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Reflections: Priests & Voctns. Sctn. (Candidates)

St. John Vianney, the Curé D'Ars (patron saint of priests)

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Candidates

 

Category
Quotation

Candidates

"Do not lay hands too readily on anyone, and do not share in another's sins. Keep yourself pure." (1 Tm. 5:22)

"This saying is trustworthy: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task. Therefore, a bishop must be irreproachable, married only once*, temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not aggressive, but gentle, not contentious, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children under control with perfect dignity; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of the church of God? He should not be a recent convert, so that he may not become conceited and thus incur the devil's punishment. He must also have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, the devil's trap. Similarly, deacons must be dignified, not deceitful, not addicted to drink, not greedy for sordid gain, holding fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. Moreover, they should be tested first; then, if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons." (1 Tm. 3:1-10) [*Note: Religious offices indicated in the New Testament are in their infancy and can be shown to be developing even in Scripture. Within a short time, many religious offices in the Church adopted Jesus' and St. Paul's recommended observance of celibacy as a general rule.]

"A man who is going to be a priest should excel in holiness and learning." (Pope Pius VI, "Inscrutabile", 1775 A.D.)

"Can. 641 The right to admit candidates to the novitiate belongs to the major Superiors, in accordance with the norms of the institute's own law." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"...let them exclude from sacred orders those young men who give the very faintest reason for doubt that they favor condemned doctrines and pernicious novelties." (Pope St. Pius X, "Praestantia Scripturae", 1907 A.D.)

"The office enjoined on prelates manifestly shows how great care should be taken in their election, for they are appointed for the government of souls for which our Lord Jesus Christ died and shed His precious Blood." (Council of Basel)

"Equal diligence and severity are to be used in examining and selecting candidates for Holy Orders. Far, far from the clergy be the love of novelty! God hates the proud and the obstinate." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"If now you would have Us define more exactly the qualifications of those who are really to be considered fit [for preaching], We answer: those in whom you find the signs of a Divine vocation." (Pope Benedict XV, "Humani Generis Redemptionem", 1917 A.D.)

"[T]o use the short but clear expression of the Angelic Doctor: 'Holiness must come before holy orders...hence the burden of orders should be placed only on walls seasoned with sanctity, freed of the damp of sins.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"Do not admit anyone to the clergy, entrust to no one the ministry of the mysteries of God, allow no one to hear confessions or preach sermons, do not transfer any administration or office to anyone, before you carefully weigh, examine and 'test their spirit to see if they are of God.'" (Pope Pius VII, "Diu Satis", 1800 A.D.)

"Candidates for holy orders especially must be examined at thorough length to determine whether their learning, serious morals and zeal for divine worship indicate that they will by their life and work edify and bring spiritual benefit to your flock, like lanterns burning in the house of the Lord." (Pope Pius IX, "Nostis et Nobiscum", 1849 A.D.)

"Sound your young clerics, too, most carefully, by yourselves and by the directors of your seminaries, and when you find the spirit of pride among any of them reject them without compunction from the priesthood. Would to God that this had always been done with the proper vigilance and constancy." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis")

"The substance of our hierarchy are the words handed down from God, that is to say, the true knowledge of the divine scriptures, as the great Dionysius made plain. If someone is doubtful and ill at ease with such conduct and teaching, let him not be ordained. For God said through the prophet: You rejected knowledge, and I shall reject you, so that you may not serve me in a priestly function." (Second Council of Nicaea)

"The chief and most necessary quality requisite in him who is to be ordained a priest is that he be recommended by integrity of life and morals; first because, by procuring or permitting his ordination while conscious of mortal sin, a man renders himself guilty of a new and enormous crime; and secondly, because the priest is bound to give others the example of a holy and innocent life." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Can. 1371 The disruptive, incorrigible, and unruly are to be dismissed from the Seminary, as are those whose lifestyle and characteristics seem unsuitable for the ecclesiastical state; likewise those who are not sufficient in progress of studies and who give no hope of getting sufficient learning; and especially to be dismissed are those who offend against good morals and faith." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"But it is always necessary to investigate individual aspirants to the priesthood with diligence, to ascertain the intentions and the reasons with which they have taken this resolution. Particularly, when it is a question of boys, it is necessary to find out if they are furnished with the necessary moral and physical qualifications and whether they aspire to the priesthood solely for its dignity and the spiritual profit of themselves and other people." (Pope Pius XII, "Menti Nostrae", 1950 A.D.)

"Some there are who embrace this state to secure the necessaries of life, and who, consequently, seek in the priesthood, just as other men do in the lowest walks of life, nothing more or less than gain. Though both the natural and divine law lay down, as the Apostle remarks, that he who serves the altar should live by the altar; yet to approach the altar for the sake of gain and money is one of the very gravest of sacrileges." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Therefore, you should carefully consider that those whom you choose to exercise the priestly ministry and to teach the people the fundamentals of Christianity should possess great purity of life, moral integrity, chastity, justice, piety, and devotion. How serious it would be if something bad, if something vicious, if something perverse were to infect their character with bad habits. Cautiously and prudently remove this danger from the pastors." (Pope Clement XIII, "A Quo Die", 1758 A.D.)

"Prevent from entering the Church's service all who lack exceptional moral holiness, who are uninstructed in the law of the Lord, and who give little or no promise of becoming energetic members of the clergy. For instead of proving helpers to you in feeding and guiding your flock, they will increase your toil and troubles. They will hinder you from ensuring that the Lord receives from his workers the fruits of the vineyard which Christ in strictest justice will expect from you at the final judgment." (Pope Pius VI, "Inscrutabile", 1775 A.D.)

"Can. 968 § 1 Only a baptized male validly receives sacred ordination; for liceity, however, he should be outstanding in the qualities according to the norm of the sacred canons, in the judgement of the proper Ordinary, and not detained by any irregularity or other impediment. § 2 Those who are detained by an irregularity or other impediment, even if it arises without their fault after ordination, are prohibited from exercising the orders received." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"It is far better to dismiss an unfit [seminary] student in the early stages; but if, for any reason, such dismissal has been delayed, the mistake should be corrected as soon as it is known. There should be no human consideration or false mercy. Such false mercy would be a real cruelty, not only towards the Church, to whom would be given an unfitted or unworthy minister, but also towards the youth himself; for, thus embarked upon a false course, he would find himself exposed to the risk of becoming a stumbling block to himself and to others with peril of eternal ruin." (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"Those who are discovered to be unfit for physical, psychological or moral reasons should be quickly removed from the path to the priesthood. Let educators appreciate that this is one of their very grave duties. They must neither indulge in false hopes and dangerous illusions nor permit the candidate to nourish these hopes in any way, with resultant damage to himself or to the Church. The life of the celibate priest, which engages the whole man so totally and so delicately, excludes in fact those of insufficient physical, psychic and moral qualifications. Nor should anyone pretend that grace supplies for the defects of nature in such a man." (Pope Paul VI, 1967)

"Also watch the seminaries more diligently. The fathers of Trent made you responsible for their administration. From them must come forth men well instructed both in Christian and ecclesiastical discipline and in the principles of sound doctrine. Such men may then distinguish themselves for their piety and their teaching. Thus, their ministry will be a witness, even to those outside the Church and they will be able to refute those who have strayed from the path of justice. Be very careful in choosing the seminarians since the salvation of the people principally depends on good pastors. Nothing contributes more to the ruin of souls than impious, weak, or uninformed clerics." (Pope Pius VIII, "Traditi Humilitati", 1829 A.D.)

"Can. 973 § 1 First tonsure and orders are to be conferred only on those who are proposed for ascending to the presbyterate and who seem correctly understood as, at some point in the future, being worthy priests. § 2 One ordained who, however, who refuses to receive higher orders cannot be coerced into receiving them by the Bishop or prohibited from the exercise of those orders already received, unless a canonical impediment detains them or another grave cause, in the judgment of the Bishop, so bars. § 3 A bishop shall confer sacred orders on no one unless from positive arguments he is certain that [the recipient] is canonically suitable; otherwise not only does he sin most gravely, but he also places himself in danger of sharing in the sin of the other." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"With watchful concern for the age of each and for his stage of progress, an inquiry should be made into the candidate's proper intention and freedom of choice, into his spiritual, moral and intellectual qualifications, into his appropriate physical and psychic health taking into consideration also possible hereditary deficiencies. Also to be considered is the ability of the candidate to bear the priestly burdens and exercise the pastoral offices. In the entire process of selecting and testing students, however, a due firmness is to be adopted, even if a deplorable lack of priests should exist, since God will not allow His Church to want for ministers if those who are worthy are promoted and those not qualified are, at an early date, guided in a fatherly way to undertake other tasks." (Second Vatican Council)

"The restoration of all things in Christ which, with God's help, we have made it our purpose to achieve in the government of the Church, demands - as we have more than once shown - proper formation of the clergy, testing of vocations, examination of the integrity of life of the candidates, and prudence lest there be excessive leniency in opening to them the doors of the sanctuary. To bring about the reign of Jesus Christ in the world, nothing is more essential than a saintly clergy who, by their example, their preaching and their learning will be the guides of the faithful; an old proverb says that the people will always be like their priests: Sicut sacerdos, sic populus. Indeed we read in the Council of Trent. Nothing is more effective in training to piety and the worship of God than the life and example of those who are consecrated to the divine ministry; cut off from the world and its affairs, clerics are on a pedestal where they can be seen, and men look into their lives as into a mirror in which they may see what they are to imitate'' (Pope St. Pius X)

"In considering someone's suitability for the ministry, do not rely only on individual enthusiasm or on someone's recommendation. You should consider as best suited to be a faithful minister and to receive a part of the Lord's flock the man whose timid virtue shirks the ministry. 'Do not be too quick to lay hands on any man' which happens if we do not consider and test the men over and over again. Lest we pay the price to God for imprudent rashness and share in another's sin, let him be tested carefully and accurately and judged severely. It should not weary you if We dwell a little longer on this matter which requires great attention. In whatever manner the priests behave, the majority of the people will behave in the same way. Everyone looks upon them - especially if they are parish priests - as if in a mirror. For this reason, nobody [receives] anything more destructive from the Church than evil priests, who infect the people with their vices and so corrupt the Church that they seem to harm it more by their example than by their sin." (Pope Clement XIII, "A Quo Die", 1758 A.D.)

"[T]hose with the right of electing [prelates] should be very careful that they make a worthy election in the presence of God and of the people, and let them be most solicitous to elect such persons as can fill so great an office. Let them remember that if they act in so important an affair either fraudulently or carelessly or without regard for the fear of God, they will be the authors and cause of evil pastors and will therefore share in the penalties which the evil pastors themselves will suffer in the severe judgment of God. Since the endeavor of human fragility can effect nothing without the help of almighty God, from whom every good endowment and every perfect gift comes down, those in whose hands lies the election of a pontiff or an abbot shall meet in church on the day of the election in order to hear with great devotion a Mass of the Holy Spirit, whom they will humbly petition to deign to inspire them to elect a worthy pastor. The more devoutly they approach the act of election, the more readily they will merit that grace, so let them confess and reverently receive the sacrament of the Eucharist." (Council of Basel)

"Bishops and religious superiors should not be deterred from this needful severity by fear of diminishing the number of priests for the diocese or institute. The Angelic Doctor St. Thomas long ago proposed this difficulty, and answers it with his usual lucidity and wisdom: 'God never abandons His Church; and so the number of priests will be always sufficient for the needs of the faithful, provided the worthy are advanced and the unworthy sent away.' The same Doctor and Saint, basing himself upon the severe words quoted by the fourth Ecumenical Council of the Lateran, observes to Our purpose: 'Should it ever become impossible to maintain the present number, it is better to have a few good priests than a multitude of bad ones.' It was in this sense that We Ourselves, on the solemn occasion of the international pilgrimage of seminarists during the year of Our priestly jubilee, addressing an imposing group of Italian Archbishops and Bishops, reaffirmed that one well trained priest is worth more than many trained badly or scarcely at all. For such would be not merely unreliable but a likely source of sorrow to the Church. What a terrifying account, Venerable Brethren, We shall have to give to the Prince of Shepherds, to the Supreme Bishop of souls, if we have handed over these souls to incompetent guides and incapable leaders." (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"First and foremost, keeping always in mind the precepts of the Apostle, be most careful not to lay hands prematurely on anyone and be extremely cautious in conferring sacred orders. Never, from a misplaced sense of obligation, partisanship, or favor, join to the clergy and promote to ecclesiastical grades and orders those who, not having even minimally the gifts required by the sacred canons, should be totally rejected from sacred ministry. He who does not fear to initiate into sacred orders those who are unworthy inflicts great harm on the Church. Therefore, your first concern is to strictly follow the prescriptions of the sacred canons. Carefully examine and scrutinize each candidate's origin, training, talents, character, and teaching. Ordain only those outstanding individuals who can truly benefit your dioceses. If they earnestly reject all things which are forbidden to clerics and which never become them, they may be an example to the faithful in 'word, speech, charity, faith, and chastity.' Moreover, examine most intently the conduct, honesty, piety, knowledge, and prudence of those to whom the care and direction of souls is to be committed. Be ever vigilant that pastors fulfill their office zealously, wisely and holily. They should never fail to feed the Christian people entrusted to them by means of preaching the divine word, of administering the sacraments, and of dispensing of the multiple grace of God. They should diligently imbue young people especially and the uneducated with the mysteries and teachings of our divine religion and form them in all piety and virtue. If pastors do not fulfill their duty, religion and public life are damaged, morals are perverted, Christian discipline weakens, the exercise of religious worship declines, and all sorts of vices overwhelm people." (Pope Pius IX, "Cum Nuper", 1858 A.D.)

"In designating a man for the episcopal office, something has to be considered on the part of the person designate, and something on the part of the designator. For on the part of the designator, whether by election or by appointment, it is required that he choose such a one as will dispense the divine mysteries faithfully. These should be dispensed for the good of the Church, according to 1 Corinthians 14:12, 'Seek to abound unto the edifying of the Church'; and the divine mysteries are not committed to men for their own meed, which they should await in the life to come. Consequently he who has to choose or appoint one for a bishop is not bound to take one who is best simply, i.e. according to charity, but one who is best for governing the Church, one namely who is able to instruct, defend, and govern the Church peacefully. Hence Jerome, commenting on Titus 1:5, says against certain persons that 'some seek to erect as pillars of the Church, not those whom they know to be more useful to the Church, but those whom they love more, or those by whose obsequiousness they have been cajoled or undone, or for whom some person in authority has spoken, and, not to say worse than this, have succeeded by means of gifts in being made clerics.' Now this pertains to the respect of persons, which in such matters is a grave sin. Wherefore a gloss of Augustine (Ep. 167 ad Hieron.) on James 2:1, 'Brethren, have not... with respect of persons,' says: 'If this distinction of sitting and standing be referred to ecclesiastical honors, we must not deem it a slight sin to have the faith of the Lord of glory with respect of persons. For who would suffer a rich man to be chosen for the Church's seat of honor, in despite of a poor man who is better instructed and holier?' On the part of the person appointed, it is not required that he esteem himself better than others, for this would be proud and presumptuous; but it suffices that he perceive nothing in himself which would make it unlawful for him to take up the office of prelate. Hence although Peter was asked by our Lord if he loved Him more than the others, he did not, in his reply, set himself before the others, but answered simply that he loved Christ... Our Lord knew that, by His own bestowal, Peter was in other respects fitted to govern the Church: wherefore He questioned him about his greater love, to show that when we find a man otherwise fitted for the government of the Church, we must look chiefly to his pre-eminence in the love of God." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Also See: Seminaries / Seminarians / Training / Formation | Religious / Religious Life / Religious Institutes | The Calling to Religious Life | Priests / Priesthood [Pg.] | Holy Orders (Sacraments Reflections) | Fostering Vocations [Pg.] | Are You Called to Religious Life? | Why Priestly Celibacy? | Religious Institutes For Men | Top Reasons Why Women Can't Be Priests | Prayers for Priests / Vocations | Misc. Priests / Vocations Facts

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