"My children, we
have come to the Sacrament of Orders. It is a Sacrament which seems to
relate to no one among you, and which yet relates to everyone. This
Sacrament raises man up to God. What is a priest! A man who holds the place
of God -- a man who is invested with all the powers of God. 'Go, ' said Our
Lord to the priest; 'as My Father sent Me, I send you. All power has been
given Me in Heaven and on earth. Go then, teach all nations. . . . He who
listens to you, listens to Me; he who despises you despises Me.' When the
priest remits sins, he does not say, 'God pardons you'; he says, 'I absolve
you.' At the Consecration, he does not say, 'This is the Body of Our Lord;'
he says, 'This is My Body.'
tells us that everything has come to us through Mary; and we may also say
that everything has come to us through the priest; yes, all happiness, all
graces, all heavenly gifts. If we had not the Sacrament of Orders, we should
not have Our Lord. Who placed Him there, in that tabernacle? It was the
priest. Who was it that received your soul, on its entrance into life? The
priest. Who nourishes it, to give it strength to make its pilgrimage? The
priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, by washing that soul, for
the last time, in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest -- always the
priest. And if that soul comes to the point of death, who will raise it up,
who will restore it to calmness and peace? Again the priest. You cannot
recall one single blessing from God without finding, side by side with this
recollection, the image of the priest.
"Go to confession
to the Blessed Virgin, or to an angel; will they absolve you? No. Will they
give you the Body and Blood of Our Lord? No. The Holy Virgin cannot make her
Divine Son descend into the Host. You might have two hundred angels there,
but they could not absolve you. A priest, however simple he may be, can do
it; he can say to you, "Go in peace; I pardon you. " Oh, how great is a
priest! The priest will not understand the greatness of his office till he
is in Heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but
of love. The other benefits of God would be of no avail to us without the
priest. What would be the use of a house full of gold, if you had nobody to
open you the door! The priest has the key of the heavenly treasures; it is
he who opens the door; he is the steward of the good God, the distributor of
His wealth. Without the priest, the Death and Passion of Our Lord would be
of no avail. Look at the heathens: what has it availed them that Our Lord
has died? Alas! they can have no share in the blessings of Redemption, while
they have no priests to apply His Blood to their souls!
"The priest is not
a priest for himself; he does not give himself absolution; he does not
administer the Sacraments to himself. He is not for himself, he is for you.
After God, the priest is everything. Leave a parish twenty years without
priests; they will worship beasts. If the missionary Father and I were to go
away, you would say, "What can we do in this church? there is no Mass; Our
Lord is no longer there: we may as well pray at home. " When people wish to
destroy religion, they begin by attacking the priest, because where there is
no longer any priest there is no sacrifice, and where there is no longer any
sacrifice there is no religion.
"When the bell
calls you to church, if you were asked, 'Where are you going?' you might
answer, 'I am going to feed my soul.' If someone were to ask you, pointing
to the tabernacle, 'What is that golden door?' 'That is our storehouse,
where the true Food of our souls is kept.' 'Who has the key? Who lays in the
provisions? Who makes ready the feast, and who serves the table?' 'The
priest.' 'And what is the Food?' 'The precious Body and Blood of Our Lord.'
O God! O God! how Thou hast loved us! See the power of the priest; out of a
piece of bread the word of a priest makes a God. It is more than creating
the world. . . . Someone said, 'Does Saint Philomena, then, obey the Cure of
Ars?' Indeed, she may well obey him, since God obeys him.
"If I were to meet
a priest and an angel, I should salute the priest before I saluted the
angel. The latter is the friend of God; but the priest holds His place.
Saint Teresa kissed the ground where a priest had passed. When you see a
priest, you should say, "There is he who made me a child of God, and opened
Heaven to me by holy Baptism; he who purified me after I had sinned; who
gives nourishment to my soul. " At the sight of a church tower, you may say,
"What is there in that place?" "The Body of Our Lord. " "Why is He there?"
"Because a priest has been there, and has said holy Mass. "
"What joy did the
Apostles feel after the Resurrection of Our Lord, at seeing the Master whom
they had loved so much! The priest must feel the same joy, at seeing Our
Lord whom he holds in his hands. Great value is attached to objects which
have been laid in the drinking cup of the Blessed Virgin and of the Child
Jesus, at Loretto. But the fingers of the priest, that have touched the
adorable Flesh of Jesus Christ, that have been plunged into the chalice
which contained His Blood, into the pyx where His Body has lain, are they
not still more precious? The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus.
When you see the priest, think of Our Lord Jesus Christ."