Pray for Priests
May 8, 1994
Brother John Raymond
I hope the mothers out there will forgive me today for speaking
about fathers on Mother's Day. But I am not going to talk about your
husbands but Priests.
Priests are appropriately called "Father." They are the fathers
or guardians of our souls. Priests spend their lives trying to save
our souls. We are their spiritual children. A Parish Priest can have
1500 families for his spiritual children. Now that is a lot of
children to care for! We won't even try to approximate how many
spiritual children are under the care of the Bishop. And, of course,
the Pope has the biggest number of spiritual children to care for -
the whole world!
Compare these numbers to the responsibility of a typical father
of a family. He has to care for his wife and maybe four children. As
we all know from experience, family life can have its conflicts and
problems. It is hard enough to deal with the problems and conflicts
of one's own community of the family. The Parish Priest has 1500
times the size of our small community families. Imagine trying to
keep that size of a family happy and together!
Having such a big family to care for invariably leads to
conflicts. There is the old saying, "You can't please all the people
all the time." In any parish there are always people who criticize
the Pastor for doing this or saying that. The Pastor is scrutinized
more than if he was a candidate for President. How many times have I
heard criticisms of Priests, Bishops and even the Pope. Do we
realize who we are criticizing? The Priest by the Sacrament of
Orders is another Christ. By his office we owe him love and respect.
Different people both in the past and the present have been told by
Our Lord never to criticize a Priest.
At the same time the Priest is human being and can have failings
just like the rest of us. He needs our support, even if he falls. In
the Philippines I met a housewife who was inspired by Our Lord to
start what was called "Love Your Priests Movement." They were a
group dedicated to helping Priests in many ways. They mainly helped
them by inviting them into their homes for a meal and fellowship.
What I would like to emphasize here is that at times Our Lord
showed this housewife by a vision the faces of various priests whom
He wanted her to pray for. I have read about various mystics and
visionaries who have delivered or greatly helped priests under trial
by their prayers. This is the response we should have to our Parish
Priests whether we consider them good or bad - prayer and sacrifice.
Especially today they need our prayer support. They are under
attack from both the world and the devil. There are many examples -
just look at the media for one. But people attack them too - both
inside and outside the Parish. I heard a Parish Priest from New York
say that at times when he walked down the street people would spit
at him from their window. People call them on the phone and say
things are not proper to repeat here. Our Lady told a visionary from
Naju, Korea that the devil concentrates on priests because if he
gets them to fall he can drag many souls down with them.
I must say that in the past it never occurred to me to include in
my prayers either my Parish Priests or local Bishops. We have to
start praying and sacrificing for our local Church. Prayer can make
a tremendous difference. Look at what happened to St. Peter after
his arrest by Herod. It says in the Acts of the Apostles, "Prayer
was being made to God for him by the Church without ceasing." (Acts
12, 5) What was the result? St. Peter was miraculously delivered
from prison by an angel.
So let us pray daily for our local Church leaders. Perhaps our
prayers will help convert Sauls into Pauls or keep Pauls from