Crusade for Priests
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Meditations: Crusade for Priests
From the very beginning our Lord exhorted His disciples to pray to the Father to send laborers into the harvest (Mt 9:39). St. Paul, in turn, implored the prayers of the faithful for himself (cf. 1 Thess 5:25; Rom 15:30, etc.), mindful surely that even as a priest, he carried the treasure of divine grace in a vessel of clay (cf. 2 Cor 4:7).
Why should we Pray for Priests?
Fr. John Hardon, SJ in his biography of Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, the founder of the Servants of the Paraclete and the Handmaids of the Precious Blood gives us an eloquent, and we could even say an unmatched, explanation of the reasons why the faithful need to pray for priests. The following are excerpts from his chapter on “Praying for Priests” in the biography, which is titled, A Prophet for the Priesthood.” These excerpts are a little long, but they deserve to be quoted at length.
“St. Luke tells the story of King Herod’s persecution of the early Church; how after he beheaded James the brother of John and saw that this pleased the Jews he decided to arrest Peter as well. He put Peter in prison, assigning four squads of four soldiers each to guard him in turn. Herod meant to try Peter in public after the end of Passover week. All the time Peter was under guard the Church of God prayed for him unremittingly (Acts 12:2-5).
In like manner, St. Paul, in what is considered his first inspired Letter, closed the Epistle to the Thessalonians with the earnest plea, ‘Pray for us, my brothers’ (1 Thess 5:25).
Here we have the revealed teaching of the Holy Spirit, as a practice (for Peter) and a petition (by Paul) that among the duties of a Christian is to pray for priests. Surely if Peter, the first Pope, and Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, needed prayers, how much more their successors in the papacy, episcopate and the priesthood.
God has created us in interdependence, meaning that none of us can attain salvation and eternal beatitude on our own. You, the faithful need the priests, for without priests there is no Holy Eucharist and thus no grace. Jesus charged all the faithful with the obligation, “Ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for His harvest” (Lk 10:2). This must not be understood in the sense that we should only pray for new vocations, but we also ought to for the sanctification of those who are already serving as priests. The Little Flower called souls who pray and sacrifice for priests “apostles of the apostles”; they “preserve the salt of the earth” so that it keeps its salty permeating taste.
Nothing will console the Blessed Mother more than when you join her in pleading and sacrificing for her priestly sons (possibly before the Blessed Sacrament), in making reparation for the lack of Eucharistic devotion in the lives of priests. May they return ever more eagerly to this sublime mystery of our faith and draw from its inexhaustible fruits for the grace of holiness, the salvation of souls and the repatriation of the entire creation. May God reward you for praying for priests!
Fr. Wolfgang Seitz, ORC