On the Catholic Priesthood
Archbishop Lynch of Toronto used to say: " The average priest secures the salvation of five thousand souls." The more thoroughly and minutely this statement is examined, the more manifest becomes its truthfulness. Hence the priest who secures but one successor to his sacred office has a perennial source of hope and consolation during his declining years, such as is particularly inspiring at the moment of death. But, why should any priest rest content with having secured one? The more the better. It is related of an aged and venerable priest of Orleans, France, that when about to die he gave expression to this beautiful thought: "I am eighty-three and shall soon die. I have not done all the good I would, but one thing consoles me - I leave after me thirty-three priests whom I have formed to the ecclesiastical state; they will do better than I have done."
Some years later, one of these thirty-three, on the occasion of his silver jubilee to the priesthood, had gathered around him twenty-five other priests, whose vocations to the religious state he in turn had fostered. To him his pastor had said on the day of ordination: "Always have pupils in your presbytery; you will be their angel, and they will be yours." (Quest on Vocations.) Would that God might inspire more to emulate the zeal of such priests as these.
Comparatively few dioceses can be found which are not in actual need of more religious workers who have consecrated their lives to the service of Christ. Pastors are petitioning the various religious communities for Sisters and Brothers to teach in the parish schools. Bishops, especially those of the West and South, as also of our newly acquired possessions in the Orient, are appealing for priests to take charge of missionary work. "Send us priests, wise zealous, holy priests," comes as a cry almost universal. Vast multitudes in every land are groping amid the darkness of error and in the shadows of death, seeking for some one to lead them forth into the light of truth and unto the life of Christ. This need is both instant and imperative, and unless there are found some followers of Christ, ardently devoted to His Church and nobly obedient to His call, who will voluntarily offer themselves for this service and consecrate their lives to this endeavor, these benighted ones, so unfortunate in their error, so well disposed for the right, so precious in the sight of God, will continue, in all probability, to search in vain for the way of salvation; and at least many of them, will be lost.
"The harvest indeed is great but the laborers are few." The work to be done is the work of Christ. He is present all days, directing an assisting and blessing. He calls for help. He chooses some favored ones from among His followers and commands them to go forth into the highways and byways and search our laborers and bring them into His vineyard. Some are found who leave this command practically unheeded, not from malice, but rather because they do not thoroughly realize how intense is the desire of Christ for additional laborers in His work and how dire is the need of the Church at the present time for their consecrated service. Thrice blessed, therefore, and well assured of eternal happiness is the priest who can truthfully say at the hour of death: "I shall soon die; I have not done all the good I would, but one thing consoles me - I leave after me others whom I have formed to the priestly life; they will do better than I have done. "