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
 becoming Sauls!