A most wise past student sent me a few paragraphs written by Pius XII to Catholic priests. With these, I stand reprimanded and at the same time encouraged. I am thankful to Pius XII and my past student, whose student I now am. Here is some of his message to me:
“Pius XI has been of great help and consolation to me of late. His writings in the 1930s speak with the powerful voice of the Church even to us now 90 years on. His condemnations of the many -isms of his time find resonance today, and have helped me make sense of what goes on around us currently. Go figure—the Church has been there, done that, made it through with Jesus! Nothing new under the sun.
“Anyway, I have been reading his encyclical on the priesthood (Ad Catholici Sacerdotii) and, having learned much […] about this holy life, I wanted to send these three passages along, each helpful in its own way today, both in general but also specifically as a reminder to us priests. May we both, with Mary’s help, live up to the great calling which is ours in and from Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest!”
- In this clash of selfish interest, and unleashed hate, and dark plans of revenge, nothing could be better or more powerful to help, than loudly to proclaim the ‘new commandment’ of Christ. That commandment enjoins a love which extends to all, knows no barriers nor national boundaries, excludes no race, excepts not even its own enemies.
- Finally, the priest, in another way, follows the example of Christ. Of Him it is written that He “passed the whole night in the prayer of God” and “ever lives to make intercession for us”; and like Him, the priest, is public and official intercessor of humanity before God; he has the duty and commission of offering to God in the name of the Church, over and above sacrifice strictly so-called, the “sacrifice of praise,” in public and official prayer; for several times each day with psalms, prayers and hymns taken in great part from the inspired books, he pays to God this dutiful tribute of adoration and thus performs his necessary office of interceding for humanity. And never did humanity, in its afflictions, stand more in need of intercession and of the divine help which it brings. Who can tell how many chastisements priestly prayer wards off from sinful mankind, how many blessings it brings down and secures?
- A last tribute to the priesthood is given by the enemies of the Church. For as We have said on a previous page, they show that they fully appreciate the dignity and importance of the Catholic priesthood, by directing against it their first and fiercest blows; since they know well how close is the tie that binds the Church to her priests. The most rabid enemies of the Catholic priesthood are today the very enemies of God; a homage indeed to the priesthood, showing it the more worthy of honor and veneration.
Pax, Father […]