“This sacrament (of Holy Orders) configures the recipient to Christ by a special grace of the Holy Spirit, so that he may serve as Christ’s instrument for His Church. By ordination one is enabled to act as a representative of Christ”
– Catechism of the Catholic Church, para.1581
What an immense honour to be ordained a Priest of the Catholic Church, and so to be made ‘another Christ’.
And yet, consider what this really means; Christ came in humility and poverty, and was destined to suffer and die on the Cross for the redemption of all. As it was for the Master, so must it be for the servant.
Consider your own Parish Priest or Curate, and his daily life.
Imagine the joy of celebrating a wedding or baptism, with all the happiness these events contain – and then returning home alone, in silence.
Imagine being called out to a hospital to share the suffering and death of a person – and going home alone, unable to discuss the emotional impact of this event.
Imagine knowing that while many of your parishioners may be quick to judge or to comment (often openly) on your faults, few will perceive your loneliness and suffering or your many efforts on their behalf.
Imagine forgiving sins in the Confessional and then receiving litttle understanding or kindness from others outside it.
Imagine being a Priest in this day, when they are often mistrusted and looked down upon, because of the failings of some.
Imagine being a Priest, and knowing with certainty that by virtue of your Ordination, you have become the sport of the evil one, who will do all in his not inconsiderable (but never insurmountable) power to destroy you in one way or another.
You will read plenty of newspaper headlines about bad Priests – but very few headlines will be printed about the enormous numbers of good and holy Priests who are faithful to their calling and give themselves without reserve for their people, day after day.
So how can we support our Priests?
Be there for them, offer practical help. But above all else, seek to support them spiritually, for this is where the real battle lies. Pray for them; pray for them every day – the good ones, the not so good ones, and the outright bad ones.
Ask the Lord to grant His mercy and His grace for all their needs.
And most particularly, commend these chosen souls to the Blessed Virgin Mary – She is the Mother of the Church and the Queen of Priests and She has a great love for each and every one of them.
Perhaps the following brief Rosary meditations may be useful to you in praying for our Priests.
The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary,
offered for the needs of Priests
The First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony In The Garden
Consider the Priest, called to be ‘another Christ’. Often, they will resemble Christ in His abandonment, as here in the Garden of Gethsemane. In this Garden, without the support of human consolation, the Lord and His Priests are truly abandoned and can do nothing except embrace the Will of God in faith. Pray they will be granted this grace.
The Second Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging At The Pillar
Consider the Priest, like his Master, tied to the pillar of human frailty, illness, tiredness and isolation, while all around seek his downfall. Our Faith teaches us that in such suffering, there are great opportunites for the grace of God to renew and transform us. For the Priest, may every scourge be such a moment of divine grace.
The Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning With Thorns
The Lord asks His Priests to ‘learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of Heart’. In the prayerful silence of this painful moment, may Priests ever more greatly resemble the Lord, abandoning their self-will and seeking His will alone. May the humiliation of following Christ in His crowning with thorns be for them the foundation of all virtue.
The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying Of The Cross
As Christ carried His Cross amidst the jeering of the crowds, so must the Priest carry his own cross throughout life. At the moment the Holy Oil touched their hands at Ordination, the Cross was laid upon them in a special way. May they carry their particular cross joyfully and with trust in the Lord, supported – like Him – by the presence and prayers of the Mother of God.
The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion
To truly be ‘another Christ’ requires the abandonment of self-will, the death of the self, so that the Lord Himself may be visible. In dying daily to self upon the cross the Priesthood bestows, may Priests give thanks to God unceasingly, abandoning themselves into His hands for the sanctification of souls, supported by the Church and the entire Court of Heaven.
Most Holy Virgin, Mother of the Church and Queen of Priests, support these chosen sons of the Lord, and Your own special sons, with Your motherly presence, protection and intercession. Obtain for them from the great High Priest, Christ the Lord, the fullness of His mercy and grace that they may faithfully live out their calling all the days of their lives.
Pray, too, that we – who depend on Priests continuously and so greatly – may never fail to keep them in our prayers and in our sacrifices.
Our Lady, Queen of Priests, pray for them.