On the Catholic Priesthood
Saint Jerome (Priest and Confessor)
When teaching in the church do not excite the applause but rather the lamentations of the people; let the tears of your auditors be your commendation. The sermons of a priest should overflow with Holy Scripture. Be not an orator, but a sincere expounder of the mysteries of your God.
In priestly life it is a matter of principle to be punctual - in the services of the church, the Holy Mass, the confessional, attendance to the sick, to the schools, and to all appointments made. The love of God and the love of souls should ever be the priest's moving principle. If this be so, as soon as the duty is due, love prompts us to move. Caritas Christi Urget nos.
Prayer for the Protection of the Church to Saint Michael
O glorious Saint Michael, guardian and
defender of the Church of Jesus Christ, come to the assistance of the
Church, against which the powers of Hell are unchained, guard with
especial care her august Head, and obtain that for him and for us the
hour of triumph may speedily arrive.
O glorious Archangel Saint Michael, watch over us during life, defend us against the assaults of the demon, assist us especially at the hour of death; obtain for us a favorable judgment, and the happiness of beholding God face to face for endless ages. Amen
Source: Curé d'Ars Prayer Group
Our Lord in His hidden home in the sanctuary is every with the priest. What a home of contemplative prayer the sanctuary should be. There are our Lord and the priest living and working together in the life of mutual love. The hidden, the active, the suffering life, are all there before us in this sacrament of love, which is the prolongation of our Lord's Incarnation in our midst. There, too, is the Fountain of living water, every-flowing to refresh and purify our souls. What a privilege of love is all this if we do but respond to it. It is a matter of forming a spiritual habit - the habit of enjoying the unseen world, the presence of our Lord and His angels, who are ever with us in the sanctuary.
"O God, my God, to Thee do I watch at break of day, for Thee my soul hath thirsted. So in the sanctuary have I come before Thee to see Thy power and Thy glory. " " In the sight of Thy angels I will praise Thee."
The Priestly Life
In all the workings of the sacramental system our Lord is always the principal worker. He it is who baptizes, He who absolves, He who consecrates. Deus est agens principale. He is the head of angels and men, and angels and saints co-operate with Him in the workings of the Church on earth. "The Catholic religion is the coming of the unseen world into this. What we see here is as a screen, hiding from us God, and Christ, and the Angels, and the Saints." (Newman, Sermons)
But here it is, in these most Divine workings, that our Lord chooses His priests, and wills them to live and work with Him, with His angels and His saints "you are come to Mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of angels: and to the Church of the first born, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the just made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Testament, and to the sprinkling of blood, which speaketh better than that of Abel." (2 Tim)
Saint Paul gives us the idea of what a priest should be his words to Timothy: "Carefully study to present thyself approved unto God - a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth... a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and profitable to the Lord... that the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work."
And Saint Thomas may be said to epitomise this when he describes the priestly life as being "midway between God and men; receiving from God in contemplation, and giving to the people by action."
God's Wondrous Plan
Ad Vos O Sacerdotes.
God's wondrous plan, both in nature and grace, is to work through the agency of His creature. He gives us life, but through our parents; light and heat, but through the sun; breath, but through the air; food and clothing, but through the hands of our fellow-creatures; knowledge, but through our teachers. So in the world of grace our Lord comes to us, but through a human mother. He gives His truth to the world, but through the Church; His grace, but through the Sacraments; His own very self, in His hidden Sacramental life, but through the hands of His priests.
O Veneranda sacerdotum dignitas
Love of Our Neighbor
Zeal for the salvation of souls is the outcome of the love of God overflowing to the love of our neighbor. It is a virtue for all Christians to cultivate, as belonging closely to Christian charity. It is a necessary part of religious, priestly, and spiritual life, for no one could love God truly without loving the souls for whom Christ died.
It is clear that with many their zeal for souls will have to be mainly affective, yet to some unknown degree effective by their prayers, as they have neither the ability not the call to work effectively. But prayer entreats God, and God lest Himself be entreated.
Let all true lovers of God therefore associate themselves with our Lord and the priesthood of His Church; let them be in union with all the Masses and Divine offices of the Church going on night and day in the world; and let them offer all the toils and trials of daily life, too, for the conversion of souls to God - for the heathen, the heretics, and for bad Catholics; let them especially pray in all this union for the hundred thousand dying daily, and let them pray for the vast wants of the Church in her conflict with the world, and especially for the Holy Father, the bishops, and priests and all the religious of the world , that all may be men of God, and profitable in His hands for the salvation of souls. Let them extend their prayers and penances to the holy souls in Purgatory in the same spirit of love and zeal, looking to the glory of God and the blessedness of the spirits departed. Sometimes of course opportunities for effective charity will come, and then each one must be ready for caritas in actu, remembering that our progress is by love, and that our Lord tells us we are to be "rich towards God."
The Hidden Life of Christ
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the representative Man, and the model and the perfect Man. It is only through Him and through conformity to Him that we can go to God. "No man cometh to the Father but by Me." "whom He foreknew, He predestined to be made conformable to the image of His Son." Let us learn from our Blessed Lord's life on earth the ways of "holiness, without which no man shall see God. "
First there are the marvels of our Lord's infant and hidden life on earth for thirty years, with lessons to all the world of humility, dependence, and obedience. How sweet a virtue humility must be before God, when we find that He, the God of all, empties Himself of the Majesty of His glory and becomes as nothing in the hands of men. Then the utter dependence in which He wills to be on His Blessed Mother, looking to her for everything. How can we ever realize the intense love He will have had for her, and the marvelous holiness He will have bestowed on her, for such Divine Ministrations? What a model to priests our Blessed Lady must every be, in the intensity of her devotion to the body of our Lord. And what a home of prayer, contemplation, and union with God must the holy house of Nazareth have been during those years of the hidden life. What must have been the sanctity of St. Joseph to have been the chosen guardian of the Word Incarnate and His Blessed Mother? The lowest of the three that he was, he is yet the official superior of the house. Who will not love obedience and subjection, even to those beneath us in power and dignity, from the examples of Jesus and Mary in subjection to Joseph?
The beauty and value of an ordinary, humble, homely, hidden life is here shown in all its power and perfection. We cannot doubt that during those thirty years our Lord was living and working for the glory of His Father, and for the regeneration and salvation of the world. Yet it was rather by the way of affective than effective love, at least as far as outer works were concerned. Our Lord would not go forth to evangelize the world until His hour had come. "My hour is not yet come." God Himself is the first Worker, and His will is the rule of life. He will know where to find us when He wants us. What a lesson to all young religious and aspirants to the priesthood is given to us by our Lord's long hidden life at Nazareth. He had no need or preparation for His mission to the world. But He was the model man, and the model priest, and He willed to teach us that our first need, for God and for souls, is the life "hidden with Christ in God. "
Ember Days: Fall Wednesday Sept. 18
Let us, therefore, revive Embers days!
Let us again pray, fast, and abstain for more faithful priests!
"The Observance of ember-days is of great antiquity in the Church.
Their connection with the ordination of the ministers of religion
renders them particularly worthy the regard of the faithful. We cannot
be too deeply impressed with the blessing granted a people, whose
priests are according to Godʼs own heart. To obtain such, no humiliation
should be deemed too great; no supplication should be neglected. Whilst
therefore we thank God for
the fruits of the earth, and humble ourselves for the sins we have
committed, we should beg
God to supply his Church with worthy pastors."
St. Vincentʼs Manual, 1854
Ember days are:
Wednesday: the day Christ was betrayed (Fast and half-abstinence)
Friday: Christ was crucified (Fast and abstinence)
and Saturday: the day Christ was entombed. (Fast and half-abstinence)
These fasts were instituted to sanctify each season of the year, and
thus obtain the favors of God, especially His mercy. They were also
established to obtain the blessing of the Almighty on the fruits of the
land. In spring we pray for fertility; in summer, for preservation of
the crops; in autumn, for a good harvest; and in winter we offer up our
grateful thanksgiving for the blessings received.
The Church, too, wishes us to pray for those who are to be ordained priests on these days, that they may obtain the graces necessary to fulfill all their obligations, and the virtues that adorn their sacred calling. “And when they had ordained for them priests in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, in Whom they believed.” (Acts xiv.22.)
As alms generally accompany fasting and prayer, a donation toward the education of priests for the foreign mission would be in keeping with the spirit of the Church on these occasions. We ought also to pray for vocations, especially for the foreign missions. “The harvest is great, but the laborers few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He send laborers into the vineyard.” (Matt. ix. 37,38.).
These days should also remind us of asking ourselves how we stand with regard to God. If there be anything troubling our conscience, we ought to set it right, and then make good resolutions for the coming quarter. Thus, keeping ourselves always ready for the final summons, death will be disarmed of its terrors, and the close of life will be marked with a beautiful serenity.
“And grant us, while by fasts we strive
This mortal body to control,
To fast from all the food of ins,
And so to purify the soul.”
Source: Curé d'Ars Prayer Group
Hymn of St. Francis Xavier
My God, I love Thee, not because
I hope for Heaven thereby;
Nor because they who love Thee not,
Must burn eternally.
Thou, O my Jesus, Thou didst me
Upon the Cross embrace;
For me didst bear the nails and spear,
And manifold disgrace;
And griefs and torments numberless,
And sweat of agony;
E'en death itself - and all for one
Who was Thine enemy.
Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ!
Should I not love Thee well?
Not for the sake of winning Heaven;
or of escaping Hell;
Not with the hope of gaining aught,
Nor seeking a reward;
But, as Thyself hast loved me,
O ever-loving Lord!
E'en so I love Thee, and will love,
And in Thy praise will sing;
Solely because Thou art my God,
And my eternal King.
Source: Beautiful Pearls of Catholic Truth, 1897
Prayer for the Church
O good Jesus! Our Master, deliver Thy servants from the persecutions of their enemies. Have pity on Thy people and turn their sorrow into joy. In the disordered state of society, there is no one to whom we can have recourse, unless to Thee, O God! Cast Thine eyes upon Thy Church; she mourns and Thou alone can come to her assistance. Lord, give not over Thy servants to those who hate us, and let them not triumph over us. Remember us, O Lord, and deliver us from our afflictions, Thou who livest and reignest for ever and Ever. Amen
Father Thomas Price
The diocesan phase for the Cause for Beatification and Canonization of Father Price was opened on March 9, 2012.
Please join us in prayer for
Heavenly Father, You so inspired Father Thomas Frederick Price with love for You and zeal for the Gospel that he dedicated his life to serve You and Your Church, first in North Carolina, his home state, and then in the foreign missions. Grant that by his example we may grow in holiness and into a deeper union with Our Lord Jesus Christ. Help us to be authentic witnesses of the Gospel and proclaim the Holy Name of Jesus throughout the Diocese of Raleigh and to all the people and in all the places we are sent to love and serve.
If it be according to Your Will, glorify Your servant, Father Thomas Frederick Price, by granting the favor I (we) now request through his prayerful intercession (mention your request here). I (we) make this prayer confidently through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Source: Cure d'Ars Prayer Group
The bishop saying Mass, administering the sacraments or preaching the Gospel is the most perfect image of Christ. He does so according to the laws of the universal church. In him the clergy and people see Christ the Bishop of eternity. "He that receiveth you receiveth me. He that despiseth you despiseth me." That relates not only to the Pope. to the bishop, but in a less degree to any pastor, to any minister of Christ. For the ministers of Christ preach not themselves but "Christ and Him crucified."
The bishop is the head of the diocese. He is the father of all the faithful in the diocese. For he brings forth his spiritual children, his priests and clergymen by rite of holy ordination. They are the images of himself. The Priests he ordains are his sons whom he brings forth to God. He feeds his children by the words of life, by good example, by heavenly food, by the teachings of eternal life.
Happy is the diocese and the clergy who have a bishop after the heart of Jesus Christ, who lives the life of the Master.
The good bishop loves his clergy; looks on them as a father on his children; he upholds the good priest; he rewards the men of God; he defends the weak; he treats them with justice, benignity, gentleness, kindness; he is clothed with the bowels of the mercy of Jesus Christ, with forgiveness looking down from on high on those who falter on the way.
Behold his name will be called blessed, his clergy and people will love him, they will uphold him; like Moses on the mount, they will stand under his weary hands, strengthening him till he gains the victory over all enemies of the Lord and of his church. Both clergy and people will love him because he is "like unto the only begotten Son of God full of grace and truth" who "for us men and for our salvation left the bosom of his Father, came down from heaven and was made man and dwelt among us: to show pastors how to rule their subjects.
We admit without the slightest reservation that the celibacy of the clergy is of vital importance to the Catholic Church in the prosecution of its divine mission. None but an unmarried clergy could wield the influence or win the credit or authority needed for the successful guidance and government of the faithful of Christ. None but unmarried clergymen are fitted to go as missionaries to foreign lands and labor there for the conversion of souls. This statement is amply borne out by the history of non-Catholic missions. The missionaries of Canada, the Far West, and South America have a unique place in history owing to their self-sacrificing devotion. How changed their story would be if wives and offspring and domestic finances figured in its pages!
Nay, even in Christian countries none but unmarried priests could risk their comfort, to say nothing of their lives, as Catholic priests do today in their ministrations to souls. Without her unmarried clergy the Catholic Church could never have accomplished all that she has in the course of centuries. The salutary influence of clergy upon people which is one of the fruits of celibacy may be styled universal dominion if our critics are minded to call it such; we shall not make that a casus belli.
The objector seems to regard the compulsory element in celibacy as the secret of the Church's power; but in no absolute sense does the Church compel any of her children to be celibates. No one is under nay obligation to enter the priesthood. To force one into the priesthood is forbidden by the laws of the Church. It is only after a voluntary reception of the higher orders that one is obliged to remain unmarried; and the obligation then imposed upon her clerics by the Church is justified and to a great extent necessitated by the nature of their clerical functions.
Why should it be a reproach to the Church to require in candidates for the prieshood conditions that will make them more efficient priests! Add to this the fact that the young men who present themselves for orders not only voluntarily but cheerfully make this sacrifice of their liberty in order to devote themselves the more to God and the Church.
But we are told that celibacy is contrary to the teaching of the Bible. Strange that the statement should be made by only one who has read the Bible. Is it not well known that Christ have the highest praise to voluntary celibacy when it was chosen for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and that St. Paul places voluntary virginity far above the married state?
When Protestant readers of the New Testament come to the seventh chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians they would do well to pause awhile and ask themselves whether they have ever understood the plain meaning of that chapter, which really seems to be very Catholic and very un-Protestant. Let them read that chapter as well as the nineteenth of St. Matthew, referred to above, and if then they can regard the effect of celibacy on morality as dubious, their opinion is clearly at variance with the words of Christ and His Apostle.
Source: The Catholic's ready answer; a popular vindication of Christian beliefs and practices against the attacks of modern criticism. 1915
Priests' First Saturday
"As recently as 1934 the General of the Salvatorians suggested to Pope
Pius XI that one Saturday each month might become a day specially
devoted to prayers for priests. Pius XI agreed wholeheartedly, declaring
that he praised and blessed the suggestion, and since 1934, bishops of
more than fifty European dioceses have recommended this practice. How
does one take part in Priestsʼ Saturday? It means offering the Saturday
after the First Friday of the month wholly and entirely for the
sanctification of priests throughout the world; offering Mass and Holy
Communion together with all the prayers, actions, joys, sorrows of the
day and offering it all to Christ through the hands of Mary. Priestsʼ
Saturday is intended to help all priests--the Pope, the bishops,
missionaries, all who teach in seminaries and schools, the contemplative
religious, the parish priests. For some people a weekday Mass will be
impossible. Still they can make an offering of their whole day, and they
could say this prayer at least once on Priestsʼ Saturday:"
Source: Priests' Saturday