Instead it is the authority of Christ and his church which is exercised through the priestly ministry. The priest will know an increase of this power the more he allows himself through his obedience, prayer and sacrifice to be conformed to the image of Christ. Christ works in and through him the more the priest submits and yields to this mystical presence.
The way this is done is through a life of penitence. This does not mean that the priest is groveling all the time like some miserable worm. Instead he keeps before him at all times the fact that he is a sinner and that he is therefore totally dependent on grace. The priest’s prayer should be the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy on Me A Sinner.” Through a life of penitence the priest increases the power of Christ within him.
Are we failures at this? Of course. That increases the need for penitence. Are we weak man with obsessions or compulsions, fears and fantasies? Yes. All the more need for penitence. Are we confused and worried, frightened and alone? All the better to rely on penitence, for when we are weak we are most strong.
So join the prayers of priests this week as a bunch of poor sinners stand up and promise once again to follow Christ in the path of the priesthood, and pray for more vocations–not simply men to be priests because we need priests, but men to join themselves with the mystical ministry of Christ the Lord in this wicked world.