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Cardinal Mercier's Retreat to His Priests by Joseph Cardinal Mercier

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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

365 pages + 65 page Exhortation of O.M.H.F. Pius X, softcover.


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