What is a Catholic Priest?
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Priests especially in the past  few years have been subject to a bad amount of publicity due to the scandals which have occurred. Unfortunately considering the total number of Priests world wide then it was the few that were involved.

Here we hope to bring out the hard work and sacrifice the average Priest does day to day and that includes those who gave their last full measure in the service of our Lord and won the Martyrs crown.

We do not notice their service on a day to day basis and especially we can hardly know the internal sacrifice they make but we can appreciate to some degree what they went through during the formation years.

To be a Priest in the Holy Roman Church they not only commit their entire life they also commit their bodies. That commitment to service often is not honored, and is most assuredly attacked continuously by Satan. We can only
be awed by such a commitment. To the Priests who have since Peter carried forward the message and have saved innumerable souls often at the cost of their lives; to religious freedom bought with blood, its that memory of past and present sufferings that we owe so much to them.

Pray for your Priests each day and wherever possible give them help.


The Greek word martus signifies a witness who testifies to a fact of which he has knowledge from personal observation. It is in this sense that the term first appears in Christian literature; the Apostles were "witnesses" of all that they had observed in the public life of Christ, as well as of all they had learned from His teaching, "in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). St. Peter, in his address to the Apostles and disciples relative to the election of a successor to Judas, employs the term with this meaning: "Wherefore, of these men who have accompanied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus came in and went out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us, one of these must be made witness with us of his resurrection" (Acts 1:22). In his first public discourse the chief of the Apostles speaks of himself and his companions as "witnesses" who saw the risen Christ and subsequently, after the miraculous escape of the Apostles from prison, when brought a second time before the tribunal, Peter again alludes to the twelve as witnesses to Christ.

There is a tendency among us Americans, common and obvious enough, recommended by common sense and successful practice, to estimate a person’s aptitude for a profession or for a career by listing his strengths. Jane speaks well, possesses an able mind, exhibits genuine talents for leadership and debate; she would be an excellent lawyer. John has recognizably good judgment, a scientific turn of interest, obvious manual dexterity and deep human concerns; he would make a splendid surgeon.

The tendency is to transfer this method of evaluation to the priesthood, to estimate a man by his gifts and talents, to line up his positive achievements and his capacity for more, to understand his promise for the future in terms of his accomplishments in the past, and to make the call within his life contingent on the attainments of personality or grace. Because a man is religiously serious, prayerful, socially adept, intellectually perceptive; possesses interior integrity, sound common sense, and habits of hard work–therefore he will make a fine priest.

I think that transfer is disastrous. There is a different question, one proper to the priesthood as of its very essence, if not uniquely proper to it: Is this man weak enough to be a priest? Is this man deficient enough so that he cannot ward off significant suffering from his life, so that he lives with a certain amount of failure, so that he feels what it is to be an average man? Is there any history of confusion, of self-doubt, of interior anguish? Has he had to deal with fear, come to terms with frustrations, or accept deflated expectations? These are critical questions and they probe for weakness. Why? Because, according to Hebrews, it is in this deficiency, in this interior lack, in this weakness, that the efficacy of the ministry and priesthood of Christ lies.


 This word (etymologically "elder", from presbyteros, presbyter) has taken the meaning of "sacerdos", from which no substantive has been formed in various modern languages (English, French, German). The priest is the minister of Divine worship, and especially of the highest act of worship, sacrifice. In this sense, every religion has its priests, exercising more or less exalted sacerdotal functions as intermediaries between man and the Divinity (cf. Hebrews 5:1: "for every high priest taken from among men, is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins"). In various ages and countries we find numerous and important differences: the priest properly so called may be assisted by inferior ministers of many kinds; he may belong to a special class or caste, to a clergy, or else may be like other citizens except in what concerns his sacerdotal functions; he may be a member of a hierarchy, or, on the contrary, may exercise an independent priesthood (e.g. Melchisedech, Hebrews 7:1-33); lastly, the methods of recruiting the ministers of worship, the rites by which they receive their powers, the authority that establishes them, may all differ. But, amid all these accidental differences, one fundamental idea is common to all religions: the priest is the person authoritatively appointed to do homage to God in the name of society, even the primitive society of the family (cf. Job 1:5), and to offer Him sacrifice (in the broad, but especially in the strict sense of the word). Omitting further discussion of the general idea of the priesthood, and neglecting all reference to pagan worship, we may call attention to the organization among the people of God of a Divine service with ministers properly so-called: the priests, the inferior clergy, the Levites, and at their head the high-priest. We know the detailed regulations contained in Leviticus as to the different sacrifices offered to God in the Temple at Jerusalem, and the character and duty of the priests and Levites. Their ranks were recruited, in virtue not of the free choice of individuals, but of descent in the tribe of Levi (especially the family of Aaron), which had been called by God to His ritual service to the exclusion of all others. The elders (presbyteroi) formed a kind of council, but had no sacerdotal power; it was they who took counsel with the chief priests to capture Jesus (Matthew 26:3). It is this name presbyter (elder) which has passed into the Christian speech to signify the minister of Divine service, the priest.

The Christian law also has necessarily its priesthood to carry out the Divine service, the principal act of which is the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the figure and renewal of that of Calvary. This priesthood has two degrees: the first, total and complete, the second an incomplete participation of the first. The first belongs to the bishop. The bishop is truly a priest (sacerdos), and even a high-priest; he has chief control of the Divine worship (sacrorum antistes), is the president of liturgical meetings; he has the fullness of the priesthood, and administers all the sacraments. The second degree belongs to the priest (presbyter), who is also a sacerdos, but of the second rank ("secundi sacerdotes" Innocent I ad Eugub.); by his priestly ordination he receives the power to offer sacrifice (i.e. to celebrate the Eucharist), to forgive sins, to bless, to preach, to sanctify, and in a word to fulfil the non-reserved liturgical duties or priestly functions. In the exercise of these functions, however, he is subject to the authority of the bishop to whom he has promised canonical obedience; in certain cases even he requires not only authorization, but real jurisdiction, particularly to forgive sins and to take care of souls. Moreover, certain acts of the sacerdotal power, affecting the society of which the bishop is the head, are reserved to the latter -- e.g. confirmation, the final rite of Christian initiation, ordination, by which the ranks of the clergy are recruited, and the solemn consecration of new temples to God. Sacerdotal powers are conferred on priests by priestly ordination, and it is this ordination which puts them in the highest rank of the hierarchy after the bishop.

As the word sacerdos was applicable to both bishops and priests, and one became a presbyter only by sacerdotal ordination, the word presbyter soon lost its primitive meaning of "ancient" and was applied only to the minister of worship and of the sacrifice (hence our priest). Originally, however, the presbyteri were the members of the high council which, under the presidency of the bishop, administered the affairs of the local church. Doubtless in general these members entered the presbyterate only by the imposition of hands which made them priests; however, that there could be, and actually were presbyteri who were not priests, is seen from canons 43-47 of Hippolytus (cf. Duchesne, "Origines du culte chretien", append.), which show that some of those who had confessed the Faith before the tribunals were admitted into the presbyterium without ordination. These exceptions were, however, merely isolated instances, and from time immemorial ordination has been the sole manner of recruiting the presbyteral order. The documents of antiquity show us the priests as the permanent council, the auxiliaries of the bishop, whom they surround and aid in the solemn functions of Divine Worship. When the bishop is absent, he is replaced by a priest, who presides in his name over the liturgical assembly. The priests replace him especially in the different parts of the diocese, where they are stationed by him; here they provide for the Divine Service, as the bishop does in the episcopal city, except that certain functions are reserved to the latter, and the others are performed with less liturgical solemnity. As the churches multiplied in the country and towns, the priests served them with a permanent title, becoming rectors or titulars. Thus, the bond uniting such priests to the cathedral church gradually became weaker, whereas it grew stronger in the case of those who served in the cathedral with the bishop (i.e. the canons); at the same time the lower clergy tended to decrease in number, inasmuch as the clerics passed through the inferior orders only to arrive at the sacerdotal ordination, which was indispensable for the administration of the churches and the exercise of a useful ministry among the faithful. Hence ordinarily the priest was not isolated, but was regularly attached to a definite church or connected with a cathedral. Accordingly, the Council of Trent (Sess. XXIII, cap. xvi, renewing canon vi of Chalcedon) desires bishops not to ordain any clerics but those necessary or useful to the church or ecclesiastical establishment to which they are to be attached and which they are to serve.

The nature of this service depends especially on the nature of the benefice, office, or function assigned to the priest; the Council in particular desires (cap. xiv) priests to celebrate Mass at least on Sundays and holydays, while those who are charged with the care of souls are to celebrate as often as their office demands.
Consequently, it is not easy to say in a way applicable to all cases what are the duties and rights of a priest; both vary considerably in individual cases. By his ordination a priest is invested with powers rather than with rights, the exercise of these powers (to celebrate Mass, remit sins, preach, administer the sacraments, direct and minister to the Christian people) being regulated by the common laws of the church, the jurisdiction of the bishop, and the office or charge of each priest. The exercise of the sacerdotal powers is both a duty and a right for priests having the care of souls, either in their own name (e.g. parish priests) or as auxiliaries (e.g. parochial curates). Except in the matter of the care of souls the sacerdotal functions are likewise obligatory in the case of priests having any benefice or office in a church (e.g. canons); otherwise they are optional, and their exercise depends upon the favour of the bishop (e.g. the permission to hear confessions or to preach granted to simple priests or to priests from outside the diocese). As for the case of a priest who is entirely free, moralists limit his obligations, as far as the exercise of his sacerdotal powers is concerned, to the celebration of Mass several times a year (St. Alphonsus Liguori, l. VI, no. 313) and to the administration of the sacraments in case of necessity, in addition to fulfilling certain other obligations not strictly sacerdotal (e.g. the Breviary, celibacy). But canonical writers, not considering such a condition regular, hold that the bishop is obliged in this case to attach such a priest to a church and impose some duty on him, even if it be only an obligatory attendance at solemn functions and processions (Innocent XIII, Constitution "Apostolici ministerii", 23 March, 1723; Benedict XIII, Const. "In supremo", 23 Sept., 1724; Roman Council of 1725, tit. vi, c. ii).

As to the material situation of the priest, his rights are clearly laid down by canon law, which varies considerably with the actual condition of the Church in different countries. As a matter of principle, each cleric ought to have from his ordination to the sub-diaconate a benefice, the revenues of which ensure him a respectable living and, if he is ordained with a title of patrimony (i.e. the possession of independent means sufficient to provide a decent livelihood), he has the right to receive a benefice as soon as possible. Practically the question seldom arises in the case of priests, for clerics are ordinarily ordained with the title of ecclesiastical service, and they cannot usefully fill a remunerated post unless they are priests. Each priest ordained with the title of ecclesiastical service has therefore the right to ask of his bishop, and the bishop is under an obligation to assign him, a benefice or ecclesiastical office which will ensure him a respectable living; in this office the priest has therefore the right to collect the emoluments attached to his ministry, including the offerings which a legitimate custom allows him to receive or even demand on the occasion of certain definite functions (stipends for Masses, curial rights for burial, etc.). Even when old or infirm, a priest who has not rendered himself unworthy and who is unable to fulfil his ministry remains a charge on his bishop, unless other arrangements have been made. It is thus apparent that the rights and duties of a priest are, in the concrete reality, conditioned by his situation.

by Fr. John Dresko

If we were to sum up in one sentence what an ordained priest is supposed to be in the theological vision of the Holy Church, it would be this: A priest (or bishop) is the one chosen by God to make present Christ in His Holy Church. The union between God and man, which was broken in the sin of Adam of Eve, is restored by the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Reunion with God becomes possible by our relationship with His Son. This union with Christ is what makes the Church the Church. The assurance of the presence of Christ in the Church is what makes the Holy Priesthood (as a sacramental office) possible. The Church is the assembly living in Christ and all that Christ has is given to us. We, as the Church or the Body of Christ, to use St. Paul's terminology, share in the fulness of the Kingdom of God and we manifest that Kingdom every time we gather in His Name. The Church becomes the reality of Christ ­ Christ is the Head, the Church is the Body; Christ is the Bridegroom, the Church is the Bride; Christ is the new Adam, the Church is the new Eve. To be saved, we are called to do the same works that Christ did. But Christ must be present and manifest in all that the Church does; with His presence, the Church is transformed from an earthly gathering into the Kingdom of God.

But while the Holy Church understands the priest as the sacramental presence of Christ in the Church, it must also be understood that there is only one Priest and one Christ that Priest and that Christ is manifest in the sacramental priesthood. Christ is present in the Church in all His fulness and the ordained priest is the guarantee of that presence. The man called to the priesthood must present the ideal reality of Christ. A man who would be a priest does not deform that reality morally or theologically ­ he has nothing outstanding that would be a stumbling block to making Christ present. When a man is ordained a priest, he receives the following "Job Description" on his Certificate of Ordination:

...we [the bishop and the Church] have confirmed unto him the power to perform the Holy Mysteries upon man for his Christian and spiritual life: to baptize, to chrismate, to confess, to serve the Liturgy, to join in marriage according to the will and consent of the man and wife, to perform the unction of oil upon the sick, and never to presume to do so on the healthy, and to conduct all Church orders and services as Christ's celebrant and the minister of the Divine Mysteries. It behooves the priest, by our injunction, and by his own duty, to observe diligently the reading of the Divine Scriptures, and not to interpret them other than as the Church luminaries, our holy and God-bearing fathers, pastors and teachers have interpreted them with great consensus; and, according to the Apostle's testament, to be sober, chaste, pious, honorable, hospitable, instructive; not a drinker or a violent man, not quarrelsome, not an avaricious person; but meek, not envious, not a lover of money; one who keeps an orderly home, who keeps his children in obedience and purity, as the same Apostle writes to Timothy; to renounce vile and vain fables, instructing himself in piety; to be an image to the faithful in word, life, love, spirit, faith and purity. Especially it behooves him to instruct the faithful people to be pure in faith and to obey the commandments of God; to do every Christian good work every day, and especially on Sunday, the Day of Resurrection, as the nineteenth canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council decrees; to bind and to loose with good judgment those confessing their consciences to him according to the norms of the Holy Orthodox Church, and according to our admonition and injunction; to bring to our knowledge greater and more complex faults. It is our instruction to him to presume in no way to leave the temple, to which he has been blessed and at which he has been enjoined to serve, without our blessing, according to the third canon of the Antiochian Council. In like manner, also, the presbyters are to read diligently and often the liturgical orders required of them, and to fulfill them.

And if the priest does not live up to his "Job Description," then he must answer to God and the Church for his failure, which is a much worse fate than answering to the parish council:

If the priest himself begins to live without fear, and to act in a manner unbecoming the priesthood, to drink or to blaspheme, or to become mercenary; to stand apart from his brethren, or otherwise to be disorderly, or does not tend carefully his Church or his flock, he shall receive suspension from the priesthood until he corrects himself and shows forth a virtuous and well-ordered life, such as is becoming to a priest. And if he do that which is forbidden to the priesthood, he shall be deposed from the priestly rank that same hour in which he does that which was above mentioned as forbidden. This we neither wish nor desire concerning him, but especially that he take care always to walk worthily, according to his calling, and to shepherd well the flock committed to him, that he may receive the recompense of a wise and faithful servant from the hand of Him that rewards each man according to his deeds; and that he not be found unworthy on the day of the Master's Dread Judgment, but that he might say: Lord, it is I and my children! That he may hear His sweet voice saying: Good servant, blessed and faithful, thou wast faithful in small things, I shall establish thee over many; enter into the joy of thy Lord.

Each and every priest is ordained to make Christ manifest and present in the local community. But each and every priest is also a human being with different talents, different strengths, different weaknesses, and different temperaments. What the priest must do is clear: he must make Christ alive and present in the lives of His faithful ones. How he does that is as varied as the number of parishes in the Church. Pray that God keeps all of His priests under His watchful eye, and, as St. Basil prays in his liturgy, "...let none of us who stand about Thy Holy Altar be put to confusion..."

by Bea Spelman

Many people only think of the presbyter as the Priest. For that reason, they do not know that Jesus Christ is the Priest and that they all are called to participate in Christ's Priesthood. Fr. Alexander Schmemann describes the institutional priesthood as a ministry which has "no vocation." (Of Water and the Spirit) The presbyter exists solely to coax into being the priestly vocation of all. A presbyter has "the vocation which, by making Christ's unique Priesthood present, makes all other vocations truly the fulfillment of man's royal priesthood." In being the father of a local church, a bishop or priest (or in being the mother of a convent, an abbess) empties himself (or herself) to help others fulfill God's high calling. In being the father or mother of a family, parents likewise empty themselves to enable their children to live a godly life. The words of Saint John the Forerunner and Baptizer of our Lord can be applied here "he must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30)

The bishop or presbyter is first and foremost a member of the Church. He is one of the laity, the people of God. Although no one can ever take Christ's place, he stands in the place of Christ as head of the Eucharistic gathering. Christ only is the head of the Church, yet by the same gift by which we all participate in any ministry, the bishop or presbyter participates in Christ's headship.

Near the end of the second century, Saint Ignatius of Antioch wrote to local churches about the ministry of the bishop as the head of the Eucharistic gathering. Saint Ignatius sees the bishop as a type for God as a source of unity in the local church. The bishop and the clergy are to have authority. "...you should give glory to [Jesus Christ]; and this, if sanctification is to be yours in full measure, means uniting in a common act of submission and acknowledging the authority of your bishop and clergy." (To the Ephesians, 2) The members of the local Church should operate according to the will of the bishop. "For we can have no life apart from Jesus Christ; and as He represents the mind of the Father, so our bishops...represent the mind of Jesus Christ." (Ephesians, 3) Often more is read into Saint Ignatius than is present in the texts. The hierarchy which he describes is not one of privileged rank or degree. If it were, his texts could be misconstrued as putting the deacons in a "higher degree" than the other clergy. The imagery is not a one-to-one correspondence. In his letter to the Magnesians Saint Ignatius says, "Let the bishop preside in the place of God, and his clergy in place of the Apostolic conclave, and let my friends the deacons be entrusted with the service of Jesus Christ..." (Magnesians, 6) But in his letter to the Ephesians he says that the bishop represents the mind of Christ. In one place he uses the bishop as a type for the Father; in another place he uses the bishop as a representation of Jesus Christ. The emphasis is not on a one-to-one correspondence, "b" stands for "x," but on relationship. The bishop is a focus of unity of belief that is manifested in the Eucharistic gathering. Much has been said of Saint Ignatius' writing about the bishop as being an icon for God. Although this concept is present in the texts with his use of the words "type" and "represent," such an iconic representation does not decrease the extent to which all Christians can be an icon of Christ. Moreover, the bishop is not above or separate from the Church. "...you, who are inseparably one with him [the bishop] as the Church is with Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ with the Father." (Ephesians, 5)

Such an idea of episcopal and presbyteral ministries as neither separate from nor above the Church avoids both clericalism and congregationalism. Most people think of clericalism and congregationalism as two extreme opposites and feel a solution to either of these problems is to find a balance or middle ground. This is false. Both clericalism and congregationalism spring from the same source. They are different manifestations of the same deeper problem. In fact, they may both be present at once! For example, suppose a parish feels that a priest must do whatever the parish council tells him about the budget, yet the whole parish does not participate fully in the Eucharistic concelebration because they see themselves as spiritually less worthy than the priest, then there is both congregationalism and clericalism present at once. An antagonistic separation between the clergy and the rest of the laity is the root of both clericalism and congregationalism. If the people (including the presbyter) forget their high calling from God to live a priestly life, or if either they or the presbyter forget that all is a gift from God, the unity is broken.

The opposite of clericalism/congregationalism is hierarchical concil-iarity. The members of the Church live in unity instead of separation, disunity and antagonism. Although the Holy Apostle Paul was writing about the Christian household in Ephesians when he said, "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ," (Ephesians 5:21) he could have said the same about a parish family. People, be subject to your bishop. Bishop, be subject to your people. Everyone, throw yourselves under one another to honor Christ. It is this mutual submission to Christ and each other which gives the Church conciliarity.

In the Divine Liturgy, we pray for our bishops that they might "rightly handle the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). Not only our bishops, but all Christians are called to speak God's word of truth. All Christians are responsible in all love and submission that bishops do teach the truth. There have been times in the history of the Church, such as during the Arian controversy, when many bishops held falsehood. It is only with struggle that the whole Church listened to the Holy Spirit and articulated the truth. Hierarchical conciliarity is the living and creative mode of life in the Church which involves struggle.

by Bea Spelman

By virtue of their Baptism and Chrismation all Christians have the renewed vocation of offering creation to God and communing with God through creation. It is the renewed vocation, because this was the original vocation of man by virtue of who God created him to be. The whole service of Baptism and Chrismation is the beginning of a priestly life. The service itself is a priestly act. Water and oil are offered back to God and restored to their original purpose, a means of participating in God's life. "O Master of all, show this water to be the water of redemption, the water of sanctification, the purification of flesh and spirit, the loosing of bonds, the remission of sins, the illumination of the soul, the laver of regeneration, the renewal of the Spirit, the gift of adoption to sonship, the garment of incorruption, the fountain of life." (Service of Baptism) The fountain of life is what water was created to be, but it has become a vehicle of death. One only has to think of the pollution our water has suffered or to recall great "natural" disasters to see some of the results. In the Baptismal service, it is restored. Water becomes the source of life in Christ. Oil also is restored to its original life-giving purpose. "The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit." In the Old Testament, priests were ordained by anointing them with oil. "And you shall take the anointing oil, and pour it on his head and anoint him....Thus you shall ordain Aaron and his sons." (Exodus 29:7-9) Chrism is the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift of sonship, the gift of adoption. To be son of God, to be adopted into the same sonship which Christ has from the Father is to become priest as Christ is Priest. The newly baptized and chrismated servant of God is then tonsured. "Bless, now, thy servant who is come to make a first offering shorn from the hair of his head." Now that the Christian has been re-made a priest, he offers to God his first offering, hair shorn from his head.

The Baptismal service embraces all of creation. "The sun singeth unto Thee. The moon glorifieth Thee. The stars meet together before Thy presence. The light obeyeth Thee. The deeps tremble before Thee....The choirs of Archangels fall down in adoration before Thee." The whole created universe, material and immaterial, glorifies the Lord. In this prayer man acknowledges creation as blessed, as communion with God. Man, as the crown of creation, calls upon all created things to sing to, glorify, meet together before, obey, tremble before and fall down in adoration before God. All creation confesses and glorifies God, not only in thanks for being called into being by God, but also in thanks for being restored by God. "For Thou, who art God inexpressible, existing uncreated before the ages, and ineffable, didst descend upon earth..." All creation is to glorify God because of the incarnation. The prayer goes on to speak of the incarnation as manifestation, salvation, and sanctification. The service of Baptism recalls in this way Christ's priestly work, the sanctification of all creation. Christ's priestly act is experienced in Baptism, and the newly illumined servant of God is recalled to a priestly life.

The Christian is called to a priestly life which includes seemingly mundane things such as obeying God. "Enable him (her) to walk in all Thy commandments, and to fulfill those things which are well-pleasing unto Thee....Make him (her) to rejoice in the works of his (her) hands, and in all his (her) generation; that he (she) may render praise unto Thee, may sing, worship and glorify Thy great and exalted Name always, all the days of his (her) life." To rejoice in the work of our hands can only be to find God in them. This is again what a priest does: offer creation back to God. We cannot truly rejoice in our generation, if we do not offer our children back to God, if we do not teach our children to know the joy of life in Christ. Everything is said and done that the Christian may praise, sing (If we took this more seriously, our services would fill the Church with the voices of all parishioners.), worship and glorify God. All of life is covered by these prayers. In renouncing Satan and uniting oneself to Christ, the Christian begins to live a godly life. This means more than obeying some arbitrary set of rules. Doing God's will and fulfilling His commandments mean offering one's whole life to God. This is the priestly calling. All of life becomes the communion with God that it was created to be. All of creation is touched, and all of a Christian's life is included. All of life becomes the evident blessing from God which it is. Life becomes Life in Christ instead of death.

When Christians come to know God's gift of priesthood to us, then the mission of the Church will begin to be accomplished. As a person begins to offer all of life back to God, the mission of the Church is happening. The sanctification of the little corner of creation which is that person's life is started. First of all, Christians must know who we are, who God is, and who God has called us to be. Once we come to an experiential, not merely intellectual, knowledge of these things, and respond to that knowledge positively, then Christians will be fully priests and fulfill the mission of the Church. We must first know who we are as the Church, then we will worship, teach, serve, heal, witness, preach and baptize. We offer creation back to the Creator, and in so doing, receive the creation as communion with God.

The Roman Catholic Priest:
In Persona Christi Capitis

In his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Pastores Dabo Vobis, Pope John Paul II presents to the Church a comprehensive explanation of the nature and mission of the ministerial priesthood. The 1990 Synod of Bishops, of which Pastores Dabo Vobis is a result, was called in order to reflect on "the problem of priestly formation in present-day circumstances." In fact, in the Exhortation, the Pope speaks about the "crisis of priestly identity" and the path which must be taken to emerge from this present day crisis. He writes, "a correct and in-depth awareness of the ministerial priesthood is the path which must be taken…in order to emerge from the crisis of priestly identity." Consequently, what John Paul II puts forward in Pastores Dabo Vobis is an orthodox understanding of who, in essence, the ordained priest is.

The focus of this paper is to explain what it means to say that the ministerial priest stands In Persona Christi Capitis (in the Person of Christ the Head). This doctrine is only understandable in light of an orthodox understanding of who the Person of Jesus Christ is. In other words, one can only understand the being of the priest if one has a proper theological understanding of the being of Christ. In order to explain this doctrine four things must be explained: the metaphysics of the Incarnation (Hypostatic Union), the Capital Grace of Christ, the Priesthood of Christ, and the sacramental consecration whereby the priest is configured to Christ.


The Metaphysics of the Incarnation

The first four centuries after Christ were a time of intense Christological debate and controversy. A multiplicity of heresies evolved. Each tried to explain who Christ was: Was he part God and part man? Was he God who just looked like a man (Docetism)? Was he God’s greatest creature and not divine (Arianism)? Was he simply a special person upon whom God’s Spirit rested (Adoptionism)? All of these were different heresies which were present in the early centuries of the Church, and all of these posed a challenge to the Church’s Faith. What was the Church’s response to these heresies?

In the third century, at a council held in Antioch the Church affirmed, against Paul of Samosata, "that Jesus Christ is Son of God by nature and not by adoption." The first Council of Nicaea (325) reacting against the heresy of Arianism, which stated that Jesus the Son was created and was of a different substance than the Father, said that "the Son of God is ‘begotten, not made, of the same substance (homoousios) as the Father.’ " The Council of Ephesus (431) arguing against the heresy of Nestorianism, which said that Christ was a human person united to the divine person of God’s Son, said " ‘that the Word, uniting to himself in his person the flesh animated by a rational soul, became man’ (Council of Ephesus). Christ’s humanity has no other subject than the divine person of the Son of God, who assumed it and made it his own, from his conception."

The most comprehensive confession of the Person of Christ was made at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. The Fathers of Chalcedon were reacting against the heresy of Monophysitism which said "that the human nature had ceased to exist as such in Christ when the divine person of God’s Son assumed it." The confession of Chalcedon merits citation:

Following the holy Fathers, we unanimously teach and confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man, composed of rational soul and body; consubstantial with the Father as to his divinity and consubstantial with us as to his humanity; "like us in all things but sin." He was begotten from the Father before all ages as to his divinity and in these last days, for us and for our salvation, was born as to his humanity of the virgin Mary, the Mother of God.

We confess that one and the same Christ, Lord, and only-begotten Son, is to be acknowledged in two natures without confusion, change, division, or separation. The distinction between natures was never abolished by their union, but rather the character proper to each of the two natures was preserved as they came together in one person (prosopon) and one hypostasis.

A further step was taken at the Council of Constantinople when the Fathers stated that

" ‘there is but one hypostasis [or person], which is our Lord Jesus Christ, one of the

Trinity.’ " This they did to argue against those who were making a personal subject of Christ’s human nature.

What these Councils did was to give to the Church an orthodox understanding of Jesus Christ. The Councils affirmed that he is true God and true man; that the one and same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the second person of the Trinity and is eternally begotten of the Father, became man at a moment in time. They affirmed that he exists "in two natures without confusion, change, division, or separation" (Chalcedon) and that there is but one person in Christ, the divine person of the Trinity (Constantinople). The two natures of Christ share the closest union and are united in the one divine person. The human nature of Christ, which he fully assumed and became like us in all things except sin, is personalized by the divine person of the Word, the Son of God.


The Capital Grace of Christ

Having looked at the union of the human and divine natures in Christ, we can now proceed to look at one of the graces he receives from the Father and that he has bestowed upon us in the Incarnation. In question eight of the third part of his Summa Theologica, St. Thomas writes "Of the Grace of Christ, as He is Head of the Church." The Capital Grace of Christ and the benefits which we receive from this Grace are understood more fully in light of the Incarnation. The dignity which Christ gave to us by assuming our human nature is unfathomable. Because Christ became man our nature has, in a sense, been divinized. This is because the human nature of Christ is united to the divine person of the Word. Christ’s humanity is perfectly holy because of this union. Through grace "creatures are called to share in this very holiness by participation." Even though Christ is divine, "his humanity still receives grace after the manner of other human beings, even if in an entirely distinct and superior mode. This superior mode is explained by the very intimate, [that is], hypostatic, relationship that exists between the human soul of Christ and the Logos."

The Capital Grace of Christ is one of the graces which Christ is given from God. Christ receives this Grace from God because he is the eternally begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Aquinas says that "on account of his nearness to God His grace is the highest and first, though not in time, since all have received grace on account of His grace…" Because Christ is Head of the Church, he is the fount from which all graces flow to the Church. This grace was bestowed upon us in the human nature which he assumed. According to Aquinas, "grace was received by the soul of Christ in the highest way; and therefore from this pre-eminence of grace which He received, it is from Him that this grace is bestowed on others, – and this belongs to the nature of the head." The Capital Grace of Christ is the fount of the sacramental life of the Church. The grace given to Christ by the Father is given to each son and daughter of God who is incorporated into the Church’s life and communion through the sacrament of baptism. As we will see later, it this Capital Grace of Christ which makes possible the sacrament of Holy Orders and the sacramental consecration of the priest.


The Priesthood of Christ

Just as the members of Christ’s body are able to receive the grace that he is given, so too are certain members of his body able to participate in his very priesthood. But the question must first be asked: How is Christ a priest?

In all religions, the distinguishing mark of the priest is that he is one who offers sacrifice to God. This sacrifice is usually associated with atonement for the sins of the people. St. Thomas says, "the office proper to a priest is to be a mediator between God and the people; to wit, inasmuch as He bestows Divine things on the people, wherefore sacerdos (priest) means a giver of sacred things." The Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament is an example of this. The Levitical priests, commanded by the Law of God, offered sacrifice to atone for the sins of God’s chosen people. They offered the blood of bulls and goats, and by sprinkling this blood upon the altar and even upon the community they were rendered clean. However, the blood of bulls and goats was not sufficient to cleanse the people from the sins they committed against God and to cleanse their consciences. As it is written in the Book of Hebrews:

Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of them, it can never make perfect those who come to worship by the same sacrifices that they offer continually each year. Otherwise, would not the sacrifices have ceased to be offered, since the worshippers, once cleansed, would no longer have had any consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is only a yearly remembrance of sins, for it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats take away sins.


Jesus Christ is the fulfillment and the perfection of the priesthood of the Old Law. He became man so that he might reconcile us to God. He reconciled us to the Father in a similar fashion that the priesthood of the Old Law prefigured: by offering sacrifice. However, the sacrifice that Christ offered was the perfect sacrifice that definitively reconciled us to God. The sacrifice that he offered was himself. Jesus Christ is the perfect high priest because he is God himself. But how is it that Christ is the priest and also the sacrifice offered by the priest? On the Cross, he offered to the Father that which needed to be reconciled to him, our fallen human nature which is united to his divine person. He is both the sacrifice and the one who offers the sacrifice; he is offered and the one who offers. Again, Aquinas comes to our aid in explaining how Christ is both priest and victim.

Now man is required to offer sacrifice for three reasons. First, for the remission of sin, by which he is turned away from God…Secondly, that man may be preserved in a state of grace…Thirdly, in order that the spirit of man be perfectly united to God: which will be most perfectly realized in glory…Now, these effects were conferred on us by the humanity of Christ. For, in the first place, our sins were blotted out…Secondly, through Him we received the grace of salvation…Thirdly, through Him we have acquired the perfection of glory…Therefore Christ Himself, as man, was not only priest, but also a perfect victim, being at the same time victim for sin, victim for a peace-offering, and a holocaust.


The Sacramental Consecration of the Ordained Priest

The Church, the People of God, is a priestly people. Each member, through baptism, shares in the threefold ministry of Christ, priest, prophet and king. The Ordination Rite of a Priest acknowledges this. In the bishop’s homily he says, "it is true that God has made his entire people a royal priesthood in Christ." The rite goes on to say, "But, our High Priest, Jesus Christ, also chose some of his followers to carry out publicly in the Church a priestly ministry in his name on behalf of mankind." We have seen how Christ is a priest, but how is it that men share in his priesthood?

It must be clearly stated that there is only one priesthood, the priesthood of Jesus Christ. All other men who are ordained priests participate in the one priesthood of Christ. Christ, the High Priest, reconciled us to God by his sacrifice on Calvary. However, he willed that the effects and merits of his sacrifice be given continually to the Church. Thus, he calls men to continue his priestly ministry and to be dispensers of the divine mysteries. Aquinas says that it is the nature of Christ’s priesthood to be communicated to others:

"…A priest is set between God and man. Now he needs someone between himself and God, who of himself cannot approach to God; and such a one is subject to the priesthood by sharing in the effect thereof. But this cannot be said of Christ; for the Apostle says (Heb. vii. 25): Coming of Himself to God, always living to make intercession for us…And therefore it is not fitting for Christ to be the recipient of the effect of His priesthood, but rather to communicate it to others. For the influence of the first agent in every genus is such that it receives nothing in that genus: thus the sun gives but does not receive light…Now Christ is the fountain-head of the entire priesthood: for the priest of the Old Law was a figure of Him; while the priest of the New Law works in his person, according to 2 Cor. ii. 10: For what I have pardoned, if I have pardoned anything, for your sakes have I done in the person of Christ.


Thus, Christ bestows the effects of his priesthood and his priestly action on the Church by allowing other men to participate in his one priesthood. Just as Christ redeemed us by a priestly act of worship, so the ordained priest, by virtue of his participation in Christ’s priesthood, offers that same sacrificial act of worship on the altar. "The sacrifice which is offered every day in the Church is not distinct from that which Christ Himself offered, but is a commemoration thereof." The priest, who is a sharer in the priesthood of Christ, offers the Mass in the Person of Christ.

Thus, we now turn to how it is possible that the priest shares in the one priesthood of Christ, how it is that the ordained priest is In persona Christi. The ministerial priesthood "has its source in the Blessed Trinity… Through the priesthood which arises from the depths of the ineffable mystery of God, that is, from the love of the Father, the grace of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit’s gift of unity, the priest sacramentally enters into communion with the bishop and with other priests in order to serve the people of God who are the Church…" The key phrase in the above quote from Pastores Dabo Vobis is "sacramentally enters into." It is by virtue of the sacramental consecration which the priest receives in the sacrament of Holy Orders that he is given the grace to enter into the mystery of Christ’s priesthood. Again, the Ordination Rite speaks of this: "By consecration he will be made a true priest of the New Testament."

This sacramental consecration can only be understood in light of the Capital Grace of Christ. As we saw, the Capital Grace of Christ is that grace given to Christ by the Father which makes Christ the Head of the Church and thereby makes the Church holy; it is the fount of the sacramental life of the Church. Just as the members of his body receive that grace and became sharers in the divine nature through the sacrament of baptism, so do men who are ordained priests receive the grace of participating in his priesthood. Christ is the source of the sacramental life of the Church, and he is the source of the one priesthood which is bestowed on the men he calls to follow him as priests. When Christ was on earth he gave to St. Peter the authority to bind and lose, he gave to the Apostles the power to forgive sins, and he bestowed on them the dignity of the priesthood at the Last Supper. Priests are ordained by bishops because the bishops are sharers in that authority which Christ granted to the Peter and the Apostles. Priests are ordained through the laying on of hands because the bishops are in the line of Apostolic Succession, and this is only possible because Christ willed that his Apostles be sharers in his Capital Grace.

By virtue of sacramental consecration, the ordained priest does not simply become a functionary. This consecration does not set him apart to simply perform certain tasks in the Church. No, by virtue of the sacramental consecration which the priest receives, he is ontologically changed. He is configured to the Person of Jesus Christ, Head and Shepherd, in a new way in his very being. "The relation of the priest to Jesus Christ, and in him to his Church, is found in the very being of the priest by virtue of his sacramental consecration/anointing and in his activity, that is, in his mission and ministry." Just as at Baptism and Confirmation the Christian is sacramentally marked on the soul, so is the man who is ordained a priest marked sacramentally and configured to Christ the Priest.

This is where an orthodox understanding of the Person of Jesus Christ helps to shed light on who the priest is in his very being. We can use an analogy: Just as the human nature of Christ is personalized by its union with the divine Person of the Word, so is the priest, by virtue of sacramental consecration, configured in his being to Jesus Christ, Head and Shepherd. Thus, we are able to say that the ordained priest is In Persona Christi. John Paul speaks of this when he writes about "…the specific ontological bond which unites the priesthood to Christ the high priest and good shepherd." And again, in the same Exhortation, the Pope writes, "the priest shares in Christ’s consecration and mission in a specific and authoritative way, through the sacrament of holy orders, by virtue of which he is configured in his being to Jesus Christ, head and shepherd…"

The dignity of the priestly vocation in no way diminishes the importance of the lay vocation. Both are equal in dignity and both are called to holiness. However, there is an essential difference between the two vocations. By looking at the Hypostatic Union of Christ we have seen, albeit analogously, how the ordained priest is configured to Christ in his very being. To repeat what was said above: Just as the human nature of Christ is personalized by its union with the divine Person of the Word, so is the priest, by virtue of sacramental consecration, configured in his being to Jesus Christ, Head and Shepherd. This is the only analogy by which we are able to grasp the ontological character of configuration which takes place when a man is ordained a priest.

Only by having a deep knowledge of the Person and work of Jesus Christ is the priest able to understand his own identity. John Paul says, "the priest finds the full truth of his identity in being a derivation, a specific participation in and continuation of Christ himself, the one high priest of the new and eternal covenant. The priest is a living and transparent image of Christ the priest…Reference to Christ is thus the absolutely necessary key for understanding the reality of the priesthood." The priest is called to be a man of prayer and contemplation, for it is through prayer (and study) that the priest comes to a deeper personal knowledge of the Person and work of Christ. In prayer and contemplation he is sent forth by Christ to minister to his people in pastoral charity. Possessing this understanding of his own vocation the words of Pope John Paul II will echo true in the heart of the priest: "Our priestly life and activity continue the life and activity of Christ himself. Here lies our identity, our true dignity, the source of our joy, the very basis of our life."

Father Eusebio Francisco Kino

Padre on Horseback
In January of 1691 a tall Jesuit missionary astride his horse rode north through the Santa Cruz Valley.  Stopping at the Pima Indian village of Tumacácori, on the east bank of the Santa Cruz River, Father Kino celebrated Mass for the village inhabitants.

From 1687, when he first entered the Pimería Alta, until his death in 1711, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino was tireless in his travels through uncharted desert, river valleys, and mountain ranges.  He established missions in what are today northern Mexico and southern Arizona.

However, Father Kino merits recognition not only for his religious zeal, but for his achievements in other fields.  Born in northern Italy in 1645, he entered the Jesuit college at Trent and went on to the Jesuit college at Hall near Innsbruck,  Austria.  He joined the Company of Jesus on November 20, 1665 after an illness which nearly claimed his life.  He also attended the Universities of Landsberg, Inlolstadt, Innsbruck, Munich and Oehingen.

He came to the New World in 1681 and brought intellectual curiosity to his exploration of a new world. He was appointed missionary and royal cosmographer for the California Expedition on October 28, 1682.  He arrived in Baja California on April 4, 1683.  He was on the second expedition to California on October 6, 1683 at which time he built a mission and established a fort at San Bruno near Loreto.  A cartographer and astronomer, Kino drew the first accurate maps of the Pimería Alta, of the Sea of Cortez, and of Baja California.  He was the first to prove that Baja California was a peninsula, not an island.  Through his contribution of new crops, especially wheat, and domesticated animals such as cattle and sheep, a new and different culture composed of both New and Old World elements began.

Padre Kino was noteworthy for the good relations he established with the indigenous peoples among whom he worked.  He treated the Pimas with respect and learned their language.  By helping the various Piman groups to come together to resist the fierce Apache tribes, Kino brought peace and security to the Pimería.  In turn, the Pimas and other tribal groups affectionately regarded Kino as a leader and advocate.  When a tragic misunderstanding resulted in the Pima Revolt of 1695, it was Kino who brought an end to hostilities and reestablished peace.

Until 1711 Kino continued his efforts to build agriculturally self-sufficient mission pueblos such as Tumacácori and Guevavi.  He established over 20 missions and visitas and set up the foundation for modern agriculture and livestock raising.  He promoted apprenticeships of artisans and similar trades.  He traveled and explored extensively: Tumacacori -1691; Altar River - 1692; Gila River to Casa Grande - 1695; Baja California  - 1697; Santa María and San Pedro Rivers - 1698; Gulf of California from the north, Colorado River - 1700; Repeat trip and crossed the Colorado on a raft - 1701; Repeat trip and proved that California is not an island - 1702; Guaymas - 1704; Tiburon Island - 1706; Pinacate and Santa Clara - 1706.  Today, if you visit his shrine in Magdalena, Sonora, you can sense the devotion people still offer to Father Kino - the indomitable Padre of the Pimería Alta.

Catholic Martyrs of the Holocaust
-- By the Rev. Vincent A. Lapomarda, S.J.
Blessed Teresa Bracco (1924-1944) -- Italian Citizen (Santa Giulia).
Blessed Titus Brandsma (1881-1942) -- Carmelite priest (Dachau).
Blessed Marcel Callo (1921-1945) -- Jocist layman (Mathausen).
Blessed Jozef Cebula(1902-1941) -- Oblate priest (Mathausen)
Blessed Stefan Wicenty Frelichowski  (1913-1945) -- Polish pastor (Dachau)
Blessed Jakob Gapp (1897-1943) -- Marianist priest (Ploetzensee).
Blessed Nikolaus Gross (1898-1945) -- Lay editor (Ploetzensee).
Blessed Franz Jagerstatter (1907-1943) -- Austrian Conscientious Objector
Blessed Jozef Jankowski (1910-1941) -- Pallotine priest (Auschwitz)
Blessed Hilary Januszewski (1907-1945) -- Carmelite priest (Dachau)
Blessed Helene Kafka (1894-1943) -- Franciscan nun (Vienna).
Saint Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941) -- Franciscan priest (Auschwitz).
Blessed Alice Kotowska (1900-1939) -- Resurrection nun who helped Jews (forest of Piasnicy).
Blessed Michal Kozal (1893-1943) -- Polish bishop (Dachau).
Blessed Karl Leisner (1915-1945) -- German priest (Dachau).
Blessed Bernhard Lichtenberg (1875-1943) -- German monsignor (Dachau).
Blessed Alphonsus Mary Mazurek  (1891-1944) -- Polish Carmelite (Nawojowa Gora)
Blessed Otto Neururer (1882-1940) -- Austrian priest (Buchenwald).
Blessed Anastazy Jakub Pankiewicz (1882-1942) -- Franciscan priest  (Dachau)
Blessed Julia Rodzinska (1899-1944) -- Dominican nun (Stutthof)
Blessed Jozef Stanek (1916-1944) -- Pallotine priest (Warsaw)

Blessed Boleslaw Strzelecki (1896-1941) -- priest of Radom (Auschwitz)
Saint Edith Stein (1891-1942) -- Carmelite nun (Auschwitz).  On the same day of her death, August 9, 1942, there also perished at Auschwitz Rosa Stein (1883-1942), her sister, and six members of the Loeb Family all Trappists (three nuns, two priests, and one brother).
108 Polish Martyrs of World War II   (1939-1945): Among them  were Anton Julian Nowowiejski (1858-1941), an  aged archbishop who died in the German death camp at Dzialdowo, where he refused to step on a crucifix; Henryk Kaczorowski (1888-1942), seminary rector at Wloclawek; Ewa Noiszewka (1885-1942) and Marta Wolowska (1879-1942), two Sisters of the Immaculate Conception who were executed at Gora Pietrelewicka in Slonim for hiding Jewish childlren; and Maria Anna Biernacka (1888-1943), one of nine lay persons (she was a benefactress of the Redemptorists in Warsaw) who chose to be executed (she was shot on 13 July 1943 near Grodno) to save her unborn grand child.  These were beatified  along with George Kaszyra (1904-1943) and Anthony Leszczewicz (1890-1943), Marian priests,  (they perished among some 1,500 victims burned alive by the Nazis in Roscia, Belarus, on 17-18 February 1943), whose causes  had been opened, on 26 January 1992 in Poland.  On June 13, 1999,Pope John Paul II  beatified  them (including two other bishops, Wladyslaw Goral (1898-1945) and Leon Wetmanski (1886-1941) and many priests, like Jozef Pawlowski (1890-1942) of Kielce who was executed by hanging in Dachau where he had been jailed for helping Jews and Zygmunt Pisarski (1902-1943) in Lublin, who was shot for risking his life to save communists from death; and religious, among them Capuchins  like Anciet Koplinski (1875-1941); Franciscans  like Bruno Zembol  (1905-1942), and Salesians like Jozef Kowalski (1911-1942), who died at Auschwitz, not to mention nuns like Maria Antonina Kratochwil (1881-1942), a member of the School  Sisters of Notre Dame (she helped Jewish girls in prison), and Maria Klemensa Staszewska (1890-1943), executed at Auschwitz because she hid Jewish girls in a convent.  While fifteen of those victims were martyred at Auschwitz and forty-three at Dachau, among the others beatified were also five young Catholic men, The Martyrs of Poznan, who were associated with the Salesians were beheaded at Dresden for their part in resistance activities: Czeslaw Jozwiak (1919-1942), Edward Kazmierski (1919-1942), Edward Klinik (1919-1942), Franciszek Kesy (1920-1942), and Jarogniew Wojciechowski (1922-1942). Although at least  eighty Polish Jesuits were martyred by the Nazis, none was included among the thirty-three religious beatified that day.  However, it is expected that they will be included in a special ceremony at a future date when the preparation of their causes is concluded.
Blessed Emilian Kovtch (1884-1944), a priest from the Ukrainian Eparchy of Stanislaviv (Ivano-Frankivsk) who died in ovens of  Majdanek (Poland) concentration camp, as a victim of the Nazis  in 1944, was  beatified by  Pope John Paul II on his trip to the Ukraine in  June 2001.
 On Martyrs:  Bibliography
      When one recalls that millions of Catholics were martyred by the Nazis, these constitute just a fraction of them.  For an idea of how large is that number, see such sources as the documents of the Nuremburg War Crimes Trial and such studies as James F. Dunnigan's Dirty Little Secrets of World War II (Morrow, 1994); Martin Gilbert's Final Journey (Mayflower, 1979); Nerin E. Gun, The Day of the Americans (Fleet, 1996); Louis S. Snyder's Historical Guide to World War II (Greenwood, 1982); and Bohdan Wytwycky'sThe Other Holocaust (Novak Report, 1980). 
     For more on the many Catholics martyred during the Holocaust, see: Josse Alzin's Martyrologe 40-45 (Editions Fasbender, 1947); Ulrich von Hehl's  Priester unter Hitlers Terror  (Matthias-Grunewald, 1984); Bedrich Hoffman's And Who Will Kill You? (Pallottinum, 1994); Wiktor Jacewicz's Martyrologium Polskiego Duchowienstwa (ATK, 1977-81); Benedicta Maria Kempner's Nonnen Unter der Hakenkreuz (Naumann, 1979); Zygmunt V. Szarnicki, Polish Martyrs and Others Beatified (Pittsburgh, 2003); Eugen Weiler's Die Geistlichen in Dachau (Missionsdruckerei St. Gabriel, 1971-72); and Waclaw Zajaczkowski's  Martyrs of Charity  (St. Maximilian Kolbe Foundation, 1987-1989).  To this list, one can add Kevin P. Spicer, Resisting the Third Reich: The Catholic Clergy in Hitler's Berlin  ( DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2004).. 
     One of those who suffered martyrdom was Max Joseph Metzger (1887-1944), a priest.  At that time, he was one of the few who was a conscientious objector at a time when the Catholic Church's teaching on the subject was opposed.  Since the Vietnam War, there is a heightened consciousness on the subject, especially because of the work of the Berrigan brothers and others like the writer Gordon Zahn who wrote about the failure of the Catholic Church to warn  the German people about the unjust wars of Adolf Hitler in German Catholics and Hitler's Wars (1962) 
     In the summer of 1999, the first volume of Martyrologium Germanicum, entitled Die Katholischen Deutschen Martyrer des 20. Jahrhunderts [German Catholic Martyrs of the 20th Century], was published by Ferdinand Schoningh.  This is the result of a work under  Helmut Moll, the auxiliary bishop of Cologne, who directed a lengthy investigation into the Catholic martyrs under Nazism and found at least 300, about a third of them lay persons. At least five bishops were among the Polish martyrs during World War II: Marian Leon Fulman (1866-1945) of Lublin, Wladyslaw Goral (1898-1945) of Lublin, Michal Kozal (1893-1943) of Wloclawek, Antoni Julian Nowowiejski (1859-1941) of Plock, and Leon Wetmanski (1886-1941) of Plock. 
     While visiting this web site you may also want to read.  "Five Heroic Catholics of the Holocaust" and "The Cardinal of the Persecuted Jews" both by Rev. Vincent A. Lapomarda, S.J. 
     A Bibliography of Works on Catholic Priests in Nazi Prison Camps is also available online. Also, see Faith and Fatherland by Thomas McGovern, and  The Priests of Dachau by Rev. William J. O'Malley, S. J.;  Rosaries and Stations of the Cross in KZ Gusen; and John S. Conway's review, "Records and Documents of the Holy See Relating to the Second World War," Yad Vashem Studies, 15 (1983), 327-345; not to mention Franz Reinisch, an Austrian priest beheaded by the Nazis.

We have only been able to scratch the surface on this subject. We present Father Kino
and one can only ponder the hardships he faced. We gave presented the Martyrs of the Holocaust to reflect those that gave the last full measure. These examples are not the exception but the rule for Priests. Today as this is written Priests and Religious somewhere in the world are making the same sacrifice. Others are doing the same as Father Kino.

Here we present some of the wisdom of The Cure Of Ars Saint John Vianney.





Saint John Vianney is the patron of parish priests.  Born at Dardilly, France, on May 8th, 1786.  His father raised sheep.  He studied for the priesthood at the age of twenty, but was drafted into the army while he was studying.  He left the army and went the Lyons seminary in 1813.  Primarily because of his notable holiness he was ordained a priest, but he lacked in his knowledge of religious studies.    He was assigned to a church at Ecully.  In 1818, he became the pastor of the Catholic Church in Ars, France. At his parish in Ars he used the Confessional as a primary means of converting souls, spending 16 to 18 hours a day hearing confessions and absolving sinners.  Because he was converting so many souls, the demons were constantly attacking him, and on one occasion they set his bed on fire.  He received spiritual gifts from God, including the discernment of souls and visions.  He promoted devotion to Saint Philomena, a saint who was martyred for Jesus at the age of thirteen by the Roman government.  He was canonized in 1925.


In speaking to you today, my dear brethren, of the dreadful state of the lukewarm soul, my purpose is not to paint for you a terrifying and despairing picture of the soul which is living in mortal sin without even having the wish to escape from this condition. That poor unfortunate creature can but look forward to the wrath of God in the next life. Alas! These sinners hear me; they know well of whom I am speaking at this very moment.... We will go no further, for all that I would wish to say would serve only to harden them more.

In speaking to you, my brethren, of the lukewarm soul, I do not wish, either, to speak of those who make neither their Easter duty nor their annual Confession. They know very well that in spite of all their prayers and their other good works they will be lost. Let us leave them in their blindness, since they want to remain that way....

Nor do I understand, brethren, by the lukewarm soul, that soul who would like to be worldly without ceasing to be a child of God. You will see such a one at one moment prostrate before God, his Saviour and his Master, and the next moment similarly prostrate before the world, his idol.

Poor blind creature, who gives one hand to God and the other to the world, so that he can call both to his aid, and promise his heart to each in turn! He loves God, or rather, he would like to love Him, but he would also like to please the world. Then, weary of wanting to give his allegiance to both, he ends by giving it to the world alone. This is an extraordinary life and one which offers so strange a spectacle that it is hard to persuade oneself that it could be the life of one and the same person. I am going to show you this so clearly that perhaps many among you will be hurt by it. But that will matter little to me, for I am always going to tell you what I ought to tell you, and then you will do what you wish about it....

I would say further, my brethren, that whoever wants to please both the world and God leads one of the most unhappy of lives. You shall see how. Here is someone who gives himself up to the pleasures of the world or develops some evil habit.

How great is his fear when he comes to fulfil his religious duties; that is, when he says his prayers, when he goes to Confession, or wants to go to Holy Communion! He does not want to be seen by those with whom he has been dancing and passing nights at the cabarets, where he has been giving himself over to many kinds of licentiousness. Has he come to the stage when he is going to deceive his confessor by hiding the worst of his actions and thus obtain permission to go to Holy Communion, or rather, to commit a sacrilege? He would prefer to go to Holy Communion before or after Mass, that is to say, when there is no one present. Yet he is quite happy to be seen by the good people who know nothing about his evil life and among whom he would like to arouse good opinions about himself. In front of devout people he talks about religion. When he is with those who have no religion, he will talk only about the pleasures of the world. He would blush to fulfil his religious practices in front of his companions or those boys and girls who share his evil ways....

This is so true that one day someone asked me to allow him to go to Holy Communion in the sacristy so that no one would see him. Is it possible, my brethren, that one could think upon such horrible behaviour without shuddering?

But we shall proceed further and you will see the embarrassment of these poor people who want to follow the world without -- outwardly at any rate -- leaving God. Here is Easter approaching. They must go to Confession. It is not, of course, that they want to go or that they feel any urge or need to receive the Sacrament of Penance. They would be only too pleased if Easter came around about once every thirty years. But their parents still retain the exterior practice of religion. They will be happy if their children go to the altar, and they keep urging them, then, to go to Confession. In this, of course, they make a mistake. If only they would just pray for them and not torment them into committing sacrileges. So to rid themselves of the importunity of their parents, to keep up appearances, these people will get together to find out who is the best confessor to try for absolution for the first or second time

"Look," says one, "my parents keep nagging at me because I haven't been to Confession. Where shall we go?" "It is of no use going to our parish priest; he is too scrupulous. He would not allow us to make our Easter duty. We will have to try to find So-and-So. He let this one and that one go through, and they are worse than we are. We have done no more harm than they have."

Another will say: "I assure you that if it were not for my parents I would not make my Easter duty at all. Our catechism says that to make a good Confession we must give up sin and the occasions of sin, and we are doing neither the one nor the other. I tell you sincerely that I am really embarrassed every time Easter comes around. I will be glad when the time comes for me to settle down and to cease gallivanting. I will make a confession then of my whole life, to put right the ones I am making now. Without that I would not die happy."

"Well," another will say to him, "when that time comes you ought to go to the priest who has been hearing your confessions up to the present. He will know you best." "Indeed no! I will go to the one who would not give me absolution, because he would not want to see me damned either."

"My word, aren't you good! That means nothing at all. They all have the same power."

"That is a good thing to remember when we are doing what we ought to do. But when we are in sin, we think otherwise.

One day I went to see a girl who was pretty careless. She told me that she was not going back to Confession to the priests who were so easy and who, in making it seem as if they wanted to save you, pushed you into Hell."

That is how many of these poor blind people behave. I "Father," they will say to the priest, "I am going to Confession to you because our parish priest is too exacting. He wants to make us promise things which we cannot hold to. He would have us all saints, and that is not possible in the world. He would want us never to go to dances, nor to frequent cabarets or amusements. If someone has a bad habit, he will not give Absolution until the habit has been given up completely. If we had to do all that we should never make our Easter duty at all. My parents, who are very religious, are always after me to make my Easter duty. I will do all I can. But no one can say that he will never return to these amusements, since he never knows when he is going to encounter them."

"Ah!" says the confessor, quite deceived by this sincere sounding talk, "I think your parish priest is perhaps a little exacting. Make your act of contrition, and I will give you Absolution. Try to be good now."

That is to say: Bow your head; you are going to trample in the adorable Blood of Jesus Christ; you are going to sell your God like Judas sold Him to His executioners, and tomorrow you will go to Holy Communion, where you will proceed to crucify Him. What horror! What abomination! Go on, vile Judas, go to the holy table, go and give death to your God and your Saviour! Let your conscience cry out, only try to stifle its remorse as much as you can.... But I am going too far, my brethren. Let us leave these poor blind creatures in their gloom.

I think, brethren, that you would like to know what is the state of the lukewarm soul. Well, this is it. A lukewarm soul is not yet quite dead in the eyes of God because the faith, the hope, and the charity which are its spiritual life are not altogether extinct. But it is a faith without zeal, a hope without resolution, a charity without ardour....

Nothing touches this soul: it hears the word of God, yes, that is true; but often it just bores it. Its possessor hears it with difficulty, more or less by habit, like someone who thinks that he knows enough about it and does enough of what he should.

Any prayers which are a bit long are distasteful to him. This soul is so full of whatever it has just been doing or what it is going to do next, its boredom is so great, that this poor unfortunate thing is almost in agony. It is still alive, but it is not capable of doing anything to gain Heaven....

For the last twenty years this soul has been filled with good intentions without doing anything at all to correct its habits.

It is like someone who is envious of anyone who is on top of the world but who would not deign to lift a foot to try to get there himself. It would not, however, wish to renounce eternal blessings for those of the world. Yet it does not wish either to leave the world or to go to Heaven, and if it can just manage to pass its time without crosses or difficulties, it would never ask to leave this world at all. If you hear someone with such a soul say that life is long and pretty miserable, that is only when everything is not going in accordance with his desires. If God, in order to force such a soul to detach itself from temporal things, sends it any cross or suffering, it is fretful and grieving and abandons itself to grumbles and complaints and often even to a kind of despair. It seems as if it does not want to see that God has sent it these trials for its good, to detach it from this world and to draw it towards Himself. What has it done to deserve these trials? In this state a person thinks in his own mind that there are many others more blameworthy than himself who have not to submit to such trials.

In prosperous times the lukewarm soul does not go so far as to forget God, but neither does it forget itself. It knows very well how to boast about all the means it has employed to achieve its prosperity. It is quite convinced that many others would not have achieved the same success. It loves to repeat that and to hear it repeated, and every time it hears it, it is with fresh pleasure. The individual with the lukewarm soul assumes a gracious air when associating with those who flatter him. But towards those who have not paid him the respect which he believes he has deserved or who have not been grateful for his kindnesses, he maintains an air of frigid indifference and seems to indicate to them that they are ungrateful creatures who do not deserve to receive the good which he has done them....

If I wanted to paint you an exact picture, my brethren, of the state of a soul which lives in tepidity, I should tell you that it is like a tortoise or a snail. It moves only by dragging itself along the ground, and one can see it getting from place to place with great difficulty. The love of God, which it feels deep down in itself, is like a tiny spark of fire hidden under a heap of ashes.

The lukewarm soul comes to the point of being completely indifferent to its own loss. It has nothing left but a love without tenderness, without action, and without energy which sustains it with difficulty in all that is essential for salvation. But for all other means of Grace, it looks upon them as nothing or almost nothing. Alas, my brethren, this poor soul in its tepidity is like someone between two bouts of sleep. It would like to act, but its will has become so softened that it lacks either the force or the courage to accomplish its wishes.

It is true that a Christian who lives in tepidity still regularly -- in appearance at least -- fulfils his duties. He will indeed get down on his knees every morning to say his prayers. He will go to the Sacraments every year at Easter and even several times during the course of the twelve months. But in all of this there will be such a distaste, so much slackness and so much indifference, so little preparation, so little change in his way of life, that it is easy to see that he is only fulfilling his duties from habit and routine .... because this is a feast and he is in the habit of carrying them out at such a time. His Confessions and his Communions are not sacrilegious, if you like, but they are Confessions and Communions which bear no fruit -- which, far from making him more perfect and more pleasing to God, only make him more unworthy. As for his prayers, God alone knows what -- without, of course, any preparation -- he makes of these.

In the morning it is not God who occupies his thoughts, nor the salvation of his poor soul; he is quite taken up with thoughts of work. His mind is so wrapped up in the things of earth that the thought of God has no place in it. He is thinking about what he is going to be doing during the day, where he will be sending his children and his various employees, in what way he will expedite his own work. To say his prayers, he gets down on his knees, undoubtedly, but he does not know what he wants to ask God, nor what he needs, nor even before whom he is kneeling. His careless demeanour shows this very clearly. It is a poor man indeed who, however miserable he is, wants nothing at all and loves his poverty. It is surely a desperately sick person who scorns doctors and remedies and clings to his infirmities.

You can see that this lukewarm soul has no difficulty, on the slightest pretext, in talking during the course of his prayers.

For no reason at all he will abandon them, partly at least, thinking that he will finish them in another moment. Does he want to offer his day to God, to say his Grace? He does all that, but often without thinking of the one who is addressed. He will not even stop working. If the possessor of the lukewarm soul is a man, he will turn his cap or his hat around in his hands as if to see whether it is good or bad, as though he had some idea of selling it. If it is a woman, she will say her prayers while slicing bread into her soup, or putting wood on the fire, or calling out to her children or maid. If you like, such distractions during prayer are not exactly deliberate. People would rather not have them, but because it is necessary to go to so much trouble and expend so much energy to get rid of them, they let them alone and allow them to come as they will.

The lukewarm Christian may not perhaps work on Sunday at tasks which seem to be forbidden to anyone who has even the slightest shred of religion, but doing some sewing, arranging something in the house, driving sheep to the fields during the times for Masses, on the pretext that there is not enough food to give them -- all these things will be done without the slightest scruple, and such people will prefer to allow their souls and the souls of their employees to perish rather than endanger their animals. A man will busy himself getting out his tools and his carts and harrows and so on, for the next day; he will fill in a hole or fence a gap; he will cut various lengths of cords and ropes; he will carry out the churns and set them in order. What do you think about all this, my brethren? Is it not, alas, the simple truth? ....

A lukewarm soul will go to Confession regularly, and even quite frequently. But what kind of Confessions are they? No preparation, no desire to correct faults, or, at the least, a desire so feeble and so small that the slightest difficulty will put a stop to it altogether. The Confessions of such a person are merely repetitions of old ones, which would be a happy state of affairs indeed if there were nothing to add to them. Twenty years ago he was accusing himself of the same things he confesses today, and if he goes to Confession for the next twenty years, he will say the same things. A lukewarm soul will not, if you like, commit the big sins. But some slander or back-biting, a lie, a feeling of hatred, of dislike, of jealousy, a slight touch of deceit or double-dealing -- these count for nothing with it. If it is a woman and you do not pay her all the respect which she considers her due, she will, under the guise of pretending that God has been offended, make sure that you realise it; she could say more than that, of course, since it is she herself who has been offended. It is true that such a woman would not stop going to the Sacraments, but her dispositions are worthy of compassion.

On the day when she wants to receive her God, she spends part of the morning thinking of temporal matters. If it is a man, he will be thinking about his deals and his sales. If it is a married woman, she will be thinking about her household and her children. If it is a young girl, her thoughts will be on her clothes.

If it is a boy, he will be dreaming about passing pleasures and so on. The lukewarm soul shuts God up in an obscure and ugly kind of prison. Its possessor does not crucify Him, but God can find little joy or consolation in his heart. All his dispositions proclaim that his poor soul is struggling for the breath of life.

After having received Holy Communion, this person will hardly give another thought to God in all the days to follow. His manner of life tells us that he did not know the greatness of the happiness which had been his.

A lukewarm Christian thinks very little upon the state of his poor soul and almost never lets his mind run over the past. If the thought of making any effort to be better crosses his mind at all, he believes that once he has confessed his sins, he ought to be perfectly happy and at peace. He assists at Holy Mass very much as he would at any ordinary activity. He does not think at all seriously of what he is doing and finds no trouble in chatting about all sorts of things while on the way there. Possibly he will not give a single thought to the fact that he is about to participate in the greatest of all the gifts that God, all-powerful as He is, could give us. He does give some thought to the needs of his own soul, yes, but a very small and feeble amount of thought indeed. Frequently he will even present himself before the presence of God without having any idea of what he is going to ask of Him. He has few scruples in cutting out, on the least pretext, the Asperges and the prayers before Mass. During the course of the service, he does not want to go to sleep, of course, and he is even afraid that someone might see him, but he does not do himself any violence all the same. He does not want, of course, to have distractions during prayer or during the Holy Mass, yet when he should put up some little fight against them, he suffers them very patiently, considering the fact that he does not like them. Fast days are reduced to practically nothing, either by advancing the time of the main meal or, under the pretext that Heaven was never taken by famine, by making the collation so abundant that it amounts to a full meal. When he performs good or beneficial actions, his intentions are often very mixed -- sometimes it is to please someone, sometimes it is out of compassion, and sometimes it is just to please the world. With such people everything that is not a really serious sin is good enough. They like doing good, being faithful, but they wish that it did not cost them anything or, at least, that it cost very little. They would like to visit the sick, indeed, but it would be more convenient if the sick would come to them. They have something to give away in alms, they know quite well that a certain person has need of help, but they wait until she comes to ask them instead of anticipating her, which would make the kindness so very much more meritorious. We will even say, my brethren, that the person who leads a lukewarm life does not fail to do plenty of good works, to frequent the Sacraments, to assist regularly at all church services, but in all of this one sees only a weak, languishing faith, hope which the slightest trial will upset, a love of God and of neighbour which is without warmth or pleasure. Everything that such a person does is not entirely lost, but it is very nearly so.

See, before God, my brethren, on what side you are. On the side of the sinners, who have abandoned everything and plunge themselves into sin without remorse? On the side of the just souls, who seek but God alone? Or are you of the number of these slack, tepid, and indifferent souls such as we have just been depicting for you? Down which road are you travelling?

Who can dare assure himself that he is neither a great sinner nor a tepid soul but that he is one of the elect? Alas, my brethren, how many seem to be good Christians in the eyes of the world who are really tepid souls in the eyes of God, Who knows our inmost hearts....

Let us ask God with all our hearts, if we are in this state, to give us the grace to get out of it, so that we may take the route that all the saints have taken and arrive at the happiness that they are enjoying. That is what I desire for you....


Alas, my dear brethren, what have we become even since our conversion? Instead of going always forward and increasing in holiness, what laziness and what indifference we display! God cannot endure this perpetual inconstancy with which we pass from virtue to vice and from vice to virtue. Tell me, my children, is not this the very pattern of the way you live? Are your poor lives anything other than a succession of good deeds and bad deeds? Is it not true that you go to Confession and the very next day you fall again -- or perhaps the very same day? .... How can this be, unless the religion you have is unreal, a religion of habit, a religion of long-standing custom, and not a religion rooted in the heart? Carry on, my friend; you are only a waverer! Carry on, my poor man; in everything you do, you are just a hypocrite and nothing else! God has not the first place in your heart; that is reserved for the world and the devil. How many people there are, my dear children, who seem to love God in real earnest for a little while and then abandon Him! What do you find, then, so hard and so unpleasant in the service of God that it has repelled you so strangely and caused you to change over to the side of the world? Yet at the time when God showed you the state of your soul, you actually wept for it and realised how much you had been mistaken in your lives. If you have persevered so little, the reason for this misfortune is that the devil must have been greatly grieved to have lost you because he has done so much to get you back. He hopes now to keep you altogether. How many apostates there are, indeed, who have renounced their religion and who are Christians in name only!

But, you will say to me, how can we know that we have religion in our hearts, this religion which is consistent?

My dear brethren, this is how: listen well and you will understand if you have religion as God wants you to have it in order to lead you to Heaven. If a person has true virtue, nothing whatever can change him; he is like a rock in the midst of a tempestuous sea. If anyone scorns you, or calumniates you, if someone mocks at you or calls you a hypocrite or a sanctimonious fraud, none of this will have the least effect upon your peace of soul. You will love him just as much as you loved him when he was saying good things about you. You will not fail to do him a good turn and to help him, even if he speaks badly of your assistance. You will say your prayers, go to Confession, to Holy Communion, you will go to Mass, all according to your general custom.

To help you to understand this better, I will give you an example. It is related that in a certain parish there was a young man who was a model of virtue. He went to Mass almost every day and to Holy Communion often. It happened that another was jealous of the esteem in which this young man was held, and one day, when they were both in the company of a neighbour, who possessed a lovely gold snuffbox, the jealous one took it from its owner's pocket and placed it, unobserved, in the pocket of the young man. After he had done this, without pretending anything, he asked to see the snuffbox. The owner expected to find it in his pocket and was astonished when he discovered that it was missing. No one was allowed to leave the room until everyone had been searched, and the snuffbox was found, of course, on the young man who was a model of goodness. Naturally, everyone immediately called him a thief and attacked his religious professions, denouncing him as a hypocrite and a sanctimonious fraud. He could not defend himself, since the box had been found in his pocket. He said nothing. He suffered it all as something which had come from the hand of God. When he was walking along the street, when he was coming from the church, or from Mass or Holy Communion, everyone who saw him jeered at him and called him a hypocrite, a fraud, a thief. This went on for quite a long time, but in spite of it, he continued with all of his religious exercises, his Confessions, his Communions, and all of his prayers, just as if everyone were treating him with the utmost respect. After some years, the man who had been the cause of it all fell ill. To those who were with him he confessed that he had been the origin of all the evil things which had been said about this young man, who was a saint, and that through jealousy of him, so that he might destroy his good name, he himself had put the snuffbox in the young man's pocket.

There, my brethren, is a religion which is true, which has taken root in the soul. Tell me, if all of those poor Christians who make profession of religion were subjected to such trials, would they imitate this young man? Ah, my dear brethren, what murmurings there would be, what bitternesses, what thoughts of revenge, of slander, of calumny, even perhaps of going to law.... They would storm against religion; they would scorn and jeer at it and say nothing but ill of it; they would not be able to say their prayers any more; they would not be able to go to Mass; they would not know what more to do or to say to justify themselves; they would collect every item of harm that this or that person had done, tell it to others, repeat it to everyone who knew them in order to make them out as liars and calumniators. What is the reason for this conduct, my dear brethren? Surely it is that our religion is only one of whim, of long-standing habit and routine, and, if we were to put it more forcefully, because we are hypocrites who serve God just as long as everything is going according to our wishes. Alas, my dear brethren, all of these virtues which we observe in a great many apparent Christians are but like the flowers of spring, which one gust of hot wind can wither.


Before beginning your work, my dear brethren, never fail to make the Sign of the Cross. Do not imitate those people without religion who dare not do this because they are in company. Offer quite simply all your difficulties to God and renew from time to time this offering, for by that means you will have the happiness of drawing down the blessing of Heaven on yourself and on all you do. Just think, my dear brethren, how many acts of virtue you can practice by behaving in this way, without making any change in what you are actually doing. If you work with the object of pleasing God and obeying His Commandments, which order you to earn your bread by the sweat of your brow, that is an act of obedience. If you want to expiate your sins, you are making an act of penance. If you want to obtain some grace for yourself or for others, it is an act of hope and of charity. Oh, how we could merit Heaven every day, my dear brethren, by doing just our ordinary duties, but by doing them for God and the salvation of our souls! Who stops you, when you hear the chimes striking, from thinking on the shortness of time and of saying in your minds: "Time passes and death comes closer.

I am hastening towards eternity. Am I really ready to appear before the tribunal of God? Am I not in a state of sin?"


Lord, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.

God the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, One God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us. 

Saint John-Mary Vianney,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, endowed with grace from thine infancy,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, model of filial piety,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, devoted servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, spotless lily of purity,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, faithful imitator of the sufferings of Christ,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, abyss of humility,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, seraph of prayer,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, faithful adorer of the Most Blessed Sacrament,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, ardent lover of holy poverty,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, true son of St. Francis of Assisi,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, exemplary Franciscan tertiary,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, tender friend of the poor,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, penetrated with the fear of God's judgment,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, fortified by divine visions,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, who was tormented by the evil spirit,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, perfect model of sacerdotal virtue,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, firm and prudent pastor,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, inflamed with zeal,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, faithful attendant on the sick,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, indefatigable catechist,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, who didst preach in words of fire,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, wise director of souls,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, specially gifted with the spirit of counsel,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, enlightened by light from Heaven,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, formidable to Satan,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, compassionate with every misery,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, providence of the orphans,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, favored with the gift of miracles,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, who didst reconcile so many sinners to God,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, who didst confirm so many of the just in the way of virtue,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, who didst taste the sweetness of death,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, who dost now rejoice in the glory of Heaven,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, who givest joy to those who invoke thee,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, heavenly patron of parish priests,
pray for us. 

St. John Vianney, model and patron of directors of souls,
pray for us. 

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

V. Pray for us, blessed Jean-Marie Vianney,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let Us Pray

Almighty and merciful God,
Who didst bestow upon blessed John Mary Vianney
wonderful pastoral zeal
and a great fervor for prayer and penance,
grant, we beseech Thee,
that by his example and intercession
we may be able to gain the souls
of our brethren for Christ,
and with them attain to everlasting glory,
through the same Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son,
Who liveth and reigneth with Thee
and the Holy Ghost,
one God, world without end.




          Prayer for Priests

          O Jesus, our great High Priest,
          Hear my humble prayers on behalf of your priest, Father [N].
          Give him a deep faith

a bright and firm hope
and a burning love
which will ever increase
in the course of his priestly life.

          In his loneliness, comfort him
          In his sorrows, strengthen him
          In his frustrations, point out to him

that it is through suffering that the soul is purified,
and show him that he is needed by the Church,
he is needed by souls,
he is needed for the work of redemption.

          O loving Mother Mary, Mother of Priests,

take to your heart your son who is close to you
because of his priestly ordination,
and because of the power which he has received
to carry on the work of Christ
in a world which needs him so much.

          Be his comfort, be his joy, be his strength,

and especially help him
to live and to defend the ideals of consecrated celibacy. Amen.


Pray for priests each day. We have given a look into some of the works and sacrifices of Priests. They are ordinary people like you and me that made an extraordinary Commitment of both life and limb.

God Bless all our Priests:

The Director


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