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Posted February 17, 2005

Book: Meditations on the Catholic Priesthood
Author: Rev. Charles P. Connor
Alba House, NY, pp.141

An excerpt from the jacket:

At ordination, a priest becomes another person, commissioned not simply to act in the name of Christ, but to be another Christ, an alter Christus. This teaching was not an original insight of the Second Vatican Council. It is the traditional teaching of the Church.

In this book, Father Connor helps the priest to see once again, in fresh terms, that this is truly the essence of the priesthood. He shows how, in the Eucharist the priest finds his raison d’etre for being a priest, the source of all his strength in the ministry, the summit of all his prayers. The role of the Cross and suffering in the life of a priest is one of the highlights of this book. If Christ suffered, not only on the Cross but throughout His earthly existence, can the priest really expect to be an alter Christus, and then glide through life? Yet, the suffering of a priest is tinged with joy, because he suffers along with Christ, bolstered by Jesus Himself. If the priest is another Christ, why not live fully the way Christ did, celibate, singlehearted, devoted completely to God and His people? If the priest recognizes his identity with Jesus, the Chaste, Poor, and Obedient One, celibacy makes complete sense. These are just a few of the topics covered in these brief meditations which conclude with a magnificent chapter about the priest and is relationship with Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

An excerpt from the book:

Thomas Aquinas stresses the uniqueness of this particular sacrament [Holy Orders]; unique not in what it does for a recipient, but what it empowers him to do for others: When a man becomes a priest, he becomes another Christ. Before his ordination he received a grace from others. But after ordination he can communicate grace to others. He is the active, human instrument through which the grace of Christ passes to men. This makes it apparent that Holy Orders is a social sacrament. Baptism, Confirmation, Communion, Penance and Extreme Unction sanctify the individual for his own advantage. But Holy Orders sanctifies a man for the benefit of others. It makes him holy so that he can communicate holiness to others.

Table of Contents:

Most Rev. Joseph F. Martino, D.D., Hist. E.D., Bishop of Scranton

1. What is the Priesthood?

2. The Priesthood of Jesus Christ

3. Priesthood in the mind of Saint Paul and developed in the early Church

4. Priestly developments in the Patristic Age

5. Medieval, Reformation, Counter-Reformation mind on the priesthood

6. The Eucharist and the priesthood

7. Suffering and prayer, essential ingredients of the priesthood

8. The priest as preacher of the Word of God

9. The gift of priestly celibacy

10. Priesthood in the Third Millennium

11. The priestly theology of John Paul II

12. The Blessed Virgin Mary and the priesthood