On the Catholic Priesthood
The pastoral office is in itself a discipline of perfection. For first of all it is a life of abnegation of self. A pastor has so many obediences to fulfill, as he has souls to serve. The good and the evil, the sick and the whole, the young and the old, the wise and the foolish, the worldly and the unworldly - who are not always wise- the penitent and the impenitent, the converted and the unconverted, the lapsed and the relapsed, the obdurate and the defiant, all must be watched over - none may be neglected, still less cast off - always, at all times and in all ways possible. St. Philip used to say that a priest should have no time of his own, and that many of his most consoling conversations came to him out of hours at unseasonable moments. If he had sent them away because they came out of time, or at supper time and the like, they might have been lost. Then again, the trials of temper, patience, self-control in bearing with the strange and inconsiderate minds that come to him, and the demands made upon this strength and endurance day and night in the calls of the sick and dying, coming often one after another when for a moment he has gone to rest; the weary and continual importunity of people and of letters, till the sound of the bell or the knock at the door is a constant foreboding, too surely fulfilled; all these things make a pastor's life as wearisome, and, strange to say, as isolated as if he were in the desert. No sackcloth so mortifies the body as this life of perpetual self-abnegation mortifies the will. But when the will is mortified, the servant is like his Master, and his Master is the exemplar of all perfection.
What may deprive a young priest of the reverence and trust of the faithful?
The faults of boyhood: levity, thoughtlessness, immaturity, precipitance, an inordinate love of sports and games, a lack of repose.
What makes a young priest respected? Seriousness of manney, maturity of thought, earnestness of purpose, steadiness in carrying out all that appertains to duty; also, learning, piety, enlifhtened zeal, self-respect, a sense of authority tempered by modesty: auctoritas modesta as the Pontifical says in the rite of ordination; finally, the religious spirit, that is, the spirit of reverence imparting a tone of thoughtfulness and deliberation to the whole man.
Each of these helps to dispel the unfavorable impression which might attach to the youthful priest, and therefore it becomes his duty to cultivate them sedulously in the early years of his ministry. (...)
An thus the number of his years will be lost to sight, and the faithful will see, listen to, and love in him the man of God.
Teaching by Example
Christ is the model of the priest; the priest has to be the model of the people. His example is as much a part of his ministry as preaching, or administering the sacraments. If we could imagine a priest in charge of souls appearing only at the altar, or in the pulpit, or in the confessional, and then withdrawing himself completely from the view of the faithful, we should have to call him back to live among his people, in order to let them see the full meaning of a practical Christian life. This is so much the mind of the Church, that in conferring each one of the orders, she is careful to impress on those she consecrates the special duty of good example. The "ostiarius" is told to open the hearts of the faithful to God, and close them against the evil one "by word and by example;" the acolyte is reminded that the lighted taper he bears is a symbol of the shining examples he is bound to show forth; and so on up to the priest, to whom, at every step of his solemn consecration, the great fact is recalled, that henceforth he has to be the embodiment of all the Christian virtues, a fragrant odor of the Gospel, a living rule for the faithful.
The Law thus laid down to priests in the preparation, the church has in the course of ages kept steadily before them by the numberless rules, regulations, decrees of her bishops, her popes, and her councils. There is nothing she seems to have had more at heart than to keep her priests at such a height as that all may look to their lives for guidance. What a glorious vocation, and what a powerful incentive to a beautiful life!
O thou, to whom were committed the most precious talents of the priesthood! Fear lest like the useless servant thou be cast out into exterior darkness, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Where is he, my son, where is Judas? Where are the other priests who imitated him and who like him died in their sins?
Where? They are buried in hell, where they lie the deeper down, the higher the place they should have occupied in heaven.
There they are filled with shame, who on earth enjoyed a high degree of honor.
There they are despised, mocked and trampled upon by Satan, who on earth were revered by men and angels.
There they drink of the gall of vipers and of the poison of asps, who received my blood unworthily at the altar.
There they are stung and tormented by the old serpent, who should have triumphed over him by their sacred ministry.
There they are poor and naked, who on earth enjoyed unearned luxuries.
There they are prodded with burning goads, who by their cowardice and sloth allowed my sheep to perish.
There they are covered with fetid pitch and sulfur who, in their highly spiritual and holy state, lived according to the flesh.
There their ears are wearied by horrible noises, who were unwilling to listen to penitents in the tribunal of mercy.
There they are in desolation, who refused to console my sorrowing people.
There they suffer bitter pain, who neither sympathized with nor aided those in trouble.
There their bodies are lacerated, who by their scandals were the murderers of souls.
There their cry is unheeded, who on earth neglected prayer and performed their duties carelessly.
There, in fine, they shall suffer the rigorous scourge of my justice, who have not kept my commandments which they announced to the people, and thereby resisted more than others the Holy Spirit.
So it is, my son, they were my chosen ones, my friends, my ministers, endowed and enriched with my graces; and they rebelled against me and betrayed me, outraged my Holy Spirit and trampled me, their Savior, under foot.
The Tool of Jesus Christ
"When you see a priest offering the sacrifice", he ( St. John Chrysostom) says, "do no think as if it were he that is doing this; it is the hand of Christ, invisibly stretched forth." The hand of Christ invisibly stretched forth, that is the image we must conjure up if we are to think of the Mass as what it really is. The philosopher Aristotle, in defining the position of a slave, uses the words, "A slave is a living tool". And that is what a priest is, a living tool of Jesus Christ. He lends his hands to be Christ's thoughts; there is, there should be, nothing of himself in it from first to last, except where the Church graciously permits him to dwell for a moment in silence on his own special intentions, for the good estate of the living and the dead. Those who are not of our religion are puzzled sometimes, or even scandalized, by witnessing the ceremonies of the Mass; it is all, they say, so mechanical. But you see, it ought to be mechanical. They are watching, not a man, but a living tool; it turns this way and that, bends, straightens itself, gesticulates, all in obedience to a preconceived order, Christ's order, not ours. The Mass is best said, we Catholics know it, when it is said so that you do not notice how it is said; we do not expect eccentricities from a tool, the tool of Christ.
Source: Pastoral Sermons and Occasional Sermons, The Eucharist, Fr. Ronald Knox
When He had rested on the seventh day after the stupendous achievement of the natural creation, God made man to be its priest. When He rose on the third day after resting from the labors of His Passion, Incarnated God set the crown on his work of redemption by instituting the Christian priesthood. It was a fresh act of creation, no less amazing in its results than that other; for the powers which the Christian priesthood enjoys exceed the natural powers of man no less significantly than man's natural powers exceed those of the brute beasts. The world, fallen and redeemed, was to be reconciled to God by the ministry of the priest, a representative man, chosen out among his fellows to be their spokesman and God's ambassador. Sanctified by his office, he was to intercede for his sinful brethren, to come between them and God's anger, offering sacrifice in their name.
True, there was nothing unheard of in that. For centuries before our Lord came, priests had been offering sacrifice to God; among the Jews, in obedience to the light of an imperfect revelation, among the Gentiles, from a sort of blind instinct which warned them that atonement for sin, could it only be achieved, was the first step towards communion with God, But all those old sacrifices were no better than a frantic appeal, a despairing gesture. The blood of bulls and goats could not take ways sin; and the priests who offered them were themselves encompassed with infirmities; sinful men themselves, they could not bear the petitions of the people into God's presence as having the right to enter it. Our Lord came, to be at once a sinless Victim and a sinless Priest. Priest and Victim, he offered his own death to be the sufficient atonement for a world's transgressions. When the first Adam received the breath of life, this material universe was elevated into a fresh state of communion with God. When the second Adam gave back that same breath of life into his Father's hands, our guilty race was restored to the divine favor. Ruined long since by Adam's fault, the word could cry once more, HABEMUS PONTIFICEM.
Source: The Divine Sacrifice, (Pastoral Sermons and Occasional Sermons, Fr. Ronald Knox. 1940)
Thou art of the gods and of the sons of the Most High, Human is the dignity of a king; divine that of a priest. When a king dies, honors and power forsake him; when a priest dies, his priesthood remains forever, A king commands men, a priest God himself; a powerful king conquers his enemies; a true priest overcomes the world. A king can imprison the body or otherwise punish it; a priest can bind the soul itself. A king can free captives from bodily chains; a priest can free souls from the tyranny of the devil and the snares of sin. A king can do nothing save on earth; a priest is powerful in heaven itself. A king may possess the treasures of the world ; a priest holds those of heaven. A king may send gifts to kings; a priest holds aloft sacrifice to the God of heaven; A king offers gold; a priest offers God himself. His voice penetrates the heavens whence he draws graces; there he appeases and moves God; there he exercises judgment over men. In very truth his sentence precedes the sentence of God; whatsoever he loosens or binds is loosened or bound in heaven.
Source: An Epitome of the Priestly Life,
The Catholic Church rejoices and glories greatly in the charitable zeal of her clergy in preaching the gospel of Christian peace, in bringing salvation and civilization even to barbarous nations, among whom by their labors, often consecrated by the shedding of their blood, the kingdom of Christ is being daily propagated and our holy faith is winning new laurels and still greater lustre. And if your charitable offices, beloved sons, meet with envy, abuse, calumny, as only too frequently is the case, do not therefore give way to sadness, "be not weary in well-doing" (II Thess., Ill, 13). Keep before your eyes that host of great men who, following the example of the Apostles, in the midst of bitterest contumely borne for the name of Christ, "went rejoicing, blessing when they were cursed." For we are the sons and the brothers of the Saints whose names are resplendent in the book of life, whose praises the Church proclaims: "Let us not stain our glory."* Once the spirit of sacerdotal grace is restored and increased among all orders of the clergy, Our designs, under the Divine guidance, for the restoration of all else, will acquire far more efficacy.
Source: Our Priesthood, by Bruneau, Joseph (1866-1933)
The Altar and God: The Dignity of the Priesthood
The Christian priesthood differs essentially from the priesthood of the Old Law and from the ministry of the various sects. The priesthood in the Old Law descended from father to son. It was an inheritance in the tribe of Levi and in the family of Aaron. Therefore "there were many priests," as St Paul says, "because by reason of death they were not suffered to continue." The Protestant sects reject all idea of a true priesthood. To them the minister is the hired servant of the congregation. He may have great talents and be able to command a large salary, but to his people he is merely an employee, the same as the artist that plays the organ or the sexton that rings the bell. The Catholic Church teaches that with the Old Law the Levitical priesthood passed away. The priest and the sacrifice go together, and when the altar ceased to smoke in the temple court, the sons of Aaron ceased to be priests. Their priesthood was the type and figure of the priesthood of our Lord, even as their sacrifices were the type and figure of the sacrifice that was consummated on Calvary. Now, of Christ, God had said with an oath: "The Lord hath sworn, and He will not repent: Thou art a priest forever." Our Lord therefore has an everlasting priesthood, and, if an everlasting priesthood, he must have an eternal sacrifice. That sacrifice is not the offering of the blood of goats or oxen in an earthly temple and on an earthly altar, but it is the offering of His own blood in a tabernacle not made by hands, in the holy of holies of heaven itself, and on the sublime altar that ever stands in the sight of the majesty of God. In the New Testament, then, there is only one priest and only one sacrifice. That priest is Jesus Christ Himself, and that sacrifice is the Sacrifice of the Cross, which was offered once to exhaust the sins of many. But it is also written in the Scripture that Christ is a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek. Now, Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of the Most High God who met Abraham and blessed him and offered up a sacrifice in bread and wine. The bloody sacrifices of the priesthood of Levi, the offerings of sheep and goats and oxen, typified the bloody death of Christ upon the Cross; the unbloody sacrifice of Melchizedek typifies the clean oblation concerning which the Prophet Malachi also spoke: "From the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my Name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice and there is offered to My name a clean oblation, saith the Lord of Hosts." For it is necessary that there should be sacrifice everywhere. Men are commanded by God to worship Him. The essential elements of worship are prayer and sacrifice. We do not worship God by prayer alone, but by prayer and sacrifice. Man also is composed of body and soul, not of soul alone, but of body and soul. Therefore his worship must be a sensible and external worship as well as an interior and spiritual worship. He must not only pray in his heart, but he must express his prayer in words. His sacrifice must not only be carried by the hands of angels to the altar on high, but it must lie slain before the eyes of men on earth. Now, the one sacrifice of the Christian dispensation is the death of Christ, and Christ is seated at the right hand of God's majesty, offering that one sacrifice for sin. What human eye is there so keen as to pierce the un-created glory, and behold the print of the nails; what human hand so hardy as to dare to reach out and touch that wounded side? It is evident therefore that the death of Christ must be shown to men if we are to have a sacrifice at all. And we read in the first Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians: "I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and, giving thanks, brake, and said: “Take ye, and eat: this is My body, which shall be delivered for you: this do ye for the commemoration of Me.” In like manner, also, the chalice, after He had supped, saying: 'This chalice is the New Testament in My blood: this do ye, as often as ye shall drink, for the commemoration of Me. For as often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, ye shall shew the death of the Lord, until He come." This, then, is the divine plan by which the death of Christ, the Sacrifice of the Cross, is to be perpetuated among men. The Apostles were then and there constituted priests after the order of Melchizedek. They were then and there constituted priests, not like the priests of Aaron, each offering a sacrifice of his own. They were constituted priests by being indued with the priesthood of Jesus Christ, doing what He did, changing bread into the body that was broken for us and changing wine into the blood that was poured out for us, and thus really offering in an unbloody manner the same sacrifice that He offered on the cross. Since our Lord ordered that the sacrifice of His death should be shown to men until His second coming, it was necessary that the Apostles should hand on the power that was given them. By the Sacrament of Holy Orders they provided not only for the due government of the Church, but for the perpetuation of the sacrifice. To some they give the power of the priesthood in its fullness, that is, with the faculty of creating other priests, and these we call bishops; to others they give the power of the priesthood without this privilege, and these we call simply priests. But in priest and in bishop the power of sacrifice is the same, and it is the same Mass that is offered up by the humble missionary in the log hut under the great pines of some northern wilderness as is offered up under the great dome of St. Peter's when the Pope himself stands at the altar and the silver trumpets sound. This, then, is the secret of the dignity of the Christian priest. 'He is indued with the priesthood of Jesus Christ Himself and holy men have not hesitated to say: "Sacerdos alter Christus" — The priest is another Christ. His dignity does not arise from the nobility of his birth, or from the fame of his name. His dignity does not arise from his natural talents or from his acquired learning. His dignity does not arise from the church in which he ministers or the congregation that he serves. His dignity does not arise from his eloquence, though it is his duty to preach the word of God in season and out of season. His dignity does not arise from the power to regenerate the children of God in the waters of baptism, for even the heathen may use that power. His dignity does not arise from the jurisdiction he exercises in the tribunal of penance over the mystical body of Christ, for a priest may go through life without hearing a single confession. His dignity does not arise from the long history and splendid services of the order into which he ha« been incorporated. It is true he may look back for twenty centuries and behold the Christian priesthood march like the sons of Levi at the head of the Christian host carrying the Ark of the Covenant. He may see their fame recorded in every department of human endeavor. In search of souls they have explored the trackless forests and navigated unknown rivers. To carry the word they have gone to the ends of the earth and opened up new nations to science. They have descended into the dark places of great cities to bind the wounds of the broken in spirit, to lift up the fallen, to visit them that are sick and in prison, to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to harbor the harbor-less, and to bury the dead. They have braved the plague in tropic jungles or in stricken towns, not with parade and ostentation, but in the pursuit of their ordinary duty, and when the time came for them they lay down in simple dignity and died amidst their flock. They have been the pioneers of education, the foster fathers of art, and there is no department of human learning or human science in which their names do not shine. They have been great writers, great musicians, great orators, aye, even great statesmen, and some have not borne the sword in vain. Yes, it is an ancient and honorable company into which a young priest is admitted at his ordination, and henceforth he walks forever a brother of the mighty dead. Yet it is not from all or from any of these things comes the dignity with which he is crowned; it is not because of these things the people reverence him and his father's sons bow down before him. No, his dignity has only one source, and only one justification, namely, the stupendous change that was wrought in him by the imposition of hands and the grace of ordination, when he put on the eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ and stood before the world another Christ: "Sacerdos alter Christus" — The priest is another Christ. This is why he did not presume to take this honor to himself, but waited to be called by God, even as Aaron was. This is why he comes to you now, not the nominee of a congregation, but sent even as the Apostles were. This is why there is between you and him this altar rail, the symbol of the everlasting barrier raised between him and the world. That is why he is clothed in the Mass vestments, the white garment that Christ wore, and the heavy cross that He carried to Calvary. That is why he stands before you as a leader of his people, and he only turns his face to you now and again, as a leader might turn to urge you on. That is why he prays in an unknown tongue to manifest to you that he, not you, is the sacrificer, and that he, not you, has power to immolate the mystic victim. That is why, with raised hands and uplifted voice, he now prepares to enter the sanctuary alone. The solemn hymn of thanksgiving is, as it were, the preface for the great mystery of the holy of hollies. He forgets the earth, he boldly faces the gates of heaven, he passes through the serried ranks of angels and archangels, of cherubim and seraphim, of principalities and powers, of thrones and dominations, and as the thunder of the heavenly hymn, "Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of hosts," moves the lintels of the temple doors, he approaches the altar of the Lamb,and he alone standing begins the solemn words of consecration. Behold, it is now no longer a man that officiates at that altar. He takes the bread and he takes the wine. Over them he speaks the words of Jesus Christ: "This is My body — this is My blood." The man has passed away. It is the High Priest Himself that speaks. "This is My body — this is My blood." "Sacerdos alter Christus" — The priest is another Christ. What mortal man could be worthy of so great dignity? It is one of the mysteries of God's dealings with mankind that He did not commit this sublime office to His holy angels, instead of to sinful men. Yet, as Christ did not choose to redeem mankind in the nature of an angel, but in the nature of a man, so He has ordained that His priests should be men, not angels. Christ became a man that we might have a high priest who can have compassion on our infirmities, tempted in all things even as we are tempted, yet without sin. So He makes men His priests that, surrounded as they are with weakness, they may have compassion on them that are ignorant and do err. It is a wonderful dignity, and would that we were worthy of it. It is something far above the strength of human nature, and therefore only to be borne by the abounding and super abounding grace of God. Catholics know this, and therefore, while to-day is a day of rejoicing, it is a day of earnest prayer and holy fear. Pour out your supplication for this Levite who, in the gladness of his youth, for the first time goes unto the altar of God. Pray that God's angels may camp around him even as they camped around the Prophet Eliseus, to protect him against the assaults of the enemy. Pray that his sacrifice may be acceptable like the sacrifice of Abel the Just, and ratified like the sacrifice of Abraham, our Patriarch, and holy like the sacrifice of the High Priest, Melchizedek. Pray that his ministry may bloom with virtue like the rod of Aaron, and that his long service may be found without flaw like the service of Samuel. May his heart be pure even as the heart of John, who was worthy to lie upon the bosom of the Lord, and may he show himself, like Paul, a minister of God in much patience, aye, even if necessary in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in prisons, in sedition, May the grace which he has received not in vain manifest itself in labor, in fastings, in watchings, in chastity, in knowledge, in long suffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, in the word of truth, in the power of God, by the armor of justice on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastised, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as needy, yet enriching many; as having nothing and possessing all. Source: Altar and Priest, 1913 Peter Christopher Yorke
"Charity means speaking the truth, I have encountered it (not speaking
the truth) many times myself as a priest and bishop. It is something we
simple need to address. There is far too much silence - people do not
want to talk about it because the topic is not "politically correct".
But we cannot be silent any longer."
Source: Cardinal Raymond Burke
Some are scandalized at the mixture of good and evil in the Catholic Church, not knowing the Scriptures, nor believing the Word of God. The mixture of good and evil is permitted in the turbulent sea of this world; but they shall be separated on the eternal shore. And yet, though there be an evil mixture in the visible Church of Christ - bad Christians, bad Catholics, men whose lives are a scandal and a shame - nevertheless, the sanctity of the Church is never tainted. It depends not on men, but on the Sanctifier.
Priests and Reparation
George Goyau, when giving notice of the forthcoming publication of a book entitled Lettres de Prêtres aux Armées ( Priests' Letters to the Armies), calls the Holy Mass "the greatest event in the history of humanity," and he adds:
"Daily, the priest brings the effective operation of our Divine Redeemer to bear upon the destinies of the human family. By a supreme act he interweaves the weft of our daily sins with the Divine Ransom; above the chaos of both open and hidden faults he raises the Victim. Our human history is continually being permeated with this Divine sacrifice, a sacrifice both multiple and one. To many this sacred rite is a mere commonplace thing. Nevertheless, through the agency of the priest, they are present at the recurrence of the decisive moment when our guilty world, so justly disinherited, was suddenly put on the way to the plenitude of the supernatural life by the two Mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption. God has chosen the priest to perpetuate these two Mysteries, and no human catastrophe can draw him away from this duty, which from the day of his ordination is one, for eternity, with the very life of his soul."
We could not express more briefly the grandeur and the responsibility of the priesthood. What is the priest? One who carries Christ on through the ages. But Jesus Christ came upon earth to give, to His Eternal Father, a Pontiff, a priest who could adequately make Reparation and Expiation. The priest, therefore, who is charged to prolong, as it were, the role of Christ, ought to imitate Him by offering himself with Christ as an evidence of adoration and expiation. The priest who consecrates will therefore be a victim with Jesus. He does not understand his whole ministry if he confines it to the distribution of the Body of Christ, of the word of God, of the forgiveness of Christ, and does not at the same time accept the role of the victim like his Master, of whom he takes the place and perpetuates the work.
All the years Jesus spent upon earth He was a victim, but He was not satisfied with this, for He had determined to prolong His Sacrifice by the agency of His priests. This He accomplished at the Last Supper, on the eve of His death; hence the Mass sets forth, without the shedding of blood, the immolation of Christ bleeding upon the Cross. Uplifted on Golgotha, Christ between Heaven and earth will be a shield interposed between God's justice and man's sin.
Jesus' mediation will be accepted by God, because of His wounds and His precious blood poured forth. But Jesus is is likewise the shield between Heaven and earth, between God's justice and our sins in every Mass. Each "elevation" compensates for our manifold scandals; each uplifting of the Hose atones for some decadence of ours, for our falls into sin, because the virtue of His blood and wounds lasts on. There are not two sacrifices, but this is the same as that of the Cross, though set forth differently. This is the formal teaching of the Council of Trent.
How many of the faithful, who hear Mass, do not seem to have any knowledge of this adorable Mystery! How many use prayers which have no reference whatever to the Mass, though perhaps appropriate for other occasions! How many know the term "Holy Sacrifice," without any conception of the exact truth and stupendous reality with which it corresponds!
Source: The Ideal of Reparation by Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J. 1852
The doctrines of Godliness are overturned
"The doctrines of Godliness are overturned; the rules of the Church are
in confusion; the ambition of the unprincipled seizes upon places of
authority; and the chief seat is now openly proposed as a reward for
impiety; so that he whose blasphemies are the more shocking, is more
eligible for the oversight of the people.
Priestly gravity has perished; there are none left to feed the Lordʼs flock with knowledge; ambitious men are ever spending, in purposes of self-indulgence and bribery, possessions which they hold in trust for the poor. The accurate observation of the canons are no more; there is no restraint upon sin.
Unbelievers laugh at what they see, and the weak are unsettled; faith is doubtful, ignorance is poured over their souls, because the adulterators of the word in wickedness imitate the truth. Religious people keep silence, but every blaspheming tongue is let loose. Sacred things are profaned; those of the laity who are sound in faith avoid the places of worship, as schools of impiety, and raise their hands in solitude with groans and tears to the Lord in heaven."
Source: St. Basil the Great
The Church of the Fathers, John Henry Newman 1868
The Religious State
He who finds himself bound by a habit of any vice cannot take any holy Order without incurring the guilt of mortal sin.
“I am horrified,” says St. Bernard (Epist. 8), “when I think whence thou comes, wither thou goest, and what a short penance thou hast put between thy sins and thy ordination. However, it is indispensable that thou do not undertake to purify the conscience of others before thou purifiest thy own.
"Of those daring sinners who, though full of bad habits, take priesthood, an ancient author, Gildas say, “It is not to the priesthood that they should be admitted, but they should be dragged to the pillory” (Cast. In eccl. Ord.).
They, then, says Saint Isidore, who are still subject to the habit of any sin should not be promoted to holy orders (Sent. 1. 3, C. 34).
(…) According to St. Gregory, it is particularly necessary with regard to the virtue of chastity that “No one should be admitted to the ministry of the altar unless an assurance has been given of his perfect chastity".
(...) And as a bishop cannot ordain any person unless he be a man of approved chastity, so a confessor cannot permit an incontinent penitent to receive ordination without having a moral certainty that he is free from the bad habit which he had contracted, and that he had acquired a habit of the virtue of chastity.
By St. Alphonsus de Liguori
Source:The Religious State: Together with a Short Treatise on the Vocation to the Priesthood 1889