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Reflections: Priests & Voctns. Sctn. (Exhrtns.)

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

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Priests & Vocations Sctn.:


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"If you will give these instructions to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching you have followed. Avoid profane and silly myths. Train yourself for devotion, for, while physical training is of limited value, devotion is valuable in every respect, since it holds a promise of life both for the present and for the future... Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands of the presbyterate. Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to everyone. Attend to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in both tasks, for by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you." (1 Tm. 4:6-8, 14-16)

"O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid profane babbling and the absurdities of so-called knowledge. By professing it, some people have deviated from the faith." (1 Tm. 6:20-21)

"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry." (2 Tm. 4:1-5)

"Never tire of preserving our faithful from harm!" (Bishop Gemma)

"I urge you to pray each day: 'O good Jesus, make me a priest like unto your own Heart." (Pope John Paul II)

"Above all the Church stresses the solemn words: Imitate that which you handle" (Pope St. Pius X, "Haerent Animo", 1908 A.D.)

"'Watch and pray,' mindful that your hands touch those things which are most holy, that you have been consecrated to God and are to serve Him alone." (Pope Pius XII)

"Wherefore let not him sleep that is set over the Church, lest through his carelessness the enemy should sow therein tares, that is, the dogmas of the heretics." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church)

"Clerics should abstain not only from things that are evil in themselves, but even from those that have an appearance of evil." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"May your zeal increase every day, therefore, sustain the Church of God, be an example to the faithful, and constitute a powerful bulwark against which the assaults of the enemies of God may be broken." (Pope Pius XII, "Menti Nostrae", 1950 A.D.)

"We desire all clerics of your kingdom to shine forth in purity of doctrine, in splendor of knowledge, and in sanctity of life, that they may appear in the eyes and the judgment of all without blemish." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Cum Primum", 1832 A.D.)

"Urge them to carefully fulfill their duties, to greatly love the beauty of God's house, to urgently pray and entreat with deep piety, and to say the canonical hours of the breviary as the Church commands." (Bl. Pope Pius IX, "Qui Pluribus", 1846 A.D.)

"In spite of all threats, in spite of the noisy passions which are boisterous against any priest who dares to preach the truth, let their voices be what it should be - that is, an echo of the Word: let it vibrate with the holy firmness of the saints!" (Liturgical Year)

"Give the soul of the faithful wings with which to fly from the earth to contemplate heavenly matters; once it is snatched away from the world, give that soul to God and recall the divine image in it to its original purity." (Pope Clement XIII, "A Quo Die", 1758 A.D.)

"And you yourselves must maintain your vigilance. Remember the account to be rendered to the Prince of pastors Jesus Christ for the flock entrusted to your care, and remember the eternal reward in heaven promised to those who have fought lawfully." (Pope Benedict XIV, "Nimiam Licentiam", 1743 A.D.)

"Do your utmost, Venerable Brethren; explore every avenue that is open to you; have no hesitation in mustering all your authority and available resources in an effort to persuade the faithful under your charge to purify their souls by penance and to enkindle them with the fervor of piety." (Pope John XXIII, 1962 A.D.)

"It is Our duty to lead the flock only to the food which is healthful. In these evil and dangerous times, the shepherds must never neglect their duty; they must never be so overcome by fear that they abandon the sheep. Let them never neglect the flock and become sluggish from idleness and apathy." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Mirari Vos", 1832 A.D.)

"Should you encounter fresh contradictions and fresh signs of hostility on the road, do not allow yourselves to be cast down; for the righteousness of your cause will become clearer day by day... whilst the trials you will have to suffer will increase your merit in the eyes of all good men, and what is much more important, before God." (Pope Leo XIII, "Spesse Volte", 1898 A.D.)

"Let the priest not trust in his own strength nor be complacent in his own gifts nor seek the esteem and praise of men but let him imitate Christ, Who 'did not come to be served but to serve', let him deny himself according to the teaching of the Gospel, detaching himself from the things of the earth in order to follow the Divine Master more easily and more readily." (Pope Pius XII, "Menti Nostrae", 1950 A.D.)

"May all who have vowed to serve Christ, bravely persevere 'even to death.' May they realize that their pains, sufferings and prayers are of great value in the sight of God for the restoration of His Kingdom in their countries and in the universal Church; may they be most certain that those 'who follow the Lamb whither He goeth,' will sing forever a 'new canticle,' which no one else can sing." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"In building up of the Church, priests must treat all with exceptional kindness in imitation of the Lord. They should act towards men, not as seeking to please them, but in accord with the demands of Christian doctrine and life. They should teach them and admonish them as beloved sons, according to the words of the Apostle: 'Be urgent in season, out of season, reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine' (2 Tim. 4:2)." (Second Vatican Council)

"To this end We deem it opportune to address to you a special exhortation as regards your direction of associations and sodalities of women, that you show yourselves as becomes a priest; avoid every familiarity; when you must give your services, give them in a way that is befitting sacred ministers. Moreover, in directing these associations, let your interest be confined to the demands of the sacred ministry." (Pope Pius XII, "Menti Nostrae", 1950 A.D.)

"Therefore We entreat you to use every means of revealing to your faithful people the many kinds of plot, pretense, error, deceit and contrivance which our enemies use. This will turn them carefully away from infectious books. Also exhort them unceasingly to flee from the sects and societies of the impious as from the presence of a serpent, earnestly avoiding everything which is at variance with the wholeness of faith, religion and morality." (Bl. Pope Pius IX, "Qui Pluribus", 1846 A.D.)

"[T]he pastor should exhort the rich to remember that they are to look upon their wealth and riches as gifts of God, and to reflect that those goods are bestowed on them in order that they may share them with the indigent. With this truth the words of the Apostle, in his First Epistle to Timothy, will be found to accord, and will supply parish priests with an abundance of matter wherewith to elucidate this subject in a useful and profitable manner." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Therefore, venerable brothers, keep all these words in mind and often reflect on them. Teach your people great reverence for the Church's authority which has been directly established by God. Do not lose heart. With St. Augustine We say that 'all around us the waters of the flood are roaring, that is, the multiplicity of conflicting teaching. We are not in the flood but it surrounds us. We are hard pressed but not overwhelmed, buffeted but not submerged.'" (Pope Leo XII, "Ubi Primum", 1824 A.D.)

"Arouse Venerable Brethren, in the hearts of those committed to your care, a great and insatiable hunger for Jesus Christ. Under your guidance let the children and youth crowd to the altar rails to offer themselves, their innocence and their works of zeal to the divine Redeemer. Let husbands and wives approach the Holy Table so that nourished on this Food they may learn to make the children entrusted to them conformed to the mind and heart of Jesus Christ." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

"Let the presbyters be compassionate, merciful to all, bringing back those who have wandered stray, visiting those who are sick, neglecting neither widow nor orphan nor the poor, but providing always what is good in the sight of God and of men. Let them refrain entirely from anger, respect of persons, and unjust judgement; let them be far from the love of money, not quick to believe evil of anyone, not hasty in judgment, knowing that we are all debtors in the matter of sin." (St. Polycarp, c. 135 A.D.)

"Hostile men in these lamentable times never stop planting thorns in the Lord's field, first with destructive and ephemeral books and then with monstrous and depraved suppositions plainly opposed to Catholic faith and dogma. Consequently, you rightly understand how you must labor and ever be on your guard to keep the faithful from those poisonous pastures, to urge them on to eternal salvation, and to imbue them in greater measure with the teachings of the Catholic Church." (Bl. Pope Pius IX, "Amantissimus", 1862 A.D.)

"[S]o far is the enjoyment of the goods of this life from conferring real happiness that, on the contrary, he who is captivated by a love of the world is farthest removed from true happiness... The pastor, therefore, should be careful to impress these truths on the minds of the faithful, that they may learn to despise earthly things, and to know that in this world, in which we are not citizens by sojourners, happiness is not to be found. Yet even here below we may be said with truth to be happy in hope" (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"For this reason We earnestly exhort all priests of the secular clergy to let the faithful see them following the Spiritual Exercises, at least in that modest measure which the Code of Canon Law prescribes for them: and let them approach and fulfil the exercises with an ardent desire of their own perfection, so that they may obtain that abundance of the supernatural spirit, which is very necessary for them, if they would secure the spiritual advantage of their flock, and win a multitude of souls to Christ." (Pope Pius XI, "Mens Nostra", 1929 A.D.)

"And let not anything detain Us from giving ourselves up to all battles for the Glory of God and the salvation of souls. Let Us consider Him, who underwent such great contradiction against Himself by sinners. But if We fear the boldness of those wicked ones, it has been from the force of the Episcopate, and from the sublime and Divine Power of Governing the Church; but neither are We able to remain much longer or be any longer Christians, if it has come to this point that We are terrified at the threats or the artifices of the destroyers." (Pope Clement XII)

"Above all, all Pastors of souls will undertake to obtain each year from their people a pledge similar to the one already alluded to which is given by their American brothers and in which they promise to stay away from motion picture plays which are offensive to truth and to Christian morality. The most efficacious manner of obtaining these pledges or promises is through the parish church or school and by enlisting the earnest cooperation of all fathers and mothers of families who are conscious of their grave responsibilities." (Pope Pius XI, "Vigilanti Cura", 1936 A.D.)

"Believe me when I tell you that Satan's nefarious and dark activity - as Pope [John] Paul II calls it - is more widespread and deadly than we think. The skeptical sarcasm of worldly pseudo-experts, and sometimes even Christians and teachers of religion, is the fruit of disinformation and, therefore, of superficiality. This skepticism is itself one of the main components of the victory that the evil one wants to win, under the cover of silence. I ask you, who are the pastors of the people of God, not to treat this subject lightly. It would be a culpable omission and a scandal if you did." (Bishop Gemma)

"We urge you to strive carefully and zealously to continually warn and exhort the faithful entrusted to your care to hold to these first principles. Urge them never to allow themselves to be deceived and led into error by men who have become abominable in their pursuits. These men attempt to destroy faith on the pretext of human progress, subjecting it in an impious manner to reason and changing the meaning of the words of God. Such men do not shrink from the greatest insults to God Himself, who cares for the good and the salvation of men by means of His heavenly religion." (Bl. Pope Pius IX, "Qui Pluribus", 1846 A.D.)

"As for you, Venerable Brethren, carry on diligently with the work of the Savior of men by emulating His gentleness and His strength. Minister to every misery; let no sorrow escape your pastoral solicitude; let no lament find you indifferent. But, on the other hand, preach fearlessly their duties to the powerful and to the lowly; it is your function to form the conscience of the people and of the public authorities. The social question will be much nearer a solution when all those concerned, less demanding as regards their respective rights, shall fulfill their duties more exactingly." (Pope St. Pius X, "Notre Charge Apostolique", 1910 A.D.)

"Never be discouraged by the difficulties that arise, and never let your pastoral zeal grow cold. 'Blow the trumpet in Sion...call an assembly, gather together the people, sanctify the Church, assemble the ancients, gather together the little ones, and [the infants],' and use every help to get the faithful everywhere to fill the churches and crowd around the altars so that they may be restored by the graces of the sacraments and joined as living members to their divine Head, and with Him and through Him celebrate together the august [Eucharistic] Sacrifice that gives due tribute of praise to the Eternal Father." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

"Furthermore, aided by divine grace, We trust that you will proceed with every constancy, zeal, and prudence to set up a wall for the house of Israel, to keep the flock entrusted to your care away from poisoned pastures, and to lead them to good ones. We expect to see you bringing the miserably lost back to the paths of truth and justice and attempting everything by which all may grow in the knowledge of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ. Meanwhile in all Our humble prayers We shall beseech the most clement and merciful Father to pour out the richest gifts of his goodness over you and the sheep entrusted to you." (Bl. Pope Pius IX, "Nemo Certe Ignorat", 1852 A.D.)

"Yes, continue in this holy work, stirring up piety amongst the faithful, preserving souls from the errors and seductions with which they are on all sides surrounded, consoling the poor and the unfortunate by every means that charity can suggest. Whatever may be the trend of events and the opinions of men, your labours will not be in vain, for they have an object higher than the things of earth; and so, no matter how your toil may be rendered powerless, it will serve to free you before God and man of all responsibility for the evils that, owing to the hindrances placed in the way of your pastoral care, may befall" (Pope Leo XIII, "Spesse Volte", 1898 A.D.)

"We have, therefore, to take the place of Christ: the mission which he has given to us we must fulfill with that same purpose that he intended. True friendship consists in unity of mind and will, identity of likes and dislikes; therefore, as friends of Jesus Christ, we are bound to have that mind in us which was in Jesus Christ who is holy, innocent, undefiled. As his envoys, we must win the minds of men for his doctrine and his law by first observing them ourselves; sharing as we do in his power to deliver souls from the bondage of sin, we must strive by every means to avoid becoming entangled in these toils of sin." (Pope St. Pius X, "Haerent Animo", 1908 A.D.)

"For the love of Our Savior Jesus Christ, therefore, we implore pastors of souls, by every means in their power, by instructions and catechisms, by word of mouth and written articles widely distributed, to warn Christian parents of their grave obligations. And this should be done not in a merely theoretical and general way, but with practical and specific application to the various responsibilities of parents touching the religious, moral and civil training of their children, and with indication of the methods best adapted to make their training effective, supposing always the influence of their own exemplary lives." (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Illius Magistri", 1929 A.D.)

"[B]y the evil influence of men and the times religious indifference is on the increase, and hence there is a lessening of that respect and filial love for the Church which was the glory of our ancestors and in which they placed their highest ambition. Let it be your work, venerable brethren, to revive this Christian feeling among your people, an interest in the Catholic cause, a confidence in Our Lady's help, and a spirit of prayer. It is certain that the august Queen, invoked thus well by her many sons, would deign to hear their prayer, console Us in Our sorrow, and crown Our efforts for the Church...by granting better times" (Pope Leo XIII, "Vi E Ben Noto", 1887 A.D.)

"In the next place, in order that the union of hearts between their chief Pastor and the whole Catholic flock may daily be strengthened, We here call upon you, venerable brothers, with particular earnestness, and strongly urge you to kindle, with priestly zeal and pastoral care, the fire of the love of religion among the faithful entrusted to you, that their attachment to this chair of truth and justice may become closer and firmer, that they may welcome all its teachings with thorough assent of mind and will, wholly rejecting such opinion, even when most widely received, as they know to be contrary to the Church's doctrine." (Pope Leo XIII, "Inscrutabili Dei Consilio", 1878 A.D.)

"And since the effects of such prayers will be proportionate to the dispositions of those offering them, We ardently exhort you, venerable brethren, to devote all your care and zeal to kindle among those committed to your charge a strong, living, and active faith, and to call on all to return by penance to grace and to the faithful fulfillment of all their duties. Among such duties, considering the state of the times, must be reckoned as paramount an open and sincere profession of the faith and teaching of Jesus Christ, casting aside all human respect, and considering before all things the interest of religion and the salvation of souls." (Pope Leo XIII, "Vi E Ben Noto", 1887 A.D.)

"We are most desirous that you do all in your power to call back the faithful to their duty of practicing the obligations and virtues proper to each one's state in life, since even in our own times the number is very large who never think of eternity and who neglect almost totally the salvation of their souls. Some are so immersed in business that they think of nothing but accumulating riches and, by consequences, the spiritual life ceases to exist for them. Others give themselves up entirely to the satisfaction of their passions and thus fall so low that they, with difficulty if at all, are able to appreciate anything which transcends the life of sense." (Pope Pius XI, "Rerum Omnium Perturbationem", 1923 A.D.)

"Meanwhile raising our hands to heaven, We pray God for you that he may enrich and fill each one of you more and more every day with an abundance of heavenly virtues. Having you always in our heart, We exhort you to complete our joy. Sharing the same love, may you also think alike, unanimously perceiving the same things. May all of you proclaim, as is fitting, sound doctrine and sound words; preserve that which was entrusted to you and stand as one, united in the spirit, working together for the faith. Finally pray to God for us without ceasing. We impart most lovingly the Apostolic Benediction to you and to the flock committed to you as a pledge of paternal charity." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Cum Primum", 1832 A.D.)

"Watch earnestly lest deceitful men and the promoters of novelties continue to spread erroneous doctrines and false dogmas in your flock. Using the pretext of the common good, as is their custom, they take advantage of the credulity of those who are naive and rash, so that they may have them as blind servants and supporters in disturbing the peace of the kingdom and in overturning the order of society. Surely the fraud of these would-be teachers must be uncovered in clear words for the good and the instruction of the faithful. The fallacy of their thought must be refuted courageously everywhere with the words of divine scripture and the testimony of Church tradition." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Cum Primum", 1832 A.D.)

"The priestly life, since it arises from Christ should always and in everything be directed towards Him. Christ is the Word of God and did not disdain to assume human nature. He lived a life on earth in order to obey the will of the Eternal Father. He spread around Himself the fragrance of the lily. He lived in poverty, and 'went about doing good and healing all'. Finally, He offered Himself as a victim for the salvation of His brethren. That, beloved sons, is the summary of the wonderful life proposed to you. Strive with all your strength to reproduce it in yourselves and recall His words of exhortation: 'For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you also should do'." (Pope Pius XII, "Menti Nostrae", 1950 A.D.)

"Permit Us nevertheless to rouse your episcopal zeal even more. - In this grave situation, We desire that in the public education of youth, that part be reserved to the Church which has been divinely assigned to it. All We can do is to exhort you to deal vigorously with this matter. Meanwhile continue to admonish fathers again and again not to permit their children to study and learn so as to threaten injury to their Catholic faith. At the same time see to it that the schools which are under your or the clergy's direction be commendable for their soundness of doctrine and the uprightness of their teachers. This is to be understood not only of primary schools, but also of those of higher learning." (Pope Leo XIII, "Quod Multum", 1886 A.D.)

"And now, finally, to you, dear Children. Priests of the Most High, both secular and regular, the world over, We address Our words. You are 'Our glory and joy,' you, who with such generosity bear the 'burden of the day and the heats,' you, who so powerfully help Us and Our Brethren of the Episcopate in fulfilling the duty of feeding the flock of Christ. To you We send Our Paternal thanks and Our warmest encouragement. We know and fully appreciate your admirable zeal; and to it, in the needs of the present, We make this heartfelt appeal. These needs are becoming daily graver. All the more must your redeeming work grow and intensify; for 'you are the salt of the earth, and the light of the world.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"Again now, to you, Our Dear Brethren, who are all the closer to us because you work more directly with Us to establish the kingdom of Christ upon earth, We believe We cannot give better proof of Our Fatherly affection than by exhorting you most fervently to make use of this means of sanctification [use of the Spiritual Exercises], to the best of your abilities...It is not enough to withdraw to the sacred seclusion of the Spiritual Exercises only at the intervals and in the exact measure prescribed by ecclesiastical law but you should enter into retreat more often and for longer periods, as far as possible to you, and you should consecrate, in addition, a day of each month to more fervent prayer and greater recollection, according to the practice of priests of great zeal." (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"Therefore, never stop preaching the Gospel, so that the Christian people may grow in the knowledge of God by being daily better versed in the most holy precepts of the Christian law; as a result, they may turn from evil, do good, and walk in the ways of the Lord. You know that you are acting as deputies for Christ, who is meek and humble, and who came not to call the just but sinners. This is the example that we should follow. When you find someone disregarding the commandments and wandering from the path of truth and justice, rebuke them in the spirit of mildness and meekness with paternal warnings; accuse, entreat and reprove them with all kindness, patience and doctrine. 'Often benevolence towards those who are to be corrected achieves more than severity, exhortation more than threats, and love more than power.'" (Bl. Pope Pius IX, "Qui Pluribus", 1846 A.D.)

"Following the example of the Divine Master, the priest must help the poor, the working class, all those who are in difficulties and misery, which includes also many of the middle class and not a few brother priests. But he must not overlook those who, although well off as far as worldly goods are concerned, are often the poorest in soul and have need of being called to spiritual renovation in order to do as did Zacchaeus, who said: 'I give one-half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold'. Where struggling society is concerned, therefore, the priest must never lose sight of the purpose of his mission. Zealously and fearlessly, he must explain the correct principles regarding property, wealth, social justice and Christian charity among the different classes, and give to all an obvious example of their application." (Pope Pius XII, "Menti Nostrae", 1950 A.D.)

"A great multitude of sick, blind, lame and paralytics, in abject misery, awaits the benefits of your charity; the youth above all, those countless young people who are the dearest hope of society and religion, it is they, menaced as they are by error and corrupting influences, who especially stand in need of your charitable activity. Strive eagerly not only by means of catechetical instruction - which once more with even greater earnestness we commend to you - but by unsparing use of all the resources of wisdom and skill at your command, to deserve well of all. Whether your immediate task be to assist, to protect, to heal, to make peace, let your one aim and most ardent desire be to win or to secure souls for Christ. How unwearied, how industrious, how fearless are Christ's enemies in their activities, to the immeasurable loss of souls!" (Pope St. Pius X, "Haerent Animo", 1908 A.D.)

"Preach as the apostle Paul impresses upon you in the person of Timothy his disciple. Stand firm in good times and in bad. Denounce, beseech, rebuke in all patience and teaching. Nothing should deter you from throwing yourselves into every conflict for the glory of God, for the protection of the Church, and for the salvation of the souls entrusted to your care. Meditate on Him who endured a similar opposition from sinners. If you fear the daring of the wicked, remember that the decision is made concerning the strength of the episcopacy and the divine power of governing the Church. So it only remains for you to remember the serious duties of your office and the difficult judgment which hangs over everyone in authority. The overseers of the house of Israel should especially meditate for a while at the feet of the Lord. We trust then that you will be aroused with zeal to help the Catholic religion and to protect it from the impious snares of its enemies." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Quo Graviora", 1833 A.D.)

"Wherefore we again and most earnestly exhort the ordinaries of the dioceses and the heads of religious congregations to use the utmost vigilance over teachers, and first of all in the seminaries; and should they find any of them imbued with the errors of the modernists and eager for what is new and noxious, or lacking in docility to the prescriptions of the Apostolic See, in whatsoever way published, let them absolutely forbid the teaching office to such; so, too, 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. We exhort them also to take diligent care to put an end to those books and other writings, now growing exceedingly numerous, which contain opinions or tendencies of the kind condemned in the encyclical letters and decree above mentioned; let them see to it that these publications are removed from Catholic publishing houses, and especially from the hands of students and the clergy. By doing this they will at the same time be promoting real and solid education, which should always be a subject of the greatest solicitude for those who exercise sacred authority." (Pope St. Pius X, "Praestantia Scripturae", 1907 A.D.)

"We earnestly exhort you, therefore, to labor with all solicitude for the salvation of those whom Providence has entrusted to your care, closely united to the Redeemer with whose strength we can do all things. How ardently We desire, O beloved sons, that you emulate those saints who in past times, by their great deeds, have shown what the might of Divine Grace can do in this world. May you one and all, in humility and sincerity, always be able to attribute to yourselves - with your spiritual charges as witnesses - the words of the Apostle, 'But I will most gladly for my part, spend and be spent myself for your souls'. Enlighten the minds, guide the consciences, comfort and sustain the souls who are struggling with doubt and groaning with sorrow. To these forms of apostolate, add also all those others which the needs of the times demand. But let it always be clear to everybody that the priest in all his activities seeks nothing beyond the good of souls, and looks toward no one but Christ to Whom he consecrates his energies and his whole self." (Pope Pius XII, "Menti Nostrae", 1950 A.D.)

"We are priests of Christ. Therefore we must labor with all our strength to see that the fruits of His Redemption be most efficaciously applied to every soul. Consider the immense need of our time. We must make every effort to lead back to Christian principles those brethren who have strayed through error or been blinded by passions, to enlighten nations with the light of Christian doctrine, to guide them according to Christian norms and to form in them more Christian consciences, and lastly to urge them to struggle for the triumph of truth and justice. We shall reach our goal only when we have so sanctified ourselves that we are able to transmit to others the life and virtue we have received from Christ. For this reason, We remind every priest of the words of the Apostle: 'Do not neglect the grace that is in thee, granted to thee by reason of prophecy with the laying on of hands of the presbyterate'. 'Show thyself in all things an example of good works, in teaching, in integrity and dignity; let thy speech be sound and blameless, so that anyone opposing may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say of us'. Take the greatest heed of your vocation, beloved sons, and live it so as to produce abundant fruit for the edification of the Church and the conversion of her enemies." (Pope Pius XII, "Menti Nostrae", 1950 A.D.)

"Not without sorrow we have learned that another error, no less destructive, has taken possession of some parts of the Catholic world, and has taken up its abode in the souls of many Catholics who think that one should have good hope of the eternal salvation of all those who have never lived in the true Church of Christ. Therefore, they are wont to ask very often what will be the lot and condition after death of those who have not submitted in any way to the Catholic faith, and, by bringing forward most vain reasons, they make a response favorable to their false opinion. Far be it from Us, Venerable Brethren, to presume on the limits of the divine mercy which is infinite; far from Us, to wish to scrutinize the hidden counsel and 'judgments of God' which are 'a great deep' [Ps. 35:7] and cannot be penetrated by human thought. But, as is Our Apostolic duty, we wish your episcopal solicitude and vigilance to be aroused, so that you will strive as much as you can to drive from the mind of men that impious and equally fatal opinion, namely, that the way of eternal salvation can be found in any religion whatsoever. May you demonstrate with that skill and learning in which you excel, to the people entrusted to your care that the dogmas of the Catholic faith are in no wise opposed to divine mercy and justice." (Bl. Pope Pius IX, "Singulari Quadem", 1854 A.D.)

"These things have been established for suppressing and condemning all these ravening and criminal sects. But now We not only request but demand your service, Venerable Brothers, the Catholic Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, and Bishops. Be attentive for yourselves and for the Universal flock over which the Holy Ghost has placed you as Bishops to Rule the Church of God. Devouring wolves indeed will seize upon you not sparing the flock: but do not fear, nor consider your life more precious than yourselves. Maintain that Sacred Truth that the constancy of the men entrusted to you in religion depends for the most part on you and on things done rightly. For although we may live in those days which are evil, and in that time in which many do not maintain sound doctrine, nevertheless the obedience of very many faithful to their pastors endures, whom they receive with reason as ministers of Christ and dispensers of His mysteries. Use, therefore, this authority for the advantage of your sheep, which you maintain over their souls by an imperishable honor of God. Make known through yourselves the deceits of the sects and with how much diligence they must guard against them and their social intercourse. Let them dread their perverse doctrine which mocks the Most Holy Mysteries of our religion and the most pure precepts of Christ, and which attacks every legitimate power, while you act as their models and teachers." (Pope Leo XII, "Quo Graviora", 1826 A.D.)

"Indeed, We especially call forth in the Lord your own illustrious piety, virtue and prudence, venerable brothers. With these and relying on heavenly aid, you may fearlessly defend the cause of God and His holy Church as befits your station and the office for which you are marked. You must fight energetically, since you know very well what great wounds the undefiled Spouse of Christ Jesus has suffered, and how vigorous is the destructive attack of Her enemies. You must also care for and defend the Catholic faith with episcopal strength and see that the flock entrusted to you stands to the end firm and unmoved in the faith. For unless one preserves the faith entire and uninjured, he will without doubt perish forever. So, in accordance with your pastoral care, work assiduously to protect and preserve this faith. Never cease to instruct all men in it, to encourage the wavering, to convince dissenters, to strengthen the weak in faith by never tolerating and letting pass anything which could in the slightest degree defile the purity of this faith. With the same great strength of mind, foster in all men their unity with the Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation; also foster their obedience towards this See of Peter on which rests the entire structure of our most holy religion. See to it with similar firmness that the most holy laws of the Church are observed, for it is by these laws that virtue, religion and piety particularly thrive and flourish." (Bl. Pope Pius IX, "Qui Pluribus", 1846 A.D.)

"We pray and beseech you, venerable brethren, to join your efforts with Ours, and earnestly to strive for the extirpation of this foul plague, which is creeping through the veins of the body politic. You have to defend the glory of God and the salvation of your neighbor; and with the object of your strife before you, neither courage nor strength will be wanting. It will be for your prudence to judge by what means you can best overcome the difficulties and obstacles you meet with. But, as it befits the authority of Our office that We Ourselves should point out some suitable way of proceeding, We wish it to be your rule first of all to tear away the mask from Freemasonry, and to let it be seen as it really is; and by sermons and pastoral letters to instruct the people as to the artifices used by societies of this kind in seducing men and enticing them into their ranks, and as to the depravity of their opinions and the wickedness of their acts. As Our predecessors have many times repeated, let no man think that he may for any reason whatsoever join the masonic sect, if he values his Catholic name and his eternal salvation as he ought to value them. Let no one be deceived by a pretense of honesty. It may seem to some that Freemasons demand nothing that is openly contrary to religion and morality; but, as the whole principle and object of the sect lies in what is vicious and criminal, to join with these men or in any way to help them cannot be lawful." (Pope Leo XIII, "Humanum Genus", 1884 A.D.)

"These two programs of Our Predecessors We desire to unite in one - the re-establishment of the Kingdom of Christ by peace in Christ - 'the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ.' With might and main We shall ever strive to bring about this peace, putting Our trust in God, Who when He called Us to the Chair of Peter, promised that the divine assistance would never fail Us. We ask that all assist and cooperate with Us in this Our mission. Particularly We ask you to aid us, Venerable Brothers...whom Our leader and Lord, Jesus Christ, has called to feed and to watch over as the most precious portion of His flock, which comprises all mankind. For, it is you whom the 'Holy Ghost hath placed to rule the Church of God' (Acts xx, 28), you to whom above all, and principally, God 'hath given the ministry of reconciliation, and who for Christ therefore are ambassadors.' (II Cor. v, 18, 20) You participate in His teaching power and are 'the dispensers of the mysteries of God.' (I Cor. iv, 1) You have been called by Him 'the salt of the earth,' 'the light of the world' (Matt. v, 13, 14), fathers and teachers of Christian peoples, 'a pattern of the flock from the heart' (I Peter v, 3), and 'you shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.' (Matt. v, 19) In fine, you are the links of gold, as it were, by which 'the whole body of Christ, which is the Church, is held compacted and fitly joined together' (Ephesians iv, 15, 16), built as it is on the solid rock of Peter." (Pope Pius XI, "Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio", 1922 A.D.)

"Another suggestion which we warmly recommend is that priests, as befits brothers, should form a closer union among themselves, with the approval and under the direction of the bishop. It is strongly to be recommended that they should form an association in order to help one another in adversity, to defend the honor of their name and office against attack, and for other similar objects. But it is even more important that they should form an association with a view to the cultivation of sacred learning, particularly in order to apply themselves with greater solicitude to the object of their vocation and to promote the welfare of souls by concerting their ideas and their efforts. The annals of the Church show that at times when priests generally lived in a form of common life, this association produced many good results. Why might not one re-establish in our own day something of the kind, with due attention to differences of country and priestly duties? Might not one justifiably hope, and the Church would rejoice at it, that such an institution would yield the same good results as formerly? There are, indeed, associations of this kind which enjoy episcopal approval; and the advantages they confer are all the greater if one becomes a member early in life, in the very first years of the priesthood. We ourselves have had practical experience of the worth of one such association and fostered it during our episcopate; even still we continue to show special consideration to it and others." (Pope St. Pius X, "Haerent Animo", 1908 A.D.) 

"But the priest must remember that the closer he is united to Christ and guided in his activities by the spirit of Christ, the more fruitful his ministry will be. Thus, his priestly work will not be reduced to a purely natural activity which tires the body and mind and draws the priest himself away from the right path with no little detriment both to himself and to the Church. But his work and his labor will be fruitful and corroborated by those gifts of grace that God denies to the proud but concedes generously to those working humbly in 'the Vineyard of the Lord,' not seeking themselves and their own interests but the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Hence, faithful to the teachings of the Gospel, let him not trust in himself, as we have said, and in his own strength but let him place his faith in the help of the Lord. 'So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God Who gives the growth'. When the apostolate is directed and inspired in this manner, it is impossible that the priest should not attract the souls of everyone to himself with an almost divine strength. By his reproducing in his habits and his life a living image of Christ, all those who turn to him as a master will recognize, thanks to some inward conviction, that words he speaks are not his but God's and that he does not act of his own accord but by the virtue of God: 'If anyone speaks, let it be as with words of God. If anyone ministers, let it be as from the strength that God furnishes...' In striving towards holiness and in exercising his ministry with the greatest diligence, the priest must spend himself to represent Christ so perfectly as, in all modesty, to be able to repeat the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles, 'Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ'" (Pope Pius XII, "Menti Nostrae", 1950 A.D.)

"[T]he Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin. We admonish, therefore, priests who hear confessions and others who have the care of souls, in virtue of Our supreme authority and in Our solicitude for the salvation of souls, not to allow the faithful entrusted to them to err regarding this most grave law of God; much more, that they keep themselves immune from such false opinions, in no way conniving in them. If any confessor or pastor of souls, which may God forbid, lead the faithful entrusted to him into these errors or should at least confirm them by approval or by guilty silence, let him be mindful of the fact that he must render a strict account to God, the Supreme Judge, for the betrayal of his sacred trust, and let him take to himself the words of Christ: 'They are blind and leaders of the blind: and if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Casti Connubii", 1930 A.D.) 

"Here it is fitting We should exhort you whom God has made His helpers by giving the divine power to dispense His Sacraments, to turn to meditation and prayer. If the reformation of private and public morals is needed, it scarcely requires to be said that in both respects the clergy ought to set the highest example. Let them therefore remember that they have been called by Jesus Christ, 'the light of the world, that the soul of the priest should shine like a light illuminating the whole world. 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. Learning ought to be accompanied by innocence of life, because in the reformation of man example is far better than precept. 'Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works.' The meaning of the divine word is that the perfection of virtue in priests should be such that they should be like a mirror to the rest of men. 'There is nothing which induces others more effectively to piety and the worship of God, than the life and example of those who have dedicated themselves to the divine ministry: for, since they are separated from the world and placed in a higher sphere, others look on them as though on a mirror, to take examples from them.' Therefore if all men must watchfully heed against the allurements of sin, and against seeking too eagerly fleeting pleasures, it is clear how much more faithful and steadfast ought priests to be. The sacredness of their dignity, moreover - as well as the fact that it is not sufficient to restrain their passions - demands in them the habit of stringent self-restraint, and also a guard over the powers of the soul, particularly the intellect and will, which hold the supreme place in man." (Pope Leo XIII, "Exeunte Iam Anno", 1888 A.D.) 

"Since that day when the unbelievable and unexpected happened, when God took Our unworthiness and placed it in the Holy See of St. Peter, the summit of all the churches, We have been troubled by a bitter and constant concern. A much heavier burden of sorrow has been placed on Us than We are able to bear. We would certainly have given Ourselves over to weeping if something had not deterred Us from this excessive sadness - something similar to what happened to the most holy prophet, the dynamic leader of Israel. Moses exclaimed to the Lord: 'Why do you treat your servant so badly? And why have you placed the weight of all this people on me? I am not able to carry this nation by myself; the weight is too much for me. 'In order that Moses might not fail in spirit and that he might bear the burden he had assumed, God commanded him to gather seventy men from the elders of Israel. He granted the spirit of Moses to them so that they could be teachers of the people and share the burden with Moses. That same consolation alone sustains Us now, Venerable Brothers. God himself chose you much sooner from among the multitude of the faithful to care for souls. He gave you to Us as Our helpers and assistants. When you were ordained to the episcopacy, He abundantly filled you with His own spirit so that We might be confident in the aid and excellence of God and supported by your singular wisdom. You are on fire to fulfill your duties, and We conclude that much of Our sorrow and concern has been removed. Therefore, in order to find encouragement in our mutual faith and to arouse your sincere mind to remembrance, We write this letter to you. We know that you are ardent and upright against the foul enemy of the human race and have organized yourselves as in a battle line. Nevertheless We exhort you to meet the enemy more quickly and courageously, to wage the war well. Standing in battle, may you fight for the house of Israel." (Pope Clement XIII, "A Quo Die", 1758 A.D.)

Also See: Priests / Priesthood [Pg.] | Duties & Responsibilities of Priests | Priests & The Sacraments | Priests & The Holy Eucharist / Mass | Priests & The Sacrament of Penance | Proper Dress / Comportment [Pg.] | Holiness / Good Example [Pg.] | Knowledge / Learning | Preachers / Preaching | Priests & Prayer / Meditation / Contemplation | Catechetical Instruction | Pastors Should Remain at Their Post | Priests & The Blessed Virgin Mary | Novelty & The Clergy | Obedience | Good / Bad Priests [Pg.] | Those Too Indulgent Betray Their Ministry | Those Who Govern Souls Must Render an Account

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