On the Catholic Priesthood

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)

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.

Tuesday July 31, 2018

The Holy Priesthood


Among all the various callings on earth the vocation to the priesthood is first in holiness and dignity. The priest is the mediator between God and men. He is the dispenser of the mysteries of God. The teacher of men. The preacher of the word of God. The confessor. The friend of the sick and the comforter of the dying. The offerer …. the representative of Christ.

“How great is the dignity of priests, to whom is given that which to the angels is not granted! For priests alone, rightly ordained in the Church, have the power of celebrating and consecrating the Body of Christ. A priest clad with the sacred vestments, is Christ’s vicegerent, that he may suppliantly and humbly pray to God for himself and for all the people. When a priest celebrateth, the honoreth God, he rejoiceth the angels, he edifieth the Church, he helpeth the living, he obtaineth rest for the departed and maketh himself partaker of all good things.” (The Following of Christ, BK4, Chap.5)

On the first Holy Thursday the Savior gave to His Apostles the power to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass when He said: “Do this for a commemoration of Me.” On the evening of the first Easter Sunday He gave them the power to forgive sins. And during the time that remained before His ascension into heaven He bestowed upon them other powers: to teach, to baptize, to govern.

It is therefore the defined teaching of the Church that “There is in the Church of God a special priesthood with special powers, a Sacrament of Orders, which bestows upon the recipient the necessary graces of vocation and also power over the Sacrifice of the Church and her Sacraments as well as the office of teaching and governing the faithful.”

The Apostles exercised their priesthood. In the Acts of the Apostles we read (2:42) “And they were persevering in the doctrine of the Apostles, and in the communication of the Breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

By the imposition of hands and prayer the Apostles communicated the priestly powers to others and handed on what they had received. Thus the Apostle Matthias was chosen to take the place of Judas the traitor. By fasting, prayer, and the imposition of hands their office was conferred upon Paul and Barnabas. The Apostles themselves ordained new priests and installed them in the newly established parishes. Paul admonishes Timothy, upon whom he had conferred the priesthood: “Neglect not the grace that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with imposition of the hands of the priesthood.” (I Tim. 4:14) “For which cause I admonish thee, that thou stir up the grace of God which is in thee, by the imposition of my hands.” (2 Tim. I:6) As the Apostles, so also their successors transmitted these powers to others and constantly endowed new priests, new apostles, with the powers given by Christ.

Of the first deacon, St. Stephen, Holy Writ tells us that all those who sat in the council, looking on him, saw his face as if it had been the face of an angel. As a bright light, has the great and unmerited grace of the priesthood shone down through the centuries. That it may continue so to shine in many devout and holy priests depends to a great extent also upon the prayers of the faithful for the priests.

Wherefore, in the words of St. Gregory:

“Faithful people, pray for your priests!”


Source: Priest’s Saturday Series, Pamphlet #2 Prayers and Devotions for Priest’s Day. The Salvatorian Fathers. 1935

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

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