The Priest and the Eternal Truths
Esteem for the Priestly Vocation
Reverence for my Priesthood
I. The world, Christ's enemy, has at all times devised ways and means of destroying faith in Christ, of spurning His precepts and ruining His Church. It has tried to do away with Christ and His work by persecution, heresy, immoral propaganda, scorn, etc.; but so far it has invented hothing more simple and effective than the dishonoring of the priest. Very simple indeed, and no need for any great display of learning or power: just the calumnies and facile irony of a facile literature; but so effective, that what subtle heresiarchs or implacable tyrants failed to achieve, namely, the uprooting of the Faith among the people, was within a very short time and over vast territories obtained by the simple expedient of burying the priest in the mire of contempt.
So needful to my divine vocation is appreciation and esteem, in order to give the work of God a firm footing!
II. Great indeed would be my guilt if this contempt, so destructive for the Faith, were to begin from my own lack of self-esteem.
The loss of any priest has its roots perhaps in the priest's loss of esteem for his own state. He casts a covetous eye upon other walks of life, which appear to him worthier of honor, nobler, and happier; he begins to feel discontented with his lot; he gradually comes to think of his priesthood as a crushing burden. . . .
In such a frame of mind how can a priest fail to experience a loathing for his many ministerial duties? How will he contrive to conduct himself with the dignity and composure required of him?
If you do not respect yourself, who will respect you? What reverence will you command if in your own esteem you rank so low?
It is possible that if a patient and thorough investigation were made in any country, town, or parish where the clergy are treated with disdain or positively illtreated, we should discover that it all originated from the lack of appreciation and even contempt in which certain priests held their own priestly dignity. And once again would be literally fulfilled the words: Perditio tua ex te! "It is thy own undoing." (Osee 13:9)
III. And how must I esteem myself?
I. Higher than a king. Over the estates of my realm the sun never sets, never a slanting ray touches them. The limits of my kingdom are the height of heaven and eternity, the depths of the gates of hell. A king can lose his crown, not I my priestly character. A king will grant to his loyal subjects estates, titles, and distinctions; I can give entry into the Kingdom of Heaven.
How must I esteem myself?
2. Mightier than an angel; who may inspire, direct, reproach the soul God confided to his keeping, but his action is only on the surface; while I, in forgiving sin, heal the soul's deepest wounds; and in the other Sacraments I infuse the grace of God and refashion the soul to God's image and likeness.
How should I esteem myself?
3. Like unto God; for like Him I impart grace; like Him I pardon. Grace has been given through Jesus Christ. Who can forgive sin but only God?
I thank Thee, O Lord, for having given such dignity and such power to men.
1. I shall always see that my conduct bears the priestly stamp; I shall be a priest in private and in public, in the street, and in the church; always and everywhere. Shall I be like the actor who sometimes plays the role of a king, but only on the stage? Shall I be a priest only at the altar? No, I shall preserve the dignity befitting my state always, wherever I may be.
2. I shall hold all priests in affectionate and respectful regard; and if I think their lives sometimes fall short of the mark, I shall, at least, esteem them all for the dignity of their calling.
3. I shall never withhold from them those tokens of reverence that so many good lay people never refuse to the priest.
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.
Please pray for our priests and pray for vocations to the priesthood!