Because Prayer is Important

praying man

Since I have a long commute, I have a long time to think about things in the morning. This morning, intercessory prayer was on my mind. Specifically, I had asked a friend of mine to pray for a different friend of mine and was thinking about this.

See, I ask this particular friend of mine to pray for others on a fairly regular basis. And, when I have a intention that really needs prayer, I always ask this particular friend.

He happens to be a priest, but this is not why I ask him to pray for others.

I’m sure he gets many prayer requests due to his line of work, but I go to him for who he is. Of course, this gets a bit complicated because ordination changes you, and you are ontologically conformed to Christ, so being a priest *is* a part of what it means to be him in a way that my job is not and will never be a part of who I am.

What I mean, then, is that I go to him because I recognize him to be a man of integrity. And I don’t just mean that he does what he says he will do (although this is part of it), but an all-encompassing integrity that colors everything.

So, when I ask him to pray and he says he will, I know that he isn’t praying in an empty fashion, but is putting something of himself into the effort. Which is how we are all supposed to pray, right?

Prayer is an encounter with God. So it really shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. Happily, joyfully, frequently — of course! But with gravity, reverence and sincerity, also. In a way, prayer is an offering of myself to God. Hopefully, I would do this to benefit others much more than I do so to benefit myself.

And because prayer is an encounter with our Lord, the God who made us, and because it necessarily involves all of me (and not some sort of superficiality), prayer is at once incredibly important and the best gift you could possibly give another person.

So, I do not take this lightly. If you ask me to pray for you, I will do so with as much integrity as I can. And if I ask you to pray for something or someone for me, it is because I trust you and believe you to be a person of integrity.

And I don’t ask lightly, because I know of what I am asking of you.

With all my heart, Thank You and God Bless!

Vocation Friday

God has given me an amazing weekend! My heart was filled with love and joy, and I felt His presence throughout the events of the past few days. He is always with us, but I treasure those times where I really feel that He is with me.

I was so full of squee today that I am sure that I was annoying to the people around me. I just wanted to hug everyone. I didn’t, but the impulse was there.

Some of my thoughts from the day:
“I have amazing friends.
God loves me.
I don’t need anything beyond what I have, and still he gives me more. :)”

I am excited about maybe being able to go to the upcoming diaconate ordinations. I don’t yet have the same love for the diaconate as I do for the presbyterate, but I’m hoping that perhaps this ordination will help me expand my love for all ordinati. 🙂

About lunchtime, I had these thoughts:
“God allowed for the existence of peanut-butter topped cinnamon sugar toasted bagels.
God is my friend. :)”
It was mentioned that God also allowed for marshmallows and their fluff (which I wholly despise and reject as the source of all evil), so I had to note that God does permit for bad things to happen, sometimes. Quite obviously, marshmallow fluff is not of God. 🙂

Then, the Holy Spirit had me do something I had not intended to do.
See, I have a vocation as an intercessor. God has given me a particular person to pray for, and I pray for him daily. Beyond daily, really, almost constantly. 🙂 Because he happens to be a priest, I took one of those Chalice of Strength books a while back because it contains many prayers specifically for priests, and I thought that might be helpful to me. I noted at the time that there was an organization with which you could register as spiritually adopting a specific priest and they would send you biannual newsletters and suggestions for ways in which you could pray for the priests and the priesthood in general. I decided not to do this. This is a job that God has given to me and I felt that I didn’t need the recognition of having some sort of “membership” to give authenticity to this. I wasn’t doing this so as to be part of a community or anything, but because God wanted me to do it. I did not feel at the time that God was calling me to this organization.

Earlier in the summer, as I was taking a walk, I felt God speaking to me about the angels and encouraging me to ask them for their intercession, particularly as it applies to my vocation in praying for my one particular priest, and in general for all priests. Okay. I kind of noted this at the time, but as more time passed, I hadn’t really incorporated this into my daily prayers. I let it fall off the plate.

During lunch, I pulled out my Chalice of Strength book (which I don’t do all that often, really), and the little flyer in the back fell out. So, again, I read about signing up with their organization to spiritually adopt a priest. I, grudgingly, went to their website and took a look – highly skeptical of the website’s ability to make me interested in their program.

However, when I got there, my mind was changed. The organization was called “Opus Sanctorum Angelorum,” or “The Work of the Holy Angels”. Hmm. Angels.

As I read more, their program is really there to support you as you pray for priests, with the help of the angels, which is basically the message that I have been getting. They were an anonymous organization, so that I wouldn’t be recognized in any way – which was important to me. I just want to do God’s will. I began to realize that maybe God wants this for me now. To help me be a better intercessor.

There were two choices: you could (a) either submit a name of a man whom you already know as someone who you would permanently spiritually adopt or (b) ask for the name of someone for whom you would pray for a year, and at the end of the year, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, you would get the name of a different person. You could request a priest, bishop, seminarian or a man discerning his vocation.

Well, God already gave me one person, and I felt that he was definitely permanent, so I submitted his name for that. By doing that, I did not feel in any way that this “legitimized” my calling to pray for him, since I felt that I already had all the legitimacy that I needed – that this was a true calling for me to be his intercessor.

As I was on the website, I kept looking at it. There was something more for me here. I had one permanent, adopted “child” already. But there was something about this yearly program. So, after some prayer, I decided to enroll in this program, too. Since it is only a year commitment, I saw it as more of a “foster parent” arrangement. 🙂

So, in a way, I am expecting. Similar to a pregnant woman looking forward to the birth of a new child, I am waiting to be gifted with a new child of my own – to love, care for and, most important of all, to pray for.

With this new commitment, I anticipate being asked to give more of my time and myself for their benefit. I pray for strength and grace to truly be able to act as a good intercessor on their behalf and to follow God’s direction. I pray for the grace to become more holy, so that my prayers may be more efficacious for their good. I pray for them, personally, and for their vocations. I pray for all of us that we may answer God’s call anew every day and, as is written in Ephesians, to “live a life worthy of your vocation.”

As a final bonus to my Friday, Fr. Acervo is giving a talk “On the Priesthood.” My day could not get any better! 🙂 I love God! 🙂

How to Pray for Priests

From Opus Sanctorum Angelorum — Crusade for Priests

The answer is not a particular prayer or even a particular form of prayer, but rather, “pray frequently for priests and offer a variety of your good works for their sanctification”. Here are some suggestions that may help make your prayers more effective.

1. ‘Adopt’ or pray for a particular priest or bishop that you find especially troubling, rather than one you like. This requires a greater sacrifice and therefore will school us in the selfless love of Christ and be more meritorious and efficacious. Our charity is like a chain, as strong as its weakest link. By working on our ‘weak links’ of charity we ourselves will grow and contribute more to the building up of Christ’s Body, the Church.

2. Pray especially for newly ordained priests. They are like young plants in the garden: tender and in need of special care. Their immersion into the apostolate, their lack of experience, isolation and, at times, disillusionment are especially painful at the beginning of the ministry. A recently published study reported that an estimated 10-15 percent of American priests leave the priesthood within five years of their ordination.

3. Offer up a portion of your sufferings for priests, be they sickness, hardship, sleepless nights, an upcoming operation or other discomforts.

4. Pray for the souls of priests in purgatory, asking them to intercede for their fellow priests on earth. It would be good to gain at least one plenary indulgence a week for them. In general, prayers for the poor souls, who cannot help themselves, are a great work of mercy, to which is attached a great work of mercy: when they get to heaven through our prayers, they never forget to pray for us poor sinners. To their gratitude we can recommend and direct their prayers for priests.

5. Offer up at least one rosary a day for priests. When possible, pray the rosary in a Church before the Blessed Sacrament and with others.

6. Fast with prudence and the approval of a priest or spiritual director for the sanctification and conversion of priests, especially for those in the state of mortal sin and in the grip of the devil. For as Christ Himself has told us, there are some kinds of demons that can only be driven out by prayer and fasting (see Mk 9:29). And Pope John Paul II has stated that the “first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil are prayer and fasting.” (Evangelium Vitae, 100.2).

7. If you say the Liturgy of the Hours, offer it up in reparation for all the priests who have stopped praying their Office. If you do not know how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, consider learning how to do so; it is the official prayer of Christ our High Priest in and with the Church.

8. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet daily — or at least every Friday — at 3:00 PM. the Hour of Mercy, asking our Lord to be merciful to His priests. The Lord revealed to St. Faustina that great graces are attached to praying at this time. “At three O’clock, implore My Mercy, especially for sinners, and, if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in My Passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony. This is the hour of great mercy for the whole world. In this hour, I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My Passion.” (Diary, 1320). It is therefore helpful and efficacious to pray also at this time the short but powerful ejaculation, “O blood and water which poured forth from the Heart of the Savior as a fount of love and mercy, I trust in Thee.”

9. Make the Stations of the Cross, at least, once a week for priests. Try to do this at the three O’clock hour, if at all possible. For Christ told St. Faustina, “My daughter, try your best to make the Stations of the Cross in this hour, provided that your duties permit it; and if you are not able to make the Stations of the Cross, then at least step into the chapel for a moment and adore, in the Blessed Sacrament, My Heart, which is full of mercy; and should you be unable to step into the chapel, immerse yourself in prayer where you happen to be, if only for a very brief instant.” (Diary, 1572).

10. Visit a sick person in a hospital or in a nursing home in reparation for priests who have failed to console the sick and offer them the consolation of the sacraments.

11. Make a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament at least once a week for priests. If you are already doing this, try to make another one, or spend another half-hour before the Blessed Sacrament, or at least try to make an extra visit to a church or chapel.

12. Make at least one communion of reparation each week to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to repair the irreverence of priests and in expiation for the sacrilegious masses offered by priests in the state of mortal sin.

These are just a few of the prayers and sacrifices that can be offered up for priests. There are many others. But what needs to be stressed at the present moment is the critical necessity for all of us to do something extra not only for the sanctification of priests but also something extra in reparation for the sins of those priests who have failed the Lord.

Pope John Paul wrote a letter to all the bishops of the United States when a similar but less severe priest scandal rocked the Church in America. At the end of his letter the Pope warned bishops, in words that now seem prophetic, “Yes, dear brothers, America needs much prayer — lest it lose its soul.” Let us, then, redouble our prayers and sacrifices for priests, so that America may grow in holiness and so come to fulfill its mission to be a witness to the gospel of Christ in the modern world.

Our Lord promises: “He who receives you receives Me, … and whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” (Mt. 10;40-42) May the reward of the Lord be the grace that you might always have a priest who gives you daily Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and at the end of this life eternal happiness.

Lord, please give me the grace to progress on my journey towards holiness, so that I may be a more efficacious intercessor for our priests. Amen.

Fr. Repsys

Fr Repsys
Photo credit to MyFoxDetroit.com.

I was just made aware of the fact that this past weekend, our archdiocese lost one of our priests. He died trying to save his drowning nephew.

I didn’t know Fr. Repsys, but it does not surprise me that he gave his life trying to save another. That’s what priests do. They give sacrifice and they offer their lives entirely in caring for their sheep. They work to save our lives every day.

One person made a comment on my blog about confession recently. He didn’t understand why Catholics were not allowed to pray directly to God and had to have men run interference for us.

These priests, these amazing men, they do run interference for us. There is an opposing side, and their job is to block the other side, and give us opportunities and guide us to finding our way around the opposition to reach our goal, which is to get home to God.

Our team is now a man down. And that is truly a sad thing. How great is our loss. 😦

Please pray for Fr. Repsys, his nephew — that they will today see the face of God and be welcomed home. Pray also for their family and Fr. Repsys’ parish as they grieve.

May God bless and protect all of our priests, and receive Fr. Repsys and his nephew into His glory.

It is Mine and I am Keeping It!

I had a glorious day yesterday where I felt good, had minimal issues, and was in great spirits. Alas, that is not the case today. However, I am content, if not joyful. Having such a good yesterday is definitely helping me deal with today.

No one can take my wonderful yesterday away from me! 🙂 It is mine! And I’m keeping it! 🙂 I don’t care how sick I am today, yesterday I was awesome. Praise God for giving me that day! 🙂

Here is my sick-day passage:
James 5:13-15

Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.

And . . . I think I shall unite my little sufferings today to the cross of our Lord for the purposes of all of our priests on this Thursday (the day of the institution of the Priesthood) in this amazing Year of the Priest. God bless you! 🙂

Year of the Priest

Obviously, this is going to be the Best Year Ever!!!! 🙂

I am so excited and my heart is so full of squee! 🙂 I have been doing the happy dance in anticipation of this day, this year, since I first heard about it. I cannot wait to see all of the great things which are going to come out.

We have heard so many awful things about our priests, so much doubt and venom, all aimed at tearing them down. After the Fr. Cutié incident, I heard many people either stating that celibacy was an antiquated and unnecessary practice, or that it didn’t really matter that he decided to leave the Catholic church, among other things. My purpose in writing this is not really to debate that issue, although I could, but rather to focus on what is important.

Sure, there are going to be times when this priest or that priest is in the news. Sure, some of them are actually going to have done something scandalous. Not all of them. Their lives have a level of scrutiny most of us do not have to deal with. I would pray that if we come across something, that our reaction not first be offense or judgment, but love. Don’t condemn these people, pray for them!

Our society revels in tearing people down. It loves to show everyone else as being corrupt and dirty. Instead, we should be building people up. We should recognise that they fall, yes, but instead of rubbing their face in it, causing them shame and making a spectacle, we should be there to stretch out our hands and help them back to their feet. We are all in this race together, and the point is to make it home. We all stumble and we all fall.

I live with the conviction that our priests are good men. These are our beloved brothers. They, as so recently pointed out, have chosen to give their lives in service to us. They have chosen to be ontologically conformed to a man who was nailed to a cross — for us. If we find it heroic that a person, in a moment of crisis will give his life for another person, what about a person who routinely, every day, gives his life for another person? And, usually, without notice or thanks.

We need to support these men. We need to be behind them. No one operates in a vacuum. We are the body of Christ. All the cells of the body work fundamentally on an osmotic or diffusionary principle. Where there is great abundance of a substance, it goes to the area of the greatest need for that substance. You get sick when there is a disruption in this mechanism. The body of Christ needs to work the same way. Whatever abundance you have, you should be seeking to distribute that abundance to the place where it is most needed. A healthy body lives in continual interchange between all the different cells. So, too, does a healthy society need to have a continual interchange. There is always something that you have to offer, and there is always something which you need to receive from someone else. Perfection is not a static condition, but a continually changing state — always rebalancing. This is how we grow and adapt — and thrive.

[To be continued/edited…]

Take Nothing for Granted

Last night, my brother came over, which was great. I don’t get to see him all that often. He stayed until about 12:15 am, when I finally had to go to bed, so that I’d be able to get up this morning. About 3 am or so, my roommate woke up and was violently ill. Poor girl — I hate being sick like that. I got up and gave her some baking soda water to try and calm her stomach, then tried to lay back down for a little while.

Of course, then I overslept. I ran around and figured that I’d at least attempt to make the very end of Mass, even though I don’t like walking in late. I pulled into the parking lot about 6:50. Mass always goes at least until 6:58. People were already leaving. How strange. As I walk in, a friend was walking out, so I asked her if Mass got out early today. She said that no priest ever showed up.

“Are they okay??” I ask, worried now. This is not typical.

She shrugs, “They probably just slept in.”

True, that’s most likely what happened, but what if something happened and someone’s really hurt or ill or had to go to the hospital??

So, I went into the chapel and prayed, prayed, prayed.

Then, I thought about what the other people might think, who also go to the 6:30 am Mass. I was concerned that they might be upset with the priests, and I prayed for their understanding and forgiveness, too.

I prayed for all the people who don’t get to go to Mass every day; for the priest shortage; for the upcoming Year of the Priest.

I prayed for Fr. John. I prayed that he was okay and that nothing bad happened that he had to take care of. I prayed that whoever had not made it to Mass, that they were okay and that they wouldn’t get too upset at themselves for missing (if it was a sleeping-in kind of thing). I prayed that Fr. John wouldn’t get too mad at whoever missed Mass. I prayed that (if it were a sleeping-in kind of thing) our priests weren’t working themselves too hard. I prayed that if they needed the extra sleep that God would heal them in mind and body and refresh them. I prayed that they would have stamina and endurance and be able to fulfill all the tasks which God calls them to. I prayed to the Blessed Mother to take care of her sons, to protect them and to care for them.

I prayed and I worried. I said things like, “God, I trust You that everything will be okay, but please, please keep him safe!”

I went to Starbucks to get my morning coffee, and on the way back decided to stop by the church again — to see if anyone had showed up for the 8 am Mass. On the way back, I was praying for him to be okay, and alternately thanking God that he *was* okay. Which was a little bizarre. I got to the church, and Fr. John’s car was there, so I was a little relieved. I gathered up the toys I had to give him and went inside and waited for a little while, but didn’t see him. I snuck down to the church proper, and saw him sitting on the far side, praying. I didn’t want to bother him, and it was getting late, so I left to go to work.

I’m glad he made it in. That something’s not grossly wrong, but I still pray that he is okay and not sick or overly tired or facing any big problems. May the Blessed Mother continue to care for him.

I was running **really** late for work now. So much that I knew that if I parked in the commuter lot and waited for the bus, I would be definitely late. So, I had to park in the structure. That’ll be $10 for the day. Ouch. But I’m glad that I at least know that he made it to church. I hope that if it was Fr. Lee who was to say Mass this morning, that he also is okay.

Worry. Pray. Worry. Pray. Whew! Caring for priests is a hard job! 🙂

Pontiff Proclaims Year for Priests

From Zenit:

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 16, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is proclaiming a Year for Priests on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean Marie Vianney, the Curé of Ars.

The Pope announced this today during an audience granted to participants in the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Clergy, a Vatican communiqué reported.

The theme for the priestly year is “Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of Priests.” The Pope is scheduled to open the year with a celebration of vespers June 19, the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in the presence of the relic of the Curé of Ars, to be brought to Rome by Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars, the press release stated.

The closing ceremony will take place exactly one year later, with a World Meeting of Priests in St. Peter’s Square.

During this year, a directory for confessors and spiritual directors will be published, along with a compilation of texts by the Pope on the core issues of the life and mission of priests in the modern times. As well, Benedict XVI will officially proclaim St. Jean Marie Vianney as “patron saint of all the priests of the world.”

The congregation will aim in this year to promote initiatives that will “highlight the role and mission of the clergy in the Church and in modern society.”

Another goal will be to address “the need to intensify the permanent formation of priests, associating it with that of seminarians.”

An entire year devoted to our priests! I love it! Love it, love it, love it! Thank you, Holy Father!

In an article talking of the importance of priestly ministry and of the distinction between the ordained priesthood and the priesthood we are all called to due to our baptism:

The Pope stressed the importance of the ministry, without which “there would be no Eucharist, no mission, not even the Church” and he recalled that the mission of the priest “has its roots in a special way in a good formation, carried out in communion with unbroken ecclesial Tradition, without pausing or being tempted by discontinuity.”

“In this regard,” he continued, “it is important to encourage priests, especially the young generations, to correctly read the texts of the Second Vatican Council, interpreted in the light of all the Church’s doctrinal inheritance.”

The Pontiff spoke about the urgent need for priests to be “present, identifiable and recognizable — for their judgment of faith, personal virtues and attire — in the fields of culture and of charity which have always been at the heart of the Church’s mission.”

He said the mission of the priest concerns the Church, communion, hierarchy and doctrine, and added that these aspects should not be separated.

He explained: “The mission is ecclesial because no one announces or brings themselves, but rather in and through his own humanity, every priest should be very conscious of bringing Another, God himself, to the world. God is the only treasure that, definitively, mankind wishes to find in a priest.”

The Holy Father said the mission concerns communion “because it takes place in a unity and communion which only at a secondary level possess important aspects of social visibility. These, moreover, are derived essentially from that divine intimacy of which the priest is called to be an expert, so that he can bring, with confidence and humility, the souls entrusted to him to the same meeting with the Lord.”

He said that “the ‘hierarchical’ and ‘doctrinal’ dimensions emphasize the importance of ecclesiastical discipline — a term related to that of ‘disciple’ — and of doctrinal — not just theological, initial and permanent — formation.”

The Pope concluded by urging those present to discover the centrality of Jesus Christ who gives meaning and value to the ministerial priesthood.

He added, “As Church and as priests we announce Jesus of Nazareth, Lord and Christ, crucified and risen, Sovereign of time and history, in the joyful certainty that this truth coincides with the deepest hopes of the human heart.”

I absolutely believe in the necessity and blessing of a visible, valid, faithful and orthodox priesthood. These are our shepherds — the men who guide us and care for us and bring us life. They provide us access to Jesus in the sacraments, break open the Word of God for us, demonstrate to us a holy life and what it means to love our neighbor and give our entire selves in service to others. They give and they love, and they help us to do the same.

For My Priests

Yes, I did quote this very passage almost exactly a year ago, but it bears repeating…. And, I am reading it again today in Scripture:

1 Thes 1:2-4
We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing, brothers loved by God, how you were chosen.