Passio Domini Thursday Meditations
For Holy Priests ²
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
Priestly dignity is the highest dignity God can confer on a human being. This dignity of priests, however, is not just to be understood in realms of honor and recognition, but above all in their participation in the Passion of Christ. They share in Christ’s life and redemptive work the more fully the more they share in His victimhood. In this Holy Hour let us reflect upon the lofty vocation of priests and pray for their sanctification.
Beginning of the prayers of the Rosary: Creed, Our Father, three Hail Mary’s …
1. From the Gospel of St. John (chapter 17):
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, … Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, . .. and I have been glorified in them. And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are. When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction…
They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth. . .. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that You sent Me. … When he had said this, Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered.
Decade of the Rosary
All: My God and Father in heaven, that night in the Garden, on the Mount of Olives, Your Son told Peter: “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, who will promptly send more than twelve legions of angels to my defense?” (Mt 26:53). Father, we ask You now: send these twelve legions of angels with chalices of strength out into the Gethsemane of the Holy Church to defend and assist our priests, who, strengthened by the power and presence of these angels, may faithfully fulfill their priestly missions. Amen.
2. Christ is both Priest and Victim.
Since the priests share in His priesthood, priests ought also to share in Christ’s status as victim. The Sacrifice of the Mass and the prayers offered in the name of the Church during Liturgy have the same value, no matter who the celebrant is. However, since the efficacy of these prayers varies according to the devotion of the priest, those of a priest who is holy and who is victim as well as priest, are more beneficial than those offered by a mediocre priest, teaches St. Thomas Aquinas (ST, III, q.82, a. 6, c.). What member of the faithful, who wants to have a Mass celebrated for a special intention, would not feel more confident of a positive response if the celebrant should be the Cure of Ars rather than a worldly priest? Moreover, priests are continuously priests. They are not priests only when they celebrate Mass. They are continuously about the business of glorifying God and saving souls, and they do this to the extent that they resemble Christ as victim.
Decade of the Rosary
All. My God, I pray for all Your priests and beseech You to sanctify them. Let them love their sacrifice deeply so that they may live it lovingly. I beg You, grant them obedience, a spirit of detachment, a chastity which is constant and true, a spirit of self denial, humility, sweetness, zeal and dedication. I beg You that all those who may approach them may leave them with a greater love for You. My God, I pray that through them Your Kingdom on earth may grow and be strengthened. 0 Jesus, I promise with all my heart to sacrifice myself with You. Amen.
3. Our Lord expects more of a priest than mere material cooperation.
In sharing His priesthood with men, He desires a human collaboration, one that is knowing and free. He wants a man who understands His dispositions and makes them his own. Every priest ought to claim as his own St. Paul’s words to the Colossians, “1 rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh 1 complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church” (Col 1 :24). The Apostle does not say that he suffers simply to show Christ his love or to add his sufferings to those of Christ, but to complete what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. What a strange claim! Doesn’t the Passion of Christ have an infinite value? In itself, yes; in its application, no. Pope Pius XII, in his encyclical on the Mystical Body of Christ states, “Although our Savior’s cruel Passion and death merited for his Church an infinite treasure of graces, God’s inscrutable providence has decreed that these graces should not be granted to us all at once, but their greater or lesser abundance will depend in no small part on our own good works, which draw down on the souls of men a rain of heavenly gifts freely bestowed by God.”! All the members of the Mystical Body are closely united to each other but, by his calling, the priest has a greater responsibility than the laity in the application of the merits of the Passion to his brothers and sisters.
Decade of the Rosary
All. 0 my Jesus, I beg You on behalf of the whole Church, grant it love and the light of Your Spirit and give power to the words of priests so that hardened hearts might be brought to repentance and return to You, 0 Lord. Lord, give us holy priests. You Yourself maintain them in holiness. 0 Divine and Great High Priest, may the power of Your mercy accompany them everywhere and protect them from the devil’s traps and snares which are continually being set for the souls of priests. May the power of Your mercy, 0 Lord, shatter and bring to naught all that might tarnish the sanctity of priests, for You can do all things. I ask You, Jesus, for a special blessing and for light for the priests before whom I will make my confessions throughout my lifetime. Amen.
4. This truth [of victimhood] is difficult to accept for many priests.
They celebrate Mass, administer the sacraments, preach, teach catechism, and even offer many extra prayers for their charges. Having done all this, they consider themselves to be good priests. Good priests? But are they perpetuating the one and only Priest, the crucified Christ? Every great apostle embraced the cross. The saintly Abbe Poppe said, “Working is good; praying is better; suffering is best of all.” He also said. “Souls are saved to the extent that one suffers for them.” It was by means of his sufferings that the Cure of Ars transformed his parishioners from backsliders into practitioners as fervent as the first Christians. He asked his neighboring fellow priests-who claimed their situation was beyond recovery, that they had done all that they could, and to no avail-whether they had fasted, used the discipline on themselves, or slept on the bare floor. Christ Himself said that there are evil spirits that only prayer and fasting can drive out (cf. Mt 17: 19; Mk 9:28). And was it not by the Cross that He saved us?
Decade of the Rosary
All. 0 Jesus, Eternal Pontiff, Good Shepherd, and Fountain of life, who by the special goodness of Your Most Sweet Heart, have given us priests to fulfill in us the designs of sanctification which Your grace inspires in our hearts, we ask You: come to their aid with the assistance of Your mercy. 0 Jesus, may they have in their labors a lively faith; in trials an unwavering trust; in their decisions a burning charity. Grant that Your Word, the irradiation of the Eternal Wisdom, may become through continuous meditation the never failing nourishment of their interior life. Let the example of Your life and passion animate their actions and sustain them in their suffering, so that they may teach, enlighten and comfort us in our sorrows. Lord, grant our priests the grace of detachment from purely worldly concerns. Let them be first and foremost solicitous for Your glory and keep them faithful to their duties. Keep them pure in conscience till their last breath, so that when death comes to the body, they may place into Your hands their mission faithfully accomplished so that they may find in You, Lord Jesus Christ, who on earth were their Master, the prize of the Crown of Justice, in the glory of the saints. Amen.
5. How is it possible for a priest to live out this total self immolation that so terrifies weak human nature, not in the future he envisioned on his ordination day, but in the disheartening reality of everyday and every hour? …
It is by frequent meditation on Christ, Priest and Victim, a personal, loving meditation made in union with the Sorrowful Mother. May Christ show them the way, and may Mary explain it and enable the priests to follow this way lovingly and generously. May the priests often review Christ’s life from its initial moment when He offered Himself to the Father in place of the sacrifices of the Old Law, through His Hidden and Public Life, and through His Passion to His final words, It is finished (In 19:30). Jesus never wavered from that first self offering; He renewed it at every step of His life.
Decade of the Rosary
All. 0 God, give us holy priests to celebrate the Sacrifice of Salvation, to give sinners the consolation of pardon and thirsting souls the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Lord, grant us many and holy priests. Grant us holy priests to console those who suffer, to remind all that we are brothers, to bless our homes, our work, our fields so that Your Kingdom may extend to all souls. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, grant Your Church many and holy priests. Queen of the Apostles, pray for us. (14) Lord and God, through the intercession of Mary and all the holy angels, do not let any priest die today without Your love, grace and mercy! Amen.
If time permits, the leader (or each one Silently) can pray:
Jesus, I beg You for a drop of Your most Precious Blood in this hour of Your most bitter agony for [insert intention]
-for the Holy Church
-for our Holy Father
-for our bishops
-for the sanctification of priests
-for vocations to the priesthood and religious life
-for the conversion of sinners
-for our country
-for an end of abortion and contraception
-for an end of divorce
-for sanctification of family life
-for all who are dying
-for the Poor Souls in purgatory
( … for personal intentions)
Prayers for the intention of the Holy Father
Holy, holy, holy …
*Meditations (slightly adapted) taken from Mary and the Priestly Ministry By Fr. Emile Neubert SM, New Bedford, MA 2009
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