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Poets and priests were one in the beginning, and they only separated in later times. But the real poet is always a priest, just as the real priest always remains a poet. ~ Novalis
The relation of the true artist and the true human being to his ideals is absolutely religious. The man for whom this inner divine service is the end and occupation of all his life is a priest, and this is how everyone can and should become a priest. ~ Friedrich Schlegel

A priest or priestess is a person authorized to perform the sacred rituals of a religion.


  • As the caterpiller chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys.
    • William Blake, “Proverbs of Hell,” The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, line 55
  • Why against priests the gen'ral heat so strong,
    But that they shew us all we do is wrong?
    Wit well apply‘d does weightier wisdom right,
    And gives us knowledge, while it gives delight,
    Thus on the stage, we with applause behold,
    What would have pain'd us from the pulpit told.
    • James Forrester, The Polite Philosopher: Or, An Essay on that Art which Makes a Man happy in Himself and agreeable to Others (1734), p. 17
  • As I had forsaken the priests, so I left the separate preachers also, and those esteemed the most experienced people; for I saw there was none among them all that could speak to my condition. And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could tell what to do, then, oh, then, I heard a voice which said, "There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition"; and when I heard it my heart did leap for joy. Then the Lord let me see why there was none upon the earth that could speak to my condition, namely, that I might give Him all the glory; for all are concluded under sin, and shut up in unbelief as I had been, that Jesus Christ might have the pre-eminence who enlightens, and gives grace, and faith, and power.
    • George Fox, The Journal of George Fox, edited by John L. Nickalls, Cambridge University Press (1952), p. 11
  • Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?
    • Henry II, King of England asked and it was interpreted as him wanting to have Saint Thomas Becket of Canterbury, a priest, killed.
  • In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection of his own.
    • Thomas Jefferson, in Thomas Jefferson: A Biography in His Own Words, Volume 1, p. 82
  • I knew as well as anyone that the priests taught what they wanted us to know, not necessarily what was true. And sometimes even when they told the truth, they got it wrong.
  • He lectures about renunciation, but he himself is being steadily promoted; he teaches all that about despising worldly titles and rank, but he himself is making a career.
    • Søren Kierkegaard, Attack upon Christendom (1855), as translated by Walter Lowrie (1944), p. 121
  • The celebrated phrase, 'so much the worse for the facts', would satisfy only the high priests of Marxism, for Marxism also has its high priests, and these priests, like all others, daily deny the principles they claim to defend. Bolshevism is a living proof of this.
  • My attention was first called to this by watching the effect produced by the celebration of the Mass in a Roman Catholic church in a little village in Sicily.... At the moment of consecration the Host glowed with the most dazzling brightness it became in fact a veritable sun to the eye of the clairvoyant, and as the priest lifted it above the heads of the people I noticed that two distinct varieties of spiritual force poured forth from it, which might perhaps be taken as roughly corresponding to the light of the sun and the streamers of his corona. The first rayed out impartially in all directions upon all the people in the church; indeed, it penetrated the walls of the church as though they were not there... Ch. 8
  • I then proceeded to make further investigations... I may sum up briefly the results... which will no doubt at first sight seem surprising to many of my readers... Only those priests who have been lawfully ordained, and have the apostolic succession, can produce this effect at all. Other men, not being part of this definite organisation, cannot perform this feat, no matter how devoted or good or saintly they may be. Secondly, neither the character of the priest, nor his knowledge, nor ignorance as to what he is really doing, affects the result in any way whatever. Ch. 8
  • Having myself been a priest of the Church of England, and knowing... the disputes as to whether that Church really has the apostolic succession or not, I was naturally interested in discovering whether its priests possessed this power. I was much pleased to find that they did... I soon found by examination that ministers of what are commonly called dissenting sects did not possess this power, no matter how good and - earnest they might be. Their goodness and earnestness produced plenty of other effects which I shall presently describe, but their efforts did not draw upon the particular reservoir to which I have referred... When the priest is earnest and devoted, his whole feeling radiates out upon his people and calls forth similar feelings in such of them as are capable of expressing them. Also his devotion calls down its inevitable response, as shown in the illustration in ThoughtForms and the downpouring of force thus evoked benefits his congregation as well as himself; so that a priest who throws his heart and soul into the work which he does may be said to bring a double blessing upon his people, though the second class of influence can scarcely be considered as being of the same order of magnitude as the first. Ch. 8
  • Blessings. Under this heading should come the various types of blessings such as are given in the Church, in Freemasonry, and by the pupils of our Masters. Blessings may be arranged in two sections—those which a man gives from himself, and those which are given through him as an official by a higher power. The first kind of blessing is merely an expression of an earnest good wish... this will depend upon the earnestness of the good wish and the amount of spiritual force put into it... If the words were uttered... without much feeling or intention behind them, the effect would be slight and transient; on the other hand, if they came from a full heart and were uttered with definite determination, their effect would be deep and lasting. The second type of blessing is that which is uttered by an official appointed for the purpose, through whom power flows from some higher source... the power of giving a definite blessing is one of those conferred upon the Priest at his ordination... he is simply a channel for the power from on high, and if it should unfortunately happen that he speaks it merely as a matter of course and as part of his ritual, that would make no difference to the spiritual power outpoured.
  • Faith is born and preserved in us by preaching why Christ came, what he brought and gave to us, and the benefits we obtain when we receive him. This happens when Christian liberty—which he gives to us—is rightly taught and we are told in what way as Christians we are all kings and priests and therefore lords of all.
    • Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian (1520), M. Tranvik, trans. (Minneapolis: 2008), p. 70
  • All the science in the world began in temples, and the first astronomers especially were priests. I do not say that it necessary to begin again with the antique initiation, and to change the presidents of our academies into hierophants, but I say that all things begin again as they began, that they all carry an original principle that modifies itself according to the different character of nations and the progressive advance of the human mind, but which however always shows itself in one way or another. Priests have preserved everything, brooded over everything, and taught us everything.
  • Among the learned there is a frenzy to differentiate between religion and magic, and whole shelves of books have been written upon the theme. The magician, it is explained, is one who professes to control the powers he deals with; the priest attempts only to propitiated them. The magician pretends to be able to work evil as well as good; the priest works only good. The magician deals with all sorts of shapes, some supernatural and others not; the priest deals only with gods and their attendant angles. The magician claims a control over material substances; the priest confines himself to spiritual matters.
  • Our learned ones would gladly like to give the witness of Jesus' spirit a higher education. They will completely fail in this because they are not educated enough to teach so that through their teachings the common man may be brought up to their level. Rather, the learned ones alone want to pass judgment on the faith with their stolen Scripture, although they are totally and completely without faith, either before God or before men. For everyone perceives and realizes that they strive for honours and worldly goods. Therefore, you, the common man, must become learned yourself, so that you will be misled no longer. The same spirit of Christ will help you in this which will mock our learned ones to their destruction.
    • Thomas Müntzer, "Exposure of False Faith" (1524), in Revelation and Revolution: Basic Writings of Thomas Müntzer (1993), p. 116
  • Poets and priests were one in the beginning, and they only separated in later times. But the real poet is always a priest, just as the real priest always remains a poet.
  • In Islam, there is no priesthood, and no intermediary between the creature and The Creator; but every Muslim from the ends of earth or in the paths of the sea has the ability of himself to approach his Lord without priest or minister. Nor again can the Muslim administrator derive his authority from any papacy, or from Heaven; but he derives it solely from the Muslim community. Similarly, he derives his principles of administration from the religious law, which is universal in its understanding and application and before which all men come everywhere as equals.
  • The relation of the true artist and the true human being to his ideals is absolutely religious. The man for whom this inner divine service is the end and occupation of all his life is a priest, and this is how everyone can and should become a priest.
  • The ecclesiastical authorities, for all practical purposes, acted as servants of the State in the confrontation with Jesus. In one version, the chief priest protests: "Caesar is our king, we have no other king but Caesar." In the dispute over jurisdiction between Pilate and Herod, they warn: "If you release him, you will not be Caesar's friend." The ecclesiastics were, practically speaking, surrogates of the State. That is an all-too-familiar situation for chief priests to be found in.
    • William Stringfellow, "Jesus the Criminal" (1969), in William Stringfellow: Essential Writings (2013), pp. 65-66
  • As formerly priests had manufactured heretics, so physicians, as the new guardians of social conduct and morality, began to manufacture madmen.
    • Thomas Szasz, The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement (1997), p. 160

See also

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