The US conference of Catholic Bishops has been using this beautiful icon to promote the year of the priest. This is not a year for us to be honored but rather a year to remind us of the sacred duty we have to live the priesthood to the full. Here is some excellent advice from St. Charles Borromeo. He was made the Archbishop of Milan at the age of 25 because his uncle was Pope Paul IV (it’s called nepotism). But he turned out to be an excellent choice, working very hard to reform a diocese where the priests were lax and the religious orders were houses of vice. He was shot at more than once and one time miraculously survived an attack by a hired assassin. Here’s what he has to say about priesthood:
On Doing Your Job
“If teaching and preaching is your job, then study diligently and apply yourself to whatever is necessary for doing the job well. Be sure that you first preach by the way you live. If you do not, people will notice that you say one thing, but live otherwise, and your words will bring only cynical laughter and a derisive shake of the head.
“Are you in charge of a parish? If so, do not neglect the parish of your own soul, do not give yourself to others so completely that you have nothing left for yourself. You have to be mindful of your people without becoming forgetful of yourself.”
“My brothers, you must realize that for us churchmen nothing is more necessary than meditation. We must meditate before, during and after everything we do. The prophet says: I will pray, and then I will understand. When you administer the sacraments, meditate on what you are doing. When you celebrate Mass, reflect on the sacrifice you are offering. When you pray the office, think about the words you are saying and the Lord to whom you are speaking. When you take care of your people, meditate on the Lord’s blood that has washed them clean. In this way, all that you do becomes a work of love.
“This is the way we can easily overcome the countless difficulties we have to face day after day, which, after all, are part of our work: in meditation we find the strength to bring Christ to birth in ourselves and in other men.”
From the Breviary Volume III,
Proper of Saints for Nov. 4th