The priest! Have you ever considered the difficulty of conceiving what is a priest? Have you ever explained to yourself, not how there have always been priests, and how there is still so great a number, but how there is even one? He who can meditate upon the priest, and not be struck by his existence, I pity that man! What, then, is a priest? Is he a man who promotes morality —an officer of morality, as the 18th century said? But, external to Christianity, where is the morality of the priest? What was the morality of the pontiffs of Greece and Rome? The priest, is he a philosopher? But philosophy combats the priest. Is he a public functionary of any kind? But if all the sovereigns of Europe and of the world combined to make a priest, they would only end by bringing on a man ridicule and disgrace…. The priest, the man who exists neither by morality, nor by philosophy, nor by the state, nor by the world! The man impossible to create, and who, nevertheless, exists always and everywhere! What is he, in fine? The priest is a man anointed by tradition to shed blood, not as the soldier, through courage, not as the magistrate, through justice, but as Jesus Christ, through love. The priest is a man of sacrifice; by it, each day, reconciling heaven and earth, and by it, each day, announcing to every soul the primordial truths of life, of death, and of resurrection.
-Fr. Henri-Dominique Lacordaire, O.P.
Portrait: Guillaume-Joseph Chaminade, S.M.(Périgueux, 8 April 1761 – Bordeaux, 22 January 1850)