Our priests need our prayers. It is our responsibility as Catholics to pray for our priests, our parish priests, our diocesan priests, religious priests, missionary priests, for the priests of the entire world, including our bishops and pope.
Often I have heard people criticize our priests, usually critiquing their homilies, questioning their life-experience, and at times attacking them for things they have no control over, each of these criticisms are behind their backs and without prayer. These are the very men who have been ordained by God to walk with you and bring Christ to you at all times of your life. It is at your birth, throughout life, and at your death that a priest will be at your side. Our priests today already face backlash in the public square, why do their very own parishioners feel the need to fuel this fire?
Sure, a priest can say or do something that may upset us, in the end they are mere humans too. But instead of going behind their backs and gossiping and critiquing, may we pray for these men. Our priests need and rely on the prayerful assistance of their parishioners.
From St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests: “When people want to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the priest.” There needs to be a new wave of prayers for our priests! We must pray that priests are made holy, that they may never lose their zeal in the Spirit, and that there may always be an outpouring of Divine Grace upon them.
Again, St. John Vianney once remarked, “After God, the priest is everything.” Perhaps we lack knowing truly who a priest is. We may think when we see a priest of them, of who they are, how they live their lives, etc. By looking at a priest this way, we limit ourselves to fully understanding the priesthood. We must see past these human-like barriers, and seek Jesus Christ. It is the priest who brings Christ to us in the Eucharist, it is the priest who is in Persona Christi in the confessional, it is Jesus Christ through the hands of the priest that anoints and confirms. When we see a priest we should see Christ.
We need priests. We need holy priests. We must pray for ALL priests.
"It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass." - St. Pio of Pietrelcina
"The priesthood is a call, not a career;a redefinition of self, not just a new ministry; a way of life, not a job; a state of being; not just a function; a permanent, lifelong commitment, not a temporary style of service; an identity, not just a role." - Timothy Cardinal Dolan
"The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus." - St. John Vianney
"Pray very much for the Pope, bishops, and priests. Since your baptism you have always prayed faithfully for them. Continue to pray very much...very much." - Our Lady of Akita to Sr. Agnes Sasagawa (July 6, 1973)
There is a group that I have become familiar with over recent months called The Seven Sisters Apostolate, this is a Catholic group for women. With the approval of a diocesan bishop, women of parishes promise to pray for their parish priest one day a week, this usually means that there are several women praying for their priest every day. Needless, there is someone praying for the sanctification of their priest seven days a week. Each of us has this call to pray for our priests, may we take the example of this group, and begin to do the same!
If you are not sure where to begin, perhaps start by offering a Rosary for your priest once a week. This is something that I personally do, I offer a Rosary for my parish priest, the priest who baptized me, and also for a priest that I feel called to pray for. Whatever your case may be, pray for them! Not only will your priest receive the spiritual fruits from your prayers, but also you will receive these fruits as your priest acts in the Sacred Ministries of the Church.
Lastly, there is a new book out by Kevin Wells, The Priests We Need To Save the Church, this book is a beautiful piece of work that calls all Catholics to understand the priesthood and what the priesthood should look like. This book is also very good for our priests, a book of encouragement, to keep on fighting the good fight! To restate once more, our priests need our prayers! May we pray for them to be made holy and to follow the Blessed Trinity in all of their works.
May God the Father of Mercies pour out an abundance of mercy upon all of our priests, especially those who are suffering, anxious, and confused, may Our Lady enlighten them and shield them with her mantle.
Prayer for Priests by St. Therese of Lisieux: