christian education. First, an atheistical revolution; next, an empire penetrated through and through with a mocking philosophy and a reckless indifferentism; afterward came Governments, changed in name and in form, but not in practice nor in spirit. The Church, trammeled by protection, its spiritual action faint and paralyzed, could not penetrate the masses of the people, nor form the rising youth. It labored fervently; its sons fought nobly for Christian freedom; thousands were saved; but for eighty years the mass of men has grown up without God and without Christ in the world. My whole soul pities them. These out bursts of horror, strife, outrage, sacrilege, bloodshed, are the harvest reaped from the rank soil in which such seed was cast. All this is true.

But how did souls created to the image of God grow up in such a state? They were robbed : robbed before they were born, robbed of their inheritance, and reared up in an education without Christianity.

Let this be a warning to ourselves. We are on the turn of the tide. A few active, busy, confident, and eloquent men were a year ago carrying us away with theories of State education without religion. We were told that a child might be taught to read and to write and to spell and to sum without Christianity. Who denies it? But what does this make of them? To what would they grow up? The formation of the will and heart and character, the formation of a man, is education, and not the reading and the writing and the spelling and the summing. For fifteen hundred years, Christians served God and loved man, before as yet they received this cultivation; and we, because we have it profusely; we are forgetting the deeper and diviner lessons. (...)

In God’s name, stand fast, and save it. I can add no more. Do not be afraid, if you find yourselves in the minority. “ Woe to you when men shall bless you " You must be censured if you are the disciples of Jesus Christ. The world that hated Him will not love you. “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master. and the servant as his lord ." “ If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household ? " And therefore, if you have the mark of the world's hatred upon you, accept it; press it to your bosom. It is the token that you are the disciples of the true and only Master. If you have the world’s favor and sunshine, look to yourselves. There is a dark future before the world. What it may be, God alone knows.

The Church will have to suffer; but there is a light upon it, and that light can never fade. We are in evil times, marked deeply by the four great evils of which I have spoken. Around us are “evil men and seducers, who grow worse and worse, erring, and driving into error.” “ Many shall come in my name," our Lord has said, “and seduce many "; and because of their iniquity the love and the charity of the many shall wax cold. Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be wars and pestilences in many places. But the end is not yet. This is only the beginning of troubles. Keep close to the footsteps of the Master who spoke those words; and, when these signs are in the sky and upon the earth, remember that He also said, “ When these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption is at hand."

 Source: Cardinal Manning ( Our Faith and Belief: A Carefully Selected Compilation from Great Writers, Essayists and Lecturers Among the Prelates, Priests and Laymen of the Catholic Church, on All Important Subjects of Our Holy Faith and Catholic Belief. 1917)

Monday September 10, 2018

St. Paul, the Priest

In short, the reward of the priest’s labors will be in due proportion to the motives that urged his action.  If he seeks “the things which are his own” his reward will be an earthly one.  If he seeks “the things that are Christ’s” his reward will be an eternal one.  Again, if his motive be a selfish one, the results of his labors in the care of souls will be negligible, because the grace of God can be but scantily with him, but working with the motive of the love of God great results may be expected, because the grace of God will amply accompany his efforts.  For, with St. Paul, the priest who loves God sincerely may say:  “I can do all things in him who strengtheneth me” (Phil., iv, 13).  “For it is God who worketh in you (the faithful) both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will” (Phil., ii, 13).

Source: By Rev. Albert Rung: St. Paul, the Priest (The Homiletic Monthly and Pastoral Review) Vol. XXI Jan. 1921 No.4

(Special thanks to Bob Olson)


Friday September 07, 2018

The Bishop

"The blessed Apostle Paul, wishing to describe the ideal Bishop and to form by his teachings a completely new man of the Church, explained what was, so to speak, his highest perfection. He stated that a Bishop must profess sure doctrine, in accordance with what has been taught, and thus be able to exhort others to sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it."

Source: Saint Hilairy de Poitiers (De Trinitate)

Thursday September 06, 2018

The Words of the Priest

"At that hour of the Sacrifice, at the words of the Priest, the heavens are opened, and in that mystery of Jesus Christ, the choirs of Angels are present, and things below are joined to things on high, earthly things to heavenly, and the service is both a visible and an invisible event."

Source: St. Gregory the Great

Tuesday September 04, 2018

The sins of her pastors

If it is true that by contemplating Christ sinners learn from him the “sorrow for sins” needed to bring them back to the Father, this is even more the case for sacred ministers.
How can we forget, in this regard, that nothing causes more suffering for the Church, the Body of Christ, than the sins of her pastors, especially the sins of those who become “thieves and robbers” of the sheep (cf. Jn 10:1 ff.), lead them astray by their own private teachings, or ensnare them in the toils of sin and death? Dear priests, the summons to conversion and to trust in God’s mercy also applies to us; we too must humbly, sincerely and unceasingly implore the heart of Jesus to preserve us from the terrifying risk of endangering the very people we are obliged to save.

Source: Pope Benedict XVI, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 19 June 2009

Monday September 03, 2018

A Single Mass

"The entire Church cannot give to God as much honor, nor obtain so many graces, as a single priest by celebrating a single Mass; for the greatest honor that the whole Church without priests could give to God would consist in offering to Him in sacrifice the lives of all men."

Source: St. Alphonsus Liguori (The Dignity and Duties of the Priest)

Friday August 31, 2018

Horrendum illud scelus, Pius V

That horrible crime, on account of which corrupt and obscene cities were destroyed by fire through divine condemnation, causes us most bitter sorrow and shocks our mind, impelling us to repress such a crime with the greatest possible zeal.

Quite opportunely the Fifth Lateran Council [1512-1517] issued this decree: "Let any member of the clergy caught in that vice against nature, given that the wrath of God falls over the sons of perfidy, be removed from the clerical order or forced to do penance in a monastery" (chap. 4, X, V, 31).

So that the contagion of such a grave offense may not advance with greater audacity by taking advantage of impunity, which is the greatest incitement to sin, and so as to more severely punish the clerics who are guilty of this nefarious crime and who are not frightened by the death of their souls, we determine that they should be handed over to the severity of the secular authority, which enforces civil law.

Therefore, wishing to pursue with greater rigor than we have exerted since the beginning of our pontificate, we establish that any priest or member of the clergy, either secular or regular, who commits such an execrable crime, by force of the present law be deprived of every clerical privilege, of every post, dignity and ecclesiastical benefit, and having been degraded by an ecclesiastical judge, let him be immediately delivered to the secular authority to be put to death, as mandated by law as the fitting punishment for laymen who have sunk into this abyss.

Source:(Constitutionn Horrendum illud scelus, August 30, 1568, in Bullarium Romanum,
Rome: Typographia Reverendae Camerae Apostolicae, Mainardi, 1738, chap. 3, p. 33)

Monday August 27, 2018

The Mother of a priest

Letter of a mother to a friend of her childhood the day following the ordination of her son:


“Dear friend, bless, bless the good God with me; I am the mother of a priest!

It was to you that I wrote, twenty-five years ago, when this child was given to me. I can remember, I was beside myself with happiness! I felt he was really alive near me; I stretched forth my hand to him, I fondled him in his cradle to make quite sure that he was mine own. Oh! What a distance lies between those joys and the ones of today, which raise up my heart and fill it with new sentiments!

I am today the mother of a priest!

These hands which, when little, I kissed so tenderly, 25 years ago, these hands are consecrated, these fingers have touched God!

This intelligence, which has received the light and to which I showed the meaning of life, it has grown, it has been imbued with truth, it has surpassed mine by study and by grace, and behold now, it is consecrated!

This body, that I cared for, and protected, that made me pass many nights in tears, when sickness came upon it, this body has become great, robust, and behold it is consecrated!

Servant of the soul of the priest, it will grow tired in raising up the sinner, instructing the ignorant, giving the Lord to every thinking creature that seeks and asks for it.

This heart. Ah! This pure heart that never touched any other heart but that of his mother, that trembled before all earthly contact, behold it is consecrated! The love that it pours out is called charity. Oh! My son! I know him well; I know what treasures are contained in this concentrated nature. This concentration will be to him as a strong rampart against life, against himself; but in the secrecy of his priesthood, when God will put in his way a weak soul, troubled or lost, how he will find words to raise it up and make it trust in the Divine Goodness.

Yes, yes, he will do good, my child; he will be according to the Heart of God, he will be all charity.

Yes, yes, I am the mother of a priest, of a true priest! How shall I describe yesterday’s ceremony? I was there, but saw no one but him; but him kneeling down, standing up, prostrating, rising up, leaving, full of recollection after the hands of the Bishop had been imposed upon his head, now a priest!

And this morning, he said his second Mass in the little chapel of the humble convent, in silence and between two candles – with a child for his server – his mother and a few intimate friends for the audience!


Ah! When we desire to describe the happiness of Heaven, may we not liken it to the happiness of a mother in beholding God descending at the voice of her son, and being absorbed in such deep adoration as to forget the world, life, the past, and resting only on these two words, God and her son!

There he was, his tall figure, his black hair, his grave bearing, all made him appear noble. I was quite close to the altar, without motion and sensibility. The sound of a body kneeling before the Sacred Host fell upon my eats – my lips moved, I was in an ecstasy – I whispered: Thanks, my God, thanks!

This priest was once mine: I formed him, his soul learned the truth from mine! He is no long mine , but Yours alone! Keep him from every taint of evil; he is the salt of the earth, prevent him from being corrupted! My God, I love You, and I love him! I respect and venerate him, he is your priest!

At the Communion, the server, at my approach, said the Confiteor; the celebrant turned round and raised his right hand; the words of absolution were pronounced over his mother.

My son! With a sigh he took the ciborium, came to me, carrying with him my God! What a moment! What union! God, his priest, and me!…. Was I praying? Really, I do not know. A deep peace filled my soul; I burst into tears; with love and gratitude, I said quietly: “My God! My son!” Yes, for us mothers, prayer is our hope. I never complain. There have been many beautiful days in my life: this one is the sweetest of all, because the thoughts of earth had no place in it.

Farewell, then; I can write no more; my tears moisten the sheet on which I write, they are tears of happiness."


Source: Truth Vol. XVL No.8 August 1912

Thursday August 23, 2018

The Lukewarm priest

(That) priest is certainly greatly to blame who is filled with the spirit of the age that he ridicules every pious devotion, even those devotions approved of by the Church; who is, on principle, opposed to pious sodalities and confraternities; who makes light of the rosary, the medal, the scapular and so on; who never encourages the people to practice frequent Communion; who discourages and even opposes those who wish to enter the convent, especially when they are useful to himself; who is, on principle, opposed to missions, to retreats and the like; who looks upon Catholic Schools as a foreign notion, or at least as an unnecessary luxury; who takes more interest in fairs and dances than in teaching his poor children the catechism; who finds more pleasure in fast horses than in the conversion of sinners; who spends more time in carousing, in visiting the theaters and watering places than in instructing the ignorant and praying before his Lord hidden in the tabernacle.

Such a priest is clearly a stumbling block to many on the way of salvation. But let us forget that HE is also an enemy of souls, who is ever guided by rash, imprudent zeal; who sends people to the convent who have no marks of a divine vocation; who encourages young men to study for the priesthood, who are slaves of the most shameful vices; who allow frequent Communion to worldly-minded young women, passionately addicted to so-called fashionable, yet really indecent dances; who show an insane jealousy of their neighboring priests, especially if these priests have the good or ill fortune to be religious!

(…) He is not very strict in observing the rubrics. He rushes through his breviary with little attention and devotion. He confesses but seldom, and even then with little preparation. He hurries through Mass without preparation or thanksgiving, without devotion or recollection. The lukewarm priest may labor much, but his motives are merely natural. His actions are not prompted by the inspirations of grace. Hence he makes so little progress in the path of virtue. He preaches to others, but how does he practice what he preaches. He prays in the name of the Church, but does he pray from his heart? (…) Every day at the altar, he opens heavens to others, while his own heart has no desire for heaven.

Every day our Lord comes down from heaven to cast fire upon his heart, and his heart remains cold; the fire of divine love will not burn. If a man takes every day the most nourishing food and yet does not get strong, he must certainly be sick; there must be something wrong!

Source: The Catholic Priesthood, Michael Muller p68

Wednesday August 22, 2018

The Church

"With a satisfaction born of her divinity can the Catholic Church look back over her young life of nineteen centuries. She has been her very existence apparently exterminated by the legions of imperial Rome, yet out of the catacombs she came forth to chant Rome's requiem.

The religious revolt of the sixteenth century prepared a tomb for the Church of the Ages. Yet in some mysterious way the Church has lived to record another Easter morn.

Still her enemies arise anew to taunt her in the modern day. She is called on by modern religion to come down from her supernatural viewpoint and become humanitarian; she is called by modern morality to come down from her high standards of celibacy and virginity, of indissoluble marriage, of marriage's sanctity; she is called upon by modern skepticism and unbelief to come down from her belief in such a thing as Truth, the existence of God and the Divinity of Christ. All together call upon the Catholic Church to come down and mingle as one among many and change her standards to suit the modern mind. And they threaten that is as she will not come down, then she must die. Like Christ, she is charged at one time of blasphemy and at another time of being unpatriotic.

 Thus does the Church renew the life of Christ, and from the pulpit of her cross the Church will continue to preach and will not omit the prayer of Christ for those who contrived to kill God, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

Source: Bishop Hafey, Easter Sermon 1932

Tuesday August 21, 2018

Persecution

The violence of the enemy is always directed against those priests who are most generous and most loyal. The more you are like your Divine Model, your Saviour and your God, the more certainly will you be the target for the calumnies, the abuse and persecutions of the wicked.

One thing is clear, namely, that it is not the man, but Jesus Christ, that is, truth and virtue, who is persecuted in the priest. All this noisy clamor, then, against priests, which wearies the ear and is borne in upon us from the four winds of heaven, is but the prolonged cry of the deicides: Away with Him, away with Him. Away with this man; we will not bow to the authority of God, nor will we submit to the yoke of duty; we will obey only ourselves, and follow whither our passions lead. The priest protests against our pride; he rebukes our vices; he threatens us with the vengeance of God; he is a torment to us and pursues like a vision of hell: Away with him, away with him.

This is the solution of the enigma, the explanation of that strange and unnatural hatred against the priest. There are two camps: on the one side are the Catholic priests bearing a banner on which are inscribed words uttered by angels at the cradle of their Divine Founder: Glory be to God, and peace to men, through humility, self-denial and chastity; and on the other side are ranged pride, voluptuousness and every delirious passion, on whose banner is emblazoned the legend: War against God, and death to priests.

And this is as it should be. The priest is a man of God, sent to carry on and continue the great work of the redemption of mankind, and to gather together the elect from every part of the earth. On the other hand, hell wars without ceasing against the accomplishment of God's designs and, in order to drag down the posterity of Adam to the pit below, arms all its adherents against the priest. All the worst passions of men are let loose against him, and like so many stormy billows rise in their anger, beat upon him, and threaten to engulf and destroy him.

In the end his lot is such as was foretold. It was clearly predicted of him that he would attract to himself, as if by a natural law, the malice and fury of the wicked and the love and veneration of the good. The disciple is not above his Master. If they have persecuted Me, said Jesus Christ to His Disciples, they will also persecute you. You shall be dragged before tribunals, you shall be scourged, you shall be cast into prisons, you shall be condemned to death.

Priest of God, you knew all this, you were aware of the dangers of your mission, and you cheerfully accepted the burden. You are a priest because you wished to be one; you saw before you conflicts, contradictions and trials of every sort; still you did not hesitate, you said generously with St. Thomas: Let us also go that we may die with Him.

How beautiful and ennobling it is to share the toils and fatigues of our Saviour, Jesus Christ; to make God known to men; to preach the Gospel to the poor; to proclaim His mercy to sinners; to assure the unfortunate that they have a Father in heaven, and that the pains of a day can merit an eternity of bliss! Yes, it is beautiful to carry on the glorious mission of our Divine Redeemer, and to be with Him engaged in the work of saving our brethren, even though we should in the end like Him die on the Cross: Let us also go that we may die with Him.

Therefore, O priest of Jesus Christ, your glory and your happiness consist in this: to be for His sake a mark for calumny, abuse and persecution. This will be a proof that you are a foe to the world and its vices, and that you worthily represent Him who smote the world with His anathema: If you be reproached for the name of Jesus, you shall be blessed...They indeed went from the presence of the Council rejoicing, that they were accounted worthy of suffering reproach for Jesus.

Fear not the world, it can harm only the body; fear it not, for He has overcome it: Have confidence, I have overcome the world.

Source: Jesus Living in the Priest: Considerations on the greatness and Holiness of the Priesthood

Jacques Nicolas et Rev. P. Millet, S.J. Imprimatur Michael Augustine, Archbishop of New York , June 29, 1901

Monday August 20, 2018

Work of the Priesthood

Catholic priests have ever been the champions of virtue, and the Church was always a barrier to tyranny and social disorder, says the Freeman's Journal. Virtue! Virtue! Is their constant theme.

They inculcate it to the powerful as well as the weak, to the rich as well as the poor.

They protect the innocent and save the oppressed from violence. They insist on the observance of the law and the keeping of the commandments. Children learn from their lips the obligation of obedience, and parents are reminded of what they owe to their offspring. Husbands and wives are taught fidelity and the necessity of mutual forbearance. Compassion for the afflicted, mercy toward the erring, alms-giving to the needy and charity for all are among their frequent lessons. When selfishness corrupts the hearts of men they hear echoing the solemn duty of bearing each other's burden. These are the doctrines taught by the priesthood. There is not a virtue necessary for the individual or society that has not its teacher, its champion and its model within the ranks of the clergy. They are ever ready with arguments to show the beauty of virtue and the horrid deformity of vice. With a zeal all their own and a power all divine, they illumine the intellect, fill the soul with grace, purify the heart and rescue the sin-laden from eternal misery.

 Source: Our Church, Her Children, and Institutions, Vol.1 ed. Henry Coyle, Angel Guardian Press 1908

Saturday August 18, 2018

Vestments

Historians may discuss and dispute the time and circumstances in which the Christian priesthood began to use an altogether distinctive dress at the altar; but they have to agree that what was so used was held as sacred. The cloak which St. Paul seemed so careful about was early reported to have been his sacrificing robe. The same character was attributed to Thomas the Apostle’s mantle, long venerated at Rome. The centuries of persecution were not a time for elaborating ceremony or dress, yet pontiffs of the period are on record for restrictions in the use of the same garments at the altar and away from it, or by one order of the clergy and by another. The first pope who enjoyed the freedom of peace, St. Sylvester, introduced an improvement that still holds its ground: our sleeved dalmatics were prescribed by him. St. Jerome mentions the white robes of all ministers within the Sanctuary, as ordinary and long-established. Thence down through the centuries there are adaptations to place, or rite, or monastic or secular garb; but the insistence on sacred vestments, on their sacred significance and sacred employment, goes on ever increasing. Holy to the Lord, is the more and more exclusive mark on them, as on those who are privileged to wear them.

And here, my brethren, I have to call your attention to a point that may somewhat escape your notice – though when well considered it is found most practical. The holiness of the priestly vestments is very much for the priest himself. In blessing them the Church asks that the wearer may be fit and apt for so sacred a ministry; but she also implores that he may be filled with the grace of the Holy Ghost, rendered perseveringly agreeable to God, clad with chastity here and with immortality hereafter. ‘Tis particularly in the words she puts on his lips as he takes each vestment that we divine her maternal solicitude for her priest in person. All scriptural sanctities are invoked on him. The amice, with which you may have seen him first cover his head and then tuck out of view all trace of his secular dress, is to be to him an unfailing helmet of salvation. Made white like his alb, and, in the very Blood of the Lamb, he is to be fitted for joys eternal. With the binding of his cincture, concupiscence is extinguished. His manipule tells of the exultant harvesting that will follow his tearful sowing; for of him and his fellow-laborers is it prophetically true that “going they went and wept, casting their seeds. But coming they shall come with joyfulness, carrying their sheaves” (Ps. 125). His Stole, the special ensign of the priesthood that is forever, proclaims his right to Everlasting Life and its beatitude; while his Chasuble, though bearing a Cross before and behind, is but the sweet yoke and light burden of the Master who give both the merit and the crown. So it is with these and the other sacred vestures he may have to put on. Panoplied round with them, and with the dispositions they suppose, he is invulnerable to the assaults of every malign spirit. Even human malignity had often to refrain; for Law recognized a peculiarly punishable atrocity in assaults on the vested priest. To the devout faithful there is an attractive sacredness in the robes which come in contact with the Altar of God; for they vividly recall that Garment, the touch of whose hem was health and holiness. And as far, my brethren, as holy vesture can announce and preserve the sanctity of the wearer, the same faithful have good reason to rejoice. Assuredly they may be said to need nothing, after the grace of God, more than they need the holiness of their priests. God’s ordination carries with it that sanction and consequence. ‘Tis markedly the races and nations most devotedly attached to the chaste sacredness of the priestly character who have best maintained the worship of the Son of the Virgin, the Priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech.

Source:By the Rev. G. Lee CSSP ( A Pulpit Commentary on Catholic Teaching: The liturgy of the ecclesiastical year, 1910)

Calendar

Feeds

Search

Links

Navigation