This week’s message and prayer are a bit long, but bear with us. This is the whole reason we started this ministry in the first place. However, instead of providing a list of this week’s priests we invite you to go to the website, https://prayersforpriests.com/, click on “Priests” then the link under “Dioceses”. You can choose your diocese from the list.
October has been recognized worldwide as Clergy Appreciation Month and, at least here in the United States, we set aside the second Sunday of October as Clergy Appreciation Day.
Cardinal Robert Sarah recently reflected on the meaning of the priesthood in a Mass marking his 50th ordination anniversary.
“The priest lives joy in its fullness at Holy Mass, which is the raison d’être of his existence, what gives meaning to his life,” Sarah said. “During the daily Mass the priest comes face to face with Jesus Christ and at that precise moment, he is identified, he identified himself with Christ, becoming not only an Alter Christus, another Christ, but he is really Ipse Christus, the same Christ,” he said.
Sarah said that the priesthood is going through “a deep crisis” today, and asked for prayers for all priests.
“The priest — here is the most magnificent work, the most generous gift that God has given to humanity, the most precious and unprecedented treasure that exists on earth.”
Fr. Robert Peckman wrote a Facebook post entitled “A Priest Tells the Powerful Truth About What His REAL Job As a Pastor Is.” With his permission, we have adapted his post into a prayer:
They are our priests and pastors, Lord. You gave them to us.
We pray to remember that we don’t need them to be our buddies but our shepherds. We don’t need them on the barstool beside us but in the breach between us and the devil. We don’t need them to spout pious platitudes but to offer comfort and truth. We don’t need them to be silent and turn a blind eye but to charitably correct us and offer guidance. We don’t need them to be ‘a regular person’ but a fearless leader and shepherd. We don’t need them to tell us to be nice but to encourage us to be holy. We don’t need them to set the bar low so we will like them but to set the bar high and then help us reach the goal. We don’t need them to be hip, cool, or relevant by worldly standards but to be steadfast, accountable, and strong in the face of worldly standards. We don’t need them to be entertaining but to point to the transcendent. We don’t need them to be a Messiah…we need them to point to THE Messiah.
We pray that their hearts remain friendly, kind, charitable, and empathetic. Keep them bold, brave, and strong. Their job means we may sometimes get very mad at them. When we get angry, we pray they don’t become so afraid of that that they leave us to destructive forces. We are grateful that they are willing to love us more than themselves. They have to lead us to holiness, not popularity. We pray that they remain forthright and charitable. We pray to trust that they want what is good and holy for us.
We know their job is not easy. They are our spiritual fathers, and their job in the parish is very much like the role of a dad in a family. Help us to honor them as our fathers. They place themselves in the breach between the flock and what would prey on the flock, where You, Lord, placed Yourself.
We pray that they do this job well…that they lead where Christ would have us go. We want to go to heaven. We want them, the ones who were our shepherds, to go there too. The way there is a narrow and winding path. We pray for the strength and perseverance to make each step as it comes, and that they have all the power and graces of their holy ordination to lead the way. Amen.