Sunday, April 03, 2011

St. Anthony of Padua: Exortation to priests.

A writer I very much respect and admire, Henry Karlson, wrote an excellent post on St. Anthony of Padua and the Saint's concern for the moral quality of the priests of his time.  I think what Henry had to say is important enough to share here.  I think it not only applies to priests and bishops, but to all serious Christians.
Follow Christ, not worldly glory.
"If one reads through the writings of St Anthony, one of his concerns was the moral quality of the priests of his time. He found them to be lacking the stature expected for clergy, with so many falling for worldly gain (fame, wealth, an easy life) instead of being representatives of Christ in the world. His criticism drew the ire of many, because he was trying to break up the ties between worldly success and the priestly life that so many had taken for granted; on the other hand, for the poor, the needy, for those who sought spiritual guidance and strength, St Anthony’s declarations were welcomed exhortations for true godly living. Here, we see Anthony talking to priests, talking about the characteristics of the just man. Why priests? Because so many failed to live out their priestly calling, having sold their services out to the wealthy of the world. Christ came as a poor man, living with the poor, speaking on behalf of the poor; how can Christ’s representatives, the priests, seek after worldly prosperity when Christ himself denounced it in the desert? Safety is in Christ; losing one’s status in the world will mean little to the one who truly has put themselves into service for Christ; the unjust man will speak up and strike out against those who makes claims against their worldly possessions: they will speak after their own reputation and how it is ruined instead of fleeing to Christ, looking for Christ’s aid in times of trouble; the just priest, while they will suffer, will suffer in and under Christ, they will suffer with Christ. They will know their innocence and that will suffice; they will put their trust in God and let God’s will be done – even if it means they will be seen as guilty by the world, they will not care, they will not be moved. They do not look for the approval of the world, but of Christ; they will not look for earthly rewards, for fame, for they know their prize is Christ, and to live is Christ and to die is to gain. Yes, they will speak to their innocence, if they are falsely charged of some wrong doing, but they will then leave it up to God’s providence to determine what happens next. They will not be focused on themselves, for they know their focus should always be to do the work of Christ, and nothing else.
Anthony puts forward a picture of a godly preacher who follows God’s prompting and properly fulfills their vocation. They are merciful and kind, humble and wise, full of charity and patience. They do not look for glory; like Christ, they put off their glory for the sake of those they are called to help. They do not need worldly glory, for they have Christ. They fear no attacks, because they know themselves, they know who they are in God, and they know they have God alone to please." - Henry Karlson, Priests Are To Follow Christ, Not Worldly Glory


  1. Beware of priests who preach and live the gospel of prosperity, for the love of money is the root of all evil.

  2. A Random Friar9:53 PM

    I've yet to hear a Catholic priest preach the gospel of prosperity from the pulpit. That's the purview of a slice of Protestantism. However, too often we do give witness to that false gospel by our lives.

    St. Anthony would be roundly mocked in many circles today as being "out of touch" with the modern world. He may well be. Be he is keenly in touch with the world to come. It is always good to get a good lesson from a saintly friar!


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.