2009 Year of the Priest >  Year of the Priest Books >  Cardinal Mercier's Retreat to His Priests

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Cardinal Mercier's Retreat to His Priests

Item Number: 60754

Catalog Code: CMRP-DIS

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Cardinal Mercier's Retreat to His Priests

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“The entire morale of the Priesthood,” wrote the famed Cardinal Gibbons, “is found in the terse and almost inspired maxim, ‘acerdos alter Christus.’ Jesus lives and acts through the Priest for the regeneration of Society. All that the Church of Christ has done for the world in changing pagan ideas, in creating Christian civilization, holding aloft the standards of morality, all this is the result of the work of the Catholic Priesthood....The Priest is as necessary for Society and its regeneration as the soul is for the body....In view of the paramount importance of the nation’s priesthood, little wonder that great leaders in the Church have given their best attention to its cultivation....we deem Cardinal Mercier’s [Retreat to His Priests] a most important book.”


Joseph Cardinal Mercier was a noted Belgian archbishop of the early twentieth century who became a leader in the revival of interest in Thomism. This meaty book, first published in 1912, was his private retreat for priests—a retreat whose purpose was to help priests understand what God wants of them and to give them the tools to use God’s grace. He divides his retreat into nine sections:



  • Preparation of the soul
  • How to make use of the retreat
  • The right order of a priest’s life
  • Death: How to prepare
  • Spiritual failings of a priest (and occasions of sin and how to deal with them)
  • Jesus Christ: The Way, the Truth, and the Life; movement of the soul to him
  • The mission of the priest as God’s ambassador to man
  • Priestly perseverance
  • Renewal of the priestly vows

    Insights from Cardinal Mercier


  • Why the laity can be a priest’s greatest stumbling block
  • Two great means that priests have for keeping alive the spirit of their vocation
  • The most important attribute a priest can have
  • The Gospel every priest can profit from as an aid to living a holy life—reprinted in its entirety
  • “There is not a saint in heaven who might not have been a criminal but for grace; there is not a lost soul in hell who might not have become a saint had he made use of the grace given him.”
  • Why mortification is even more important for those priests who live “in the world”

    Rare and laudatory Latin Preface by Pope St. Pius X

    Exhortation to the Catholic Clergy of Pope St. Pius X on the 50th Anniversary of His Priesthood— in Latin and English

    Quality Softcover



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St. Pius X

Feast Day:
Roman Rite Calendar - 08/21

Patron Of: Archdiocese of Atlanta, Georgia, Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, Montana, First Communicants, Pilgrims

Also known as
    Giuseppe Melchior Sarto
    Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto
    Giuseppe Sarto
    Joseph Sarto
    Pope of the Blessed Sacrament

    21 August

    Son of Giambattista Sarto, a village cobbler, and Margherita Sanson. Lived an impoverished childhood as one of eight children. Baptized on 3 June 1835. Confirmed on 1 September 1848. Felt a calling to the priesthood from his youth. Studied at the seminary of Padua, and was known as an exceptional student. Ordained by Blessed Giovanni Antonio Farina on 18 September 1858. Chaplain at Tombolo from 1858 to 1867. Archpriest of Salzano from 1867 to 1875. Canon of the Treviso cathedral chapter in 1875. Rector of the Treviso seminary and its spiritual director for nine years. Primicerius of the cathedral in 1879. Chancellor of the diocese of Treviso. Vicar capitular from December 1879 to June 1880. Bishop of Mantua, Italy on 10 November 1884. Assistant at the Pontifical Throne on 19 June 1891. Created cardinal-priest of Saint Bernardo alle Terme on 12 June 1893. Patriarch of Venice on 15 June 1893. Chosen 257th pope, taking the name Pius X.

    Issued decrees on early (age 7 instead of 12 or 14 as previously) and frequent Communion. Destroyed the last vestiges of Jansenism by advocating frequent and even daily Communion. Reformed the liturgy, promoted clear and simple homilies, and brought Gregorian chant back to services. Revised the Breviary, and teaching of the Catechism. Fought Modernism, which he denounced as "the summation of all heresies". Reorganized the Roman curia, the administrative elements of the Church. Worked against the modern antagonism of the state against the Church. Initiated the codification of canon law. Promoting Bible reading by all the faithful. Supported foreign missions. His will read: "I was born poor; I lived poor; I wish to die poor."

    2 June 1835 at Riese, diocese of Treviso, Venice, Austria (now Italy) as Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto

Papal Ascension
    elected 4 August 1903
    installed 9 August 1903

    20 August 1914 at Vatican City from natural causes aggravated by worries over the beginning of World War I
    buried under the altar of the chapel of the Presentation, Saint Peter's basilica

    3 June 1951

    29 May 1954 by Pope Pius XII

    Atlanta, Georgia, archdiocese of
    Des Moines, Iowa, diocese of
    first communicants
    Great Falls-Billings, Montana, diocese of
    Kottoyam, India, archdiocese of
    Santa Lucija, Malta
    Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri, diocese of
    Zamboanga, Philippines, archdiocese of

All information used with permission of the Patron Saint Index.

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