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Reflections: Priests & Voctns. Sctn. (Knwldg./Lrn.)

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

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Priests & Vocations Sctn.:

Knowledge / Learning

Wisdom of the Popes, Saints, Theologians, Other...

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Knowledge / Learning



Knowledge / Learning

"For the lips of the priest are to keep knowledge, and instruction is to be sought from his mouth, because he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts." (Mal. 2:7)

"The light of learning, and that in no small degree is needed in the priest, because it is his duty, to fill others with wisdom, to destroy errors, to be a guide to the many in the steep and slippery paths of life." (Pope Leo XIII, "Exeunte Iam Anno", 1888 A.D.)

"[A]s Dionysius states... men of higher degree, whose business it is to teach others, are under obligation to have fuller knowledge of matters of faith, and to believe them more explicitly." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church'')

"The priest should have full grasp of the Catholic teaching on faith and morals; he should know how to present it to others; and he should be able to give the reasons for the dogmas, laws and observances of the Church of which he is minister." (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"In our own day, alas! it is the contrary that happens all too frequently. Members of the clergy allow their minds to be overcome gradually by the darkness of doubt and turn aside to worldly pursuits; the chief reason for this is that they prefer to read a variety of other works and newspapers, which are full of cunningly propounded errors and corruption, rather than the divine books and other pious literature." (Pope St. Pius X, "Haerent Animo", 1908 A.D.)

"This work [the Catechism of the Council of Trent] is remarkable at once for the richness and exactness of its doctrine, and for the elegance of its style; it is a precious summary of all theology, both dogmatic and moral. He who understands it well, will have always at his service those aids by which a priest is enabled to preach with fruit, to acquit himself worthily of the important ministry of the confessional and the direction of souls, and will be in a position to refute the objections of unbelievers." (Pope Leo XIII)

"The learning which is perceived as worthy of a clergyman should attain pure and holy habits. They should have a knowledge of the Scriptures: 'All Scripture is inspired by God and can profitably be used for teaching, for refuting error, for guiding people's lives and teaching them to be holy that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work'. They should go to both testaments of the Bible, to the traditions of the Church, and to the writings of the holy fathers, as if they were going to springs from which pours forth a pure and undefiled teaching of faith and character. They should read often and reflect upon the Roman Catechism, the summation of Catholic teaching, which provides holy sermons to give to the faithful." (Pope Clement XIII, "A Quo Die", 1758 A.D.)

"We exhort the priests to provide that their own knowledge of things Divine and human be wide and deep; that they be not content with the intellectual knowledge acquired in youth; that they examine with careful scrutiny the Law of the Lord, Whose oracles are purer than silver; that they continually relish and enjoy the chaste charms of Sacred Scripture; that with the passing of the years they study more deeply the history of the Church, its dogmas, its Sacraments, its laws, its scriptures, its liturgy, its language, so that they may advance in grace, in culture and wisdom. Let them cultivate also the study of letters and of the profane sciences, especially those which are more closely connected with religion, in order that they may be able to impart with clarity and eloquence the teaching of grace and salvation which is capable of bending even learned intellects to the light burden and yoke of the Gospel of Christ." (Pope Pius XII, "Sertum Laetitiae", 1939 A.D.)

"Now it is of great importance, as We have said, that priests should have a learning adequate to the requirements of the age. For the attainment of this, in addition to a solid classical education, there is required both instruction and training in scholastic philosophy 'according to the method, and the mind and the principles of St. Thomas Aquinas' - ad Angelical Doctoris rationem, doctrinam et principia. This Our Illustrious Predecessor, Leo XIII, has called the philosophia perennis. It is essential to the future priest. It will help him to a thorough understanding of dogma. It will effectively forearm him against modern errors of whatever sort. It will sharpen his mind to distinguish truth from falsehood. It will form him to habits of intellectual clearness, so necessary in any studies or problems of the future. It will give him a great superiority over others, whose mere erudition, perhaps, is wider but who lack philosophical training." (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"Learning, as We have said, is absolutely necessary for the preacher, for if he is without the light of learning he easily falls into error, since 'Ignorance is the mother of all errors,' as the Fourth Lateran Council so truthfully observes. We would not be understood, however, to mean every sort of knowledge, but only that which it becomes a priest to possess, that is to say, the knowledge, to phrase it briefly, which consists of a knowledge of self, of God and his duties. For self-knowledge, We maintain, will lead a priest to renounce his own advantage. The knowledge of God will lead him to make everyone else know and love God, and the knowledge of his office will lead him to discharge his own duties and to teach others to do theirs. If he lacks these three kinds of knowledge, whatever other learning he has, will only puff him up, and will be useless." (Pope Benedict XV, "Humani Generis Redemptionem", 1917 A.D.)

"Strive, then, Venerable Brethren, to bring home to your clerics and priests these teachings of the Sainted Commentator. You have to remind them constantly of the demands made by their divine vocation if they would be worthy of it: 'The lips of the priest shall keep knowledge, and men shall ask the Law at his mouth, for he is the Angel of the Lord of hosts' (Mal. 2:7). They must realize, then, that they cannot neglect study of the Bible... How can a cleric teach others the way of salvation if through neglect of meditation on God's word he fails to teach himself? What confidence can he have that, when ministering to others, he is really 'a leader of the blind, a light to them that are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, having the form of knowledge and of truth in the law,' if he is unwilling to study the said Law and thus shuts the door on any divine illumination on it?" (Pope Benedict XV, "Spiritus Paraclitus", 1920 A.D.)

"It is of great importance that the priest should combine his daily divine meditation with the constant reading of pious books, especially the inspired books. That was the command that Paul gave to Timothy: Attend unto reading. The same lesson was taught by St. Jerome when instructing Nepotianus on the priestly life: 'Never let the sacred book leave your hands'; and he gave the following reason for his advice: 'Learn that which you are to teach; holding to that faithful word which conforms to doctrine, that you may be able to exhort with sound doctrine, and refute the opponents.' What great advantages are gained by priests who are faithful to this practice! With what unction they preach Christ! Far from flattering and soothing the hearts and minds of their audience, they stimulate them to better things, and arouse in them the desire of heavenly things." (Pope St. Pius X, "Haerent Animo", 1908 A.D.)

"The dignity of the office he holds and the maintenance of a becoming respect and esteem among the people, which helps so much in his pastoral work, demand more than purely ecclesiastical learning. The priest must be graced by no less knowledge and culture than is usual among well-bred and well-educated people of his day. This is to say that he must be healthily modern, as is the Church, which is at home in all times and all places, and adapts itself to all; which blesses and furthers all healthy initiative and has no fear of the progress, even the most daring progress, of science; if only it be true science... And among the rest of the clergy, none should remain content with a standard of learning and culture which sufficed, perhaps, in other times; they must try to attain - or, rather, they must actually attain - a higher standard of general education and of learning. It must be broader and more complete; and it must correspond to the generally higher level and wider scope of modern education as compared with the past." (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"Who, indeed, will deny that knowledge should be joined to holiness of life in the priest? 'For the lips of the priest shall keep knowledge.' The Church demands this knowledge of those who are to be ordained to the priesthood. Why? Because the Christian people expect from them knowledge of the divine law, and it was for that end that they were sent by God. 'And they shall seek the law at his mouth; because he is the angel of the Lord of hosts.' Thus the bishop speaking to the candidates for the priesthood in the ordination ceremony says: 'Let your teaching be a spiritual remedy for God's people; may they be worthy fellow-workers of our order; and thus meditating day and night on His law, they may believe what they read, and teach what they shall believe.' If what We have just said is applicable to all priests, does it not apply with much greater force to those who possess the title and the authority of parish priests, and who, by virtue of their rank and in a sense by virtue of a contract, hold the office of pastors of souls? These are, to a certain extent, the pastors and teachers appointed by Christ in order that the faithful might not be as 'children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine devised in the wickedness of men,' but that practicing 'the truth in love,' they may, 'grow up in all things in him who is the head, Christ.'" (Pope St. Pius X, "Acerbo Nimis", 1905 A.D.)

Also See: Catechetical Instruction | Seminaries / Seminarians / Training / Formation | Priests & Prayer / Meditation / Contemplation | Preachers / Preaching | Holiness / Good Example [Pg.] | Priests / Priesthood [Pg.] | Wisdom (Topical Scripture) | Knowledge (Topical Scripture) | Catholic Basics Section

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