‘Thou shalt rekindle hearts to the valor of old in a world that grows chill.’ – Cirdan to Mithrandir (J. R. R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion)
Irreplaceable for Church and World
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved. How then shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher?” (Rom 10:13-14)
“Vital” is the best word to refer to the need for priests because the priest as guardian of the sacraments and the word of God is the normal channel of the divine life (sanctifying grace) from God to man.
Within the “deep mystery…subject of inexhaustible meditation” that “the salvation of many depends on the prayers and penance which the members of the Mystical Body offer for this intention”, (PIUS XII, Mystici Corporis) lies the truth that on the shoulders of the priest in a pre-eminent way rests this responsibility because of his sanctifying, teaching and leadership role but above all because he enacts the mystical Sacrifice of Calvary.
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me…if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.” (Ezekiel 3: 17, 19)
The priesthood, said Pope John Paul II in 2002, “cannot be considered as a call among many others, because the realization and development of other vocations depend on it.”.
This is due to the fact that -the Pope added – “the priest represents Christ in his functions as Head, Pastor, Priest and Spouse, and is called to act ‘in persona Christi Capitis’ in the most sacred moments of his service to the Church.”
“From this perspective, the promotion of vocations to the priestly ministry, a ministry that is one of the constitutive elements of the Church, acquires a total character of priority.” (John Paul II)
“Nothing will ever replace,” said Pope Benedict XVI in 2008, “the ministry of priests at the heart of the Church! Nothing will ever replace a Mass for the salvation of the world!”
“Christ has no body now on earth but yours,” wrote St.Teresa of Avila, “any hands but yours, any feet but yours. Yours are the eyes with which he looks with compassion at the world, yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good, and yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now.”
“Only in heaven”, said the great man of Ars, “will he fully realize what he is”. …..”Were we to fully realize what a priest is on earth, we would die: not of fright, but of love. … Without the priest, the passion and death of our Lord would be useless. It is the priest who continues on earth the work of redemption .”
St. Jean Vianney added ” Of what use would a house filled with gold be, were there no one to open its door? The priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of His goods.”
The saint’s conclusion to his reflection on the priest’s role is dramatic: “Leave a parish twenty years without the priest, and they will go about adoring beasts…. We will only understand the priest in Heaven.”
MANKIND NEEDS PRIESTS WHO WILL INTELLIGENTLY, WINSOMELY, WITH BURNING CONCERN FOR SOULS’ ETERNAL SALVATION, PRESENT THE TRUTH OF THE CATHOLIC FAITH!
THEREFORE, THE MISSION OF THE PRIEST IS TO BE ALTER CHRISTUS, TO PROLONG CHRIST’S RESCUING MISSION!
NO MORE RELEVANT, NO MORE CHALLENGING, NO MORE SUBLIMELY BEAUTIFUL MISSION COULD A MAN EVER RECEIVE!