St. Anthony Mary Claret was a 19th century superpriest! He served the poor as a diocesan priest; practiced medicine in an area ravaged by war; sent as an Apostolic Missionary to his home region; preached parish missions; heard confessions; gave retreats; founded a religious library in Barcelona; established the Claretian missionary order; appointed archbishop of Santiago, Cuba; erected a hospital and schools in Cuba; founded a women’s religious order; stabbed in an attempted assassination; named confessor to the Queen of Spain, exiled to France, where he finally died in 1870 at the age of 62; wrote 144 books; and more!
A priest once remarked that when he became a priest he got to wear a cape, indicating his joy at being a priest and the supernatural powers that were given to him. The cape he was referring to is a cope, which priests and deacons wear when handling the monstrance at adoration or during processions. We should think of priests as superheroes! They get to minister in persona Christi, “in the person of Christ”. When we see the priest consecrating the bread and wine into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ at the Mass, it is Jesus working through him. He is “another Christ”, alter Christus. What a privilege and grace! Priests hear confessions and forgive us through Jesus. Priests baptize, anoint, receive marriage vows, preach, console, exhort, encourage, and guide; all in the name of Jesus; all for the sake of his Body, the Church, so that we may come to know, love, and serve Jesus more fruitfully. Priests aren’t perfect, but who is? Pray for them. St. Anthony Mary Claret, pray for our priests.