Today is the feast day of Saint John Vianney, the patron saint of priests! It’s a great day to celebrate the priesthood and pray for your priest(s). I remember hearing this being read during a conference at a retreat. The retreat master was making the point that of course no priest is perfect. God entrusts this great vocation to weak vessels of clay…
Fr Z posted this on his blog here.
The Perfect Priest
The results of a computerized survey indicate the perfect priest preaches exactly fifteen minutes. He condemns sins but never upsets anyone. He works from 8:00 AM until midnight and is also a janitor. He makes $50 a week, wears good clothes, buys good books, drives a good car, and gives about $50 weekly to the poor. He is 28 years old and has preached 30 years. He has a burning desire to work with teenagers and spends all of his time with senior citizens.
The perfect priest smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his work. He makes 15 calls daily on parish families, shut-ins and the hospitalized, and is always in his office when needed.
If your priest does not measure up, simply send this letter to six other churches that are tired of their priest, too. Then bundle up your priest and send him to the church on the top of the list. In one week, you will receive 1,643 priests and one of them will be perfect. Have faith in this procedure.
One parish broke the chain and got its old priest back in less than three weeks.
Sometimes the expectations in this story aren’t too far off the mark. People do have high expectations of their priests, as they should. It’s also important to remember there’s only one Savior. It’s really easy to criticize your parish priest. “Father is always running late! Father never spends time with the parish! He must love the other parish more than us! Father’s homilies are badly prepared, boring, etc…”. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes we don’t always see. Maybe father has to rush off from another parish before arriving for mass? Maybe he just received a nasty email or phone call and was berated by somebody for a long time and now has to change gears quite quickly. Maybe he had a sick call in the middle of the night and is now pretty exhausted before a day full of Masses.
Pray for your priest. Pray for good men to say yes to our Lord’s call to the priesthood. Some dioceses, such as where I am, are precariously undermanned and many priests are working at multiple assignments. There’s little to no support from the top. Father has to deal with a variety of situations. For example, I am a parochial vicar at a larger parish, an administrator of a small nearby parish, and I am a once a week on call/ and on rounds hospital chaplain. Somebody asked me, “Father how do you do everything?” I honestly have no idea. I told him I put the guardian angels to work. I am so grateful to the Plan of Life given to me by Saint Josemaria Escriva. What a truly helpful grace.
Pray for your priest, and let him know you pray for him. He is your spiritual father, so allow him to be that. Invite him to come bless your home, share a meal with you and your family (or gather a group of friends together as a family). I know I am always happy to accept such invitations (this might not be the case for all priests, so don’t be mad if he is not able to accept the invitation). Be patient if it might not be able to happen TODAY. Father has a lot of things happening on his calendar most likely. Maybe invite him to have a cup of coffee sometime. Ask how you can help him to be a good priest. Maybe you can help him afford a good retreat or a good priestly workshop. Then allow him to be gone from the parish for that period of time. Tell him you want to be a saint and want his help. Be holy. The indifference of souls is one of the greatest sufferings for a good priest. Don’t be indifferent! A holy priest helps the lay people to be holy, and holy faithful lay people are a helpful spur to the priest that he himself should be holy. Buy him a good book to help remind him of the greatness of the priesthood. Since it is the feast of Saint John Vianney, I am re reading Abbe Francois Trochu’s classic “The Cure d’Ars: St Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney”. Another book that recently came out is “Why Celibacy? Reclaiming the Fatherhood of the priest” by Fr. Carter Griffin. Excellent books!
Prayers for Priests
O Jesus, our beloved High Priest, you are the one Mediator between God and men. Through you we have been reconciled to God the Father and brought into his family. But look at how many human beings live without knowing, loving or serving God. Look at how great is the harvest and how few the workers. Lord, your Church has a great need for holy, learned, cheerful, hardworking, self-sacrificing and faithful priests.
Arouse in the men you call a great desire to serve the Church, and a great zeal for souls. Make them holy, enrich them with your gifts, strengthen them against the attacks of the enemy. May the seminaries teach them the fullness of divine Truth so that they might be able to teach the Catholic faith with conviction and fervor. May they learn the ways of the spiritual life and struggle to live well the priestly virtues. Prepare them, O Lord, to work as you worked, to spend themselves willingly to make your Kingdom a reality. Make them experience the joy of your presence, the power of your grace, the wonder of your Love.
May all priests truly shepherd the flock, following your example in giving their lives for the salvation of souls.
Lord, give us priests made to the measure of your priestly heart.
O Jesus, Savior of the world, sanctify your priests.
O Mary, mother of the eternal High Priest, keep all priests under your protective mantel.
St. Joseph, patron of the Church, help all priests to have a chaste mind, heart and body.
St. John Vianney, intercede with God, so that all priests might imitate your humility.
St. John Paul II, you left us a marvelous example of how to live the priesthood, watch over all priests.
St. Josemaria, inspire all priests to love and serve God and the Church as you did.
A Prayer for Priests
By St. Therese of Lisieux
O Jesus, eternal Priest,
keep your priests within the shelter of Your Sacred Heart,
where none may touch them.
Keep unstained their anointed hands,
which daily touch Your Sacred Body.
Keep unsullied their lips,
daily purpled with your Precious Blood.
Keep pure and unearthly their hearts,
sealed with the sublime mark of the priesthood.
Let Your holy love surround them and
shield them from the world’s contagion.
Bless their labors with abundant fruit and
may the souls to whom they minister be their joy and consolation here and in heaven their beautiful and
everlasting crown. Amen.