On Priestly Dignity and Propriety

The following are words of advice of Pope St. Pius X to priests on the need for priestly dignity and propriety:

"In order never to be guilty of any unedifying act, the priest must regulate his actions, his movements and his habits in harmony with the sublimity of his vocation. He who on the altar almost ceases to be mortal and takes on a divine form, remains always the same, even when he comes down from the holy hill and leaves the temple of the Lord. Wherever he is, wherever he goes, he never ceases to be a priest, and the serious reasons that compel him always to be grave and appropriate accompany him with his dignity everywhere.

"Hence he must have that gravity that will ensure that his words, his bearing, and his way of working arouse love, win authority and excite reverence. For, the very reasons that oblige him to be holy make it a duty for him to show it by his outward acts in order to edify all those with whom he is obliged to come into contact. A composed and dignified exterior is a powerful eloquence which wins souls in a much more efficacious manner than persuasive sermons. Nothing inspires greater confidence than an ecclesiastic who, never forgetting the dignity of his state, demonstrates in every situation that gravity which attracts and wins universal homage.

"If, on the contrary, he forgets the holiness of the sacred character which he bears indelibly impressed and engraved on his soul, and if he fails to show in his outward conduct a gravity superior to that of certain men of the world, then he causes his ministry and religion itself to be despised. For when gravity is wanting in its leaders, the people lose respect and veneration for them."

Taken from "Catholic Family News" August 2003 -
Special Issue dedicated to Pope St. Pius X.
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The Roman Catholic Priest
In what order or hierarchy shall we place the priest, when he calls upon the Holy Spirit and performs that great sacrifice, holding in his hands the Lord of all things? What purity and reverence should we not demand from him? Consider of what sort those hands must be which administer such mysteries; of what kind that tongue which pronounces these words, what purity and sanctity of soul which shelters such an Almighty spirit. At that moment even the angels surround the priest and the whole altar, while the place of sacrifice is filled with these celestial powers, come to honour him who is there.
-- Saint John Chrysostom (407)