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The Dignity of the Priest!

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The Dignity of the Priest!

The Dignity of the Priest!

Today is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi and this feast honors Jesus Christ, truly, really and substantially present under the appearances of bread and wine. This presence happens through the change which the Church calls transubstantiation, when at the consecration of the Holy Mass, the priest says the words which Christ himself pronounced over bread and wine, “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘this is my body.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘this is the chalice of my blood;’ ‘do this in remembrance of me.’(Luke 22:19-20). Christ has not only declared that priests are his friends and made them his equals but also he has given them power over Himself in the Holy Eucharist. He gave into their hands His own Body and Blood, and submits Himself to their will.

Jesus Christ at the word of the priest, becomes present in the Priest’s hands under the species of the Eucharist, taking unto himself flesh as he did in the womb of the Virgin. In the hands of the priest he is sacrificed to God the Father upon the altar as He was sacrificed upon the cross. He also gave them the ministry of spiritual regeneration that they might infuse new life into souls. What a mystery of faith and what a mystery of priestly grace! Saint Augustine says, ‘O venerable dignity of priests in whose hands, as in the womb of the Virgin, the Son of God, becomes incarnate! How sacred and celestial is the mystery that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work through you, Priest!” Therefore, let devotion to the Eucharist be the life of our heart and our whole preoccupation. All the sublimity of the priesthood comes from the Eucharist and all the virtue and holiness of the priest rise from that fountain. Let our hearts be in the Eucharist as this is the treasure by which we live and become rich in grace and virtue.

The choice and vocation of each priest is the most generous act of the goodness of God, who raises the poor from the dust and puts him on the throne of glory. The gift of the priesthood is a flood of gifts and an accumulation of graces; graces that dispose and prepare the soul for its elevation; graces that are poured into the act of priestly consecration itself; graces which are given to dispose the life of the priest for the proper and holy exercise of the divine office; all the graces and special helps to obtain the virtues appropriate to that godly position. The priest is another Christ. All Priests therefore share in the same priesthood of Christ and all are one in Christ. Christ through their ministry exercises His Priesthood. He lives and works with each priest. Christ Himself through the hands of the priest offers sacrifice to God the Father as the active principle and divine victim. The true invisible minister is Christ; and the true visible minister is the priest. Therefore, O Priest, since you are chosen by Christ out of the world, do not seek those things that are of the world such as pleasure, power, money, etc.

Nothing is more pleasant for a good priest than the remembrance of the happy day of ordination. Recall in your mind the most solemn day of your whole life, the day dear to the heart of God and to your own heart, the day on which your position was raised before heaven and earth, and was raised forever to the supernatural order, yes to the divine order. Recall how you went to the altar. After long expectations and anxious preparation, your soul white purified by tears of contrition and love, your body also clothed in the white linen, full of holy fear because of the great dignity to which you are about to be raised. You approached the altar and prostrated on the ground before the majesty of God, in the presence of the Bishop and all the clergy, the grace of the Holy Spirit surrounded and filled you. Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest with the divine embrace and the kiss of the friendship, He blessed your heart and He sanctified your soul with an effusion of priestly grace. And thus, He impressed upon your soul the sign of the eternal priesthood.

While the sacred rite was being performed, while the Bishop and the clergy imposed hands upon you, the mystery of God was completed in you, and angel and priests with one voice sang- absorbed in the majesty of the divine rite and transformed in spirit, you magnified the Lord in exultation. You were no longer an ordinary man who left the altar but now a man of higher order, another Christ. Time as it runs, its course may destroy all human dignity, and the plundering hand of the years may take the royal crown from the head of kings of earth; but your dignity will remain forever, and the royal crown of the priesthood will not fall from your head throughout the ages because the Lord has consecrated you as a priest forever. From your childhood Jesus looked upon your soul and loved you. It was not because of your works but of His own choice that He picked you out by a holy vocation to be His priest and a preacher of the Gospel of salvation.

O Jesus, whom now I behold veiled, I pray for that which I so much thirst, that seeing thee with face unveiled I may be blessed by the vision of thy glory. Amen.

+ In Christ, 

Father Henry Peter MSFS,

Sacred Heart Church,

Bhusawal, Maharashtra, India.

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