QUALITIES OF A HOLY PRIEST – From the writings of Saint John Eudes on The Priest, His Dignity And Obligations…
He is an angel purifying, illuminating and perfecting the souls that God has entrusted to him. He is a seraph sent by God to teach men the science of salvation which is concerned only with knowing and loving Almighty God and His Divine Son, Jesus Christ.
The priest is an archangel and a prince of the heavenly militia, waging constant war against the devil who strives to drag countless souls into the depths of hell.
He is the real father of the children of God, with a heart filled with love which is truly paternal. That love urges him to work unceasingly to nourish his flock with the bread of the sacred word and of the sacraments, to clothe the faithful with Christ and the Holy Ghost, to enrich them with celestial blessings and to secure for them everypossible assistance in the salvation of their souls. Above all else, the priest is the.father, the advocate, the protector and defender of the poor, widows, orphans and strangers. He is the refuge of the afflicted, of the desolate and the discouraged. He Is happy to visit and console the sorrowful, to bring them what assistance he can, taking upon himself their burdens and defending them against their oppressors.
He is a captain in the mighty army of God, always ready to battle for the glory of God and the defense of Holy Mother Church. He is ever prepared to lay siege to the world, the flesh and the devil. For him the conquest of kingdoms means only the salvation of souls for each soul is a kingdom more precious than all the empires of the world.
The priest is a prince of the realm of God, one of the kings of Christ’s empire, the Church. He is appointed to rule by the maxims and laws of the gospel as many kings and queens as there are Christians committed to his care. His duty is to make them worthy to possess in eternity the very kingdom of the Sovereign Monarch of the world.
The priest is an evangelist and an apostle whose chief work is to preach publicly and privately, by word and example, the Gospel of Jesus Christ; to continue and perpetuate the functions that the apostles were commissioned to perform, and to practise the virtues that they practised….
It is obvious that the priest is favored with far more graces than any other human being except the Blessed Virgin Mary. It follows, then, that no one on earth is held to a greater perfection and sanctity of life than the priest… Learn to hate intemperance in eating and drinking. Avoid every occasion in which sinful excesses may be committed. This vice is low and bestial and most definitely contrary to the sanctity and dignity of the priest, who should be an angel among men.
Abhor impurity. Avoid with the most scrupulous exactitude the places, persons or things which might constitute the slightest peril or suggest even the smallest shadow of that abominable vice. What could be more necessary and becoming to the life of the priest consecrated to God. the priest whose life is spent in the church near the altar, whose time is spent performing angelic functions amidst divine mysteries, what is more necessary and becoming than purity of mind and body? What can be more terrible than an impure priest? He is a monster, a Judas, an antichrist.
Consider the words of St. Paul: if any man has not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Tim. 5, 8). Lest, therefore, you be condemned by God as apostates, learn to rule and govern your household that it may be a shining example of virtue, modesty, charity and piety for all Christian families to behold and imitate.
Articles on the crisis in the Church/shortage of priests, written from the modernist perspective, tend to present the priesthood as “un-attractive”. Always, as well as insisting on more lay involvement, power etc., they refer to the need to encourage more men to become priests, with the rider that the priesthood needs to be made more attractive.
That’s never spelt out. So, reading the vision of St John Eudes, a priest himself, on the qualities and duties of a Catholic priest, made me wonder if the description above would be “attractive” to young men considering the priesthood today. Personally, I think it would, certainly for those with a traditional Catholic formation and spirituality, but I think those demanding a “more attractive” priesthood, really mean an easier life for priests, less demanding. Or, am I being cynical again?