“If there were three such priests as you, my kingdom would be ruined!” Satan’s words to Saint John Vianney, Patron Saint of Priests
Every year on Holy Thursday we are reminded of the utter importance of the priesthood in the Catholic Church. We relive the Last Supper, where Jesus instituted the Most Holy Eucharist and gave His apostles the command to “Do this in memory of Me.”
Additionally, it is the day (traditionally) when the local Bishop celebrates the Chrism Mass, where he blesses the holy oils to be used in the various sacraments of the Church. During the same Mass, all the priests of the Diocese are invited to the cathedral to renew their priestly vows. It is another great sign of the beauty and power of the priesthood and reminds us once again of the dependence we have on our priests.
For without priests we would have no Eucharist and without the Eucharist we would have no priests. We would not have the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in our churches and there would be no Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Why We Need Holy Priests
Not only do we need priests to spiritually survive in this world, but we also need HOLY priests. We need priests who are true shepherds, willing to lay down their lives for their sheep.
There is a saying by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard that perfectly frames why we need priests who live a life of sanctity:
If the priest is a saint, the people will be fervent;
if the priest is fervent, the people will be pious;
if the priest is pious, the people will at least be decent;
if the priest is only decent, the people will be godless.
The spiritual generation is always one-degree less intense in its life than the one who begets it in Christ.
( Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, O.C.S.O. The Soul of the Apostolate, p. 39)
We need priests to be firm examples to us of the life of Christ so that we know how to live it out. They are our spiritual Fathers and we constantly look up to them. Often it is said that a parishioners’s view of God is based on the way a pastor preaches and lives out the Gospel.
Suffice to say, we need holy priests.
How to Pray for Them
While we need holy priests, much of the weight falls on our shoulders. Priests, bishops, and the pope, need our prayers daily. Without them, they are more likely to fall when the next temptation comes around. So we must pray for them, without ceasing. Here are three ways:
- Offer up the Stations of the Cross for them. They carry a great load trying to imitate Christ. Let us be like Simon of Cyrene and help our alter christus to carry their cross.
- Dedicate every Saturday to praying for priests. Saturday is a day dedicated to Our Lady as well as to all priests. Pray for them and offer up the entire day for them. Here is a prayer to help:
DIVINE SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, Who hast entrusted the whole work of Thy Redemption, the welfare and salvation of the world, to priest as Thy representatives, I offer Thee through the hands of Thy most holy Mother, all the prayers, works, sacrifices, joys and sorrows of this day for the sanctification of Thy priests.GIVE US truly holy priests who seek, nothing but Thy greater glory and the salvation of our souls. Bless their words and prayers at the altar, the confessional, in the pulpit, in all their work for the young, the sick and the aged.Do thou, O Mary, Mother of the High Priest, protect all priests from dangers to their holy vocation. Obtain for me a true spirit of faith and humble obedience so that I may ever behold the priest as the representative of God and willingly follow him in the Way, the Truth and the Life of Christ. Amen.
- Pray for them during Mass. Whenever we attend Mass, it is a good time to pray for that priest and ask God to bless them and make them holy. Here is another prayer to help (typically said during the priest’s Holy Communion:
O Lord, may Thou find shelter and rest gently within the heart of Thy priest________. Make him, O Lord, a priest according to Thy heart: meek, humble, zealous, so that all he does will be for Thine honor and glory. Mold him into a man of prayer and labor, insensible to earthly things, and sensible only to Thy love and to the graces of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
This year during the Sacred Triduum, let us pray for our priests and ask God to grant them many graces. May they follow the humble and saintly example of Saint John Vianney, patron of all priests. For as the Devil said to him:
“If there were three such priests as you, my kingdom would be ruined!”