Let us love the friends of the King

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This 15th century painting of the miraculous Mass of Pope Saint Gregory the Great is in the Church of Sant'Andrea in Palermo, Sicily. Above, we see Our Lord Jesus Christ surrounded by depictions of the mysteries of His bitter Passion, all of which are made present in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Below, we see Saint Gregory at the altar surrounded by his Cardinals. It appears to be the moment of the consecration. Notice the large host. Curiously, the Pope is wearing his tiara and the Cardinals their galeros. The Pope is facing outward, and there are two missals on stands placed on either side of the altar.

In preparation for this evening's Holy Mass of the Chrism and for the forthcoming Year of the Priest: A Sermon of Saint Ephrem, Syrian Deacon, on the Priesthood. Saint John Eudes chose this passage for Matins of the Office that he composed for the Feast of the Priesthood of Jesus Christ in 1652. Saint John Eudes' Mass and Office for the Feast of the Priesthood of Jesus Christ were adopted not only by his own Congregation of Jesus and Mary, who kept it on November 13th, and by the Priests of Saint Sulpice, who kept it on July 17th, but also by the Benedictines of the Blessed Sacrament, who kept it on the Thursday after the Octave of Corpus Christi. The feast fell into disuse in the middle of the nineteenth century. Only the Sulpicians kept it until the liturgical reforms of Pope Pius X.

O wondrous miracle!
O power unutterableI
O tremendous mystery of the Priesthood,
holy and spiritual mystery, worthy of reverence and blameless,
which Christ hath by His advent into the world
imparted even to those unworthy!

On bended knees, with tears and sighs,
I pray that we may look into this treasure of Priesthood;
a treasure, I say, to those who guard it with fitting holiness.
For it is indeed a matchless bright shield, a strong tower, a wall unbreakable,
a firm and stable foundation, reaching from earth to highest heavens!
What am I saying, brethren?
It even attaineth those supernal regions,
ascending without let or labor from the depths to the very heavens,
and there with incorporeal spirits, surrounded by angels,
holdeth free and familiar intercourse.

But why do I say surrounded by the Heavenly Powers except it be that it treateth
--familiarly with the very Lord and Creator of angels Himself, the Giver of Light,
asking forthwith whatsoever it will,
making petition as it were with certain seemly ease and right?

Nor do I desist, brethren, from giving praise and glory
to that profundity of dignity which the Holy Trinity hath liberally bestowed
upon us, the sons of Adam.
Thereby the world hath been saved and the creature enllghtened.
Thereby both the power of death hath been destroyed and the forces of hell spoiled;
both the curse of Adam destroyed and broken,
and the heavenly bridal chamber adorned and thrown open.
What shall I say and declare? what in the way of praise?

Forsooth, this gift of the lofty dignity of the Priesthood
hath outrun my mind and speech and all thought.
And this I think is what Saint Paul indicates when,
stricken with an amazement of mind, he exclaims:
O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!
How incomprehensible are His judgments, and how unsearchable His ways!
Flying from earth to high heaven,
it bears most swiftly to God above our requests,
praying the Lord for His servants.

O power unutterable, which hath deigned to dwell in us
through the laying on of hands of holy priests!
What great depths lie within this awful and wonderful Priesthood!
Happy the man who purely and blamelessly ministers in this dignity!

So let us know, brethren, that great and manifold, vast and boundless
is the dignity of the Priestly Office itself.
Glory be to the Sole-Begotten,
glory also to the Only Good,
Who offers this through the new and holy covenant to His disciples,
that these in turn, by the laying on of their hands upon worthy men,
may furnish an example unto us.

Therefore let us all give honor to Priests
and all pronounce those to be happy who have been adorned
by this sublime and admirable office of Priesthood,
knowing for sure that he will be loved much more by the King,
who is a lover of the King's friend.
Wherefore, let us love the priests of God,
seeing that they His friends are good
and intercede for us and the world.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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