On the Catholic Priesthood
Priests are, in St. Paul's words "the dispensers of the mysteries of God." They thus guard and administer the channels of grace. We may say, therefore, with truth, that Holy Orders is the fountain of spiritual life in the Church. It is the source of all the streams of grace that water the garden of God. Without Holy Orders the world, spiritually, would be a wilderness. It would like under perpetual interdict.
The city of God, alive today with the hum of prayer, and praise, and sacrifice, would be, without Holy Orders, like a city of the dead, as silent and lifeless as the grave. So pressing is the need of a priesthood, that where the churches are closed or desecrated, and the true priests slain or driven away, they get soon re-opened; and if the altar and true sacrifice are not restored, they are replaced by a table or reading desk, and a sham clergy put in to take the place of real sacrificing priests. If men cease to worship the true God by the one true sacrifice, through the one true priesthood, they take to themselves false ones. Divine worship of some sort is a social need.
Hence, the devil's best weapon in his war with Christ is the removal or corruption of the clergy, the drying up, in fact, or poisoning, the wells of Holy Orders. All the great persecutors, from Nero downwards, have mainly aimed their death-blows at the heads of the clergy. "Scatter the shepherds, and the flocks will be dispersed." is their motto.