Remember Your Dignity, Priests!

by St. Francis of Assisi

Listen to this, my brothers: If it is right to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary because she bore him in her most holy womb; if St. John the Baptist trembled and was afraid to touch Christ's sacred head; if the tomb where he lay for only a short time is so venerated; how holy, and virtuous, and worthy should not a priest be; he touches Christ with his own hands, Christ who is to die now no more but enjoy eternal life and glory, upon whom the angels desire to look (1 Peter 1:12). A priest receives him into his heart and mouth and offers him to others to be received.

Remember your dignity, then, my friar priests. You shall make and keep yourselves holy, because God is holy (Leviticus 11:44). In this mystery God has honoured you above all other human beings, and so you must love, revere, and honour him more than all others. Surely this is a great pity, a pitiable weakness, to have him present with you like this and be distracted by anything else in the whole world. Our whole being should be seized with fear, the whole world should tremble and heaven rejoice, when Christ the Son of the living God is present on the altar in the hands of the priest. 

O wonderful majesty!  What stupendous condescension!  O sublime humility!  O humble sublimity!  That the Lord of the whole universe, God and the Son of God, should humble himself like this and hide under the form of a little bread for our salvation!  Look at God’s condescension, my brothers, and pour out your hearts before him (Ps 62:8).  Keep nothing for yourselves, so that he who has given himself wholly to you may receive you wholly .

(quoted in Raniero Cantalamessa & Carlo Martini, St. Francis and the Cross:Reflections on Suffering, Weakness, and Joy (Ann Arbor, MI: Charis Books, 2003).