August 4th marks the feast day of St. John Vianney, the saintly priest of Ars, and patron saint of parish priests. This day affords us the opportunity to pause and pray for our priests. Here are ten priests from your life you should pray for:
1. The Priest Who Married Your Parents
Some of you may have parents who were not married, and are not married today. Many will have parents who wedded and then went on to have a family, including you! Pray for the priest who prepared your parents for marriage and then witnessed their marriage because you are fruit of your parent’s marital love.
2. The Priest Who Baptized You
Some people reading this might have been baptized by a deacon or a protestant minister and you were later received into the Catholic Church through RCIA. Others will have been baptized by a priest. Regardless of who baptized you, offer a prayer for them. Give thanks to God that they claimed you for Christ Jesus through the waters of Baptism. If you were received in the Church through RCIA, pray for the priest who welcomed you into the Church.
3. The Priest Who Gave You First Communion
Photos from my First Communion remind me of the priest who gave me Jesus for the first time. Now, as a priest, I see him from time to time, which I’m sure makes him feel old. Pray for that priest, at whose hand ordinary bread and wine became the Body and Blood of Christ for you to receive so many years ago.
4. For the Priests Who Have Heard Your Confessions
Over the years, many priests have probably heard your confession and granted you absolution. There was your first confession, the Advent and Lenten confessions, Catholic conference and retreat confessions, pilgrimage confessions, regular confessions, and so forth. These priests have given you counsel to overcome the vices of your life. They have accompanied you from the darkness of sin into the freedom of Christ’s light. Thank God for them and for the gift of Christ’s mercy they mediate to us.
5. For the Priest or Bishop who Confirmed You
For those who went through Catholic schools or religious education programs, you were probably confirmed in 8th grade or junior year by the bishop or auxiliary bishop from your diocese. In some dioceses you might have been confirmed by a priest delegate of the bishop. If you are a convert to the faith, then you would have been confirmed at the Easter Vigil. The bishop or priest who confirmed you sealed you with the gift of the Holy Spirit and completed your initiation as a member of the Church. Say a prayer for the bishop or priest, thanking God for the gift of the Holy Spirit that leads you in living the Christian life today.
6. For Your Childhood Priest
The priest from your youth might be the first priest you remember. Possibly because he may have visited your classroom or you saw him regularly at Mass. Or maybe there was a priest in junior high or high school that helped you through a difficult time. Or a priest who brought you through a major conversion experience at a conference or retreat. Pray for this priest, that he may still be an example to the youth he ministers to.
7. For Your Current Parish Priest(s) (Pastor, Parochial Vicar)
Priests these days are stretched thin. They celebrate several Masses each weekend and during the week with daily Mass and funerals. They work early mornings and late nights, on call 24/7 in case of an emergency, serve several communities, and administrate the parish. Pray for their strength, energy, and zeal so they can keep serving God’s people.
8. For the Priest who Witnessed Your Marriage
This won’t apply to everyone, because you might not be married or were married by a deacon. Church law binds Catholics to marry before a priest or deacon and two witnesses, what we call canonical form. The priest who witnessed your marriage guided you through this process with sacramental preparation. You might have chosen him because you knew for a long time or maybe because he works at the parish you wanted to get married at. Whoever he is, offer a prayer for him, that he might inspire other couples to fall deeply in love with God, the Church, and each other.
9. For Senior Priests and Those Who are Sick and Dying
From time to time your parish might have the help of a senior priest. This might be on account of your pastor juggling several parishes and his inability to bilocate or to relieve your pastor for a brief vacation from parish life. Many senior priests are busier now than they were before retirement. As a clergyman, I’m grateful for their assistance. Say a prayer of thanksgiving for their help in assisting parish priests. And also remember those priests who have served in our parishes who now are sick, and possibly on their deathbed. Ask God to give them the reward of their labor.
10. For Priests Facing Temptations; For Those Who are Considering Leaving the Priesthood
Every Tuesday night in compline the priest reads a reading from 1 Peter, “Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith.” The evil one is real and cunning, seeking to lead astray souls, especially those who live closely to the sacramental mysteries. Pray for priests who are faced with temptations, that they may remain faithful to the promises they made to Christ and his Church, and the commandments of God. One temptation a priest might be faced with is leaving the priesthood. Offer a prayer for any priest who might be considering this, that they may experience a renewal in their priestly identity and mission.
A Prayer for Priests
When I was a young boy, I became familiar with a popular prayer book made available in most Catholic parishes called The Catholic Devotional: A Collection of Prayers and Inspiration for Every Catholic. It’s a small sized, pocket, blue prayer book. That prayerbook contains a “Prayer for Priests” which allows us to pray for many different priests. It was a prayer I prayed every now and again in my youth, but thinking of that prayer was the inspiration for this article. I was happy to find a little blue The Catholic Devotional in one of the parishes I serve, and I wish to share that prayer with you on this special feast day for priests.
O Jesus, I pray for Your faithful and fervent priests; for Your unfaithful and tepid priests; for Your priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields; for Your tempted priests; for Your lonely and desolate priests; for Your young priests; for Your dying priests; for the souls of Your priests in purgatory.
But above all I recommend to You the priests dearest to me; the priest who baptized me the priests who absolved me from my sins; the priests at whose Masses I assisted and who gave me Your Body and Blood in Holy Communion; the priests who taught and instructed me; all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way. O Jesus, keep them close Your heart, and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity. Amen.