Posted February 05, 2010:
Do You Want Holy Priests?

by Paulette Curran.

"If only our priests were holy," she sighed. Two women were talking with us in the MH mission house where I was stationed a number of years ago. In fact, they’d come a number of times, and often at least part of their conversation would be about priests.

After all these years, I can’t remember their specific complaints, but I do know they weren’t about anything really scandalous. I think they were in the line of the homilies being boring, the Masses "dead," and the fact that they weren’t being fed spiritually.

The director of the house (it was a two-person house) was a wise woman. She listened sympathetically and said very little. The only thing I remember her saying, and she said it a number of times, was, "We have to pray for our priests." I’m sure she did lots of praying herself for these women and for the priests in our parishes.

One day the two women came as usual, but they didn’t stay for a conversation. They just had one thing to say. "We have an idea, and we’ve been talking about it. Let’s have a prayer day once a week for priests. We’ll take responsibility for getting the hours covered."

Here I have to interject an explanation of what "prayer day" meant in that particular house.

Our house had permission from the bishop to have exposition without a priest by simply opening the tabernacle. (This was before perpetual adoration became so widespread in parishes.)

I don’t know how it started, but that house had a custom of having a prayer day consisting of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from 9 until 5 when someone requested one—for a sick family member or for any special intention.

The person requesting the prayer day would be responsible for "getting the hours covered," that is, for getting different people to commit themselves to praying for a specific hour during the day.

So we were used to prayer days, but one a week was something new.

And so it was. Every Tuesday, Madonna House in that city hosted a prayer day for priests. Those two women let people know about it, and a number of them volunteered for one hour a week. Others volunteered to be substitutes when someone couldn’t come.

We two staff of Madonna house took the 4 o’clock "slot" and during that hour, we prayed for every priest in our diocese including our bishop and every Madonna House priest and associate priest by name. On that day, we also fasted on bread for our supper meal.

I’ve been thinking about those prayer days lately as I worked on this issue of the paper on priests and priesthood.

We obviously can’t all have organized weekly prayer days for priests, but what if every time we see something amiss in a priest, we prayed for him? And what if in this Year for Priests we offered at least some of our Lenten prayers and sacrifices for priests? Who knows what this might do?


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