Sermon on the Priesthood from The Little Catechism
of the Cure of Ars by Saint John Vianney (1786-1859)
My children, we have come to the Sacrament of Orders. This Sacrament
raises man up to God. What is a priest? A man who holds the place of
God--a man who is invested with all the powers of God. "Go," said Our
Lord to the priest; "as My Father sent Me, I send you. All power has
been given Me in Heaven and on earth. Go then, teach all nations. . . ."
He who listens to you, listens to Me; he who despises you despises Me.
When the priest remits sins, he does not say, "God pardons you"; he
says, "I absolve you." At the Consecration, he does not say, "This is
the Body of Our Lord;" he says, "This is My Body."
St. Bernard tells us that everything has come to us through Mary; and
we may also say that everything has come to us through the priest; yes,
all happiness, all graces, all heavenly gifts. If we had not the
Sacrament of Orders, we should not have Our Lord. Who placed Him
there, in that tabernacle? It was the priest. Who was it that received
your soul, on its entrance into life? The priest. Who nourishes it, to
give it strength to make its pilgrimage? The priest. Who will prepare
it to appear before God, by washing that soul, for the last time, in
the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest--always the priest. And if that
soul comes to the point of death, who will raise it up; who will
restore it to calmness and peace? Again the priest. You cannot recall
one single blessing from God without finding, side by side with this
recollection, the image of the priest.
Go to confession to the Blessed Virgin, or to an angel; will they
absolve you? No. Will they give you the Body and Blood of Our Lord? No.
The Holy Virgin cannot make her Divine Son descend into the Host.
You might have two hundred angels there, but they could not absolve
you. A priest, however simple he may be, can do it; he can say to you,
"Go in peace; I pardon you." Oh, how great is a priest! The priest will
not understand the greatness of his office till he is in Heaven. If he
understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love. The
other benefits of God would be of no avail to us without the priest.
What would be the use of a house full of gold, if you had nobody to
open you the door! The priest has the key of the heavenly treasures;
it is he who opens the door; he is the steward of the good God, the
distributor of His wealth. Without the priest, the Death and Passion of
Our Lord would be of no avail. Look at the heathens: what has it availed
them that Our Lord has died? Alas! they can have no share in the
blessings of Redemption, while they have no priests to apply His
Blood to their souls!
The priest is not a priest for himself; he does not give himself
absolution; he does not administer the Sacraments to himself. He is
not for himself, he is for you. After God, the priest is everything.
Leave a parish twenty years without priests; they will worship beasts.
If the missionary Father and I were to go away, you would say, "What
can we do in this church? there is no Mass; Our Lord is no longer
there: we may as well pray at home." When people wish to destroy
religion, they begin by attacking the priest, because where there is no
longer any priest there is no sacrifice, and where there is no longer
any sacrifice there is no religion.
When the bell calls you to church, if someone were asked, "Where are
you going?" you might answer, "I am going to feed my soul." If someone
were to ask you, pointing to the tabernacle, "What is that golden door?"
"That is our storehouse, where the true Food of our souls is kept."
"Who has the key? Who lays in the provisions? Who makes ready the feast,
and who serves the table?" "The priest." "And what is the Food?" "The
precious Body and Blood of Our Lord." O God! O God! how Thou hast
loved us! See the power of the priest; out of a piece of bread the
word of a priest makes a God. It is more than creating the world.
Someone said, "Does St. Philomena, then, obey the Curé D’Ars?" Indeed,
she may well obey him, since God obeys him.
If I were to meet a priest and an angel, I should salute the priest
before I salute the angel. The latter is the friend of God; but the
priest holds His place. St. Teresa kissed the ground where a priest
had passed. When you see a priest, you should say, "There is he who
made me a child of God, and opened Heaven to me by holy Baptism; he
who purified me after I had sinned; who gives nourishment to my soul."
At the sight of a church tower, you may say, "What is there in that
place?" "The Body of Our Lord." "Why is He there?" "Because a priest
has been there, and has said holy Mass."
What joy did the Apostles feel after the Resurrection of Our Lord, at
seeing the Master whom they had loved so much! The priest must feel
the same joy, at seeing Our Lord whom he holds in his hands. Great
value is attached to objects which have been laid in the drinking
cup of the Blessed Virgin and of the Child Jesus, at Loretto.
But the fingers of the priest, that have touched the adorable
Flesh of Jesus Christ, that have been plunged into the chalice
which contained His Blood, into the pyx where His Body has lain,
are they not still more precious? The priesthood is the love of the
Heart of Jesus. When you see the priest, think of Our Lord Jesus
Act of Love of the Holy Cure D'Ars
I love Thee, O my God.
My only desire is to love Thee,
until the last breath ot my life.
I love Thee, O infinitely loveable God,
and I prefer to die loving Thee,
rather than to live for an instant without Thee.
I love Thee, O my God,
and I desire only to go to Heaven,
to have the happiness of loving Thee perfectly.
I love Thee, O my God,
and my only fear is to go to Hell,
because one will never have the sweet
solace of loving Thee there.
O my God, if my tongue cannot say
at all times that I love Thee,
at least I want my heart to repeat it to Thee!
as many times as I breathe. Ah! Do me the grace
to suffer while loving Thee,
to love Thee while suffering,
and, that when I die:
I not only will love Thee,
but experience it in my heart.
I beg Thee that: the closer I come to my final end,
Thou wilt increase and perfect my love for Thee. Amen
Prayer For Priests Through the Intercession
of Saint John Marie Vianney
Most gracious Heavenly Father, we thank you for our faithful
priests and bishops, whose spiritual fatherhood and example
of fidelity, self-sacrifice, and devotion is so vital to the
faith of your people.
May our spiritual fathers be guided by the example of Saint
John Vianney. Give them valiant faith in the face of confusion
and conflict, hope in time of trouble and sorrow, and steadfast
love for you, for their families, and for all your people throughout
the world. May the light of your Truth shine through their lives and
their good works.
Assist all spiritual fathers, that through your Grace they may
steadily grow in holiness and in knowledge and understanding of your
Truth. May they generously impart this knowledge to those who rely on
them. Through Christ our Lord. Amen
August 8 - Saint John Marie Vianney (Jean-Baptiste-Marie) - The Priest Holds the Key - Universal Patron Saint of Priests
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