Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Have You Prayed for Our Priests Today?

"Having taught priests, lived with priests, laboured for them, loved them, and suffered with them for over 30 years, there are no words that I can use that would be strong enough to state that the Catholic priesthood needs prayer and sacrifice more now since the time when Our Lord died on the Cross at Calvary.

Why do priests need special graces from God? It is because they have extraordinary responsibilities before God. They are to be more than ordinarily holy, more generous, more zealous, and more patient. In a word, those who are responsible for Christ’s presence on earth are to be, of all people, the most Christ-like. They are to be examples of what Christ wants us to be. Look back on all of the grave crises in the Church over the centuries. Every single one of them was due to the fact that priests had failed the people of God.

Why do we need to pray for priests? It is because, through prayer, we gain graces for them which otherwise they would not obtain. If we all need the help of each other and we receive the graces we need, how much more should we pray for priests from whom we have received Jesus Christ in the Eucharist – and by whom we have been so often absolved from our sins. I don’t want to even think of the state of my soul if I had not had the absolution that over the years I have received from priests. As fellow members of the Mystical Body, priests desperately need our help.

I would recommend that all the faithful offer daily at least one prayer for all the priests in the Church and especially for those who have done most for them in their lives. I try to remember every day at Mass the priest who baptized me, the priest who heard my First Confession, who gave me my First Holy Communion, the bishop who ordained me, and the bishop who confirmed me. I recommend, therefore, that all the faithful, in a special way, pray for priests every day. Also, I advise the faithful to offer up some sacrifice for priests each day. I am tempted to say some little sacrifice. NO! I suggest it be the most difficult sacrifice of the day for priests.

I further recommend that when we hear about a priest who has been unfaithful to his high calling, that our first and immediate reaction should be to pray for him. I believe that we should do everything in our power to extend and propagate the apostolate of prayer and sacrifice for priests.

The Church of the future will not only survive, but thrive. However, that will occur only where and insofar as the priests have not only been faithful to their vocation, but have lived their priesthood in a living martyrdom in union with the first martyr, Jesus Christ. It is, therefore, no mere recommendation or exhortation that I make, but an imperative to pray and sacrifice for priests.

Closing Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, you ordained the Apostles priests at the Last Supper to continue your mission of mercy to the end of time. We believe that every Catholic priest traces his ordination to that first ordination on Holy Thursday night. We know how much you expect of your priests and we also know how weak and human they are. Inspire us, dear Jesus, to pray and sacrifice for your priests, who are also ours, that by their faithfulness to you in this life they may bring countless souls to you in the life to come. Mary, Mother of priests, pray for priests that they may love your Divine Son unreservedly as you did, all the days of their lives. Amen."

- Fr. John Hardon

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