Had you the purity of the Angels and the holiness of Saint John the Baptist, you would still be unworthy to receive or touch this Sacrament. For it is not due to any merit of his own that a man is allowed to consecrate and handle the Sacrament of Christ, and receive the Bread of Angels (Ps 78: 26) as his food. High the office, and great the dignity of a priest, to whom is granted what is not granted to Angels; for only a rightly ordained priest has power to celebrate the Eucharist and to hallow the Body of Christ. The priest is the minister of God, using the words of God by His own command and appointment: but God Himself is the principal agent and unseen worker, to whose will all things are subject (Wis 12: 18), and whose command all creatures obey.

In all that relates to this sublime Sacrament, you should have regard to God's word, rather than your own senses or any visible sign. Therefore, when you approach the Altar, let it be with awe and reverence. Consider from whom this ministry proceeds, that has been delivered to you by the imposition of the Bishop's hands (I Tim 4: 14.). You have been made a priest and ordained to celebrate the Sacrament: see, then that you offer this sacrifice to God faithfully, regularly, and devoutly, and that your life is blameless (I Tim 3: 2; 2 Pet 3: 14). Your obligations are now greater; you are bound to exercise stricter self-discipline and to aim at a higher degree of holiness. A priest should be adorned with all virtues, and show an example of holy life to others (Titus 2: 7.). His life should not be like that of worldly men, but like that of the Angels (Phil 3: 20), or of perfect men on earth.

The Imitation of Christ
Thomas a Kempis

Reprinted from Witness Ministries, a lay apostolate dedicated to renewing appreciation for the Mass as the greatest gift which God has given to His beloved spouse, the Church. Their mission is to show how, in the Eucharistic Liturgy, Jesus renews and transforms us–and the world–in His life and love.