Priests Are But Men

Father Benson remarks: “It is unnecessary to enlarge upon the very evident humanity of the Priest. No priest is mad enough to forget it even for an instant. Even if his personal complacency should blind him to his own defects, society will very soon remind him of it by the examples of others. Again and again, some unhappy priest, seeming to rise step by step in the spiritual life, extending his influence and his reputation, gathering admirers and dependents round him, suddenly offers to the world a heart-breaking reminder of his own weak humanity. . . . Certainly, priests are but men. Why, then, is the world so shocked to find them men, unless subconsciously at least it is aware that they are a great deal more?”

“They are Ambassadors of Christ; and Christ is present in them as a King is present in his accredited Representative. Christ expressly commissions them in this, when He bids His Apostles to go out ‘into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature’ (Mk 16:15).”

“‘How beautiful,’ cries the prophet of even the old dispensation, ‘how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings and that preacheth peace’ (Is 52:7); beautiful, since they are feet that carry the love-message of the Fairest of the children of men.”

“It is worth while noticing that the priest, so far as he may attempt to be original in the substance of his message, is unfaithful to his commission. Christ does not commission his ambassador to invent treaties of reconciliation, but to deliver the Divine treaty.” Hence, the Church “does not believe that God’s Revelation can be improved upon by even the most brilliant human intellect. She does not rebuke those of her ministers who seek originality in the manner of their message, so long as the message is not obscured by their originality; she does not silence those who present old dogmas in new phrases: but emphatically she repudiates those who, as some recent thinkers have attempted to do, seek to present new dogmas under the cover of the old words.”

Quotations from Robert Hugh Benson, The Friendship of Christ (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1912).

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