Explore the divine purpose of the priesthood in the salvation of souls. Venerable Louise Margaret delves into the priest's role in sustaining, enlightening, and guiding mankind towards God.

The Priest: A Creation Of Infinite Love

God, in His excess of love for man, created the priest. The priest was created to help sustain, enlighten, and bring man closer to God. Here Venerable Louise Margaret reflects upon the gift of the priesthood and the role of the priest in the salvation of souls.

Almighty god reigned from all eternity in the peaceful possession of His sovereign happiness; but feeling Infinite Love overflow from His being, He willed to create. After drawing incomparable marvels from nothing by the power of His Word, He formed man, the king and centre of creation.

Who will ever be able to enumerate the myriad graces which the Eternal Being, conferred on this privileged creature? Infinite Love assumed all forms; it was liberal and magnificent like the love of God; it was tender, delicate and profound like the love of a mother; it was provident and wise, like the love of a father. Man was enriched with all gifts, with all graces, with all kinds of beauty. But Infinite Love did not stop there. It continued to flow with inexhaustible profusion on all creation. In different circumstances it got different names, but it was all these things at the same time: thus it was a restoring, preserving, vivifying love, a protecting, pardoning, patient love: a love which redeems, purifies and saves.

And behold! after long ages, the Word of the Father, Incarnate Love, the Redeemer of the world, Jesus Christ, came on earth. Living the life of man, He experienced the weakness of man, understood his wants and restored the work of creation; but above all He loved. He passionately loved this fallen humanity to which He had intimately united Himself.

And, one day, He felt Infinite Love overflow from His Heart; and, wishing to create a being who could continue His work, came to the relief of man in all his wants; a being who could help man, sustain him, enlighten him and bring him nearer to God—He created the priest.

To the priest, the creation of the Infinite Love of His heart, Jesus gave a participation in His power; He infused into his heart the devotedness, zeal, goodness and mercy which filled His own. He poured into it humility and purity; He filled it with love; finally, He confided to him four great functions corresponding to the four great needs of the human creature.

  1. Man is profoundly ignorant. Even after the grace of Baptism, the shadows of original sin still darken his intellect; his personal sins daily intensify these shadows; and his unenlightened mind, plunged in darkness and uncertainty, rushes, almost without noticing it, to eternal perdition. And the priest teaches. He gives truth to the human intellect; he shows the way which leads to God; he reveals to souls the luminous horizons of the Faith; his mission is to dispel darkness and to display in all their splendor to every eye these lofty and divine truths which are, with love, the life of the human soul.
  2. Man is a sinner. The fall of our first parents has left in his nature indelible marks and a strong tendency towards evil; a sort of weakness which makes itself increasingly felt both in his intellectual faculties and in his senses, and in spite of the grace which raises him up, and Infinite Love which draws him from on high, he nevertheless sins again. Being constantly sullied, he has need of being purified again. And the priest absolves. Trustee of the Blood of Jesus Christ, the priest applies this divine remedy to the wounds caused by sin; he draws from the infinite treasure of the merits of Jesus Christ, and gives to the purified soul new strength and new help.
  3. Man is unfortunate. Banished from Heaven, he passes his days on earth in labor and sorrow; suffering presses upon him from every side. Today his body is broken by sickness; tomorrow his heart is rent by treachery or the loss of loved ones; and how often is his soul shaken by fear, remorse or doubt! But the priest is the consoler. He makes known to souls the value of suffering; he makes man hope for an eternity of happiness in return for passing sorrow (2 Cor. 4:17); he opens the abysses of Infinite Love to afflicted and abandoned hearts; he raises up despairing souls by revealing to them the divine mercies, and, spreading light and love over the earth; he consoles all sorrow and dispels all fear.
  4. Finally, Man cannot do without God. His weakness must lean on divine strength; his poverty cries out for the treasures of Heaven; his nothingness has constant need of getting near to the source of all being. And nevertheless, sinner that he is, he shrinks away from divine holiness; God is so great, so pure, so exalted in the inaccessible heights of truth and of justice! A mediator between God and man is needed; that Mediator is Christ, but between Christ and man, so great is man’s misery, another mediator is necessary, and that mediator is the priest.

And the priest offers sacrifice. He takes the divine Victim in his consecrated hands; he raises Him to Heaven, and God, at this sight, inclines towards the earth; mercy descends; Infinite Love gushes forth more abundantly from the bosom of the Eternal Being. The Creator and His creature are brought together; they have embraced in Christ; they have become united in love.

These are the august functions which the priest exercises for the benefit of man; he teaches, he absolves, he consoles, he offers sacrifice. Jesus, the eternal Priest, had exercised them before him, and with what sublime perfection! He would have wished, if it were possible, to continue exercising them directly by Himself. Nevertheless, it was fitting that Christ, after passing through suffering, should enter into His glory. In His loving mercy He then formed the priest in whom He perpetuates Himself and lives again unceasingly His life of love for men, His brethren. It is by the priest that He continues to instruct, to purify, to console and to bring back again to God all the generations of men that succeed one another on this earth.

This article is taken from a chapter in The Sacred Heart and the Priesthood by Venerable Louise Margaret Claret de la Touche which is available from TAN Books



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