The faith of the saints was something that was truly great and produced results. They lived “by faith” (Rom. 1:17) and acted on a faith and a love that recognized no limits when treating of Jesus. For them the priest represented nothing more nor less than Jesus. “In priests I see the Son of God,” said St. Francis of Assisi. The holy Curé of Ars remarked in a sermon, “Every time I see a priest, I think of Jesus.” When she would speak of a priest, St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi used to refer to him as “this Jesus.” Because of this esteem St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa of Avila used to kiss the floor or the ground where a priest had passed. One day St. Veronica Giuliani saw the priest mount the stairway of the monastery to take Holy Communion to the sick. She knelt at the foot of the stairs, and then climbed the steps on her knees, kissing each step and moistening it with tears that her love produced. What examples of love!
The holy Curé of Ars used to say, “If I met a priest and an Angel, I would first pay my respects to the priest, and then to the Angel…. If it were not for the priest, the Passion and Death of Jesus would not be of any help to us…. What good would a chest full of gold be if there were no one to open it? The priest has the key to the heavenly treasures….”
Who causes Jesus to come down in the white Hosts? Who puts Jesus into our tabernacles? Who gives Jesus to our souls? Who purifies our hearts so that we can receive Jesus? It is the priest, only the priest. He is the one “who serves the tabernacle” (Heb. 13:10), who has the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18), “who is for you a minister of Jesus Christ” (Col. 1:7) and dispenser “of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1). Oh, how many instances could be reported of heroic priests sacrificing themselves in order to give Jesus to their flock! We recount here one instance out of many.
From the Jesus Our Eucharistic Love by Fr. Stefano Manelli, FI