If there was ever a need to pray and sacrifice for priests for their preservation and sanctity it is today. - Fr John Hardon (Read this Article on Prayer and Sacrifice for Priests)
Every Wednesday I have a day of prayer, a day of rest, a day away, what other call, my "day off," although this is misleading because I never take a day off from being a priest. I am "a priest forever in the line of Melchizedek" and ontologically, in my very being, a priest of Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus, left the sick unhealed, the ignorant untaught, the poor unfed to go and speak to His Father in private. Priests should follow His sublime example and do the same. If you know any priest, who seems run down, tired and tested, pained and puzzled, encourage him to take a day of prayer. At the end of this post are different encouraging texts to encourage priests to pray.
In my SOLT community, priests are expected to strive for two hours of prayer every day, especially Eucharistic Adoration. This is very challenging, and sometimes I make compromises like praying the rosary while driving, homily preparation time before the Lord, but my preference, is to put down all the tools of my trade and just BE with Abba Father, as Christ did.
This Wednesday, November 6th, I will spend it in silent prayer in the Brompton Oratory, the second largest Catholic Church in London.
Here is the Super flumina Babylonis Palestrina, sung at the Brompton Oratory, which frequently has very beautiful hymns and liturgies. They celebrate Latin Mass every day in the Extraordinary Form.
Priests are called to be holy as God is holy.
1 Chronicles 16:11
Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.
2 Chronicles 7:14-15
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.
18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray
1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
1 Corinthians 14:15
15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 2:1-4
1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:8
I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.
16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
1589 Before the grandeur of the priestly grace and office, the holy doctors felt an urgent call to conversion in order to conform their whole lives to him whose sacrament had made them ministers. Thus St. Gregory of Nazianzus, as a very young priest, exclaimed:
- We must begin by purifying ourselves before purifying others; we must be instructed to be able to instruct, become light to illuminate, draw close to God to bring him close to others, be sanctified to sanctify, lead by the hand and counsel prudently. I know whose ministers we are, where we find ourselves and to where we strive. I know God's greatness and man's weakness, but also his potential. [Who then is the priest? He is] the defender of truth, who stands with angels, gives glory with archangels, causes sacrifices to rise to the altar on high, shares Christ's priesthood, refashions creation, restores it in God's image, recreates it for the world on high and, even greater, is divinized and divinizes.82 And the holy Cure of Ars: "The priest continues the work of redemption on earth. . . . If we really understood the priest on earth, we would die not of fright but of love. . . . The Priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus."83
Canon 276 §1 Clerics have a special obligation to seek holiness in their lives, because they are consecrated to God by a new title through the reception of orders, and are stewards of the mysteries of God in the service of His people.
§2 In order that they can pursue this perfection:
1° they are in the first place faithfully and untiringly to fulfill the obligations of their pastoral ministry;
2° they are to nourish their spiritual life at the twofold table of the sacred Scripture and the Eucharist; priests are therefore earnestly invited to offer the eucharistic Sacrifice daily, and deacons to participate daily in the offering;
3° priests, and deacons aspiring to the priesthood, are obliged to carry out the liturgy of the hours daily, in accordance with their own approved liturgical books; permanent deacons are to recite that part of it determined by the Episcopal Conference;
4° they are also obliged to make spiritual retreats, in accordance with the provision of particular law;
5° they are exhorted to engage regularly in mental prayer, to approach the sacrament of penance frequently, to honor the Virgin Mother of God with particular veneration, and to use other general and special means to holiness.
Decree on the Life and Ministry of Priests:
In the fulfillment of their ministry with fidelity to the daily colloquy with Christ, a visit to and veneration of the Most Holy Eucharist, spiritual retreats and spiritual direction are of great worth. In many ways, but especially through mental prayer and the vocal prayers which they freely choose, priests seek and fervently pray that God will grant them the spirit of true adoration whereby they themselves, along with the people committed to them, may intimately unite themselves with Christ the Mediator of the New Testament, and so as adopted children of God may be able to call out "Abba, Father" (Rom 8:15).
Pastores Dabo Vobis by Blessed Pope John Paul II
The priest's prayer life in particular needs to be continually "reformed." Experience teaches that in prayer one cannot live off past gains. Every day we need not only to renew our external fidelity to times of prayer, especially those devoted to the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours and those left to personal choice and not reinforced by fixed times of liturgical service, but also to strive constantly for the experience of a genuine personal encounter with Jesus, a trusting dialogue with the Father and a deep experience of the Spirit.