Saturday 28 April 2012

Priests need to be Saints!

As always, Mauro Cardinal Piacenza, Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, has once again written to priests in uncompromising terms.  Look out brethren - we NEED to be Saints.  So says the Cardinal. (Incidentally, Cardinal Giuseppe Siri thought that the wearing of the cassock could help in this area. cf Roarate Caeli.)
Today’s world, with its ever more painful and preoccupying lacerations, needs God - The Trinity, and the Church has the task to proclaim Him. In order to fulfil this task, the Church must remain indissolubly embraced with Christ and never part from Him; it needs Saints who dwell “in the heart of Jesus” and are happy witnesses of God’s Trinitarian Love. And in order to serve the Church and the World, Priests need to be Saints!

Well, we are all called to be saints but it's good to be reminded of it in the midst of life's vagaries, when, as priests,  we can easily loose that focus for so many reasons: perhaps the failure of our pastoral initiatives to bear the fruit we had hoped for; perhaps depression at the seeming state of the Church around us where so many reject the Church's teachings; perhaps a sense of futility if we feel unsupported or even bullied by those in positions of power in the Church. The Cardinal reminds us that:
on the forthcoming solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (June 15, 2012), as usual, we shall celebrate World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of the Clergy. The expression found in Scripture “This is the will of God: your holiness!” (1 Thess 4:3), though addressed to all Christians, refers to us priests in particular, for we have accepted the invitation to “sanctify ourselves” and to become “ministers of sanctification” for our brothers. In our case, this “will of God” is, so to speak, doubled and multiplied to infinity, and we must obey it in everything we do. This is our wonderful destiny: we cannot be sanctified without working on the holiness of our brothers, and we cannot work on the holiness of our brothers unless we have first worked on and continue to work on our own holiness.
Interestingly the prayer he has chosen to accompany the letter is taken from St Faustina.  It recognises that we priests are subject to the devil's traps and snares which attack the soul of the priest.  It prays for the triumph of the Church.


O my Jesus, 
I beg You on behalf of  the whole Church:
Grant it love and the light of Your Spirit,
and give power to the words of Priests
so that hardened hearts might be brought to repentance 
and return to You, O Lord.
Lord, give us holy Priests;
You yourself maintain them in holiness.
O Divine and Great High Priest,
may the power of Your mercy
accompany them everywhere and protect them
from the devil's traps and snares
which are continually being set for the soul of Priests.
May the power of Your mercy,
O Lord, shatter and bring to naught
all that might tarnish the sanctity of Priests,
for You can do all things.
My beloved Jesus,
I pray to you for the triumph of the Church,
that you may bless the Holy Father and all the clergy;
I beg you to grant the grace of conversion
to sinners whose hearts have been hardened by sin,
and a special blessing and light to priests,
to whom I shall confess for all of my life.

(Saint Faustina Kowalska)

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