Blessed Jerome on the Priesthood

Blessed Jerome ca. 347-420

Driven from this line of defence you will appeal to the example of the clergy. These, you will say, remain in their cities, and yet they are surely above criticism. Far be it from me to censure the successors of the Apostles, who with holy words consecrate the body of Christ, and who make us Christians. Having the keys of the kingdom of heaven, they judge men to some extent before the day of judgment, and guard the chastity of the bride of Christ. But, as I have before hinted, the case of monks is different from that of the clergy. The clergy feed Christ’s sheep; I as a monk am fed by them. They live of the altar: 1 Cor. 9:13-14 I, if I bring no gift to it, have the axe laid to my root as to that of a barren tree. Mat. 3:10 Nor can I plead poverty as an excuse, for the Lord in the Gospel has praised an aged widow for casting into the treasury the last two coins that she had. Lk. 21:1-4 I may not sit in the presence of a presbyter; he, if I sin, may deliver me to Satan, for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved. 1 Cor. 5:5 Under the old law he who disobeyed the priests was put outside the camp and stoned by the people, or else he was beheaded and expiated his contempt with his blood. Deut. 17:5, 12 But now the disobedient person is cut down with the  spiritual sword, or he is expelled from the church and torn to pieces by ravening demons. (Letter 14.8)

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