In the late 1970s Servant of God John A. Harden , SJ (See Blog. 1/ 30 / 2018) gave a homily at the
Eucharist and Holiness in Priests”, which fits where we are in the
Church today, 40 years later. Vatican entitled
“No one familiar with the present age has any doubt that the Church has been going through a grave crisis for over a century. Some consider it the gravest in the Church’s history and certainly its impact on the Church and her institutions has been drastic in the extreme…
Among the Church’s institutions, the priesthood has been especially vulnerable. This may be partly explained by the fact that priests are the Church’s divinely established leaders of faith and morals, but mainly by the strategy of the evil spirit, who could be expected to intrude himself into the ranks of Christ’s chosen ones. For even as the Church’s greatest pride is in the sanctity of her ordained bishops and priests who lead the people of God in the paths of holiness, so they have been the Church’s greatest sorrow when they abandoned their high calling and turned their backs on the Savior who ordained them.
The modern popes have been eloquent in stressing the grave need of a strong priesthood to resist the pressure against the faith in our times. Leo XIII and Pius X, Benedict XV and Pius XI, Pius XII and John XXIII have pleaded time and again with bishops and priests to resist the seductions of a godless world and remain firm in their loyalty to Christ and His Church. No one could be clearer than Paul VI when, on the occasion of ordaining ten priests to the episcopate, he urged them to remain constant in their faith. “It is the gift of Christ to His Church,” he said. “It is the virtue that the Church needs today, assailed as she is by so many forces that aim at defeating her, indeed weakening and destroying her firmness in faith.” It is faith, he told the newly ordained prelates, “that must protect us from our inner weakness and against the growing confusion of ideas of our world.”