Those who are called to the table
of the Lord must glow with the brightness that comes from the good example of a
praiseworthy and blameless life. They must completely remove from their lives
the filth and uncleanness of vice. Their upright lives must make them like the
salt of the earth for themselves and for the rest of mankind. The brightness of
their wisdom must make them like the light of the world that brings light to
others. They must learn from their eminent teacher, Jesus Christ, what he
declared not only to his apostles and disciples, but also to the priest and
clerics who were to succeed them, when he said: You are the salt of the earth.
But what if salt goes flat? How can you restore its flavor? Then it is good for
nothing but to be trampled underfoot.
Truly the unclean, immoral cleric is trampled
underfoot like worthless manure. He is saturated with the filth of vice and
entangled in the chains of sin. In this condition he must be considered
worthless both to himself and to others. As Gregory says: "When a man's life is
frowned upon, it follows that his preaching will be despised."
Presbyters who are born leaders deserve to be doubly
honored, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. It is indeed a
double task that worthy priests perform, that is to say, it is exterior and
interior, both temporal and spiritual, and finally, both a passing task and an
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Even though they dwell on earth and are bound by the
same necessities of nature along with all mortal creatures, at the same time
they are engaged in earnest communication with the angels in heaven, so that
they may be pleasing to their king and learn how to serve him. Therefore, just
as the sun rises over the world in God's heaven, so clerics must let their light
shine before men so that they may see their good deeds and give praise to their
You are the light of the world. Now a light does not
illumine itself, but instead it diffuses its rays and shines all around upon
everything that comes into its view. So it must be with the glowing lives of
upright and holy clerics. By the brightness of the holiness they must bring
light and serenity to all who gaze upon them. They have been placed here to care
for others. Their own lives should be an example to others, showing how they
must live in the house of the Lord.
Saint John was born in Capistrano in the Abruzzi in
1386. He studied law in Perugia and for a time was governor of the city. He
entered the Order of Friars Minor and, after ordination to the priesthood, he
led an untiring apostolic life preaching throughout Europe both to strengthen
Christian life and to refute heresy. He died at Villach in Austria in 1456.