On the Catholic Priesthood
Knocking at God’s Door
An humble priest, across the fields
His journey turned one day,
And where the plain to forests yields,
He saw the children play.
With yearning heart, quite nigh he drew,
And spoke in kindly tone,
Of One whose love a way well knew,
To make them all His own.
For He, though God, a child became,
All souls on earth to save;
And in rich payment for the same,
His Precious Blood He gave.
Yet when He died He left us not,
But still with us to stay
A miracle of love He wrought,
Which is renewed each day.
Within the Church sweet Jesus dwells,
And hears the children pray;
And listens to what each one tells,
And does what each may say.
Straightway from out that children-group
One hastened to the church;
And passing where the arches droop,
He entered by the porch.
Now kneeling on the altar high,
To which, by stool he rose,
The tabernacle door so nigh
He beat with gentle blows.
Then bending close the curl-robed ear,
“Good Jesus, art Thou there?”
He asked, and paused a word to hear,
But no sound broke the air.
And then again, the innocent
Tapped softly at the door,
And once again with head low bent,
He listened as before.
No answer came! “He’s fast asleep,
Dear Jesus is; and so
Beside Him very still I’ll keep:
He’ll waken soon, I know.”
Then from within a voice was heard:
“What wouldst thou, little one?”
The child by this to gladness stirred
Felt now his mission done.
“My father is not good to Thee,
And does not go to Mass.
Dear Jesus, grant this now to me:
That sin from him may pass.”
“It shall be so.” What joy to know
His father’s soul should live!
Like grace on us will richly flow
If we let Jesus give.
By Mortimer E. Twomey
Source: The Rosary Magazine, April, 1894.
The Young Priest to His Hands
By Edward F. Garesché, S.J.
Time was when ye were powerless,
To shrive and sign, anoint and bless.
Clasped, ye worshipped from afar,
That Host, as distant as a star.
Your palms were barren still, and cold,
Ye might not touch, ye might not hold,
God, Whom the signs of bread enfold.
But now ah now, most happy hands,
Ye fold the Saviour’s swaddling bands,
Ye lift His tender limbs and keep,
The snowy bed where He doth sleep.
His heart, His blood, His being fair.
All God and Man is in your care!
Ye are His guardians everywhere.
Ye pour the wine, ye break the bread,
for the great Supper sweet and dread!
Ye dress the rood of sacrifice,
Whereon the morning Victim lies,
And when my trembling accent calls,
Swift leaping from His Heaven’s walls,
On you the Light of Glory falls!
You are the altar, where I see
The Lamb that bled on Calvary,
As sacred as the chalice shrine,
wherein doth glow the Blood divine.
As sacred as the pyx are ye,
Oh happy hands – an angel’s fee!
That clasp the Lord of Majesty!
Source: New Catholic World, Vol 107
Celibacy is not the problem - it is the solution
On the day of ordination the young priest dedicates himself to Christ and His mission. He gives everything to the Almighty. Naturally, there will be space in the life of the celibate priest but of necessity it will encourage him to seek fulfillment in God. Where else can contentment be found but before the Blessed Sacrament? Such a man will form a covenant with his maker. Celibacy is for life and the struggle is ongoing but prayer is the answer. Celibacy is God's instrument to make His priests holy. Prayer transforms priests. Have you ever heard of a priest who daily made "the holy hour" leaving the priesthood? The priest who prays succeeds.
Celibacy enables a priest to come close to his parishioners. Yet his celibacy is a challenge to all married couples to remain faithful to their spouse, while those who are single are reminded of the need to remain chaste. Perseverance is a virtue that is necessary in all walks of life.
Unfaithful spouses are always unhappy and it is also true that priests who are unfaithful to their calling are equally unhappy. The Church prescribes clerical celibacy because it frees the priest from all concerns that are part and parcel of married life. "He who is unmarried is concerned with God's claim, asking how he is to please God; whereas the married man is concerned with the world's claim, asking how he is to please his wife; he is torn in two ways." (1 Cor. 33) At times there will be a conflict of interests. And as we all know the husband's first duty is to his wife and family.
Celibacy is a clarion call to our pagan world that a normal human being can voluntarily forgo the gift of marriage because of his extraordinary
love for God. God is his treasure. He is God's chosen individual, His close friend. The celibate priest comes to realize that he must develop
daily patterns of prayer. Penance must be a regular part of his life. However, let us not exaggerate the burden of celibacy on the priest.
Millions of single young men and women throughout the world must also struggle to remain chaste. Just as married couples spend much time together the priest needs to spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He needs to become an alter Christus. A number of priests allocate certain times each day for prayer. Happy are those parishioners who know that at such and such a time Father will be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
Source: Article from THE LINK April 2000 (A Eucharistic Magazine) VOCATIONS by Pat Ryan
“And the people were waiting for Zachary.”—S. Luke i. 21.
As morning breaks, or evening shadows steal,
Duties and thoughts throng round the marble stair,
Waiting for Him who burneth incense there,
Till He shall send to bless them as they kneel.
Greater than Aaron is the mighty Priest
Who in that radiant shrine for ever dwells;
Brighter the stones that stud His glowing vest,
And ravishing the music of His bells
That tinkle as He moves. The golden air
Is filled with notes of joy that dance and run
Through every court, and make the temple one.
—The lamps are lit; ’tis past the hour of prayer,
And through the windows is their lustre thrown—
Deep in the holy place the Priest doth watch alone.
Source: The Catholic World, November, 1873. p. 219.
Special thanks to Robert Olson
Pius the Tenth
“Instaurare omnia in Christo” (Eph. I. 10)
by H. R.S.
Lo, God from silent city on the seas
Had snatched earth’s simplest man and held him, pale
And dazed, above the glory of the hills;
Then pierced his trembling soul with one command:
“Stretch out thine arm. Restore all things in Christ.”
“Not I, O Lord? Be pitiful and spare!”
“I shall not spare. For I have chosen thee,
Such as thou art, to go before My face
And wage My battle…. As I call a bird
From out the east, so from afar I call
The man of My own will. For I Myself
Have spoke. Yea, and I shall bring it there
To pass…. I give salvation unto Sion…
Stand dauntless forth.” (Isaias XLVI)
He shuddered, and obeyed.
That heart, whence tenderness flowed out in streams,
Put on the breast-plate of His justice then
And met, invincible, the fiery dart.
The field is won…. And with the night there falls
A silence on the camp….
He hath restored
To man Christ’s Godhead in its plenitude,
And Christ in Living Bread to cleansed lips
For daily food. He hath restored to Christ
The little ones whose breasts are Bethanies,
Where Christ is Guest and Host, and it is morn.
To Liturgy restored its primal chant,
Majestic voice of praise.
The nations crash;
War wraps its shroud the world around… God Folds
His saint in peace. Restorer is restored
To Christ, in Whom all things are made anew.
Source: New Catholic World, Vol. 100, Paulist Fathers, 1915
O Priest of Jesus Christ!
To live in the midst of the world without wishing its pleasures;
To be a member of each family, yet belonging to none;
To share all sufferings;
To penetrate all secrets;
To heal all wounds;
To go from men to God and offer Him their prayers;
To return from God to men to bring pardon and hope;
To have a heart of fire for charity and a heart of bronze for chastity;
To teach and to pardon, console and bless always.
My God, what a life! And it is yours, O Priest of Jesus Christ!
source: Scarboro Missions Magazine, 1960
To be a Priest
To be a Priest, How blest a thing!
To walk the way Christ has trod,
To know the longings of each soul,
And help the creature seek its God.
To aid, by prayer and power Divine
Each erring and repentant heart
To walk a selfish, sinful earth,
Serene, unstained ~ a man apart.
To see, like God, the breaking heart,
To soothe when earthly powers have ceased;
To walk the way that Christ has trod,
How blest a thing, to be a Priest!
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