On the Catholic Priesthood
Day 48 - April 21 - Easter Sunday - Annual Confessions
If Easter were prolonged to Pentecost, you would not go to Confession until Pentecost, or if the latter did not come around for ten years, you would go to Confession only every ten years. Indeed, if the Church did not give you a commandment about it, you would not go to Confession until death. What do you think of that, my dear brethren? Does it not mean that you have neither regret for having offended God, Who requires you to go to Confession, nor love for God, Who requires you to make your Easter Communion? Ah you will say to me, that's all very well. We do not make our Easter duty without knowing why.
Ah! You know nothing at all about it! You do it from habit, to be able to say you have made your Easter duty, or, if you would prefer to speak the truth, you would say that you have added a new sin to your old ones. It is not, therefore, either love of God or regret for having offended Him which makes you go to Confession or make your Easter duty, or even the desire to lead a more Christian life. And here is the proof of it: if you loved God, would you consent to commit sin with such ease, and even with so much enjoyment? If you had a horror of sin, as you should have, would you be able to keep it for a whole year on your conscience? If you had a real desire to live a more Christian life, would we not see at least some little change in your way of living?
No, my dear brethren, I do not wish to talk to you today about those unfortunate people who tell only half their sins through fear of not making their Easter duty or of being refused Absolution – perhaps even for the sake of covering up their shameful lives with the veil of virtue and who, in this state, approach the altar and are going to complete their dreadful work by handing over their God to the Devil and precipitating their sacrilegious souls into Hell.
No, I dare to hope that this does not concern you, but I will continue, nevertheless, to tell you that going to Confession only once a year is not something about which you should feel any peace or satisfaction.
Day 47 - April 20 - Holy Saturday - You Have Not The Time
We can only find our happiness on earth in loving God, and we can only love Him in prayer to Him. We see that Jesus Christ, to encourage us often to have recourse to Him through prayer, promises never to refuse us anything if we pray for it as we should. But there is no need to go looking for elaborate and roundabout ways of showing you that we should pray often, for you have only to open your catechism and you will see there that the duty of every good Christian is to pray morning and evening and often during the day – that is to say, always....
Which of us, my dear brethren, could, without tears of compassion, listen to those poor Christians who dare to say that they have not time to pray? You have not the 71
time! Poor blind creatures, which is the more precious action: to strive to please God and to save your soul, or to go out to feed your animals in the stable or to call your children or your servants in order to send them out to till the earth or to tidy up the stable? Dear God! How blind man is!.... You have not the time! But tell me, ungrateful creatures, if God had called you to die that night, would you have exerted yourselves? If He had sent you three or four months of illness, would you have exerted yourselves? Go away, you miserable creatures; you deserve to have God abandon you in your blindness and leave you thus to perish. We find that it is too much to give Him a few minutes to thank Him for the graces which He is giving us at every instant!.... You must get on with your work, you say.
That, my dear people, is where you are greatly mistaken. You have no other work to do except to please God and to save your souls. All the rest is not your work. If you do not do it, others will, but if you lose your soul, who will save it?
Day 43 - April 17 - We Are Nothing In Ourselves
Temptation is necessary to us to make us realize that we are nothing in ourselves. St. Augustine tells us that we should thank God as much for the sins from which He has preserved us as for those which He has had the charity to forgive us. If we have the misfortune to fall so often into the snares of the Devil, we set ourselves up again too much on the strength of our own resolutions and promises and too little upon the strength of God. This is very true.
When we do nothing to be ashamed of, when everything is going along according to our wishes, we dare to believe that nothing could make us fall. We forget our own nothingness and our utter weakness. We make the most delightful protestations that we are ready to die rather than to allow ourselves to be conquered. We see a splendid example of this in St. Peter, who told our Lord that although all others might be scandalized in Him, yet he would never deny Him.
Alas! To show him how man, left to himself, is nothing at all, God made use, not of kings or princes or weapons, but simply of the voice of a maidservant, who even appeared to speak to him in a very indifferent sort of way. A moment ago, he was ready to die for Him, and now Peter protests that he does not even know Him, that he does not know about whom they are speaking. To assure them even more vehemently that he does not know Him, he swears an oath about it. Dear Lord, what we are capable of when we are left to ourselves! There are some who, in their own words, are envious of the saints who did great penances. They believe that they could do as well. When we read the lives of some of the martyrs, we would, we think, be ready to suffer all that they suffered for God; the moment is short-lived,we say, for an eternity of reward. But what does God do to teach us to know ourselves or, rather, to know that we are nothing? This is all He does: He allows the Devil to come a little closer to us. Look at this Christian who a moment ago was quite envious of the hermit who lived solely on roots and herbs and who made the stern resolution to treat his body as harshly. Alas! A slight headache, a prick of a pin, makes him, as big and strong is he is, sorry for himself. He is very upset. He cries with pain. A moment ago he would have been willing to do all the penances of the anchorites – and the merest trifle makes him despair! Look at this other one, who seems to want to give his whole life for God, whose ardor all the torments there are cannot damp. A tiny bit of scandal-mongering.... a word of calumny.... even a slightly cold reception or a small injustice done to him.... a kindness returned by ingratitude.... immediately gives birth in him to feelings of hatred, of revenge, of dislike, to the point, often, of his never wishing to see his neighbor again or at least of treating him coldly with an air which shows very plainly what is going on in his heart. And how many times is this his waking thought, just as it was the thought that almost prevented him from sleeping? Alas, my dear brethren, we are poor stuff, and we should count very little upon our good resolutions!
Day 40 -April 14 - Bad Company
My dear brethren, I call that man bad company who is without religion, who does not concern himself with either the commandments of God or those of the Church, who does not recognize Lent or Easter, who seldom comes to church or, if he does come, then only to scandalize others by his irreligious ways. You ought to shun his company; otherwise you will not be long in becoming like him without your even noticing it. He will teach you, with his bad talk as much as by his bad example, to despise the holiest things and to neglect your own most sacred duties. He will begin to turn your devotion into ridicule, to make some jokes about religion and its ministers. He will speak to you at length, in scandalous terms, about the priests or about Confession to such effect that he will cause you to lose entirely your taste for the frequent reception of the Sacraments. He will discuss the instructions of your pastors only in order to turn them into ridicule, and you can be quite certain that if you keep company with him for any length of time, you will see that, without even realizing it, you will begin to lose all taste for anything which is profitable towards the salvation of your soul. I call bad company, my dear brethren, this young or this old slanderer who has nothing but bad and foul words in his mouth.
Take good care, my children, for this type of person has a poison of his own! If you frequent his company, you may be quite certain that you will imbibe it and that, without a miracle of grace, you will die spiritually. The Devil will make good use of this wretch to sully your imagination and to corrupt your heart.
I would call that person bad company, my dear brethren, who is curious or restless or backbiting, who wants to know all that goes on in other people's houses, and who is always ready to form judgments about what he does not see at all. The Holy Ghost tells us that these people are not only hateful to the whole world but are also accursed of God. Fly from them, my dear brethren; otherwise you will become like them. You yourselves will perish with them.
Day 39 - April 13 - Are Your Affairs Going Better?
Another bad habit which is very common in homes and among working people is impatience, grumbling, and swearing. Now, my children, where do you get with your impatience and your grumbling? Do your affairs go any better? Do they cause you any less trouble? Is it not, rather, the other way around? You have a lot more trouble with them, and, what is even worse, you lose all the merit which you might have gained for Heaven.
But, you will tell me, that is all very well for those who have nothing to put up with.... If they were in my shoes they would probably be much worse.... I would agree with all that, my children, if we were not Christians, if we had nothing to hope for beyond what benefits and pleasures we might taste in this world. I would agree if – I repeat – we were the first people who ever suffered anything, but since the time of Adam until the present, all the saints have had something to suffer, and most of them far more than have we. But they suffered with patience, always subject to the will of God, and soon their troubles were finished, and their happiness, which has begun, will never come to an end. Let us contemplate, my dear brethren, this beautiful Heaven, let us think about the happiness which God has prepared for us there, and we shall endure all the evils of life in a spirit of penitence, with the hope of an eternal reward. If only you could have the happiness of being able to say in the evening that your whole day had been spent for God! I tell you that working people, if they want to get to Heaven, should endure patiently the rigor of the seasons and the ill humor of those for whom they work; they should avoid those grumbles and bad language so commonly heard and fulfill their duties conscientiously and faithfully. Husbands and wives should live peacefully in their union of marriage; they should be mutually edifying to each other, pray for one another, bear patiently with one another's faults, encourage virtue in one another by good example, and follow the holy and sacred rules of their state, remembering that they are the children of the saints and that, consequently, they ought not to behave like pagans, who have not the happiness of knowing the one true God.
Masters should take the same care of their servants as of their own children, remembering the warning of St. Paul that if they do not have care for them, they are worse than the pagans, and that they will be more severely punished on the day of judgment. Servants are to give you service and to be loyal to you, and you must treat them not as slaves but as your children and your brethren. Servants must look upon their masters as taking the place of Jesus Christ on earth. Their duty is to serve them joyfully, obey them with a good grace, without grumbling, and look after their well-being as carefully as they would their own. Servants should avoid the growth of too-familiar relationships, which are so dangerous and so fatal to innocence. If you have the misfortune to find yourself in such a situation, you must leave your employment, no matter what it may cost you to do so. Here is an example of those very circumstances wherein you must follow the counsel Jesus Christ gave you when He said that if one's right eye or right hand should be an occasion of sin, one must deprive oneself of them because it is better to go into Heaven lacking an eye or a hand than to be cast into Hell with one's whole body. That is to say, however desirable your position may be, you must leave it at once; otherwise you will never save your soul. Put the salvation of your soul first, our Lord Jesus Christ tells us, because that is the only thing you ought really to have at heart. Alas, my dear brethren, how rare are those Christians who are ready to suffer rather than to jeopardize the salvation of their souls!
An epitome of the priestly life
How lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord God of hosts!
My soul longeth and fainteth for thy courts.
How blessed and delightful it is to immolate
the Sacred Host to thee in thy tabernacle,
to sing and to make music to thee!
How good it is to declare thy justices,
or preach penance for the remission of sins!
How good it is to teach and baptize the nations,
to cast out devils, to cure the sick,
to increase the number of thy servants,
to sanctify and to perfect them!
Who shall give to me, 0 my God,
that I should be thus able to subject the whole world to thee,
to make every land adore thee and sing thy praises,
that all flesh might bless thy holy name and every creature serve thee?
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