On the Catholic Priesthood
Priests without Name or Reputation
The world is at present afflicted with a strange malady; it is in the throes of a feverish intoxication; it is like a sick man writhing in pain; it is harassed and tortured by the burning fever of impiety.
But when God shall determine to put an end to these convulsive movements, what will He do? Will He raise up astute politicians and powerful rulers who will restrain as with fetters of iron the seething passions of men? No.
Will He send profound philosophers and great orators to recall these peoples by eloquent speech and powerful reasoning to a sense of their duty? By no means.
What, then, will He do? He will do what He has done in every age when He wished to heal the wounds of society and restore it to moral soundness. He will send apostles chosen for this special work, priests without name or reputation, but strong in strength of faith and holiness of life; these He will send, bearing a cross of wood into the midst of nations invaded and desolated by the demon of pride and the lust of greed and sensuality: Go, ye swifts angels, to a nation rent and torn in pieces, to a terrible people, to a nation expecting and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled.
Thither will these apostolic men go, urged on by the Spirit of God. Error and vice will flee at the sight of them, and a purified land will bring forth a new generation of men, full of life and adorned with every virtue: Thou shalt send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created: and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
Source: Jesus Living in the Priest: Considerations on the Greatness and Holiness of the Priesthood by Rev. Fr. P Millet, S.J. 1901
Who are the priests to whom even the world cannot refuse its esteem and confidence? Are they not precisely those who hold themselves furthest aloof from its vanity and dissipation, and refuse to share in its feasts and diversions?
Such priests fully realize that those who are called to their state should be grave and serious men., They are never seen meddling in other people's business: they live in retirement and silence: they are not anxious to get news, rather they prefer not to know many things which would serve no purpose except to gratify curiosity; they avoid encumbering their memory and burdening their mind with the silly stories and gossip of the world, while their holy faith furnishes them with so many sublime truths on which they can occupy their thoughts with profit and pleasure. In all this they but imitate our Blessed Mother, of whom St. Ambrose beautifully says: She sought no companionship except that of her own thoughts, and she was never less alone than when she seemed alone.
Source: Jesus Living in the Priest: Considerations on the Greatness and Holiness of the Priesthood, Rev. Fr. Millet, SJ 1901
Pomp and Vanity
"No, I do not believe that there ever existed in the world so much pomp and vanity, so much impurity, as at the present day; to find in the world's epoch so criminal, we must go to the days of Noe and the universal deluge. the inns in the cities and villages are filled with persons of abandoned character; they are so numerous that the entire world is infected by them... Avarice and usury increase under the disguised name of contracts, Simony reigns among the clergy, envy among the religious. Gluttony prevails to such an extent in every rank of social life that the fasts of Lent, the vigils and Ember days, are no longer observed... In a word, vice is held in such great honour that those who prefer the service of God to that of the world are held up to scorn as useless ans unworthy members of society."
Source: St. Vincent of Ferrer, The Angel of the Judgment, by F.r Andrew Pradel, O.P.
All Glory to the Blood of Jesus
"The Precious Blood has doubtless always been honored in the Church by devotion to the Passion and Holy Eucharist, but It requires, It exacts a particular homage in our days, since hell, whose hatred for It is extreme, has caused It to be particularly trampled upon and despised...Careless and indifferent Christians, though well aware that is was sin which caused Its most painful effusions, incessantly commit the self-same sins. Jesus complains of this by the mouth of the Prophet: "Of what avail is My Blood? and asks for some return for the world's ingratitude towards the Price of our Salvation.
source: Devotion to the Precious Blood
On Promoting Devotion to the Precious Blood (Pope John XXIII)
To his Venerable Brother Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and other Local Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See
Venerable brethren: greetings and apostolic blessings.
From the very outset of our pontificate, in speaking of daily devotions we have repeatedly urged the faithful (often in eager tones that frankly hinted our future design) to cherish warmly that marvelous manifestation of divine mercy toward individuals and Holy Church and the whole world redeemed and saved by Jesus Christ: we mean devotion to his Most Precious Blood.
From infancy this devotion was instilled in us within our own household. Fondly we still recall how our parents used to recite the Litany of the Most Precious Blood every day during July.
The Apostle’s wholesome advice comes to mind: “Keep watch, then, over yourselves, and over God’s Church, in which the Holy Spirit has made you bishops; you are to be the shepherds of that flock which he won for himself at the price of his own blood.” Now among the cares of our pastoral office, venerable brethren, we are convinced that, second only to vigilance over sound doctrine, preference belongs to the proper surveillance and development of piety, in both its liturgical and private expressions. With that in mind, we judge it most timely to call our beloved children’s attention to the unbreakable bond which must exist between the devotions to the Most Holy Name and Most Sacred Heart of Jesus — already so widespread among Christians — and devotion to the incarnate Word’s Most Precious Blood, “shed for many, to the remission of sins.”
It is supremely important that the Church’s liturgy fully conform to Catholic belief (“the law for prayer is the law for faith”), and that only those devotional forms be sanctioned which well up from the unsullied springs of true faith. But the same logic calls for complete accord among different devotions. Those deemed more basic and more conducive to holiness must not be at odds with or cut off from one another. And the more individualistic and secondary ones must give way in popularity and practice to those devotions which more effectively actuate the fullness of salvation wrought by the “one mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ, who is a man, like them, and gave himself as a ransom for them all.”  Through living in an atmosphere thus charged with true faith and solid piety the faithful can be confident that they are “thinking with the Church” and holding fast in the loving fellowship of prayer to Christ Jesus, the high priest of that sublime religion which he founded and which owes to him its name, its strength, its dignity.
The Church’s wonderful advances in liturgical piety match the progress of faith itself in penetrating divine truth. Within this development it is most heart-warming to observe how often in recent centuries this Holy See has openly approved and furthered the three devotions just mentioned. From the Middle Ages, it is true, many pious persons practiced these devotions, which then spread to various dioceses and religious orders and congregations. Nevertheless it remained for the Chair of Peter to pronounce them orthodox and approve them for the Church as a whole.
Suffice it to recall the spiritual favors that our predecessors from the sixteenth century on have attached to practicing devotion to the Most Holy Name of Jesus, which in the previous century St. Bernardine of Siena untiringly spread throughout Italy. Approval was given first to the Office and Mass of the Most Holy Name and later to the Litany. No less striking are the benefits the popes have attached to practicing devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, whose rise and spread owe so much to the revelations of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. So highly have all the popes regarded this devotion that again and again in their official acts they have expounded its nature, defended its validity, promoted its practice. Their crowning achievement on this devotion are three splendid encyclicals.
Likewise the devotion to the Most Precious Blood, which owes its marvelous diffusion to the 19th-century Roman priest, St. Gaspar del Bufalo, has rightly merited the approval and backing of this Apostolic See. We may recall that by order of Benedict XIV the Mass and Office in honor of the divine Savior’s adorable Blood were composed. And to fulfill a vow made at Gaeta Pius IX extended the feast to the whole Church. Finally, as a commemoration of the nineteenth centenary of our redemption, Pius XI of happy memory raised this feast to the rank of first-class double, so that the greater liturgical splendor would highlight the devotion and bring to men more abundant fruits of the re deeming Blood.
Following our predecessors’ example we have taken further steps to promote the devotion to the Precious Blood of the unblemished Lamb, Jesus Christ. We have approved the Litany of the Precious Blood drawn up by the Sacred Congregation of Rites and through special indulgences have encouraged its public and private recitation throughout the Catholic world. Amid today’s most serious and pressing spiritual needs, may this latest exercise of that “care for all the churches” proper to our sovereign office awaken in Christian hearts a firm conviction about the supreme abiding effectiveness of these three devotions.
As we now approach the feast and month devoted to honoring Christ’s Blood —- the price of our redemption, the pledge of salvation and life eternal — may Christians meditate on it more fervently, may they savor its fruits more frequently in sacramental communion. Let their meditations on the boundless power of the Blood be bathed in the light of sound biblical teaching and the doctrine of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. How truly precious is this Blood is voiced in the song which the Church sings with the Angelic Doctor (sentiments wisely seconded by our predecessor Clement VI  ) :
Blood that but one drop of has the world to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin. 
Unlimited is the effectiveness of the God-Man’s Blood — just as unlimited as the love that impelled him to pour it out for us, first at his circumcision eight days after birth, and more profusely later on in his agony in the garden, in his scourging and crowning with thorns, in his climb to Calvary and crucifixion, and finally from out that great wide wound in his side which symbolizes the divine Blood cascading down into all the Church’s sacraments. Such surpassing love suggests, nay demands, that everyone reborn in the torrents of that Blood adore it with grateful love.
The Blood of the new and eternal covenant especially deserves this worship of latria when it is elevated during the sacrifice of the Mass. But such worship achieves its normal fulfillment in sacramental communion with the same Blood, indissolubly united with Christ’s Eucharistic Body. In intimate association with the celebrant the faithful can then truly make his sentiments at communion their own: “I will take the chalice of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. . . The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my soul for everlasting life. Amen.” Thus as often as they come worthily to this holy table they will receive more abundant fruits of the redemption and resurrection and eternal life won for all men by the Blood Christ shed “through the Holy Spirit.” Nourished by his Body and Blood, sharing the divine strength that has sustained count less martyrs, they will stand up to the slings and arrows of each day’s fortunes — even if need be to martyrdom itself for the sake of Christian virtue and the kingdom of God. Theirs will be the experience of that burning love which made St. John Chrysostom cry out:
Let us, then, come back from that table like lions breathing out fire, thus becoming terrifying to the Devil, and remaining mindful of our Head and of the love he has shown for us. . . This Blood, when worthily received, drives away demons and puts them at a distance from us, and even summons to us angels and the Lord of angels. . . This Blood, poured out in abundance, has washed the whole world clean. . . This is the price of the world; by it Christ purchased the Church… This thought will check in us unruly passions. How long, in truth, shall we be attached to present things? How long shall we remain asleep? How long shall we not take thought for our own salvation? Let us remember what privileges God has bestowed on us, let us give thanks, let us glorify him, not only by faith, but also by our very works. 
If only Christians would reflect more frequently on the fatherly warning of the first pope: “Look anxiously, then, to the ordering of your lives while your stay on earth lasts.
You know well enough that your ransom was not paid in earthly currency, silver or gold; it was paid in the precious blood of Christ; no lamb was ever so pure, so spotless a victim.” If only they would lend a more eager ear to the apostle of the Gentiles: “A great price was paid to ransom you; glorify God by making your bodies the shrines of his presence.” Their upright lives would then be the shining ex ample they ought to be; Christ’s Church would far more effectively fulfill its mission to men. God wants all men to be saved, for he has willed that they should all be ransomed by the Blood of his only-begotten Son; he calls them all to be members of the one Mystical Body whose head is Christ. If only men would be more responsive to these promptings of his grace, how much the bonds of brotherly love among individuals and peoples and nations would be strengthened. Life in society would be so much more peaceable, so much worthier of God and the human nature created in his image and likeness.
This is the sublime vocation that St. Paul urged Jewish converts to fix their minds on when tempted to nostalgia for what was only a weak figure and prelude of the new covenant: “The scene of your approach now is mount Sion, is the heavenly Jerusalem, city of the living God; here are gathered thousands upon thousands of angels, here is the assembly of those first-born sons whose names are written in heaven, here is God sitting in judgment on all men, here are the spirits of just men, now made perfect; here is Jesus, the spokesman of the new covenant, and the sprinkling of his blood, which has better things to say than Abel’s had.” 
We have full confidence, venerable brethren, that these fatherly exhortations of ours, once brought to the attention of your priests and people in whatever way you deem best, will be put into practice not just willingly but enthusiastically. As a sign of heavenly graces and our affection we impart our most heartfelt apostolic blessing to each of you and to all your flocks, and particularly to those who respond with devout generosity to the promptings of this letter.
Given at St. Peter’s in Rome, the eve of the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s Most Precious Blood, June 30, 1960, the second year of our pontificate.
1. Acts 20:28.
2. Matthew 26 :2&
3. Encyclical “On the Sacred Liturgy,” America Press edition (New York: 1954), No. 46.
4. I Timothy 2:5-6.
5. Acta Sanctae Sedis 18 (1886) :509.
6. Cf. Office for the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, 2nd nocturn, lesson 5.
7. “On the Consecration of mankind to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” The
Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII (New York: 1903), 454– 461; “The Reparation Due to the Sacred Heart,” The Catholic Mind
26 (1928): 221-235; “On Devotion to the Sacred Heart,” The Pope
Speaks 3 (1956): 115-149.
8. Decree “Redempti Sumus,” Aug. 10, 1849, Decreta Authentica S.RC. (Rome: 1898), II, No. 2978.
9. II Corinthians 11:28.
10. Bull “The Only Begotten Son of God,” Jan. 25, 1343, The Sources of Catholic Dogma (St. Louis: 1957), No. 550.
1. Hymn “Adoro te devote.” Translation from Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins (Oxford: 1930), No. 89.
12. Luke 22:43.
13. Hebrews 9:14.
14. “Homily 46,” Commentary on Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist (Fathers of the Church, New York: 1957), 469, 471-472.
15. 1 Peter 1:17-19.
16. I Corinthians 6:20.
17. Cf. I Timothy 2:4.
18. Cf. Genesis 1:26.
19. Hebrews 12:22-24.
Source: Papal Encyclicals
Christianize Marxist Doctrine
In times past the priests who served in the synagogue made the mistake of looking forward to a Messiahship entirely of this world, as though the Messias intended to found an earthly kingdom with Israel as the ruling power. At the present time a similar danger seems to exist, a danger which has been noticed by many bishops in different parts of the world. Men and women are eagerly awaiting another earthly “messianic kingdom” in which the workers are to be completely free. This is a very different situation from that which existed some years ago when little notice was taken of the apostolate amongst the working class. Although this apostolate is now under way it is in danger of being inspired by a purely naturalist spirit, a mistake already made by Lamennais, who imperceptibly lost sight of the true mission of the Church – the guiding of men towards eternal life- and began to preach more and more in the vein that the true goal of the Church was the temporal happiness of mankind freed from the yoke of oppression. (…)
Recently many bishops have expressed their fear of a similar danger arising amongst those who are anxious to “christianize” Marxist doctrine in their desire to remedy present-day evils. In so doing they are laying too much store by the temporal happiness of the people and neglecting their eternal welfare, which is their true final end and ought to be their dominant intention, something they earnestly desire, not merely the object of an ineffective wish. Above all must it be true of a priest that he constantly renews this primary intent of striving for the final end, if he wants his activity to be supernatural and fruitful. On the efficacy of that intention will depend all his other intents, decisions, and actions. That is why Christ said: “Make it your first care to find the kingdom of God, and his approval, and all these things shall be yours without the asking”; that is to say, food, clothing, and a certain amount of temporal well-being for mankind but in due proportion to their final end. But he never promised to relieve man of the daily carrying of his cross. The Catholic priest must remember this if he desires to attain to a genuine union with Christ our high priest and victim, and to make his apostolate supernatural and fruitful.
Source: The priest in union with Christ, Rev. R. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. 1954
Blasphemy and Sodomy
"I might also add, that if blasphemy is a terrible thing, I am not aware that sodomy is any better. The former indeed causes a man to err; the latter brings him to perdition. The one separates the soul from God; the other joins it to the devil. The former expels one from heaven; the latter buries him in hell. The one blinds the eyes of the soul; the other hurls one into the abyss of ruin. And if we are careful to investigate which of these crimes is the weightier in the scales of divine scrutiny, a search of Sacred Scripture will provide a satisfactory answer. There, indeed, we find that the children of Israel who blaspheme God and worshiped idols were taken into captivity; but we notice that sodomites were devoured in the sulphurous flames of a fire from heaven"
Source: Peter Damian: Book of Gomorrah
ASCENSION OF JESUS CHRIST
«He ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.” — Apostles’ Creed.
The only Son of God was made man, and became like unto us in all things, sin alone excepted. He died on the cross for the salvation of the world. His body was placed in a tomb; His soul descended into Limbo to deliver the holy souls who were waiting there until the blood of our Savior should wash away and blot out the sins of the world; which was necessary before they could enter into glory. The third day after the painful and cruel torments of the cross, Christ came forth gloriously from the grave, as He had foretold. Behold, my Brethren, what I explained to you in my last instruction.
Now, let us turn our attention to the sixth article of our creed, an article which will make the subject of this day’s instruction. Christ rises from the dead, ascends into heaven, and seats himself at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. Listen, my Brethren, , to the account which the Evangelist St. Luke furnishes us, concerning the wonderful Ascension of our Savior, Jesus Christ, into heaven. After His resurrection, our divine Redeemer remained during forty days on earth, showing himself frequently to His Apostles and disciples, instructing them in many very important things; such as the establishment of His Church, the propagation of the Gospel, all that regarded the reign of God in the hearts of men, and every thing calculated to bring souls to the happiness of heaven. At last, when all the Apostles and disciples were assembled at Jerusalem, Jesus appears to them for the last time. He takes a seat at their table, eats and drinks with them. During the repast, He reproaches them, but with great benignity, for their want of faith in His resurrection, of which He had now come to give them still another evident and palpable proof; He imposes upon them the mission of preaching His word to every creature, and commands them to travel the whole world, propagating His religion and spreading His divine doctrine among all nations. To inspire them with courage and penetrate their hearts with a generous confidence, He bestows upon them the divine power of working miracles, thus to give greater force to the truths which they were to announce, and which the world, converted at the sight of these prodigies of the omnipotence of God, might embrace and practice.
Our divine Lord then rises, and, followed by His Apostles and disciples, goes out from the city, and proceeds to the mount of Olives. There His agony had commenced; thence too, will He take His flight into glory. He gives His Apostles and disciples the most consoling assurance that He would never cease to protect them; recommends them to remain at Jerusalem, until they should receive the Holy Ghost, the Comforter whom He had promised to send them; He speaks to them with all the tenderness of a father addressing his children, whom he is about to leave; raises His hand, blesses them, recommends them to the favor and protection of His heavenly Father; and then, full of glory and majesty, elevates himself in the air, and mounts gradually toward heaven. For some time the Apostles gaze on the form of their departing Master; but at length, the clouds of heaven conceal Him from their view. Jesus continues His ascent into heaven, seats himself at the right of hand of the Almighty Father, to whom He is perfectly equal, and is from whom He receives, as man, the first place in heaven, above every creature.
Jesus ascends into heaven; He goes to take possession of the glory which was due to Him. He had come down from the bosom of His Father, to take, on earth, the form of a slave, to live in poverty and disgrace,— to die in torments, to pour out His blood on the cross for the redemption of the human race. All has been consummated, the mission of the Man-God has been accomplished, and behold, “from the height of the cross, He shall draw all unto Him. The Son of man has crushed the serpents head; sin has been blotted out; the empire of the devil annihilated; error cheeked and light diffused; and the God of heaven and earth shall be adored in spirit and in truth. Yes, Jesus hath glorified His Father among men, it was just that He should receive from His Father infinite glory in the eternal mansions. But before quitting the earth, He said to us: “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many mansions ... I go to prepare a place for you. And if I shall go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will take you to myself; that where I am, you also may be.” (St John, xiv : 1, 2, 3.)
Christ ascended into heaven, to prepare a place for us there; He himself has said: “Where I am, you also may be.” A day will come, when it will he permitted us to participate in the glory of our divine Savior. It will be so if we place ourselves among the number of the true servants of Jesus Christ; if we preserve in our hearts and manifest in our conduct, the holy commandments which He has given us; if, in fine, we endeavor to render ourselves like to Jesus Christ, our Savior and our model, “A faithful saying,” says St. Paul to Timothy; “if we be dead with Christ, we shall live also with Him. If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He will also deny us.” (2 Timothy, ii : 1, 2.) Where Christ is, there also must His servants be.
O! divine Jesus, let me dwell with Thee in eternity, in the tabernacles of Thy Father! But, O my Savior, I am so weak, and I fall into so many sins! Must not the splendor of Thy glory over- whelm the unhappy sinner, who would dare aspire to the happiness of heaven? This fear would fill my soul with desolation, did I not know that Thou hast ascended into heaven to be our advocate and mediator with Thy Father. “My little children,” writes St. John to the first Christians; “these things I write to you, that you may not sin. But if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Just. And He is the propitiation for our sins.”(Epistle of St. John, ii : 1, 9.) Yes, my Brethren, Jesus Christ is our advocate in heaven; He who destroyed sin, is our Mediator with God; He is there under the eyes of His Father, as a constant victim and perpetual sacrifice for our sins. Should not this saving truth fill our souls with sweet and consoling hope! Jesus intercedes for us! God the Father did not spare His only Son, but delivered Him up for us, and how, after having bestowed upon us this gift, can He refuse us any thing which this divine Savior asks for us? Oh! we have an advocate whose influence over the heart of God is infinite, we can, therefore, reach heaven.
My Brethren, heaven is our country, and it is there only we can find happiness. We are only passengers on earth, and we see here only empty baubles, vanities, deceptions and sufferings. Let us not allow our hearts to be foolishly attached to the things of this world; let us remember that we live not for time, but for eternity. Let us seek the things that are in heaven, where Jesus Christ sitteth at the right hand of God; let us taste the things that are of heaven, and not the things of earth. When Jesus Christ shall appear. He who is our life, we too shall appear with Him in glory, if we walk in His footsteps, follow the example He has given us, obey the roles and precepts which He has imposed upon us, and love God and our neighbor as He has commanded. We shall reap in eternity what we have sown in time. Let us, therefore, keep our hearts raised up to heaven; let us have God always before our eyes, let us glorify Him, by advancing in the practice of good works, and then as vigilant and faithful servants, we shall deserve to ascend to the mansions of our divine Master. — Amen.
If the Church...
Truly, if the Church is the Spouse of Jesus Christ, the Popes, bishops and priests are her guardians. If the Church is an army ranged in battle, the Popes, the bishops and priests are her generals. if the Church is a vessel steering across the storms of persecutions, the Popes, the bishops, and priests are her pilots. If the Church is the Mystic Body of Christ, and if the faithful are its members, the Popes, the bishops, and priests are the principal members of this Body; by their eyes, Jesus Christ watches over His flock; by their feet, He carries to every nation the Gospel of peace; by their hearts, He diffuses everywhere the life of that divine charity without which all is dead. If the Church is the people of acquisition, bought at a great price, the Popes, the bishops, and priests are the leaders, the teachers, the princes of that chose generation. If the Church is that sacred edifice built up by the Divine Wisdom Itself for the children of God, the Popes, the bishops, and priests are the administrators of this palace; they are the columns of the Church upon which the whole world rests.
God the Father has created the world without the Popes, the bishops and priests, but it is only through them that he saves it. God the Son redeemed the world without the Popes, the bishops and priests, but it is only by them that He applies His Blood to the souls of men, and secures the fruits of His copious Redemption.
And you can hardly name a single blessing of the Holy Ghost, without beholding by the side of that blessing the priest as the instrument through which that Divine Spirit communicates His blessing.
Yes, if St. Bernard is right in saying that all comes to us through Mary, we are also right in saying that all comes to the people through the Popes, the bishops and the priest: yes, all happiness, every grace, every heavenly gift.
All the other gifts of God would avail us nothing without the Popes, the bishops and priest. What would be the use of a house full of golf, if there were no one to open the door for you?
Now the Popes, the bishops and priests have the key of all the treasures of heaven; it is they who open the door. They are the stewards of the Lord, the administrators of His goods. Without them, the Passion of our Lord would profit us nothing. Look at the poor heathen - of what benefit is our Lord's death tho them? Alas! they can have no share in the Redemption, so long as they have no priests to apply His blood to their souls.
No on understands this better than the devil, and his associates in this world. When they wish to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the Popes, the bishops, and priests: for where there is no priest there is no sacrifice, and where there is no sacrifice there is no religion. What should we do in the Church? the people would say; there is no Mass now, our Lord is no longer there; we may as well pray at home.
Source: The Catholic Priest, Rev. Michael Muller C.S.S.R
Vocation to the Priesthood
What is a vocation to the Priesthood? It is a call from Christ to come and follow Him and become His Priest and help Him in the priestly work of His Church. This work is chiefly: celebrating Mass, administering the Sacraments, giving the blessings of the Church, and preaching the Gospel, and thereby helping other people to gain Heaven. Christ Himself called His first twelve Apostles and Priests. Ever since that time, He has been calling boys and young men to the Priesthood. Christ is God. So this vocation to the Priesthood comes from God. It always has, and it always will come from God. In one way or another, He calls to the Priesthood all those young men whom He has chosen. Without this call, there is no vocation. How did Jesus call His Apostles to the Priesthood? Did He do this with, or without, the help of others? In most cases, He had others helping Him, or at least preparing for the life and work of the Priesthood those who were to be called. One of His helpers was Saint John the Baptist. The chief work of John the Baptist was to tell the people about Jesus and prepare them to follow Him. He was preaching at the River Jordan. Among those who listened to him, were some young men. John was telling them about some of the wonderful things which the Promised Redeemer would do. Then a Man, dressed like other men of his time, was seen walking by. John the Baptist saw this Man, and knew that He was the Promised Redeemer. He said to the people: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. This is He of whom I spoke” (John 1, 29). Two young men, John and Andrew, heard these words. They went to Jesus to learn who He was and what He was going to do. They loved Him and became His Apostles. John the Baptist had prepared them for this, and led them to it. In like manner, Jesus chose the other Apostles. After they were prepared with the help of others, He said to each of them: “Come, follow Me.” First, Jesus called the young men to be His Apostles. Then, He taught and trained them month after month until they were able to help Him with His work. Jesus is still calling to the Priesthood those whom He chooses, and training them with the help of others. It is true, He is seen no longer walking among men as a man. But He is still with them. He is with them in company with God the Holy Spirit. And He is with them as the Risen Savior, as the High Priest of His Church; He is with them personally in the Holy Eucharist. He is still calling those whom He chooses to be His Priests. God knows all things. He plans all things according to His own will. If we have a vocation to the Priesthood, God knew this before we came into the world. And He gave us the desire, talent, health, parents, and all else that we would need to follow our vocation. At first we may not know we have a vocation to the Priesthood. But at the proper time, God makes it known to us, sometimes suddenly, more often slowly and by degrees. Before Saint Paul was a Christian, he never even dreamed that he would be a Priest in Christ’s Church. He persecuted the Church which Christ founded. In so doing, he believed he was pleasing God, for he thought that the Jewish religion was still God’s one true Church. Suddenly, Jesus by a miracle struck him with blindness and spoke to him. At once Paul became a Christian, and then an Apostle and Priest. Some boys and young men learn of their vocation to the Priesthood suddenly. But most of them learn of it slowly. Day by day, it becomes clearer to them what God would have them do. A priest, a religious, a sermon, a book, a friend, or something else, inspires them with the thought that they have a vocation, or to be more sure of it. First, they may be in doubt; then they are almost sure; and then they become certain that Jesus is calling them, saying to them: “Come, and follow Me as a Priest.” God has placed each of us on earth to do a special work for Him. As soon as we come to the use of reason, we should begin praying and studying to find out what that work is; then we must fit ourselves to do that work well. If we think Christ is calling us to be a Priest in the diocesan Priesthood or to the Priesthood in the religious life, we should do all we can to make certain of it. We should pray fervently and consider whether we have the necessary health and strength, and whether we can be taught and trained to do the work of the Priesthood well. We must see to it that we keep from mortal sin and spare no effort to keep from all venial sin also. We must resolve to become a Priest not for any earthly pleasure or profit, but solely to help Christ in His Church, saving people from hell, helping them to Heaven, and making them holier and happier. And while we thus plan to be a Priest, we should be living, as well as we can, the life of the Priesthood.
Source: Vocations, Fr. Richard Felix, O.S.B.
The Duties of the Priest
Did you ever think about becoming a Priest? If so, one of your first thoughts was: What are the duties of a Priest? You knew that unless you found joys in the duties of the Priesthood, you could not be happy. And you knew that you could not do your best work for Christ, unless you were happy while doing it. You will find great joy in prayer. The life of a good Priest is a life full of prayer. He says now and then during the day and night the prayers which all other good Catholics say. In addition to these, he prays the liturgical prayers of the Church. Each day he celebrates Mass and says the Divine Office. While saying the Office, he studies in prayer the Bible for fully an hour a day. Then while administering the Sacraments and conducting other services, he says many other prayers in the name of the Church. Assisting at Mass fills your heart with peace and happiness. Each morning the Priest celebrates the Holy Sacrifice. In preparation for this sublime act of worship, he spends some time in prayer; and after the Holy Sacrifice, he again spends considerable time thanking God. Thus in prayer and Sacrifice, he spends another hour each day. Receiving the Sacrament of Penance brings peace and joy to you. Each week the Priest usually spends hours in the confessional. One after another, repenting sinners come and get God’s forgiveness of their sins. Then they go away holy and happy, resolving never to sin again. Your heart is thrilled with the joy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus every time you receive Him in Holy Communion. The Priest brings Jesus from the altar, and under the form of bread, places Him on your tongue in Holy Communion; and you receive Him into your body and soul. For a few moments, the Risen Jesus lives in you as in a living temple; and then as God, He continues to remain with you. You delight to tell others about Jesus and to explain His Gospel to them. Every day the Priest is engaged in this work. He does it while speaking with others. He does it while instructing those who come to him and wish to become Catholics. He does it while preparing children and older people for receiving the Sacraments. And he does it while preaching or giving instructions at Mass and other services. So day after day until death, the Priest spends most of his time doing the work and attending to the worship of God in His Church. You, too, would be very happy doing God’s work. Jesus is “a High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek”; pray for the day when by receiving the Sacrament of Holy Orders you can be made and marked His faithful Priest forever.
Source: Vocations, Fr. Richard Felix, O.S.B.
Day 46 - April 19 - Good Friday: Model Your Death Upon That of Jesus Christ
If we were required to die twice, we could jettison one death. But man dies once only, and upon his death depends his eternity. Where the tree falls, there shall it lie. If, at the hour of his death, someone is living in some bad habit, his poor soul will fall on the side of Hell. If, on the other hand, he is in the state of grace, it will take the road for heaven. Oh, happy road!....
Generally speaking, one dies as one has lived. That is one of the great truths which Holy Scripture and the Fathers repeat in many different places. If you live as good Christians, you will be sure to die as good Christians, but if you live badly, you will be sure to die a bad death. The prophet Isaias warns us that the impious man who thinks only of doing evil is in a woeful state, for he will be treated as he deserves. At death he will receive the reward for the work he has done. It is true, however, that sometimes, by a kind of miracle, one may begin badly and finish well, but that happens so rarely that, as St. Jerome puts it, death is generally the echo of life. You think that you will return then to God? No, you will perish in sin....
The Holy Ghost tells us that if we have a friend, we should do him some good before we die. Well, my dear brethren, could one have a better friend than one's soul? Let us do all the good for it that we can, for at the moment when we would like to do our souls good, we shall be able to do no more!.... Life is short. If you defer changing your ways until the hour of your death, you are blind, for you do not know either the time or the place where you will die, perhaps without any assistance. Who knows if you will not go this night, covered in your sins, before the tribunal of Jesus Christ?.... Yes, my dear brethren, as life is, so is death. Do not hope for a miracle, which God but rarely performs. You are living in sin; very well, you will die in sin....
If we desire to die a good death, we must lead a Christian life. And the way for us to prepare for a good death is to model our deaths upon the death of Jesus Christ. Can the life of the good Christian be anything other than that of a man nailed to the Cross with Jesus Christ?
Day 45 - April 18 - Holy Thursday- It is Necessary to be Converted
No, my dear brethren, let us never forget that in order to receive Holy Communion it is necessary to be converted and strong in a true resolution to persevere. When Jesus Christ desired to give His Adorable Body and His Precious Blood to His Apostles, in order to teach them how pure one should be before receiving It, He even went so far as to wash their feet. By that He wishes to show us that we can never be purified enough of our sins, even our venial sins. It is true that the venial sin does not make our Communions unworthy, but it is a cause of our profiting hardly at all by such a great blessing and happiness. The proof of that is very clear when you consider how many times we have received Holy Communion during the course of our lives. And have we become any better?.... No, not at all, and the real cause of that is that practically all the time we are holding onto our bad habits; we do not break ourselves of any one of them more than another. We have a horror of the big sins which kill our souls, but all those little fits of impatience, those grumblings when some worries or troubles befall us, or some disappointments or setbacks – these mean nothing to us. You will admit that in spite of so many Confessions and Holy Communions, you are always the same, that your Confessions are nothing else, nor have they been for years, than a repetition of the same sins, which, although venial, are none the less damaging to the merit of your Holy Communions.
You have been heard to say, with good reason, that you are no better one day than another, but who is stopping you from correcting your faults?.... If you are always the same, it is simply because you do not want to make even small efforts to improve yourself. You do not want to endure anything or to be opposed in anything. You would like everyone to be fond of you and to have a good opinion of you, which is a difficult enough thing.
Let us try hard, my dear brethren, to destroy all that could be in the smallest way displeasing to Jesus Christ, and we shall see how our Communions will help us to make great strides towards Heaven. And the more we do this, the more we shall feel ourselves becoming detached from sin and inclining towards God.... This is what I desire for you.
Day 44 - April 18 - Prisoners of Sin
If we understood fully what it is to receive the sacraments, we should bring to the reception of them very much better sentiments than those we do. It is true that the greater number of people, in hiding their sins, always keep at the back of their minds the thought of acknowledging them. Without a miracle, they will not be any the less lost for that.
If you want the reason, it is very easy to give it to you. The more we remain in that terrible state which makes Heaven and earth tremble, the more the Devil takes control of us, the more the grace of God diminishes in us, the more our fear increases, the more our sacrileges multiply, and the more we fall away.
The result is that we put ourselves almost beyond the possibility of returning into favor with God. I will give you a hundred examples of this against one to the contrary. Tell me, my dear brethren, can you even hope that after passing perhaps five or six years in sacrilege, during which you outraged God more than did all the Jews together, you would dare to believe that God is going to give you all the graces which you will need to emerge from this terrible state? You think that notwithstanding the many crimes against Jesus Christ of which you have been guilty, you have only to say: "I am going to give up sin now and all will be over."
Alas, my friends! Who has guaranteed to you that Jesus Christ will not have made to you the same threat He made to the Jews and pronounce the same sentence which He pronounced against them?.... You did not wish to profit by the graces which I wanted to give you; but I will leave you alone, and you will seek Me and you will not find Me, and you will die in your sin!.... Alas, my dear brethren, our poor souls, once they are in the Devil's hands, will not escape from these as easily as we would like to believe.... Look, my dear brethren, at what the Devil does to mislead us.
When we are committing sin, he represents it to us as a mere trifle. He makes us think that there are a great many others who do much worse than we do. Or again, that as we will be confessing the sin, it will be as easy to say four times as twice. But once the sin has been committed, he acts in exactly the opposite way. He represents the sin to us as a monstrous thing. He fills us with such a horror of it that we no longer have the courage to confess it. If we are too frightened to keep the sin hidden, he tells us, to reassure us, that we will confess it at our very next Confession. Subsequently, he tells us that we will not have the courage to do that now, that it would be better to wait for another time to confess it. Take care, my dear brethren; it is only the first step which costs the effort. Once in the prison of the sin, it is very difficult, indeed, to break out of it....
But, you are thinking, I do not really believe that there are many who would be capable of hiding their sins because they would be too much troubled by them. Ah, my dear brethren, if I had to affirm on oath whether there were or were not such people, I would not hesitate to say that there are at least five or six listening to me who are consumed by remorse for their sins and who know that what I say is true. But have patience; you will see them on the day of judgment, and you will recall what I have said to you today. Oh, my God, how shame and fear can hold a Christian soul prisoner in such a terrifying state! Ah, my dear brethren, what are you preparing for yourselves?
You do not dare to make a clean breast of it to your pastor? But is he the only one in the world? Would you not find priests who would have the charity to receive you? Do you think that you would be given too severe a penance? Ah, my children, do not let that stop you! You would be helped; the greater part of it all would be done for you. They would pray for you; they would weep for your sins in order to draw down with greater abundance the mercies of God on you! My friends, have pity on that poor soul which cost Jesus Christ so dearly!.... Oh, my God, who will ever understand the blindness of these poor sinners! You have hidden your sin, my child, but it must be known one day, and then in the eyes of the whole universe, while by one word you would have hidden it forever and you would have changed your hell for an eternity of happiness. Alas, that a sacrilege can lead these poor sinners so far. They do not want to die in that state, but they have not the strength to leave it. My God, torment them so greatly that they will not be able to stay there!