The CAPG's Blog
The Glorious Destiny of the Clergy
I. They Are Not Of The World.
II. They Are Of God.
III. How Few Such Are Found!
"And He said to them: How is it that you sought Me? did you not know that I must be about My Father's business? And they understood not the word that He spoke unto them."—St. Luke ii. 49, 50.
1. How is if that you sought Me? These are the first words of our Divine Lord which the Evangelist records. These words, and those which follow them, contain a declaration of the mystery of the Incarnation, and its end; they reveal to us the dedication of Jesus to His Father's glory, and our salvation, and He puts them in the mouth of all those whom He associates with Him in His Priesthood, in order that they may give the same answer to the men of the world, if, at any time, they seek to divert them from their Ministry. So did He answer His Mother, not to blame her three days' search for Him, but, as Venerable Bede tells us, to cause her to raise her eyes to His Heavenly Father, to Whom His whole life was due. Now let us pass from the Head of all Priests to His Members; from Christ to ourselves, who have here a most important lesson given us. If, when the duties of His Priesthood were in question, He answered His Blessed Mother in this manner, shall we be too harsh if we give the like answer to the men of the world? O Minister of God, should the world seek to regain thee, to bind thee anew to itself, and, with manifold solicitations urge thy return, answer it in these words: "How is it that you sought me?" God has chosen thee, and separated thee from this world: "you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world" (St. John xv. 19); and thou hast chosen God for the portion of thine inheritance ; therefore, as St. Isidore warns thee, thou oughtest to serve Him alone. Stand on thy guard, for many blandishments, many promises will the World make use of, to draw thee to itself; it will set its fatal snares in order to involve thee in worldly actions, and to divert thee from the care of the Sanctuary. So St. Peter Damian. But Jesus has put this great answer in thy mouth, and note well this, "how is it 1" for, says St. Augustine, all that the world offers is nothing, is "What?" a trifle which deludes and bewitches: "the bewitching of vanity" (Wisd. iv. 12); and yet this nothing, this trifle, puts thee in peril of losing everything, of losing thine eternal happiness. Whosoever of the Sacred Order, says St. Peter Damian, desires to live innocently, must not often tread in the world's ways, lest he fall into the meshes of its snares.
2. Did you not know that I must be about My Fathers business! The men of the World do not understand the high destiny of the Priesthood, and sometimes even Priests themselves do not realize it; but our Great High Priest has taught it to us in a few words: "I must be about My Father's business." St. Bonaventure observes that these words are explained by those other words of our Savior, " I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent me" (St. John vi. 38); and Metaphrastes says, that Jesus meant to show, that he who goes wandering about among earthly matters will not attain perfection. The Priest should be "a man of God;"that is, God's alone: "but thou, O man of God, fly these things" (1 Tim. vi. n); and St. Chrysostom remarks on this expression, that the Saints were called "Men of God," because they preserved in themselves the image of God, pure and entire. In this sense was this title given to Moses (Deut. xxxiii. 1), to Samuel (1 Kings ix. 6), and to Elias (4 Kings i. n). How can we be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ if we are not even giving ourselves to the promotion of God's glory? If a great part of our thoughts, words, and actions are directed to earthly goods, shall we be Saints, "Men of God "? St. Charles impressed upon his priests, that they were not to waste in idle or vain occupations such time as was free from the Divine Offices, Ecclesiastical functions, and other necessary actions, but that he who is called to the work of the Lord, should meditate day and night on His Law. We have a Heavenly Father, Who has given us all that we possess, and He has given it us for Himself; we have a Heavenly Father, Who has incorporated us with His Son, and He would have us followers of this great pattern; we have a Heavenly Father, Who beholds us with an infinite penetration, and Who will amply reward all our merits; why, then, do we occupy ourselves with aught else but His service? Every moment, says St. Bernard, that we have not employed for Him, let us count as lost, and lost for eternity.
3. And they understood not. St. Bonaventure observes that Christ gave His Apostles an example of speaking of the hidden wisdom of God, and of speaking of it in a mystery: "we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, which is hidden" (1 Cor. ii. 7). He spoke of His Divinity, and they understood not what He spoke to them, says Venerable Bede. What a lesson for us! Jesus speaks of His dedication to His Father's glory, and Mary, the Seat of Wisdom, does not understand him. This mysterious circumstance, mentioned by the Evangelist, clearly signifies that the destiny of the Clergy, and our high aim, will frequently be misunderstood; and, therefore, we must not wonder at the many prejudices which exist, rooted not only in the minds of laymen, but even of ecclesiastics also: "and they understood not." They understand not that Holy Orders have consecrated us to God, have made us so many victims to His Eternal Majesty; and that, therefore, freed from all secular affairs, we ought to serve God alone. So St. Peter Damian. They understand not, in short, that, at our Ordination, we bound ourselves to God, to promote His glory; to the Church, to render Her service; to the Faithful, to procure their salvation; to ourselves, to save our souls. They understand not that, though we may be neither parish priests, nor benefited priests, still the intimation given us by the Bishop when he ordained us Priests, exists, and that the same duties are imposed on us. They understand not that the Council of Trent, in admitting to the Priesthood him who has a patrimony instead of
a benefice, does not free him from those obligations, but imposes them even on him. "The senseless man shall not know, nor will the fool understand these things" (Ps. xci. 7). But let us persuade ourselves of their truth; let us endeavor to persuade our brethren, who are in error, of their truth; let us impress those truths on the young whose feet are directed towards the Sanctuary, repeating to them continually those words of the Apostle: "You are not your own" (1 Cor. vi. 19).
"The lines are fallen unto me in goodly places: for my inheritance is goodly to me."—Ps. xv. 6.
"The Lord is my portion, said my soul."—Lament, iii. 24.