• Reminder that the non-refundable tuition down payment for next school year is due by March 20.
• Our Robotics Club has an outing this Thursday.
• Our Archery Team will be competing this Saturday in Los Angeles. Frater Peregrine is our coach.
• Our first baseball game is February 28, at 3:00 PM, at St. Michael’s. Fathers Alan and Vianney are our coaches. Our second same is on March 1, at 3:00 PM, at St. Michael’s.
O Priest! Thou art not thyself, because thou art God; thou art not of thyself, because thou art the servant and minister of Christ; thou art not thine own, because thou art the spouse of the Church; thou art not for thyself, because thou art the mediator between God and man; thou art not from thyself, because thou art nothing. What then art thou, O Priest? Nothing and everything. O Priest! Take care lest what was said to Christ on the Cross be said to thee: He saved others, himself he cannot save.
The words of St. Norbert, great 12th century reformer of the clergy.
There is, perhaps, no other institution on earth today which is suffering such an attack, which is so full of trials and tribulations as the Catholic Priesthood. And we should not be surprised; for the devil knows quite well the proverb, Strike the shepherd and the sheep shall scatter. Take out a priest and he’ll drag hundreds, maybe even thousands of souls down with him. Or as an English poet once wrote, If a priest grow foul, in whom we should trust, no wonder that a common man should rust. Yes, the devil and the world have unleashed an all-out attack against God’s priests, because in so doing they strike at the very heart of the Church. This is to be expected and is really nothing new.
As St. Norbert said, priests are, in a sense, nothing, sinners, called forth from the multitude of sinners, and yet called to a vocation which infinitely surpasses their own natural abilities. Oftentimes God will call even the most unlikely of candidates to become a priest, knowing ahead of time as He does their own shortcomings, their own nothingness. But the master violinist can take a cheap garage sale instrument and still bring forth from it the sweetest sounds. In a similar way God can take a feeble man and through his sin-stained hands produce divine wonders. But the priest, in order to serve well as God’s instrument, must first admit his own nothingness. He must approach his vocation with the greatest humility, continually begging for the grace to be a worthy instrument, to serve God faithfully, to imitate Christ the great High Priest in all things. It is only when the priest admits that he is just a man that God can use him as another Christ, an alter Christus. Yes, the priest by himself is nothing, but through him God can do everything.
The priest is nothing and everything. Though a sinful man of flesh and blood, through the sacrament of Holy Orders God bestows on the priest divine powers: to baptize, to preach in His Name, to anoint the sick, to forgive sins, to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. What other creature on earth has ever been given such awesome powers? Powers which even the angels and the Mother of God cannot claim, powers before which the gates of hell tremble. The devil once said of St. John Vianney: "Oh, if there were twelve priests in the world like John Vianney, my kingdom would crumble."
A priest is ordained for two reasons: to consecrate the Eucharist to bring others to It, or to put it another way, for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. It is for these two reasons that at their Ordination God bestows upon His priests what the Church calls the “priestly character”—a certain power imprinted on his soul which associates the priest with Christ in an intimate manner and allows the priest—a mere man—to perform those wondrous deeds, the sacraments of the Church, especially the sacraments of Confession and the Holy Mass.
A priest is not a psychologist or counselor, nor is he a social worker or political leader, even if his work at times touches on such areas. The priest stands as mediator between God and men: offering up to God the prayers, petitions and sufferings of man, and bringing down upon man the truth, love and mercy of God. He is required by his office to give himself completely to Christ—that is one reason why he does not marry. Like Our Blessed Lord the priest spends his life praying for the salvation of souls, doing penance and making reparation for the many sins which offend the very God Who desires to save us. And like Our Lord he is to search out those who are lost, pouring out his sweat, his tears and even his blood, if necessary, in order to bring them to the one Church which Christ established for the salvation of all.
Yes, the tragedy today is that some priests have forgotten these two truths: that by themselves they are nothing, and that with God they are everything. In fact, it seems as if the whole thing has been turned completely inside out: too many priests all too often exalt their own self and neglect the divine power given them. They think by themselves they are everything, and then a false humility moves them to consider God’s gifts as nothing. Their poverty is practiced at the altar, using the cheapest vestments and vessels they can find, while they themselves live in the lap of luxury. Their chastity is lived out only in their coldness towards the faithful who come to them for the sacraments. Their obedience all too often is not to Christ and His decrees, but rather to human respect and the present decadent culture. Having trusted too much in their own human self, they have lost faith in the power of Christ in which they share.
No plan to reform the clergy will ever succeed until priests learn to die to self so that Christ may live in and shine through them. When you look at a priest you should not see Fr. So-and-so; you should see Christ. As we continue this Holy Mass, pray for all priests, for it is through them that God’s saving grace comes to you—and yet, they are only men, feeble sinners in need of your prayers and support. And pray that the many graces God sends through the hands of His priests be accepted by men, and not met with pride, disobedience and hardness of heart, so that when this life passes away we all may spend eternity with that great High Priest, Jesus Christ, to Whom be all glory and honor! Amen.
• For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.
• For all the students and families of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
• For all faculty and staff of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
• For Mrs. Janet Russell, who is suffering severe health problems.
• For the Sturkie Family’s very special intention.
• For the health of Josephine White.
• For the Church.