Oh, How great is a priest! The priest has the key of the heavenly treasures; it is he who opens the door; he is the steward of the good God, the distributor of His wealth… The priest is not a priest for himself, he does not give himself absolution, he does not administer the sacraments to himself… he is for you. After God, the priest is everything... When the people wish to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the priest, because where there is no longer any priest there is no sacrifice, and where there is no longer any sacrifice, there is no religion.
This last bit sounded oddly familiar to me… and I wonder why! Look at the recent newspaper headlines especially - in attempts to discredit the Church, there are people in society that are trying to tarnish the reputations of individual priests and bishops, attack the Pope, and even question and criticize the institution of the priesthood. It all makes sense - if you wish to destroy the Catholic Church, attack the “key of the heavenly treasures”, because if he is torn down, then we lose that crucial connection to God.
I think we Catholics sometimes take our priests (and the sacrifices they have made) for granted, but I think this is also a reflection of how we sometimes forget how great is the sacrifice that the High Priest made to redeem us all. In Jesus’ lifetime, those who felt threatened by his words tried to tear down his reputation and ultimately had him crucified... but it turned out great for us! I just really took this message to heart because our priests are so incredibly important for our spiritual growth.