2009 Year of the Priest >  Year of the Priest Books >  Gospel Priesthood

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The Gospel Priesthood

Item Number: 18265

Catalog Code: GP-DIS

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Gospel Priesthood

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12 Requirements for being a holy and effective priest


Considered one of the great spiritual writers of the 20th century, Dom Hubert Van Zeller wrote many books for a general Catholic audience — but this was the only one aimed exclusively at his fellow priests. In it, he breaks down the priestly vocation into twelve essential obligations, showing why — and how — some priests live up to them, while others fail.

Drawing from Christ’s own priesthood as presented in Scripture, and from other traditional sources, Van Zeller devotes a full chapter to each of these dozen aspects of the priesthood, revealing the keys to fulfilling them:


“The priest-reader who is envisaged,” writes Van Zeller, “is not the harassed preacher who finds himself hunting at the last moment for something which will do for a sermon,” but rather the “humble soul” who seeks direction, encouragement and inspiration for living his calling to the fullest. A sampling of Van Zeller’s profound yet practical wisdom:

  • What helps, or hinders, the continual process of “recasting” the priest after the Model of Christ
  • How priests can safeguard their sanctity from contamination by the unwholesome things with which their ministry brings them into contact
  • Why it is in the very nature of the priesthood to sometimes feel a sense of insufficiency, even failure .“Vocational resilience”: where the holiest priests find theirs
  • Key elements of the priest’s “defensive armour against the assault of evil,” developed through the centuries
  • The “particular kind of spiritual protection” that is forfeited by a priest who wears lay clothes in public
  • Why the search for perfection is fundamental to the priest’s vocation — and, without it, there is progressive decline
  • How to make identification with Christ a “habit of soul” rather than a mere effort of mind
  • The two chief challenges of pastors — and how to master them .The three qualities that make for effective preaching. Pitfalls .Ways to cultivate the all-important — but immensely difficult — virtue of seeing Christ in every individual
  • “Twofold orientation” of priestly efforts at sanctification
  • Self-denial: how it must find practical expression in the priesthood .
  • Comfort and possessions: how to judge whether we are too easy on ourselves — and what to do if we are
  • The first function of the priest, according to St. Thomas
  • The doctrine of the Holy Spirit’s “Indwelling”: how it applies to all souls in a state of grace- but in a dramatic way to priests.
  • Why a good act performed by a priest is more sanctifying than the same act by a layman — and an evil act more condemning
  • The Marriage at Cana: How Christ’s presence at social occasions reflects the priest’s duties in similar situations
  • Penance: How to make it integral to one’s vocation. The first condition of true priestly penance
  • The best penances for priests, according to one’s age, physical condition, and particularities of character
  • The folly of trying to follow Christ in His preaching, but not in His suffering
  • How the Holy Week sequence of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday provides the pattern for the priest’s own life
  • The Blessed Virgin as the priest’s model of compassion
  • Why most priests get the balance wrong between daily Mass and the rest of the day. How to have its effects continue all day, “the claims upon us coming under cover of its grace”
  • How the sacrificial side of the priest’s life goes hand in glove with the apostolic side
  • The importance of detachment in priestly work, and of indifference to “success”
  • The “just balance” between the personal and the impersonal that priests must strike in dealings with their flock
  • Defending the Faith: Why the Christian tradition is a combative tradition. Knowing how, when and what to attack
  • The first principle of giving spiritual guidance
  • Typical problems of spiritual direction — and their solutions


    “Every priest can read it with profit. ... Fr. Van Zeller combines deep spirituality with great practicality. He draws upon the spiritual riches of the Gospels and the liturgy of the Church to portray the life of Christ as the model and inspiration of the modern, accessible, vigilant, militant priest.” — Worship (1956)

    “For the busy priest, for the priest who must do his reading in snatches, as well as for the priest who is not pressed for time, this is a book to read and re-read. And each time he will be astonished at the freshness.” — Books on Trial

    “The chapters on the sacrificing priesthood, the militant priesthood, and the vigilant priesthood are especially fine [but] the ninth chapter, the Directing Priesthood, is the best of all. ... In this reviewer’s estimation, this chapter alone is well worth the price of the whole book.” — The American Ecclesiastical Review

Essential Priesthood * Identified Priesthood Mortified Priesthood * Risen Priesthood Compassionate Priesthood * Sacrificing Priesthood *Militant Priesthood * Preaching Priesthood Directing Priesthood * Accessible Priesthood * Praying Priesthood * Vigilant Priesthood

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7 1/2"  (19.0 cm) x 5"  (12.7 cm) x 0 1/2"  (1.27 cm)
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