On the Catholic Priesthood
Pray, pray for your priests!
"Pray, pray for your priests; every nation, every diocese gets the clergy it deserves. We priests are only earthen vessels, you know for yourselves many of the shortcomings, hasty temper and slovenly habits and so on, by which we often disgrace the livery we wear. But, when you observe such things, you merely shrug your shoulders, and say, "Pity Father So-and-so isn't more like poor Canon So-and-so".
You should be on your knees, this next week, praying for the clergy
everywhere, from the Holy Father himself down to the new priests
[...]; praying for the seminaries too, the factories where the tools
of Christ are made. God protect His Church in the anxious, bewildered
days that are coming; and give us supply of good priests to work as
the martyrs worked, to live as the martyrs lived, and if need be to
die as the martyrs died, to the glory of His Holy Name."
-- Monsignor Ronald Knox, Priesthood, Pastoral Sermons and Occasional Sermons
Prayer for Priests Who Have Become Unfaithful to Their Vocation
Enlighten their minds and strengthen their wills, that they may turn away from all sin and error and come back to Thy holy altar and to Thy people. O most compassionate Savior! Remember that Thou didst once redeem the souls of Thine erring priests with Thy Precious Blood and in infinite preferential love didst impress upon them the indelible character of the priesthood. Put wholly to shame those miserable helpers of Satan who lay snares for the virtue of priests and endanger the holy ideal of the priesthood.
graciously accept our prayers and sacrifices for poor priests who have
gone astray and hear our earnest petition. Amen
Source: Curé d'Ars Prayer Group
Regina Cleri: A Priest's Prayer
Mother of God, in thy surpassing grace
The Christian priest his glorious type may trace;
His functions study in thy life divine,
And sigh to thee for virtues like to thine.
What holy orders to his soul might be
Was thy conception’s sanctity to thee:
A sacramental fount, a living well,
Whence all thy mighty stream of graces fell—
That purest love which in thy lowly womb
Made heaven’s great Exile find a royal home—
That thrill of rapturous joy when Jesus pressed
His infant lips upon thy virgin-breast—
That strength to bear thy more than martyr’s sword
And murmur still, ‘the Handmaid of the Lord.’
Then, Lady, look with pity upon one
Who bears the priestly image of thy Son;
By whose unworthy hands and trembling breath
The Victim-Priest renews his mystic death—
Whose functions bind him to thy highest care,
While conscience cries, ‘Presumptuous man, beware.’
O Glorious Queen, thy lamp was kindled bright
In thy conception: yet, through all the night,
Waiting the King of kings, thy prudent toil
Trimmed and replenished it with purest oil.
My priestly lamp burns dim; Oh, pray thy Spouse,
Within my sluggish spirit to arouse
The grace the priestly character demands,
Pledged by the pontiff’s venerable hands.
By Father T. E. Bridgett, C.SS.R.
Source: Carmina Mariana, Second Edition Collected and Arranged by Orby Shipley, M.A. Burns and Oates, Limited (London: 1894).p. 76-7.
Special thanks to Robert Olson
The Priest should be like those angels whom Jacob saw in a vision ascending to Heaven and descending therefrom on a mystical ladder. He is expected to ascend by prayer and to descend by preaching. He ascends to Heaven to receive light from God; he descends to communicate that light to his hearers. He ascends to light his torch at the every-burning furnace of Divine Love; he descends to communicate the flame to the souls of his people.
Beacon Lights: Maxims of Cardinal James Gibbons, 1911
Catechism on the Priesthood
4th of August: Feast of St. John Vianney
My children, we have come to the Sacrament of Orders. It is a Sacrament which seems to relate to no one among you, and which yet relates to every one. This Sacrament raises man up to God.
What is a priest? A man who hold the place of God - a man who is invested with all the powers of God. “Go,” said our Lord to the priest; “as my Father sent Me, I send you. All power has been given Me in heaven and on earth. Go then, teach all nations… He who listens to you, listens to Me; he who despises you, despises Me.”
When the priest remit sins, he does not say, “God pardons you;” he says, “I absolve you. “At the Consecration, he does not say, “This is the Body of our Lord;” he says, “This is My Body.” St. Bernard tells us that every thing has come to us through Mary; and we may also say that every thing has come to us through the priest; yes, all happiness, all graves, all heavenly gifts.
If we had not the Sacrament of Orders, we should not have our Lord. Who placed Him there, in that tabernacle? It was the priest. Who was it that received your soul, on its entrance into life? The priest. Who nourishes it, to give it strength to make its pilgrimage? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, by washing that soul, for the last time, in the Blood of Jesus Christ? The priest – always the priest. And if that soul comes to the point of death, who will raise it up, who will restore it to calmness and peace? Again, the priest. You cannot recall one singe blessing from God without finding, side by side with this recollection, the image of the priest.
Go to confession to the Blessed Virgin, or to an angel; will they absolve you? No. Will they give you the Body and Blood of our Lord? No. The Holy Virgin cannot make her Divine Son descend into the Host. You might have two hundred angels there, but they could not absolve you. A priest, however simple he may be, can do it; he can say to you, “Go in peace; I pardon you.”
Oh, how great is a priest! The priest will not understand the greatness of his office till he is in heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love.
The other benefits of God would be of no avail to us without the priest. What would be the use of a house full of gold, if you had nobody to open you the door? The priest has the key of the heavenly treasures; it is he who opens the door; he is the steward of the good God, the distributor of His wealth.
Without the priest, the Death and Passion of our Lord would be of no avail. Look at the heathens: what has it availed them that our Lord has died? Alas! They can have no share in the blessings of redemption, while they have no priests to apply His Blood to their souls!
The priest is not a priest for himself; he does not give himself absolution; he does not administer the Sacraments to himself. He is not for himself, he is for you.
After God, the priest is every thing. Leave a parish twenty years without priest, they will worship beasts.
If the Missionary Father and I were to go away, you would say,”What can we do in this church? There is no Mass; our Lord is no longer there: we may as well pray at home.”
When people wish to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the priest, because where there is no longer any priest there is no sacrifice, and where there is no longer any sacrifice there is no religion.
When the bell calls you to church, if you were asked, “Where are you going?” you might answer, “I am going to feed my soul.” If some one were to ask you, pointing to the tabernacle, “What is that golden door?” “That is our storehouse, where the true Food of our souls is kept.” “Who has the key? Who lays in the provisions? Who makes ready the feast, and who serves the table?” “The Priest.” “And what is the Food?” “The precious Body and Blood of our Lord.” O God! O God! How Thou hast loved us!…
See the power of the priest; out of a piece of bread the word of a priest makes a God. It is more than Creating the world… Some one said, “Does St. Philomena, then, obey the Curé of Ars?” Indeed, she may well obey him, since God obeys him.
If I were to meet a priest and an angel, I should salute the priest before I saluted the angel. The latter is the friend of God; but the priest holds His place. St. Teresa kissed the ground where a priest had passed. When you see a priest, you should say, “There is he who made me a child of God, and opened heaven to me by holy Baptism; he who purified me after I had sinned; who give nourishment to my soul.” At the sight of a church-tower, you may say, “What is there in that place?” “The Body of our Lord.” “Why is He there?” “Because a priest has been there, and has said holy Mass.”
What joy did the Apostles feel after the Resurrection of our Lord, at seeing the Master whom they had loved so much! The priest must feel the same joy, at seeing our Lord whom he holds in his hands. Great value is attached to objects which have been laid in the drinking-cup of the Blessed Virgin and of the Child Jesus, at Loretto. But the fingers of the priest, that have been plunged into the chalice which contained His Blood, into the pyx where His Body has lain, are they not still more precious?
The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus. When you the priest, think of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Source: The Spirit of the Curé of Ars, St. John Baptist Mary Vianney (Translated from the French, edited by Rev. Fr. John Edward Bowden, 1865)
To a Priest
To a Priest
How blest the hour, when on thy sacring day,
’Mid prayer and holy rite,
The fragrant unction dew’d thy hands for aye
With priestly might!
Then power to thee, O favored one! was given
Daily to climb the Rood
And pluck therefrom the Body, for us riven,
As daily food;
To give their God to men, making them strong
’Gainst ever-biding stress;
To lift Him high above the adoring throng,
His own to bless;
To whiten as the snow the erring soul
In scarlet hue bedyed;
For, at thy word, life-giving waters roll
In cleansing tide!
For such dread gifts, O Priest! from day to day
Pour forth thanksgiving meet;
Waiting the call their golden fruits to lay
At Jesus’ feet!
By Dom Michael Barrett, O.S.B.
Source: The Ave Maria, July 25, 1908 p. 97.
Special thanks to Robert Olson