We need holy men to answer Christ’s call to become priests. We don’t have enough priests in the West and the problem is reaching a crisis point as more and more priests retire. Dioceses cannot replenish their reserves of priests by ordaining one man per year, while five retire. As a Church we must commit to prayer, fasting, and supporting the men in our lives who answer the call placed in their hearts by Christ to become priests.
The Church of our day needs men who are willing to live radically counter-cultural lives. Who cast out the lie that their masculinity is something to despise. To beg Christ to lead them to love with the deep love of a spiritual father, despite their own brokenness, wounds, and the fact that many men have no idea what that kind of love looks like thanks to the divorce culture, feminist attacks on masculinity, and fatherlessness. To be a priest today means to take on a culture that hates them and to do so boldly and courageously despite the consequences because this life is about serving Christ alone and saving souls.
On top of the difficulties from growing up in our culture, the priesthood continues to take a beating as the clergy sex abuse scandals ravage the universal Church. Regardless, the Church cannot keep hiding its light under a bushel basket because of the deep wounds of the clergy sex abuse crisis. Now is the time for men to rise up who want to heal those wounds through humility, repentance, charity, and courage as priests. Men who will show the Church what the priesthood of Jesus Christ is supposed to be.
The agonies of the last two decades are an opportunity for the priesthood to stand up and rise to the full stature of Christ is calling them to in order to bind and heal the wounds of the People of God and a culture lost in darkness. To be truly loving fathers in the image of Our Crucified Savior. Christ is calling men to boldly rise up from within the ranks of the laity to lay down their lives for the flock with the Good Shepherd. Men who will show us that the things of heaven matter more than the things of this world. That our hope is in Christ and the unending joy of eternal life. That the Sacraments are the most important things in this life and who put the spiritual above the material.
As the People of God, we also must make it a priority to ask Christ to raise up holy vocations to the priesthood within our parishes, families, and dioceses. He tells us if we ask, it will be given to us. For the most part, we have forgotten to ask, or we no longer believe in the power of prayer. All change and renewal begins in prayer, not action. We must enter into the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary and ask Him to raise up men after His own heart who will be true sons of Mary. To provide for the needs of the Church and to be willing to be open to how He is calling us to answer those needs.
By the very fact that ‘the lack of priests is certainly a sad thing for any Church,’ pastoral work for the vocation needs especially today, to be taken up with a new vigor and more decisive commitment by all members of the Church, in the awareness that it is not a secondary or marginal matter, or the business of one group only, as if it were but a ‘part,’ no matter how important, of the entire pastoral work of the Church.St. John Paul II, Pastores Daba Vobis no. 34
The fostering of priestly vocations does not only belong to one group within the Church. It is not solely the responsibility of the Office of Vocations in each diocese. Rather, it is the responsibility of all members of the Mystical Body to pray, fast, and encourage men to listen for Christ’s call in their lives. The priesthood is at the forefront of the Church. It is priests who confer the Sacraments and celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. No priests mean no sacraments. We should be praying within our parishes, dioceses, and families for Christ to raise up an abundance of priestly vocations.
Things are not going to get any easier for the Church. In fact, they are going to get much harder. Our culture is diametrically opposed to the Faith. It is becoming less religious by the day. We will find ourselves more and more marginalized in the years to come. Now is the time for Christ to raise up courageous men who want to pick up His sword to enkindle a fire—the fire of the Holy Spirit—upon the earth. Men who are prepared to battle spiritually for God’s people and the salvation of souls. Men who open themselves up to Christ so He can heal their wounds and give them the strength they need. He will provide for all that is lacking within them if they surrender to Him. Men who know the fierce, but tender love of the masculine heart who are willing to lay down everything for their Bride, the Church, and their spiritual sons and daughters.
This means that the laity must be supportive of priestly vocations within their own families. The Christian life is not measured in worldly success or grandchildren. These are great goods, but they are not the highest goods. It is the supernatural goods, the things of heaven, that ultimately matter. A man raised up by Christ, the Eternal Priest to His priesthood, is answering the highest calling to become a spiritual father in the supernatural order of grace. In many ways, we have domesticated and hidden the tremendous gifts of the priesthood.
There are countless men throughout Church history who have answered God’s call to become priests or who greatly desired to be priests, but died while in seminary. Servant of God Frank Parater—a seminarian of the Diocese of Richmond—understood this call very well. His heart was on fire with the love of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. He wanted to answer Christ’s call to lay down his life for others. He came to understand that this calling would be best fulfilled as a diocesan priest devoted to the conversion of souls in Virginia. Before he could be ordained, he gave himself as an oblation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for the salvation of souls when he died at 22-years-old of rheumatic fever on February 7, 1920.
The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few today. Souls are falling away from the Faith at a distressing and tragic rate. Our culture is lost in darkness and the lies of the enemy. Who will rise up to snatch those souls from the grasp of the devil? Who among us will lift high the Cross and declare that our salvation is at hand? Who will call us to repentance and holiness of life so that we may live the authentic joy we are called to in Christ? Who is willing to die to self so that others may live? We need holy men to answer this call and we, as the laity, need to ask Christ to provide those laborers.
A great way to start praying for holy vocations is through the intercession of Servant of God Frank Parater. The Diocese of Richmond will be praying a novena Sunday, January 30-Monday, February 7, 2022, asking for him to intercede before the Throne of God for priestly vocations and for his beatification. If possible, make a holy hour during the novena for an increase in holy vocations to the priesthood. Frank was a man of tremendous love and generosity who was configured to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Through his intercession, let’s begin asking Christ to provide us with an abundance of holy priests. As a Church, may we be truly dedicated to fostering priestly vocations.
Frank Parater Intercessory Prayer
Loving Father, your servant Frank Parater sought perfection as a student, scout and seminarian. He offered himself to you completely through the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Through his intercession, may young people answer your call to follow Jesus as priests, deacons and religious.
Grant, as well, the favors I seek so that your Church will recognize his holiness and proclaim him Blessed.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.
*Report any favors granted to the Diocese of Richmond [email protected]