Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Priest: Virginity and Fatherhood

"The priest, first, gives up the earthly love of a woman, as Mary gave up the earthly love of a man...The married man imposes limitations on himself in respect to all women, but one. The priest admits of no exception, and he does so in the exercise of a perfect freedom...His surrender is like Mary's. She willed her Son and she conceived. So the priest willed to be God's, and he can identify the day and the hour. The more he serves that surrender, the more he knows that only the Christ-fettered are free.

"But a priest cannot live without love...If there is to be a generation of souls, and if he is to be a "father" begetting others in Christ, there must be love. That love is the same as Mary's; the Fire and Passion of the Holy Spirit overshadowing him. As in her, were united virginity and motherhood, so in the priest, there is to be the unity of virginity and fatherhood. This is not barrenness but fecundity, not the absence of love, but its ecstasy.

"Through Mary's example and influence, there comes a moment in the priest's life when he realizes he does not belong to his family, his parish, his diocese, his country. He belongs to the missions and to the world; he belongs to humanity. The closer the priest gets to the mission of Christ, the more he loves every soul in the world. As Mary "mothered" all men at the Cross, so the priest "fathers" them. No bishop is consecrated for a diocese; he is consecrated for the world...The priest is not ordained for a diocese; he is ordained for souls.

"Devotion to Mary keeps the priest from being the hireling, a hired servant with fixed hours, assigned duties, parish limits, and no lost sheep. There is no "on duty" for a priest. He is "on love" everywhere...Every soul is either a potential convert, or a potential saint.

"Every woe, every wound in the world is ours as a priest. So long as there is an innocent priest in a Siberian jail, I am in prison. So long as a missionary is without a roof over his head, I am homeless. Sharing with these there must be, if there is to be compassion. The priest will never sit and watch the world's enmity against Our Lord, knowing that Mary's co-operation was so real and active that she stood at the foot of the Cross."

~ Excerpts from The Priest Is Not His Own by Fulton J. Sheen ~


Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest, Mother of all priests, and our Mother, help us respond generously to the Holy Spirit's request, through the voice of His Church, to offer up to God Eucharistic adoration for priests. Amen.

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