Child abuser priests are still priests…who need a lot of prayer
February 6, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – “He who honors a priest honors Christ; he who insults a priest insults Christ,” said Saint John Chrysostom, Father and Doctor of the Church.
We ought to live by this maxim, keeping daily before our eyes the dignity of the priesthood. As the Church is undergoing a great illness, cynicism and contempt for certain priests are, oftentimes, very strong temptations that the faithful must undergo. It behooves us to remember that our vehement skepticism of priests – or our nonchalance or criticism of them – is a relatively novel notion in Church history.
In the internet age, the laity hold power to critique Church authority like never before. With the advent of social media, there has been provided a playing field for disgruntled lay people to clash with disgruntled pontificating priests. No longer does one need to nail 95 theses to a Church door for all to see, you can simply post a 95 character tweet to demonstrate your dissent.
Additionally, the laity have a more dubious view of those in the clerical state than previously. Although the origin of this clerical nervousness is well-founded, it wrongfully isolates those priests who are living their vocation dynamically and with holiness by generalizing Catholic clergy. Being an orthodox priest now may invoke the rebuke of both Church establishment and laity; the holy priest must undergo a virtual assault on all fronts. We are committing the same spiritual crime in our lack of respect and gossip of priests as those liberals who forget the transcendent aspect of the priesthood: the sin of pride.
God has placed us from all eternity within the time of this crisis that we may endure it manfully. It is very easy to speak poorly about the priest who denigrates the Mass, hardly understands or believes the Faith, or who engages in a reprobate lifestyle, but we must realize that our words against him further push the daggers that the wicked priest has stabbed into the Heart of our beloved Lord.
Christ’s Heart aches with pain at the sight of the abuses of His priesthood; we must not further the damage by disrespecting the office.
We must understand that there is a cosmic struggle occurring at all times for souls, especially the souls of priests. The Doctor of the Church, Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, in his Dignities and Duties of the Priest, writes that each priest suffers more temptations than a hundred lay people combined. In the words of Saint Theresa of Avila, “Behind each priest there is a demon fighting for his fall. If we have words to criticize them, we must have twice as many to pray for them!”
To be clear, I am in no way speaking of keeping an inordinate silence when justice demands action. I am addressing a specific cancer spreading within the laity of detracting against or gossiping about priests and high ranking clerics. Since we can always be safe in imitating our Lady, we can say with her as she did in her apparition in La Salette, France, that ‘priests have become cesspools of impurity,’ but we most join her in praying profusely for priests and weeping over this fact.
Communities of religious with the mission of offering their lives for the souls of priests are forming. Two Benedictine examples come to mind. One, the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, found in Gower, Missouri, USA, is a monastery of young women (boasting an average age of 25-29) who dedicate their lives of prayer and mortification for the souls and ministries of priests, that they may be effective and bring many souls to our Lord. They seek to model our Lady as she lived with Saint John in Ephesus, hence the reason for their monastery being titled ‘Ephesus Abbey.’
As their biography states, “Having received our call to emulate Our Lady in her final, hidden years, we offer our lives in prayer and sacrifice for priests…we extend customary Benedictine hospitality most especially to priests, our spiritual sons, and strive to offer them the spiritual refurbishment so often denied them in their zealous work.”
Another thriving community with this venerable charism is Silverstream Priory, located in County Meath, Ireland. These monks dedicate their lives to the perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in a spirit of reparation for the sins of priests. They offer extended priestly retreats at their monastery, using their facilities as a form of a rehabilitation center for priests and laity alike. In the words of their Sub-Prior, Dom Benedict Maria Andersen, “We are dedicated to an unseen, spiritual battle for the soul of this country [Ireland], and specifically for its priests.” Rather than losing sight of the awesome respect owed to priests during this era of trial, these Benedictines embrace it even more radically, taking to heart the words of Saint Francis of Assisi, “If I saw an angel and a priest, I would bend my knee; first to the priest and then to the angel.”
As one who is entering seminary and daily see the difficulties of those friends of mine who have been ordained, I plead with you: pray for priests. Begin a novena, pray an extra decade of the Rosary, offer Mass intentions, commend your parish priests to the Saints and, especially, the Blessed Virgin Mary. I urge you to take to heart the words of, that wonderful Little Flower, Saint Therese of Lisieux, “Let us save especially the souls of priests; these souls should be more transparent than crystal…alas, how many bad priests, priests who are not holy enough…let us pray, let us suffer for them…”An excellent practice to begin is praying daily the invocation she composed for priests – I recommend each person who reads this article pray this every single night with their family:
O Jesus, eternal Priest, keep Thy priest(s), [here state the name(s) of your parish priest(s)], within the shelter of Thy Sacred Heart, where none may touch them. Keep unstained their anointed hands, which daily touch Thy Sacred Body. Keep unsullied their lips, daily purpled with Thy Precious Blood. Keep pure and unearthly their hearts, sealed with the sublime mark of the priesthood. Let Thy 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 minster be their joy and consolation here and in heaven their beautiful and everlasting crown. Amen.