Gleaned from an article by Rev. Donald Haggerty STD

Homiletic and Pastoral Review, April 2002, pp 9-16


  1. A Catholic priest is a “father” in the order of grace. And the sacramental life of the Church is where the priest’s spiritual fatherhood is most manifest.
  2. Acting in persona Christi, the priest sacramentally brings children to birth through Baptism, and he provides for them through the Word and the Eucharist.
  3. The spiritual fatherhood of the Catholic priest – which is to say the fruitfulness of his celibate love – is directly (though not exclusively) related to the dispensation of sacramental grace. (Any attempt to denigrate or sever this vital connection can only play havoc with the priest’s psychology.)
  4. His spiritual espousal to the Church is intimately linked with his spiritual fatherhood.
  5. The advice of a senior priest to a newly-ordained on the day of his sacerdotal ordination: “You’ve just given yourself entirely away to God. Now don’t spend the rest of your life taking it back.”
  6. “Know what you are doing.” Pay attention and be aware.
  7. There are actions in the life of a priest that do not belong to him – they are God’s. E.g. the Sacrifice of the Mass. So nothing in the life of a priest belongs exclusively to him. He has given it away in order that it may bear fruit. Said Jesus: “You have not chosen me; I have chosen you and sent you out to bear fruit – fruit that will last.”
  8. Meeting with his people, a priest enters hidden chambers, where he gains an occasional glimpse of the mystery of God’s divine predilection for them. God’s incomprehensible love and mercy are infinitely greater than his.
  9. The true priest is at the disposal of a divine purpose that is often concealed in the immediate moment and sometimes for a good while. He must make himself very open and accessible to being used in ways he cannot foresee. It is not good, in fact, to presume a clear awareness of God’s workings. The only sure knowledge he has is that Christ Jesus gave himself for every soul he will encounter as a priest for the rest of his life. A priest must then be alert and open to the unexpected possibilities in contact with people wherever they are. The ways of God are mysterious, but always marvellous! And this can be a source of much spiritual happiness for a priest.
  10. Chance encounters with people are not so random and unplanned as they first appear. A priest lives his small life within the active presence of an unfathomable Love that will always exceed his comprehension.
  11. Every soul in need of grace suffers a poverty only God can assuage, and, in God’s Providence, a priest is called upon to serve as God’s life-line. He is indeed both an intercessor and an instrument.
  12. No priest arrives at the mystery of his priestly identity easily. Sacerdotal ordination does not displace his former self with its weakness and its natural gifts, but imposes a new identity that is struck in his soul. This is symbolised by the prostration at the ordination service. With grace and steady faithfulness, a priest recognises that his identity as a man cannot be separated from Christ Jesus who acts in and through him. He is an alter Christus in the lives of souls.
  13. Even Jesus humbly acknowledged, “I can do nothing on my own.” A priest can never function without divine intervention. “I am the Vince…without me, you can do nothing.” So a priest’s identity is rooted in powerlessness and self-emptying, and in an ultimate self-offering without promise of a visible reward.
  14. A priest must essentially be a man of prayer. He must walk with Jesus. A prayerful priest can accomplish a lot more. Good works can only be performed by the power of God.
  15. The greatest mystery a priest celebrates is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass – the renewal of Calvary in our midst. At every Mass the priest is at Calvary once again. With Jesus he is being offered as an un-bloody sacrifice and so must live a life of continual self-giving. “He must increase, I must decrease.”
  16. Fidelity to the Pope and the Magisterium is paramount. The alternative is tobe emasculated. Be careful with your clerical associations, and don’t lose your manhood as a priest.
  17. A spirit of sacrifice in a priest is important to retain a manly spirit in his priesthood.
  18. Purity of mind and body and respect for his dignity as a man of God must pervade a priest’s whole public and private life.
  19. The material life of a priest can affect his people’s spiritual lives for better or worse.
  20. Fidelity to his priestly ministry in every detail, major and minor, is a manifest mark of respect and obedience to the bishop and the Church.
  21. A priest’s life of sacrifice, as painful as it may sometimes be, will determine his happiness as a priest.
  22. It is a mystery of divine love that small acts of self-renunciation are used by Go to filter grace to souls.
  23. There is nothing static about a vocation to the priesthood, because God is continually calling us to a progressive way…He dos so through the various circumstances of a priest’s life, and especially, through new occasions for sacrifice…If a priest is faithful, God will continue to send new invitations, which will open up wider and more luminous horizons, until the soul lives its consecration in a perpetual renewal of fervour and love. (Antonio Rosmini – XIX cent. Italian priest/philosopher)
  24. A priest is a son of Mary – she is both Mediatrix and Protrectress
  25. Be a man for others, for their salvation and sanctification.