Friday, April 8, 2016

Praying for Priests

The following comes from Catholic Exchange:

Catholic priests are on the front lines of the call from Christ to shepherd His people. As living, breathing witnesses to the transcendent reality of the saving mission of Christ and His Church, our priests are indispensable. They give and give their lives to this mission by providing the spiritual food and shelter of Christ. While many of the phenomenal evangelistic initiatives that are fulfilling our call to the New Evangelization, what might not often be thought of is the necessity of spiritually providing for our priests.
In her new book and mission, Kathleen Beckman has given a clarion call to all of us to provide more than just material or financial support for our priests. Rather, she calls all of us to give something much more powerful: prayer.
JARED ZIMMERER: Your new book, Praying for Priests: A Mission for the New Evangelization, is a clarion call to respond to the Holy See’s plan of prayer and sacrifice for priests. In what ways does this call fit in context with the New Evangelization?
KATHLEEN BECKMAN: It is clear that intercessory prayer for priests is at the very heart of the New Evangelization considering what Pope John Paul II wrote in Pastores Dabo Vobis, no.2, “The formation of future priests…is considered by the Church one of the most demanding and important tasks for the future of the evangelization of humanity.”
The sequence of Holy See events between 1951 when Pope Pius XII wrote Evangelii Praecones (Heralds of the Gospel), and 2013 when Pope Francis authored Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel) also helps us to understand the connection. In March 2005, On Holy Thursday, Pope John Paul II directed his last formal letter to all priests, in which he affirms: “Particularly in the context of the New Evangelization, the people have a right to turn to priests in the hope of ‘seeing’ Christ in them (cf. Jn 12:21). Vocations will certainly not be lacking if our manner of life is truly priestly, if we become more holy, more joyful, more impassioned in the exercise of our ministry.”
On October 7, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI convened a synod of bishops on the topic of “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.” At the end of the month, the synod of bishops responded with the following proclamation: “The experience of encountering the Lord Jesus…must be fundamental to every aspect of the New Evangelization. This is the ‘contemplative dimension’ of the New Evangelization which is nourished continually through prayer, beginning with the liturgy, especially the Eucharist…”
Two months later, November 2012, Mauro Cardinal Piacenza, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, wrote a letter to all bishops around the world, encouraging them to ardently promote a worldwide movement of Eucharistic adoration and intercessory prayer for the sanctification of priests, principally through the promotion of an updated version of the Congregation’s booklet Eucharistic Adoration for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Maternity.
The goal of Praying for Priests: A Mission for the New Evangelization is to magnify the Holy See’s plan by expanding catechesis on the interior renewal of the priesthood for the New Evangelization and spiritual motherhood, while emphasizing the complimentary role of the ministerial priesthood and the laity for our respective call to be joyful evangelizers.
JARED: In a time when the priesthood is still marred with the scar of the scandals from the past, how important is it that those devoted to the Church support their priests, not only in the physical sense at their parish, but in the spiritual life as well?
KATHLEEN: Love requires that the laity should not be only consumers of the ministerial priesthood but also contributors. While it is vital to support priests in their parish ministry, their spiritual support is the highest good and the greatest need because it is a divine mandate.
When I conducted research for the book, I was surprised by a majority of Catholic parents who admitted they are not in favor of their children becoming priests or nuns. That is why the book includes a rosary of reparation based on Pope John Paul II’s Salvifici Doloris (On The Christian Meaning of Human Suffering) for priests and laity—both of whom have caused scandal. According to Pope Francis, “Sanctity is stronger than scandal”. The Holy See specifically implored prayer “for the sanctification of priests” as the way forward for the Church. This is part of the universal call to holiness. Holier priests lead to a holier Church, and a holier Church will attract people back to Jesus Christ because holiness is extremely attractive.

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