On this feast of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, our thoughts are raised to the virtue of chastity which should be possessed by priests who are charged with the offering of the Holy Sacrifice. In as much as the Liturgy is worship of the true God, the priest must not simply possess rubrical impeccability but also a chaste heart.
"The hand, says St. John Chrysostom, that touches the sacred flesh of Jesus Christ, and the tongue that is purpled with his divine blood, should be purer than the rays of the sun. In another place, he says that a priest ascending the altar should be possessed of purity and sanctity which would merit for him a place in the midst of the angels. How great, then, must be the horror of the angels when they behold a priest, who is the enemy of God, stretching forth his sacrilegious hands to touch and eat the Immaculate Lamb! 'Who,' exclaims St. Augustine, 'shall be so wicked and daring as to touch the most holy Sacrament with polluted hands!' Still more wicked is the priest that celebrates Mass with a soul defiled by mortal sin." (St. Alphonsus, Dignity and Duties of the Priest, 126.)
Admitting our transgressions, we, as priests, should make our own the words of the Psalms : "A humble and contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn!"