Want healthy spiritual leadership in the world today? Pray for it. That’s the ongoing work of Kathleen Beckman: to encourage the rest of us to pray for priests. She’s the author of the book Praying for Priests. We talk about the mission. — KJL
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Why is it so important to pray for priests?
KATHLEEN BECKMAN: In my book I quote Fr. John Hardon, S.J., who explains why we must pray for clergy: “We should pray for priests and bishops because this has been the practice of the Church from apostolic times. It’s a matter of revealed truth. It is a divine mandate.” When we know the gift of God and cherish the sacraments received through priests, we are moved to gratitude for their selfless service to God and to us. Praying for priests is a graced response to our gratitude and charity for them.
LOPEZ: You quote St. John Vianney: “When people want to destroy religion they begin by attacking the priest; for when there is not priest, there is no sacrifice: and when there is no sacrifice, there is no religion.” Is it really all that bad?
BECKMAN: The Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Catholicism. We can imagine the dire consequences of having no clergy, no sacrifice (Mass), no Eucharist, no absolution of our sins. Most practicing Catholics would shudder at the thought of the Church without ministerial priests who make Christ present sacramentally. St. John Vianney said, “Leave a parish 20 years without priests; they will worship beasts.”