The Society of Ignatians, called by mission to form creative minorities of Catholic laymen and women, is convinced that to form “thoroughbred” laity it must first form “thoroughbred” priests.
In order to have pure-blooded priests and authentic lay apostles, each fulfilling their God-given roles in the Church we must strongly shout aloud that priests should be priests and laity should be laity. Each with their vocation, field of action, and identity. In this way we will be capable of seeing the priest as God intends us to see him. In this way priests will live the priesthood with the sense of responsibility it is owed. A French writer, who had converted to the Faith at 18 years of age, wrote the following six years later, showing he had grasped this truth:
“The man who has received the Sacrament of Holy Orders is clothed with a special character. He is double. Someone has added himself on to him, and this mysterious person works him relentlessly. Even in the most foolish and vile of priests there still remains something strange and superhuman which he is unable to get rid of; it is a type of holiness that borders with dishonor. This unknown element cannot be degraded by human nature, because it is outside of its reach, and it shines before the eyes of those who see.
“The mere presence of the priest has a mysterious power. Newman, while still a Protestant, was unable to see a priest without experiencing a secret emotion. Christ puts on our humanity. We, in turn, are commanded to put on Christ. Exchange of clothes.
“The person of the priest is a source of wonder. To be precise, there are no bad priests; there are bad men who are priests and who are worse than the others because they are priests, but the priest that is in them, is Jesus Christ.” JULIEN GREEN, Pamphlet contre les Catholiques de France, 1924.
In the light of this awesome responsibility, the Ignatian from the moment he crosses the threshold of the seminary dedicates the depth of his intellect, the strength of his will, the sensitivity of his sentiments, and the fire of his passions to forging this sense of identity and responsibility.