PRIESTS, BE HOLY! OTHERWISE YOUR LIFE WILL BE A DISASTER!
Word of the Lord
“Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them: Be holy, for I, the LORD your God, am holy.” (Lv 19:2)
“So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48)
From Church documents
“Priests of the New Testament, by their vocation and ordination, are in a certain sense set apart in the bosom of the People of God. However, they are not to be separated from the People of God or from any person; but they are to be totally dedicated to the work for which the Lord has chosen them (Cf. Acts 13:2). They cannot be ministers of Christ unless they be witnesses and dispensers of a life other than earthly life. But they cannot be of service to men if they remain strangers to the life and conditions of men (Paul VI, encyclical Ecclesiam Suam, Aug. 6, 1964, 56). Their ministry itself, by a special title, forbids that they be conformed to this world; (cf. Rom 12:2) yet at the same time it requires that they live in this world among men. They are to live as good shepherds that know their sheep, and they are to seek to lead those who are not of this sheepfold that they, too, may hear the voice of Christ, so that there might be one fold and one shepherd (cf. Jn 10:14-16).” (Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis, 3)
“God, who alone is holy and who alone bestows holiness, willed to take as his companions and helpers men who would humbly dedicate themselves to the work of sanctification. Hence, through the ministry of the bishop, God consecrates priests, that being made sharers by special title in the priesthood of Christ, they might act as his ministers in performing sacred functions. In the liturgy they continue to carry on his priestly office by the action of his Spirit.” (Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis, 5)
“Priests who perform their duties sincerely and indefatigably in the Spirit of Christ arrive at holiness by this very fact.” (Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis, 13)
From the writings of Blessed Father Paolo Manna
“Beware: God will never use vain, proud men full of confidence in their personal merits to convert and sanctify peoples. God is jealous of his glory. To destroy vices, he will not use a priest who loves the world, […] a priest whose faith is lukewarm, sluggish, without mortification. [...] Let’s be honest when we [priests] complain about the ruins that the enemies of religion make in the field we have to cultivate; it is our own fault [that people don’t convert to God].” (P. Manna, Chiamati alla santità, Naples 1977, p. 112)
“Let the missionaries, more direct instruments in the conversion of souls, be saints, and the unbelievers will not hesitate to convert.” (P. Manna, Virtù Apostoliche, Milan 1944, p. 41)
“Of course it goes without saying that whoever is called to the priesthood is therefore himself called to a very high degree of holiness. One can be good doctor, lawyer, professor without being saint, but this cannot be the case for the priest: it would be a contradiction in terms. […] Priestly vocation and holiness must be closely united: there can be holiness without priesthood, but not vice versa.” (P. Manna, Chiamati alla santità, Naples 1977, p. 80)
“And this priestly holiness, which was God’s choice, this priestly holiness, which was accepted on our part, is also the expectation of the whole world. Everyone knows that the priest must be holy, and everyone expects and demands it, even the villains who scorn and fight us.” (P. Manna, Chiamati alla santità, Naples 1977, pp. 87-88)
Questions for reflection
· What do I remember of my priestly ordination?
· Are the ideals of that day present in me? To what extent?
· Honestly, how much an example of a priestly life am I for those to whom God has sent me?
· When was the last time I asked God to strengthen me in my fidelity and help me in a good, human, and priestly life?
· When was the last time I prayed for missions and missionaries?
Thrice holy God, you choose and call people to serve your people as their shepherds. Look at all the priests of the Church and renew in them the grace of Holy Order. May the Holy Spirit, with which they were filled, animate in them the grace of holiness, so that their ministry and their life may be lived in holiness. Let them fix their gaze on Jesus Christ, High Priest and Good Shepherd, and follow him with a generous heart, making their life a gift for you and for the Church.
Most Holy Mother, Mother of priests, intercede for them with Your Son.
They belong to Him! Make them holy in heart and body and faithful to their vocation. Strengthen those who are weak and lead them to Christ! Send them “good angels” to lift them up from their weakness. Intercede for them all, [O Mother,] that they may have deep faith, unshakable hope, perfect love, and a deep sense of God’s holiness and what belongs to God. Amen.