On the Catholic Priesthood

Saturday August 31, 2019

The World Hates Truth

The world has decided accordingly that there is no certain truth. What must be its attitude then toward any institution which puts itself forward as the organ of THE TRUTH?

One of hostility necessarily. Is there such an institution?

There is: the Church.

The Church and (this) century therefore are enemies. The world of today does not admit any Truth; it does not want any exponent of the Truth. The world and all that are of the world agree to say there is no ONE truth, and that is the doctrine she, alone, imparts. Therefore the world must hate the Church. For let the world put on what garb of impartiality it will, it knows that is and the Church are foes; and he who is the Prince of this world, above all knows that she is his foes, and destined to crush his head.

Source: Catholic Oratory: A Compilation of Sacred and Sublime Orations, Cardinal James Gibbons, 1891

Friday August 30, 2019

Our Duty to non-Catholics

 It may be readily assumed that every sincere Christian is zealous for the spread of the Gospel and desirous to communicate its light and peace to others. Christ sent His followers to announce the good news throughout the world and to bear testimony to the truth, as He did, by their words and their lives. He who is not with Him is against Him; and the individual or congregation that becomes self-centered, that does not earnestly wish "all men to come to the knowledge of the truth," that in no way strives to enlarge God's kingdom, such an individual or such a community is weak in faith, stagnant in charity, and already in the early stages of decay. 

 It is true that the Church is indefectible, that the terrific forces arrayed against her can never prevail. But the extent of her victory from year to year, the number of those who submit to her, will in the last resort depend upon the militant spirit of all her members, laity and clergy alike, upon their energy in making known the truth, upon their skill in combating error, and upon their zeal in kindling in men's hearts the fire the charity which Christ brought down from Heaven. The practical question, therefore, arises, What is our duty to our separated brethren and non Christians? How are we to remove their prejudices and convince them of the truth? Is it by sermons and instructions directed at them? By controversy? By satire? By ridicule? By a self-satisfied superior attitude of aloofness? No, not by these methods, but quietly and wisely, by prayer, by grace, by good example, and by the character of our own lives and the lives of our people. By our fruits shall we be known.

What benefits does Catholicity bring to to individual or to society? that is the test question of outsiders.

Are Catholics no better than others - perhaps not even as good?  that is often their greatest difficulty.

If, on the contrary, Catholics are good citizens, upright and honorable, if their home-life is pure and peaceful, if they are reverent and rich in faith, then the Church will be respected, hungry and thirsty souls will be satisfied, and the true religion will need none of the "slings and arrows" of theological controversy.

The divine lineaments of Catholicity, if not lost or obscured in its local presence, are sufficient to convince any thoughtful enquirer. "The Church herself," says the Vatican Council "...is an enduring motive of credibility, an irrefragable proof of her own divine mission, like unto a standard unfurled to the nations, calling on those who have not yet believed, and giving certainty to those who have." Her marvelous unity and symmetry, her under caying vigor and buoyancy, her broad human sympathies, her manifold methods of satisfying the restless human heart; above all, the peace, the purity, the steadfast of her children - those are the features, the well marked outlines, that proclaim the divinity of our creed and its title to be not merely the truth but also "the way and the life." "If we do our duty," that is, if by our lives, by our sympathy, and by the intelligent exposition of our doctrine we keep alive the Christian ideal of manhood, "truth will make progress among our non-Catholic fellow-citizens, and once made Catholic, they will by their zeal and activity rank amongst the most loyal and most devoted of the children of the Church." " It is not controversy, above all not biting controversy, not even argumentative discussion, that will bring souls to the Church, but rather exposition touched with piety, explanation warmed with devotion; the presentation of faith, not a system to be accepted, but as the holding lovingly fast to what God has taught." It is not a syllogism that touches and converts men - it is virtue, it is God's grace. Augustine was captivated, not by the reasoning and learning of Ambrose, but by this kindness and courtesy.

"Faith of our Fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach thee, too, as love knows how,
By kindly words and virtuous life."

Source: The Priest of Today, His Ideals and Duties by Rev. Thomas O'Donnell. 1910

Thursday August 29, 2019

Faithful Dispensers of the Mysteries of God

How important it is that priests should be faithful dispensers of the Mysteries of God. With what interior and exterior reverence they should treat Sacraments and ceremonies. How pure ought be their hearts, how decorous their outward bearing, how free from levity their words and looks; in the house of God and in all the functions of the ministry how modest and reverent ought be their whole deportment. 

Yet it sometimes happens that the influence of the liturgy and its sacred accessories is weakened, even spoiled, by the negligence if not irreverence of a priest. He loves not the beauty of God's house, he neglects the altar, he allows vestments and altar linen to be shabby and soiled, he talks unnecessarily in the Divine Presence, he genuflects in a slovenly way, he robs the sacred Mysteries of their native dignity, he hurries through the ceremonies of the Mass as if rushing for a train, he administers the Sacraments in a perfunctory fashion, he mumbles his sermons, he recites the Rosary and other prayers with a sort of mechanical routine, at offices for the Dead he betrays an utter lack of sympathy and reality. 

What wonder if onlookers are disgusted rather than edified, if their confidence is shaken, if they come to the conclusion that such a priest hardly believes what he professes!

Source: The priest of Today His Ideals and Duties, Rev. Thomas O'Donnell, C.M. 1910

Wednesday August 28, 2019

The Blasphemer and the Monk

No one can be saved without exertion on his part. Some foolish people assert that no man can influence his destiny. 

A Franciscan monk, Dunn Scotus by name, was one day walking alongside a field where a laborer was at work, cursing and swearing all the time. The monk begged him to desist, telling him if he used such bad language he would surely go to hell.

The Man answered: "if God has decreed that I shall go to hell, no prayers will avail me anything; if He has decreed that I shall go to heaven, I shall be saved, however much I curse and swear."

"If so," the priest rejoined, "I cannot understand why you are plowing this field. For if God has decreed that you shall have a good crop, you will have one although you do not cultivate your land: but if He has decreed that the harvest shall fail, all your labor will be in vain." The peasant replied that if he did not till the ground there would certainly be no harvest. The priest smiled, and said: "There, you have just reversed your former argument." Thus the man's eyes were opened to the falsity of fatalism.

source: Anecdotes and Examples Illustrating the Catholic Catechism. 1904

Friday August 23, 2019

The Atheist and the Christian

An unbeliever said once to a good and faithful Catholic: "O unhappy Christian! How terribly you will find you have been deceived, if heaven is only a fable!" 

The Catholic answered: "O unhappy atheist! How terribly you will find you have been deceived, when you discover that hell is NOT a fictitious place.!

Source: Anecdotes and Examples Illustrating the Catholic Catechism.

Thursday August 22, 2019

Instruments

Our Savior in associating with Himself certain men to continue the work of redemption reserved to Himself the direct and immediate action on souls. He works through the priest, who is only His minister and instrument. If the instrument works according to the required conditions, its action is free and produces the desired effect. But if the instrument is corrupt and wicked, its action is impeded and produces no effect. 

Source:  Jesus Living in the Priest, The General Idea of the Priest by Rev. Fr. Jacques Millet

Wednesday August 21, 2019

The Good Priest

If you wish to know how much good a priest can accomplish in the Church, you have only to examine how far he is willing to give up self in order that the spirit of Jesus Christ may enter his heart and abide there.

Source:  Jesus Living in the Priest, The General Idea of the Priest by Rev. Fr. Jacques Millet

Tuesday August 20, 2019

Study of Jesus Christ

Whosoever knows Jesus Christ possesses all knowledge; whosoever knows Him not is ignorant of all things, even though he may have mastered all that is taught in the academies of the learned. 

The Word-made-flesh is the sun of truth and the light that enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world; He is the unutterable secret of His heavenly Father, the mystery of His love that lay hidden during the ages that precede His coming.


Monday August 19, 2019

In the Chapel

In vain the torch of glimmering flame
Touches you taper's cold unyielding white;
Yet why so feeble? Why so loth to light?
All around thee stand ablaze. Art not the same?

Nor soul, nor taper ventureth to reply,—
"The smoking flax, this dull, reluctant spark,
Enkindle, Lord." Quick answering through the dark,
The taper glows, the soul uplifts its cry.
O parable of Peace from One on high
That poor reluctant candle, Lord, am I.

Sunday August 18, 2019

The Blessed Sacrament

Jesus! my Lord, my God, my All
How can I love Thee as I ought?
And how revere this wondrous gift
So far surpassing hope or thought?
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore!
Oh make us love Thee more and more.

Had I but Mary's sinless heart
To love Thee with, my dearest King,
Of with what bursts of fervent praise
Thy goodness, Jesus, would I sing!
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore,
Oh make us love Thee more and more.

Oh, see! within a creature's hand
The vast Creator deigns to be,
Reposing infant-like, as though
On Joseph's arm or Mary's knee,
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore!
Of make us love Thee more and more.

Thy Body, Soul, and Godhead all!
Oh, mystery of love divine!
I cannot compass all I have;
For all Thou hast and art are mine!
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore!
Of make us love Thee more and more. Amen.

Saturday August 17, 2019

Divine Sacrifice

A priest is not one merely chosen to read public prayers, or preach, or take a leading part in local good works. No sacramental symbol is required to enable a man to discharge these offices. The main function of the priest is to sacrifice; and, in the new law, to absolve from sin. Divine service is not necessarily Divine sacrifice. The rite of sacrifice, as essential, indeed , the main central act of worship, can never perish from the earth, not a priesthood to offer it. Forms, rites and ceremonies may change - not the priestly offering.

The abrogation of the sacrifices of the old law was only the introduction of the one majestic sacrifice of the new, still carried on in the Mass, and offered daily by the new priesthood " from the rising to the setting sun."

 There is, and was, only one sacrifice worthy of God, and adequate to atone for sin - that of Christ on Calvary. That one sacrifice is still offered in an un-bloody manner in the Mass by the visible priesthood, representing and sharing in the power of our one invisible High Priest, Christ. Mystic powers are conveyed in Holy Orders, the chief of which is the perpetuation of the sacrifice of the Cross, "Do this in commemoration of me." This command to sacrifice, i.e., offer Christ's precious Body and Blood, the Church faithfully carries out through her priests. The Victim is the same, the priest the same, Jesus Christ, speaking through His priest, the manner only differs.

The Mass is the Sun of Divine worship. It sums up in solemn splendor and spiritual beauty all other outward forms of sacrifice. We may say, in a reverent sense, that the old and new law survive in the Mass. Nature, in the form of grape and wheat, all that men can bring in the way of art, and wealth, and taste, flowers,a nd music, and, on occasions, majestic rites, are embodied in the great Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass. All men's gifts to God circle round the altar, or are collected in the church, where holy Mass is offered by the priest, "first for his own sins, then for the people's" (Heb. VII, 27). The Mass is the one changeless Sacrifice of the Cross, offered up all the world over, to the quick and the dead.

Source: Holy Orders, by the Rev. William Graham. A Pulpit Commentary on Catholic Teaching: The liturgy of the ecclesiastical year. 1910

Friday August 16, 2019

Ordinandi

Before yon earthly shrine, O dearest Lord,
Knelt two whose lives like tapers burn for Thee,
— Thy holy priests now, bearers of Thy Word,
And guardians of Thy Sacred Mystery.
Pure as the lily keep those human hearts,
And spotless as the Host those hallowed souls;
While far above the joy this world imparts,
Be theirs that peace Thy Sacred Word extols.
O make them strong and comfort them in pain,
In hour of trial sorrowing apart;
And lest their life-long sacrifice be vain,
Enclose them in Thy Sacred, Wounded Heart,

CARMENELLA.

Source: The Maine Catholic Historical Magazine, Volume 2
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Portland, Maine, December, 1913

Thursday August 15, 2019

Council of Trent: Canon III

"If any one saith that Order, or sacred ordination, is not truly and properly a sacrament instituted by Christ the Lord; or that it is a kind of human figment devised by men unskilled in ecclesiastical matters; or that it is only a kind of rite for choosing ministers of the word of God and of the sacraments; let him be anathema..."

Wednesday August 14, 2019

Council of Trent: Canon II

"If any one saith that, besides the priesthood, there are not in the Catholic Church other orders, both greater and minor, by which, as by certain steps, advance is made unto the priesthood; let him be anathema"

Tuesday August 13, 2019

Council of Trent

"If any one saith that there is not in the New Testament a visible and external priesthood; or that there is not any power of consecrating and offering the true Body and Blood of the Lord, and of forgiving and retaining sins; but only an office and bare ministry of preaching the Gospel; or that those who do not preach are not priests at all; let him be anathema."

source: Canon I, Council of Trent. Publications of the Catholic Truth Society, Volume 29

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