“What is a priest? A man who takes the place of God, a man invested with all the powers of God. ‘Go’, says Our Lord to the priest. ‘As My Father has sent Me, so I send you.’ … ‘All power has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go ye, therefore, teach all nations.’ ‘He who hears you, hears Me; he who despises you despises Me.’
When the priest absolves from sin, he does not say ‘God forgives you.’ He says ‘I absolve you.’
Saint Bernard assures us that everything comes to us through Mary. One might also say that everything comes to us through the priest; yes, all blessings, all graces, all celestial gifts.
If we had not the sacrament of Ordination we should not have Our Lord. Who has put Him there, in the tabernacle? The priest. Who received your soul at its entry upon life? The priest. Who feeds it, in order to strengthen it on its pilgrimage? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, by washing it for the last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest, always the priest. And if this soul should die, who will revive it? Who will restore to it calm and peace? The priest again. You cannot call to mind a single one of God’s benefits without conjuring up at the same time the image of the priest.
Go and make your confession to the Blessed Virgin, or to an angel. Will they absolve you? No. Will they give you the Body and Blood of Our Lord? No. The Blessed Virgin has not the power to make her Divine Son descend into the sacred Host. Two hundred angels could not absolve you. A priest, however simple, can. He can say to you: ‘Go in peace; I absolve you.’
O what a grand thing is a priest! God’s other benefits would be useless without the priest. What use could you make of a house full of gold, if there was no one to open the door to you? Without the priest, the passion and death of Our Lord would be of no avail.
After God, the priest – that is all! Leave a parish twenty years without a priest, and the inhabitants will worship beasts.
When men wish to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the priest, because where there is no priest, there is no Sacrifice, and where there is no Sacrifice, there is no religion.”
– Blessed Cure d’Ars