Bishop Solis: 'Pray for our priests'
Friday, Jun. 19, 2020
Bishop Oscar A. Solis
The World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests is celebrated by the universal Church on the Feast of the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is June 19. It was established by Pope John Paul II in 2002 and takes place every year on that day to encourage priests to reflect upon the importance and dignity of their vocation, and to call the faithful to pray for our priests.
The World Day of Prayer is a great opportunity to recognize the dedication and commitment of all priests, and thank them for giving their lives for the love of God and the service of his people.
This is a special moment to reflect on the life and mission of our priests, who are chosen, called and sent to proclaim the Gospel. The priest, by vocation and divine commission, is Christ’s apostle to our world. They follow Christ closely and give their life for the love of God and the service of his people.
St. John Marie Vianney recognized the dignity of the priest. He said, “Priesthood is the heart of the love of Jesus.” When a priest lives out his ministry, he reflects and shares the love God contained in the heart of Christ, his Son, especially in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist – the Holy Mass. God created the priest unique: “no angel, not even the Blessed Virgin Mary can celebrate the Mass, but only a priest.”
The priest is an alter Christus (another Christ), acting in the name and in the person of Jesus Christ as Priest – to sanctify by dispensing the channels of grace we call the sacraments so we can be holy; as Prophet – to teach the Word of God so we can learn, live and proclaim the truth; and as a Servant – to work in building God’s kingdom of love, justice and peace.
However, they are human and not perfect; they have strengths but weaknesses as well. Like anybody else, a priest makes mistakes and commits sins. It is for this reason that we need to pray for our priests to help them remain faithful in their vocation and commitment to God, to their mission and to the Church.
Pope Francis, in his homily this past Holy Thursday, stated that he “could not let the Mass of the Lord’s Supper go by without remembering the priests all over the world.”
He expressed his affection for every priest who offers his life for the Lord as a servant and missionary, to those who bring the Gospel to distant mission lands where a few of them died, held close to his heart those who minister to people in far-flung small villages suffering persecution and insult in public due to the misconduct some of their brother priests have committed, and especially those sinner priests. (Chrism Mass, St. Peter’s Basilica, April 9, 2020)
The chairman of the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, N.J., echoed Pope Francis’ gratitude for priests during this time of pandemic.
“We give thanks to priests who are continuing to serve the people of God in this challenging time. Priests are the face of Christ and allow people to encounter Jesus, especially through the celebration of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. On this World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, I encourage my brother priests to contemplate with gratitude the great gift Jesus has given us in our vocation. I ask the faithful to pray for all priests, that they may be filled with joy and strength as they continue their important work of shepherding God’s people,” Bishop Checchio wrote in a June 12 statement.
On Friday, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I ask all of you to pray for our priests in our diocese and all over the world. Remember them and offer special intention for them in the celebration of the Mass starting Friday and the weekend. Please include them in your intention when you pray the rosary or before the Blessed Sacrament. Give thanks to the Lord for the wonderful gift of the priesthood. May your prayers help our priests to remain faithful, holy and more loving servants of God.
More information on World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests and resources for healthy priestly life and ministry, may be found at: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/priesthood/priestly-life-and-ministry/index.cfm.
Prayer for Priests
Gracious and loving God, we thank your for the gift of our priests.
Through them, we experience your presence in the sacraments.
Help our priests to be strong in their vocation.
Set their souls on fire with love for your people.
Grant them the wisdom, understanding, and strength they need to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
Inspire them with the vision of your Kingdom.
Give them the words they need to spread the Gospel.
Allow them to experience joy in their ministry.
Help them to become instruments of your divine grace.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns as our Eternal Priest.