The Priesthood and Perfection by Garrigou-Lagrange - Chapter 6

Priestly Perfection

Our problem can best be stated by a simple exposition of some opposing opinions. There are at least three different theories, which at first sight seem absolutely opposed to each other; but because they consider different aspects of priestly life they can, I think, be harmonized in a higher synthesis and in line with the teaching of St. Thomas.


A secular priest is not bound to strive for perfection strictly so called because he is not in the state of perfection to be acquired and in this he differs from the religious who has made profession. Nor is he in the state of perfection to be exercised and in this he differs from a bishop.

This is the theory of many secular priests who consider the priestly life more as canonists than as ascetics and mystics: Because we are not religious, we are not bound, as religious are, to evangelical perfection, austerity, or a life of prayer. Thus, occasionally, very good priests, hearing this theory which they think to be true, imagine that they cannot reach perfection unless they leave their ministry and enter a monastery. Even some religious say the secular priest is not really bound to strive for perfection, because he is not in a state of perfection; indeed it is very difficult for him to reach perfection if he does not enter a religious order.1 It would mean that priests would have to neglect the sanctification of their flock in order to work out their own sanctification.


All priests, even "secular" priests, are really bound, by reason of their ordination and the duties connected with the real and mystical body of Christ, to strive after perfection strictly so called. Indeed, it would be very fitting that the "secular" priest become a religious, take three vows and live in community like the ancient canons regular, attached to parishes so that in a sanctified way he may exercise his priesthood. A priest should not be "secular": this term is admitted by the Church, but it did not come from the Church nor does it express the priestly spirit.

Thus, according to Dom Gréa, it is not fitting that a priest should be a "secular," but it is very fitting that he should be a regular.2 Cardinal Mercier says something similar: "Secular priests Oh! that horrible phrase, secular priest."3 It may be admitted, however, that he is called "secular" not by reason of his spirit, but by reason of his occupations which are materially in the world. Cardinal Mercier prefers the expression "diocesan priest" or "diocesan clergy" to the expression "secular clergy."


In virtue of his ordination and office, a secular priest should not merely strive after perfection; he should actually be in (or at least participate in) that state of perfection "to be exercised," which is proper to bishops. Indeed, he would not become more perfect by entering a religious order; for, by virtue of his ordination and office, he is already greater than a religious who has not been ordained. He is already a religious not of St. Dominic or St. Ignatius, but of Christ. Thus Dionysius says in his Ecclesiastica Hierarchia (c. 6): "a monastic order should follow priestly orders and by imitating them rise to divine things."4

Some even maintain, as St. Thomas points out: "It is more difficult for a parish priest or an archdeacon to live well than a religious. Parish priests or archdeacons, therefore, are of more perfect virtue than religious" 5 priests as well as lay brothers.

St. Thomas answers this objection by making a distinction: "A difficulty which arises from the difficulty of a work increases the perfection of a virtue, and this is true of religious life; but a difficulty caused by external obstacles . . . sometimes lessens the perfection of virtue for example, when one does not love the virtue sufficiently well to wish to overcome the obstacles to virtue; sometimes, however, it is a sign of more perfect virtue; for example, when one does not forsake virtue although one is hindered by obstacles which are involuntary or unavoidable."6


These three theories present three different aspects of the priestly life. Considering all three aspects in the light of St. Thomas's teaching, we may say:

(a) A "secular" or diocesan priest is not, strictly speaking, in any state of perfection, and because of the vows of poverty and obedience he would gain additional merit were he to become a religious.7

(b) However, in virtue of his ordination and office, which require greater interior sanctity than is required by the religious state, he ought to strive for perfection strictly so called.8

Our first proposition agrees with the first theory which considers priestly life in an external way; from a canonical point of view a secular priest is not in "a state of perfection."

Our second proposition agrees in certain aspects with the second and third theories and contains whatever truth is in them.

According to this doctrine, which we will immediately explain, a secular priest has a "special obligation" to strive after perfection strictly so called, which excludes as far as human frailty allows not only mortal sins but also deliberate venial sins and deliberate imperfections. This obligation, according to our solution, is not distinct from the obligation of fulfilling worthily and in a holy manner the various offices of priestly life: the celebration of Mass, the recitation of the office, the hearing of confessions, and in general the sanctification of souls. This special obligation is contracted by the reception of minor and major orders. And in virtue of the supreme precept these duties must be carried out with increasing perfection.


A secular priest is not, strictly speaking, in a state of perfection.

A "state of perfection," as St. Thomas shows, is not a purely interior and invisible state, like the state of grace; but "one enters a state of perfection ... by improving in those things which are done outwardly."9 And it should be distinguished from a perfect state, like the state of grace, which can be merely interior. From this St. Thomas deduces: "A perpetual obligation, made with a certain solemnity, to observe those things which are of perfection is essential to the [juridical] state of perfection. Religious and bishops have both these essentials. Religious, in order to give themselves more freely to God, in which consists the perfection of this life, bind themselves by vow to abstain from certain temporal actions which they might otherwise quite lawfully use . . . Similarly, bishops in assuming the pastoral office, which implies that the pastor lay down his life for his sheep (cf. John 10:15), bind themselves to those things which are of perfection."10 St. Thomas shows, with Dionysius, that "bishops have the office of perfecters, whereas religious have the obligation of being perfected; one is active, the other passive. Thus it is clear that the state of perfection is higher in bishops than in religious."11 Thus, theologians generally distinguish the state for acquiring perfection in which religious are constituted, and the state of acquired perfection, perfection to be exercised and communicated, which pertains to bishops.

But, as St. Thomas shows, secular priests ("parish priests and archdeacons") are not, strictly speaking, in a state of perfection:

(a) They are not, strictly speaking, in a state for acquiring perfection, because, as St. Thomas points out: "By the reception of a sacred order, one receives the power to perform certain sacred acts; one is not thereby bound to those things which are of perfection, except to the extent that in the Western Church the reception of a sacred order (subdiaconate) implies a vow of chastity, which is one of those things pertaining to perfection. It is clear, therefore, that by the reception of a sacred order, one is not thereby placed in a state of perfection strictly so called, although interior perfection is required in order that one may worthily exercise such an order."12

But it can be said with C. Vivès that, by the vow of chastity, a priest of the Western Church is secundum quid in a state of perfection;13 Suarez says that he is "in the beginning of the state of perfection."14 He is forbidden to engage in business.

(b) Strictly speaking, is the secular priest in the state of perfection which is directed to the perfection of others? St. Thomas answers: "Similarly, from the point of view of the care of souls which they [priests and archdeacons] take upon themselves, they are not placed in a state of perfection. For they are not bound, by this very fact, under the obligation of a perpetual vow to retain the care of souls; they can surrender it, either by entering a religious order, even without their bishop's permission (cf. Decret. 19, 9, 2, 1), or may with their bishop's permission resign their archdeaconry or parish and accept a simple prebend without the care of souls, which would not be lawful if they were in a state of perfection. . . .

"Bishops, however, because they are in the state of perfection, cannot set aside their episcopal care without the permission of the Supreme Pontiff, who can alone dispense from perpetual vows, and then only for definite reasons. It is clear, therefore, that not all prelates are in a state of perfection, but only bishops."15

The secular priest, therefore, would have more merit if he became a religious the special merit, that is, which proceeds from the vow of poverty and obedience. Thus St. Thomas shows that the religious priest who has the care of souls is by reason of his ordination and office [the care of souls] equal to the parish priest; and he is superior to him by reason of his "state" the goodness of a [perpetual] religious state, in which the religious pledges his whole life to the pursuit of perfection. "And therefore the religious state is to the office of parish priest as a holocaust is to sacrifice a sacrifice being less than a holocaust."

"But this comparison," says the holy Doctor, "must be understood in the light of the deed itself (secundum genus opens), for it sometimes happens that the charity of the doer (secundum caritatem operantis), causes a work, in itself not so great as to become more meritorious that is, by reason of the greater charity with which it is performed." Thus a secular priest like the saintly Curé d'Ars can be much more perfect than many religious and bishops.

"But if," adds St. Thomas, "we compare the difficulty of living well in religious life and in an office which brings with it the care of souls, the latter is more difficult on account of external dangers. And this is true even though religious life is more difficult in itself on account of the rigors of regular observance."16 St. Thomas says also: "The difficulty caused by outward obstacles sometimes lessens the perfection of virtue for example, when one does not love the virtue sufficiently well to wish to overcome the obstacles to the virtue. . . . Sometimes, however, it is a sign of more perfect virtue; for example, when one does not forsake virtue, although one is hindered by obstacles which are involuntary or unavoidable."17

Thus, from the canonical point of view, a secular priest is not, strictly speaking, in a state of perfection, neither the state for the acquisition of perfection nor the state of exercising it.

Proof of second proposition

A secular priest, because of his ordination and office, should strive for perfection strictly so called. Indeed greater interior sanctity is required to celebrate Mass and sanctify souls than is required by a religious lay brother or nun. "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out and to be trodden on by men. You are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:13).

This conclusion may be proved in three ways: A. From the nature of priestly ordination; B. From the duties of a priest toward the sacramental body of Christ; C. From his duties toward the mystical body of Christ.

A. Priestly ordination: In the Roman Pontifical, in the rite for the ordination of a priest, we read: "The Lord chose seventy-two, in order to teach [us] that both in word and deed the ministers of His Church should, in faith and love, be perfect grounded, that is, in a twofold love of God and neighbor."18 This is evident:

(a) from what is required before ordination;
(b) from its effects on the soul;
(c) from its consequences.

(a) A state of grace, suitability, and a goodness of life higher than that for entrance to religious life are required for ordination to the priesthood. St. Thomas says: "Sacred orders presuppose sanctity, but the religious state is a means of reaching sanctity. Thus the weight of orders is to be placed on a framework already seasoned by sanctity; but the weight of religious life seasons the framework, men, drawing them from the dampness of vice."19 This doctrine is found also in St. Gregory and Dionysius (Eccl. Hier., C. 5) in texts quoted by St. Thomas. According to them, says Fr. Barthier, it seems that the illuminative state is the degree of charity fitting for the reception of the priesthood, so that the priest already purified from sin may be able to illuminate others. On the other hand, to enter religious life, the purgative stage is sufficient. For the episcopacy, one should be in the unitive state, because a bishop must be already perfect and perfecting others.20 In the Supplement, St. Thomas quotes Dionysius: "The power of a priest extends to purifying and illuminating only; the episcopal power extends to these also, but to perfecting others as well."21

(JO The effects of ordination are the priestly character and sacramental grace. But the priestly character is a certain participation in the priesthood of Christ Himself; it is indelible, making one a priest forever.22 The priest, therefore, ought to live as the worthy minister of Christ. In order to do this he receives sacramental grace at ordination. For, as St. Thomas says in the Supplement: "The works of God are perfect. And therefore to him to whom God gives any power, He gives also that help which enables him to use that power worthily. . . . Just as sanctifying grace is necessary in order that a man may worthily receive the sacraments, sanctifying grace is also necessary that he may worthily dispense the sacraments ..."23 And in the same article we read: "To exercise an order in a fitting way, any goodness at all is not sufficient, but a surpassing goodness is required. Why? That those whom ordination has placed over others in a sacramental way may also surpass others in holiness. For the reception of an order, therefore, it is necessary to have grace sufficient for one to be worthily numbered among the ordinary faithful of Christ; but in the actual reception of an order there is given a more ample gift of grace, so that one becomes capable of doing greater things."24 These words of the Supplement are not directly from the pen of St. Thomas, but we find something similar in a work authentically his: "Those who enter the divine ministry take on a royal dignity and should be perfect in virtue."25 These words are found also in the Pontifical.

God, in calling anyone to a higher office, gives him the means to fulfill the obligations of that office; and the priest by reason of his ordination has the right, unless he fails to merit it, to new actual graces so that he may in a fitting way exercise the duties of his priesthood. "Sacramental grace adds to ordinary habitual grace and the virtues and gifts a certain divine help to work out the effect of the sacrament."26 Sacramental grace is a new, intrinsic modification, a special impulse of habitual grace, with the right to receive actual help when needed. That is the teaching of John of St. Thomas, Contenson, and Billuart.

Priestly ordination is something more noble than religious profession in that it gives a certain participation in the priesthood of Christ not given to a simple religious. The cleric declares at his ordination: "The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my chalice; it is You who will restore to me my inheritance."

(c) A consequence of ordination is, as we read in the Pontifical, a special obligation of striving after a higher perfection. The bishop says at the close of the ceremony: "Beloved sons, consider carefully the order which you have received and the burden which has been laid on your shoulders; strive to live in a holy and devout manner, and to please Almighty God, so that you may acquire His grace, which He, in His mercy, may deign to bestow on you." A priest should sanctify himself so that the sacramental grace of orders may always bear more fruit in him.

As we have said above, all Christians are bound, while they are in this world, to strive for greater charity. A fortiori, the priest is similarly bound, so that he may with greater perfection carry out the precept: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart . . ." To priests in particular Christ says: "Be you perfect," and "To him who hath it shall be given, and he shall abound" (Matt. 13:12). "You are the light of the world and the salt of the earth" (cf. Matt. 5:13-14).

Thus we read in the Imitation of Christ, in the section on the priestly state: "Behold you have become a priest, consecrated in order to celebrate; see that in due course you faithfully and devoutly offer sacrifice to God, and show yourself blameless. You have not lightened your load, but you have bound yourself to a heavier one and to the chain of discipline; and you are bound to a greater perfection in charity. A priest should be adorned with every virtue and he should be an example of good living to others." Thus the responsibility of a priest is very great, so much so

that many saints were afraid to receive priestly ordination.

* * * *

B By reason of his duties toward the sacramental body of Christ the obligation of a priest to strive after perfection becomes even more clear.

(a) The priest, when celebrating Mass, represents Christ; he is another Christ. Christ, however, offered Himself as victim for us. In order, therefore, for the minister to be conscious of his office, in order that he may celebrate Mass worthily and in a holy manner, he must personally unite himself in mind and heart to the supreme priest and holiest victim. It would be hypocrisy, at least indirectly willed through negligence, if he were to approach the altar without the firm will to advance in charity. Each day he should with greater sanctity say in the name of Christ: "For this is My Body. This is the chalice of My Blood." And in each Mass the priest should receive Eucharistic Communion devoutly, so that his charity may increase more and more. Normally, therefore, each of his Eucharistic Communions should be substantially more fervent and more fruitful, because each Communion should not only preserve his charity but also increase it, thereby disposing him to receive the Body of Christ more worthily on the following day. This is true even for the simple faithful: a fortiori is it true for the priest.27

It is not surprising, therefore, that St. Thomas says: "Interior perfection is needed for one to exercise these acts (of orders) worthily,"28 and: "Greater interior sanctity is needed for that very noble ministry in which Christ Himself is served in the sacrament of the altar, than is needed for the religious state. As Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. c. 6), the monastic order should follow priestly sacred orders and like them ascend to divine things. Thus a cleric in sacred orders would, other things being equal, sin more grievously if he should do anything against sanctity than a religious who is not in sacred orders, although the lay religious is bound to regular observances to which those in sacred orders are not bound."29

(b) As far as the consecration of the Eucharist is concerned, a simple priest is not lower than a bishop.30 And the episcopacy is not, according to St. Thomas, a special sacrament but an extension of the priesthood.

The sanctity necessary, or at least obviously fitting, for the celebration of Mass is well explained in the Imitation of Christ: "The priest in sacred vestments represents Christ so that humbly and supplicatingly he can ask God both for himself and for all the people. He has in front of him and behind him the sign of the Lord's cross, as a continual reminder of the passion of Christ. In front, he bears the cross on his chasuble, so that he may diligently see and strive fervently to follow the footsteps of Christ. He is signed with the cross behind him so that he may patiently bear for God whatever unpleasant things are inflicted upon him by others."

(c) This is confirmed by the official prayer of the Church, to which clerics are bound upon becoming sub-deacons. This official prayer must be said worthily, attentively, and with devotion, so as to illuminate the intellect and inflame the affection. The Divine Office accompanies the celebration of Mass, and is, in a sense, the continuation of the prayer of Christ, just as the sacrifice of the Mass continues the sacrifice of the cross. It is the chant of the Spouse of Christ, and a conversation with Christ. According to theologians, the obligation to recite the canonical hours each day is of ecclesiastical law. But even prior to this law, a cleric is, by reason of his ecclesiastical state, bound to pray more often than a lay person; and the daily recitation of the Divine Office is something appropriate to his state. The custom of canonical prayer flourished in the Church from the time of the Apostles and is hinted at in the Epistle to the Ephesians (5:19): "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual canticles, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord." Toward the end of the fourth century, this custom of reciting daily the canonical hours seems to have been of precept. The importance of this prayer is clear from the fact that all clerics are bound under pain of mortal sin to the recitation, in private at least, of the canonical hours. To satisfy this obligation, literal attention (to the meaning of the words) or spiritual attention (to God and what we ask for) is best, and toward this all should strive; but presupposing the intention to pray to and worship God, an intention that perseveres at least virtually, a superficial internal attention to the words is sufficient.

As the just man, therefore, lives by faith, so the priest ought to live spiritually by the celebration of Mass and the recitation of the canonical hours. The Mass should be the Thabor of the whole priestly life, from which flow the rivers of living water.

C The duties of a -priest toward the mystical body of Christ.

These reveal, even more clearly, the obligation of striving after perfection.

By sanctifying souls, the secular priest shares in that care of souls originally entrusted to the bishop.31 He must be the bishop's helper. Although the parish priest is not constituted in a state of perfection by his care of souls, still in order to sanctify souls he must have some perfection. The Council of Trent advised: "Nothing better instructs others in piety and the worship of God than the life and example of those who dedicate themselves to the divine ministry. . . . To them, as to a mirror, others direct their gaze, and in them find a source for imitation. It is very fitting, therefore, that clerics called to the service of God should so direct their life and habits that in dress, gesture, walk, word and in everything else, they show nothing except what is serious, moderate and religious." A priest is not bound to poverty, but he should have no affection for worldly things, and he should even freely give what he has to the poor; he must be obedient to his bishop and make himself a servant of the faithful, in spite of every difficulty and even occasionally in spite of calumnies.

The need for this acquired perfection is obvious in preaching, in the direction of souls, and in the hearing of confessions.

In order to preach the word of God effectively the priest must have a certain contemplation of divine things, as that will enable him to preach out of an abundant love for God. He needs contemplation if his work as preacher is to accomplish its object.32 As St. Thomas says: "That active life in which one, by preaching and teaching, gives to others the insights he has gained through contemplation . . . presupposes an abundance of contemplation."33 In this the priest should be the true light of the world and the salt of the earth.

Similarly, a certain perfection is necessary to hear confessions, because of the dangers of this ministry and in order that the confessor may prudently, wisely, and with charity lead souls to greater purity, faith, hope, and charity. To him, also, souls may come in search of higher direction so that they may follow more faithfully the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion. For all these reasons, the secular and diocesan priest should be more perfect than the simple religious. As St. Thomas says: "greater interior sanctity is required for the priestly office."34 The simple religious is bound only to seek for perfection, but every priest is bound to have a certain perfection already. Every priest, if he is to be faithful to the grace of his ordination, should say with St. Paul: "I most gladly will spend and be spent myself for your souls" (2 Cor. 12:15).

A practical question: Is it sufficient, in conscience, for a priest to have a firm purpose, in itself efficacious, of worthily fulfilling all the duties of the priestly life even, if occasion demand, those which are most perfect and heroic or must he already have a certain personal perfection?

We may answer, with Suarez and Cardinal Vives: Although some personal perfection is very fitting and morally necessary for the proper and worthy exercise of the duty to sanctify others, it is not, however, strictly necessary that the priest should first have this perfection. It is sufficient that this perfection should exist in the resolution, in itself efficacious, to carry out worthily his obligations as a priest.

The Venerable P. Chevrier, a priest of Lyons and a friend of the Curé d'Ars, often gave the following table to his disciples:


"I have given you an example that as I have done you also shall do"

The Manger
The priest should:
Be Poor
in his home
in his dress
in food
in external things
in work
in service
Be Humble
in spirit
and heart
in relation
to men
to himself
The more one is poor and humble the more one glorifies God and is useful to one's neighbor.

The Priest is a Despoiled Man.

The Spirit of Death and Sacrifice
The priest should:
to the body
to the spirit
to the will
to reputation
to family
and to the world
Be sacrified by
The more a priest is dead to himself the more he lives and gives others life.
The Priest is a Crucified Man
The tabernacle
The priest should:
Give life to others by
his faith
his teaching
his words
his prayer
his example
The priest should be as good bread.

The Priest is a Man Consumed.

Fr. Chevrier opened a catechism school for neglected poor people, and there were only three conditions for admittance: to have nothing, to know nothing, to be of use for nothing.

In other words, the priest's obligation of tending toward perfection is not distinct from the obligation of fulfilling properly his priestly obligations just as it does not differ, in the case of a religious, from his obligation to observe his vows. Therefore, a priest only sins against this obligation of tending to perfection when he neglects the special obligations of his office.

The means for reaching this priestly perfection are meditation and mental prayer, spiritual reading, the study of Sacred Scripture with an eye to one's spiritual life, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, weekly confession, and annual retreat. All these are necessary in order that the priest may know not only the letter but the spirit of the Gospel, which he must preach from the abundance of his heart.35 The custom of living a common life, associations of priests whose object is spiritual perfection, and membership in Third Orders are praiseworthy.36

Practical Conclusion

A priest, therefore, can make a sacrifice of his life by celebrating Mass in the spirit of a formula suggested by St. Pius X and supplemented, with respect to the four ends of sacrifice, by Blessed Peter Eymard.

"Whatever be the kind of death Your providence has reserved for me, O Lord, I accept it with my whole heart from Your hands, with all its sorrows, penalties and anxieties, as the way of reaching You. And by this acceptance, in union with the unbloody sacrifice of Your Son, I offer You in anticipation the personal sacrifice of my life, for the four purposes of sacrifice.

"In a spirit of adoration of Your Majesty, O Lord of life and death, who brings one to the extremity of death and leads one back to eternal life.

"In a spirit of reparation, for all my sins, hidden and known, and for the punishment due to them.

"In a spirit of supplication, to obtain all the graces useful for my salvation and for the apostolate, especially final perseverance which is the grace of graces.

"In a spirit of thanksgiving for benefits received, for the Incarnation, Redemption, Eucharist, my Christian and priestly vocation, so that my death may be the beginning of eternal thanksgiving."

In order that this sacrifice may be more perfect, and that it may be a preparation for the supreme sacrifice at the moment of death, a priest should ask for the following graces:

"Lord, grant that I may realize what my Christian and priestly vocation demands of me, somewhat in the way in which I shall see it immediately after my death, in the particular judgment. In Your mercy, grant me the grace to fulfill with love whatever You expect of me for the salvation of those souls whom I ought to help, and to suffer with generosity whatever sorrow You have permitted from eternity for my sanctification before I eventually reach You in heaven.

"I ask, in particular, that I may work with zeal for the salvation of all those souls whom, in accordance with Your will, I ought to help. For that purpose I join the personal

sacrifice of my life with the unbloody sacrifice of Your Son, superabundant and of infinite value, and with the immense merits of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Amen."


1. See Cardinal Mercier, La vie intérieure, appel aux âmes sacerdotales, p. 163, for this first opinion. He writes: "Religious, in love with their Order or Congregation, do not always appreciate properly other Orders or the place of the 'secular' clergy in the ecclesiastical hierarchy. A venerable priest once said to me: 'They have more compassion for us than esteem.' Religious should not say, almost emphatically: 'But we have the sense of Christ.' Not only should they avoid egoism, but they should avoid also any exaggerated esprit de corps."

2. Dom Gréa, L'Eglise, livre iv, c. 12.

3. Mercier, op. cit., p. 155.

4. Text quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas, S.T., 2-2, q. 184, a. 8. See Mercier, op. cit., p. 192.

5. S.T., 2-2, q. 184, a. 8, 6th objection.

6. Ibid., ad 6.

7. See I bid., a. 6.

8. See Ibid., a. 8.

9. Ibid., a. 4, ad 1.

10. Ibid., a. 5.

11. Ibid., a. 7.

12. Ibid., a. 6.

13. Vivès, Theologia Ascetica, pp. 60, 74.

14. Suarez, De Virtute et Statu Religionis, bk. 1, c. 17, n. 4.

15. ST., 2-2, q. 184, a. 6.

16. I bid., a. 8.

17. Ibid., ad 6.

18. See St. Thomas, IV Sent., d. 24, q. 2; Mercier, op cit. pp. 140, 167, 200.

19. S.T., Suppl., q. 36, a. 1 and 3; 2-2, q. 189, a. 1, ad 3.

20. See I bid., 2-2, q. 184, a. 7 and 8.

21. Ibid., Suppl., q. 36, a. 1.

22. See Ibid., q. 35, a. 2; 3, q. 63, a. 3.

23. Ibid., Suppl., q. 35, a. 1.

24. I bid., ad 3.

25. St. Thomas Aquinas, IV Sent., d. 24, q. 2.

26. ST., 3, q. 62, a. 2.

27. See St. Thomas Aquinas, In Hebr. 10:25.

28. S.T., 2-2, q. 184, a. 6.

29. Ibid., a. 8.

30. See I bid., Suppl. q. 40, a. 4 and 5.

31. See Ibid., 2-2, q. 184, a. 6, ad 3.

32. See Mercier, op. cit., pp. 196, 217.

33. S.T., 3, q. 40, a. 1, ad 2.

34. Ibid., 2-2, q. 184, a. 8.

35. See Pius XI, Encyclical of December 20, 1935: Ad Catholici Sacerdotio.

36. Those interested in the ascetical life of a priest should read Cardinal Bona's excellent treatise, De Sacrificio Missae, pp. 28, 75, 179, 325, 326, 402.