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Pray, Pray, Pray for Priests! A Meditation on Something My Mother Taught Me

June 16, 2013

061613Last week I blogged on how priests pray for God’s people. indeed, such prayers are built into our daily schedule.

And this post is the other side of the equation, the need that priests have for your prayers. Indeed, I will say, pray, pray, pray for priests. We need your prayers!

I attended another ordination this week, my second this month. It is a good thing for a priest to return each year to his roots, and see other, younger brothers ordained. The rite is so rich and the readings so transformative, the instructions of the rite and the Bishop so necessary. Cardinal Wuerl was in good form and I hope to share some of his thoughts later.

This year though, my heart was heavy as I thought of two brother priests who are in real crisis right now. Pray for them.

Satan hates priests and seeks above all to get to us. Jesus remarked laconically and pointedly, quoting from Zechariah (13:7): Strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ And thus Satan hates priests and seeks to topple them above all, corruptio optime pessima (the corruption of the best is the worst).

In this regard of praying for priests, I must say, have always felt my mother’s prayers very powerfully. My mother, Nancy Geiman Pope who died in 2005, and is now at home, I pray, with the Lord, always told me that she was praying for me! I often attributed her prayers to her tendency to worry. But I have learned of the power of her prayers, and the necessity of them. She said the Lord had told her that Satan wanted me and all priests, and that she had better pray for me. I never doubt she did, and still does.

I remember once, a week before my ordination in 1989, I was up on the roof of our family house, cleaning out the gutters. She came out and told me to come down from the roof at once and that she would hire some one to clean them. She insisted, I was to come down at once. She explained later that her concern was that I, so near ordination, was now a special target of the evil one.

She always told me she was praying for me. I usually thought she was just fretting. But, as I have seen too many of my brother priests struggle and fall over the years, I have come to see her wisdom and the need for her prayers. I have also come to value the prayers of so many of my parishioners who have told me they were praying. Yes, I need a hedge of protection. And so do all other priests. Pray for priests! Pray, pray, pray!

My mother has long since gone home to the Lord. But I still feel her prayers. Somehow she knew I needed them in a way that I, in my pride, did not always know. But I have come to know.

Thanks be to God, I have been a faithful and fruitful priest for almost 25 years. But I know it was not me. It was the Lord and the prayers of so many, like my mother, who have prayed for me.

Back in my 33rd year of life and 5th year of priesthood I was severely attacked by the evil one. He made his move and sought to discourage and destroy me. He did not succeed. My mother and others were praying. My parishioners too, saw my distress and rallied to pray for me and hold me up. And now, almost 20 years later, I feel strong, alive, joyful and grateful.

But I am no fool, Satan will try again. I pray only for the prayers of God’s holy people and for my own sober awareness of the need to pray and to fulfill the mandate of the Lord who said, Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matt 26:41)

Yes, somehow during Saturday’s ordination of six news priests, I was joyful, yet sober and prayerful for two for my brothers who are suffering. I thought too of at least a dozen I have known who fell under the burden of office and are no longer in the active priesthood.

And somewhere, in the midst of all of it, my thoughts stretched to my mother. Thanks Mom, for your prayers, and for your wisdom. You knew that precious gifts, like the priesthood, come also with crushing burdens and temptations that require sober and vigilant prayer. One day you called me down from the “roof” of my pride and told me to keep my feet on solid ground. Yes, you knew, and you prayed. You warned and prayed some more.

Thank you mom for your prayers. And thank you dear readers and beloved parishioners for your prayers. They have sustained me. Better men than I are suffering, and better men than I have fallen under the burden of office. It is only your prayers that have kept me. Yes, pray, pray, pray for priests. Join your prayers to those of my mother Nancy Geiman Pope, and others in the great beyond, and many others here on this earth. Pray for priests. Pray, pray, pray.

The photo at the top? Yeah, that’s me, in a needy moment and my mom holding me up in prayer and care. She still does this from her current location, closer to the Lord. Her prayers still hold me, and mine, for her. Requiescat in Pace.

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  1. Fortnight for Freedom | Deacon John's Space | June 20, 2013
  1. Jennifer says:

    Monsignor, I will pray for you and your brother priests and your noble priesthood. Thank you for sharing. And that’s a beautiful picture of you and your mother!

  2. Katherine M ERT says:

    I am praying for you guys. I know it’s a tough but rewarding career/lifestyle and that you guys are in the public eye more so than some other professions. Thank you for continuing to blog and reach out to us, and I do read though I don’t always comment. Thank you for all that you do and I have always appreciated your kindness and willingness to reach out to help people.

  3. susan804 says:

    Praying for you – and all priests – Msgr! Happy Father’s Day! God bless you.

  4. Robertlifelongcatholic says:

    I was at 7:30 pm mass on Sunday 6/16/2013 where we usually have a priest from around the diocese who either teaches at the university or from other religious institutions in the area. They perform the two evening masses to assist our resident pastor at St. Thomas Aquinas in Dallas. My age must be catching up to me because he looked like he must have just graduated from college and couldn’t be more than 24 years old at the most. He introduced himself at the start of mass and said he was a Cistercian who taught math and was working on his masters. He said he had been ordained less than a year and hoped we would not take his youthful adolecent appearance as an inability to adequately perform the mass and assured us that he would be able to consecrate the offerings for the eucharist. I kept thinking this priest has got some real challenges ahead in this day and age if he hopes to fulfill a life long commitment to being a priest. Seriously, I am praying for all of you because it sometimes looks like you are going against all odds. The layity can play the field for what it’s worth and justify our choices as for the good of our families and the church but we still rely on those who fully commit to a life of Christ to give foundation to our faith. Without that we would all just be something less than Catholic.

  5. edraCruz says:

    I will be operated today due to cancer. I offer this for you and my Parish Priest, for Bishop Gerald Barnes, for Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, Pope Francis and all Priests needing prayers. The Priests of the Church (the Fathers of family of faith) and the fathers of families, the little church, are the ones being attacked by society and the evil one. Knowing that a family will be decimated when the father succumbs to temptation, all efforts are being exerted to destroy the father. We pray for the HOLY SPIRIT, Our Advocate to continue to strengthen and guide us in these battles in JESUS Name to the Glory of Our FATHER ALMIGHTY. AMEN, AMEN AND AMEN!!!

  6. Deacon Jimmy says:

    Always will pray for priests. As a Permanent Deacon I get to talk with priests on a regular basis and some have a somber moments at times. I see the struggle and pray that they be at peace with their priesthood.

    Yes – pray, pray pray. The snake slithers and slides to see an opening, let us not give him one!

    May God bless all Priests!

  7. Vijaya says:

    Father, you and your brother priests are in my daily prayers.

  8. Claire says:

    Thank you Monsignor for reminding us of the struggles that face the priests.It is often assumed that priest are very secure and don’t need help and prayers, as we also tend to forget that the father who is the head of the family can’t fall and be needing the help of his children. Yes, let’s pray restlessly for the whole clergy and encourage one another to do so. Let us unite in prayer and ask for the intersession of the saints on behalf of our priests.
    God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, look down upon your servant priests who are most in need, have mercy on them, give them your Peace (not their own), give them your Wisdom (not their own), give them Strength (all yours).
    Amen.

  9. Donna says:

    Monsignor, I am committed to praying for you! Your mother was a wise woman. I am amazed how the enemy attacked you so viciously – no doubt because you are capable of strengthening so many.

    “Corruptio optime pessima” (the corruption of the best is the worst): I see this on a regular basis and it frightens me. I see it in the church and in families, including my own. I told the Lord this morning that I am frightened. Your post has given me courage. Thank you!

    • Lorraine says:

      Donna, you are so right. We must pray for one another very much.

      God bless you!

  10. BHG says:

    I would add: pray for priests and do not publicly disparage them. If what concerns you is not an issue of faith, morals or criminal activity, try to ignore it. If you must comment, do so privately and as the Church provides. Gossip and detraction harm our priests terribly!

  11. Greg says:

    What is the number one reason priests fall and/or leave the priesthood? Is it the stress? Loneliness?

    • It’s everything you can imagine. It’s like asking for the number one reason marriages fail. It’s complex. With some it is stress, others anxiety and depression, still others its about addiction or they meet a woman….etc. I suspect CARA probably has data. I only have anecdotes.

  12. Donna says:

    Msgr.,
    Please be assured of my prayers for you and all priests. I go to daily Mass and have been in the habit for long time now to make my first prayer of petition, after my prayer of praise and thanksgiving, specifically for the priest celebrant who brings Jesus present for us in the Mass. I thank God for the gift of his priesthood and pray for his priestly needs, his personal needs and for protection from the evil one. I then pray for all the priests of my parish, my diocese and all around the world. I also think specifically about those ministering in remote parts of the world, those who are struggling in any way, for those who are in trouble and for those who have left the priesthood, that God’s Will be done in them. I remember also those priest, bishops etc. who are in purgatory. We all have a DUTY to pray for all priests because without you our journey to heaven would almost be impossible. It is because of you that we are afforded God’s grace, the grace given to us through the Sacraments! That is why the evil one hates you so much. The power of the priesthood, the power of the Sacraments. No priests, no Sacraments. Thank you Msgr. For your yes!

  13. Yvette Mader says:

    Msgr. Pope,
    Our parish, St. Peter’s in Volo Illinois, began an Apostolate of Prayer and Suffering for Priests four years ago. All priests are in our prayers but would especially like to know of any that are in special need. God bless you for your fidelity to your priestly vocation – we too need you!

  14. RichardGTC says:

    I counted last night: I mention 25 priests by name in my daily prayers, as well as saying general prayer for priests and vocations. I also daily pray for a seminarian and a priests who left the priesthood. I started praying for priests because I think they were often unfairly hammered by the media for the scandalous behavior of a few. Anyway, I don’t think I can pray for priests much more than I already am! I couldn’t say one thing my bishop did last year. We know all about what Pope Francis is doing, but how many of us have any idea what our own bishop is doing? Should we? I have started praying a little bit more for the laity. We are a mess, in my opinion. St. Paul says that apostles are first in the Church. I am not sure, but I guess that would translate to bishops today. If the corruption of the best is the worst and bishop are first, then we should pray for them more.–or at least not forget to pray the prayers we already pray for them.

  15. Brad Jones says:

    Msgr.

    Please know that my Holy Hour on Tuesdays is (and has been) offered for bishops priests and religious.

    Peace in Christ

  16. Lorraine says:

    I pray for a few priests by name and all priests in general every day. Monsignor Pope, I will add your name to my prayers. In fact, I am thinking now, after reading your post, of choosing a day during the week to fast for priests.

    Insofar as I can, I will spread the word to pray for priests in my diocese.

    God bless you, Monsignor! And may Our Blessed Mother keep you and all priests under Her mantle close to Her Immaculate Heart.

  17. Sherry Brownrigg says:

    Thanks for your “yes”, Msgr. Pope, and thanks to everyone who prays for priests. Great resources (Rosary, Stations of the Cross, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, etc) to pray for priests are available at prayingforourpriests.org.

  18. Michael Marsili says:

    Hi Msgr.

    I pray daily for our parish priest and all priests in general. As I am a deacon candidate, I pray for the deacons too. I truly do believe Satan hates all priests because so much damage can be done when a priest falls or leaves the priesthood. I can only relate to my own journey of faith and I know that I must depend on the prayers of those around me. I have learned much from you and can only encourage you to stay strong and to keep in mind that there are many of us out here praying for you and your brother priests.

  19. Don says:

    I do this when praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet on First Fridays at our Parish. For each of the 10 beads where you recite “For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on whole world”, I concentrate on a priest or deacon, asking God’s grace and mercy for them. For example:

    1st Bead – Pope Francis.
    2nd Bead – Our Bishop.
    3rd Bead -Our 1nd Auxillary Bishop.
    4th Bead – Our 2st Auxillary Bishop.
    5th Bead – Our Diocesan Pastor.
    6th Bead – Our 1st Parochial Vicar.
    7th Bead – Our 2nd Parochial Vicar (Newly Ordained!)
    8th Bead – Our Deacons.
    9th Bead – The Seminarians of our Diocese.
    10th Bead – All Bishops, Priests, Deacons & Seminarians.

    Obviously, there can be numberous variations of this. Sometimes just focus one person for a whole decade, usually family members since it fits nicely with my five-person immediate family. But with regard to priests, with 5 decades, I can pray for Pope Francis, our Bishop, our Pastor and our 2 Parochial Vicars.

    Give it a try!

  20. mg says:

    Our prayers are with you and many other priests whose lives have touched ours. Where would we be without priests to celebrate Mass and offer absolution, just to name two vital gifts of grace,

  21. Jacques says:

    I like to address the readers of Msgr.
    I am not a priest just a lay person, and I have come to realize the tremendous struggle that I as a lay man have to deal with in order to remain a faithful catholic. The enemy hates the souls that want to be loyal to Our Lord. I cannot imagine how the enemy of souls hates our beloved priests who give their life up to help others achieve the salvation of their souls. I can see how priests are in desperate need of our constant prayers. Your mother’ love and intuition knew these very well Monsignor, I am sure that now that she is with the Lord her prayers are heard more effectively and they are constantly with you, and so will be mine. I like to offer and advise to my fellow Catholics, every time I go to confession I like to offer my first communion after my confession for the intentions of the priest that heard my confession and for all the priests that are in need of prayer.

  22. Donal Mahoney says:

    I have been praying for priests since John Corapi hit bottom. The problem is my list grows longer as additional priests, some in my bailiwick and others elsewhere, are either suspended, awaiting trial or defrocked,

    The scandals, some of the happier folks in the Catholic Press keep saying, are diminishing. If that is true, why is my list growing longer. But the priests not in trouble are far greater number than those on my list, I have o pray for them as well.

    The Fall of Corapi, if nothing else, made clearer to me how precious priests are and how endangered they are. Please say a prayer for John Corapi, not that he will ever preach again, just that he will go to confession before he dies. He got me to go to confession after 40 years. I–and many others–owe the man. Pray the Devil will not get his soul.

    And Msgr. Pope, when they finally make you a bishop, take special steps to care for your priests, straight or gay. They all need support.

  23. Gitanjali says:

    From Chennai, India.

    Dear Msgr Pope:
    Right in the middle of June, you have given me a message of May; a thought on mothers and their prayers.
    The picture you attached is beautiful with a volume of poetry.
    The presence of a holy priest is an irritant to the Evil one and his cohorts is very true.
    I recall Pope Francis upon his election and first appearance before the people, Catholics, Christians, and may be a few non-believers according to my dictionary.
    His asking for prayers and blessings from the assembly below was moving.
    May every blessing imparted anywhere in this globe be first prayed over and blessed by those who receive the prayers and blessings themselves.
    May you be blessed too for this ministry of the Word by your words.

    Gitanjali

  24. Martin says:

    Monsignor, God bless you for your faithful priesthood. We pray for all priests daily.

    Thank you for the wisdom in your articles.

  25. Repent and Believe the Gospel ! says:

    You are in my daily prayer!
    God bless you.

  26. mary joan rourke says:

    Monsignor,
    I pray the morning offering every morning and as part of my prayer i pray for my family and also all the priests all
    over the world especially the newly ordained in their first year of ministry. i pray for all the podcasting priests and podcasts and blogs who are bringing God’s word to the ends of the earth. we all need prayers all the time and daily Mass is my way to be in community. recently i have not been there every day because of health issues but i am there when able.

  27. Clinton R. says:

    Thank you Monsignor Pope for being a priest despite all the challenges Satan throws your way. May Our Lord bless you and all His priests abundantly and May Our Blessed Virgin pray for you. +JMJ+

  28. Alex_from_across_the_ocean says:

    May You and Your flock be safe – God bless You all.

  29. shari says:

    I do pray for you and all priests (especially those of my parish.)

    Happy Father’s day. We are blessed to have your ministry

  30. JohnR says:

    A couple of days ago I received a petition from a friend which had been sent to him by a bishop, whom I will not name, but who has written a book which attacks the Magisterium of the Church amongst other things. He, and two other dissident bishops, (all three are known to be dissident here in Australia), are trying to get Pope Francis to call another Council, they say, to look at the disgrace which the Church has suffered, from sexual abuse.
    I have replied to him, refusing to sign his petition and calling on him and his two other dissidents to cease causing harm to Holy Mother Church.
    It is not only priests who are in need of prayers, but also, and probably especially, bishops.
    In my daily prayer for priests I also call for good, holy, strong and faithful bishops. I see this as a most urgent need for Holy Mother Church.
    Which saint was it that described the road to hell as being paved with the skulls of bishops?

  31. K. Louise says:

    Thank you for your prayers. I will pray for you as well.
    God bless you, Msgr. Pope.
    P.S. And readers, don’t forget deacons.

  32. JohnR says:

    I will add to my previous post that this dissident bishop from Australia was actually refused permission to preach in his Archdiocese by your Archbishop Roger Mahoney. That should give you some idea of the notoriety of this Australian bishop.

  33. Mambee says:

    As the mother of a priest I know that they need our prayers but was so glad to be reminded and to become more aware. Everyone needs to be reminded that without our priests there would be no Eucharist , no Mass, no Sacrament of Reconciliation… no wonder the Evil one is on the prowl for them !!!!
    I have a rather unique gift –not only is my first born a priest but he is also my pastor ! thank the Lord for His blessings.

  34. El McClintic says:

    Cardinal Richard Cushing said, “Catholics should beg God to shield their priests from every danger, to drive far from them the onslaughts of the infernal enemy. They should ask that each priest may daily increase in virtue, that his imperfections may melt away in the heat of divine love. They should pray that the way of the Lord may be made smooth for the blessed feet of those who preach and bring the good news of peace. They ought to pray that their priests may be, not only in the eyes of Catholics, but before all the world truly men of God, that Christ may live in them and in them walk this world once more.”

  35. Rose Klein says:

    My Mum prayed daily for Priests and now so do I. She left us a great example. ALL Bishops, Priests, seminarians are in my daily prayers. God bless and keep you and your brother Priests, especially those struggling or suffering.

  36. Cheralyn Quevedo says:

    Monsignor Pope,

    God rest your Moms and my Grandmothers Souls. My Grandmother taught me to pray for Priests when I was 11 years old! To be honest, I was clueless at the time, since then however, all of you, our Priests remain in my daily Prayer. With out you, we wouldn’t have the Sacraments, we wouldn’t have hope! Thank you for all that you do. God bless you and all your brother Priests.

  37. Mrs. S. says:

    Thank you Msgr. Pope for this very important message and reminder to pray, pray, pray for our beloved priests. I will pray for you and for all priests.
    Let us also remember to pray for our seminarians! My son is in seminary and this August on the feast of St. Augustine, will, after 2 years, make his first vows. There will be many years still of formation, so please pray for the grace to persevere for him, for all seminarians and for all our holy priests! God Bless them all and keep them in His care and protect them from the evil one. Blessed Mother Mary please intercede for them and protect them under your motherly mantle!

  38. FMShyanguya says:

    Dear Lord, may Msgr. Charles Pope be blessed on the earth and attain everlasting life. Amen.

    Mrs. Nancy Geiman Pope: What a beautiful woman and mother! Dear Lord, in your mercy, may she surely not miss her reward!

  39. Ed Hamilton says:

    You have my prayers and I will pray more for the priests in our diocese. I wish I knew what else I could do to preserve my priests… how to be supportive.

  40. Betty C. Dudney says:

    Dear Msg. will for sure put you in my prayers, as i too realize how much all of us within The Church needs each others prayers. Who else is the Spirit of Negativeness and evil going to attack more than those whose souls they do not have, but would like to have as a feather in their cap of defiance against God’s Holy Love.

    Tried to leave a question at top of your blog, but said not working.
    My question was do you see the inequality and discrimination of women within The Church as needing to change? And will you pray that our new Pope is encouraged to listen to God Will, in this matter.

    Peace of Christ Be With You,

    B.

  41. vincent apisa says:

    Wise counsel, Monsignor, to pray for our priests. I shall do so. You are right to say that the Evil One is on the prowl for priests. He hates them. Note that the attack is waged on two levels: subverting the individual priest and subverting the priesthood as an institution. I read somewhere, I think it was in one of Belloc’s books, that the radicals during the Reformation had two main objectives: destroy the papacy and destroy the priesthood. (The third objective might have been to destroy the Eucharist, but if you destroy the priesthood the Eucharist is brought down, too.) Centuries later, the Evil One still has the papacy and the priesthood in his crosshairs.

  42. Mary Ann says:

    I offer my day for Priests and pray for them always, they are given the gift to bring souls home to God. They effect lives (to do good) beyond their knowledge, They inspire , they heal, they bring us Jesus. Good Priests are a gift from God! My son is beginning his second year in seminary. I like your Mother Father pray pray and pray some more for him. I too have been forewarned the old boy will get to him. I had my son promise me no matter how difficult life gets, no matter how many demands are placed upon him he will never abandon the rosary and an hour spent with Jesus. Please, please everyone reading this keep him and all seminarians in your prayers as well as our Priests. Msgr. Pope you are a gem and I pray our Lady continue to watch over you and protect you. I will remember your mother in my prayers! God Bless You!

  43. Claire Rose says:

    Dear Father, I want to assure you of my daily prayers & the daily offering of joys & sufferings. I invite you & your readers to visit our web site, Brides of the Most Blessed Trinity. In reading about this Apostolate I pray that you & others will be encouraged.
    Peace through Jesus & Our Blessed Mother, Mary Immaculate, claire rose, a little servant of the servants

  44. Ruth Tatum says:

    Please know that this Baptist Sunday School teacher is praying also for you and all the workers who spread God’s word. No matter our denomination, those who love and proclaim our Christ need prayers of all as they minister to this troubled world.
    Your mother truly was a blessed lady and passed on her love for our Lord to all you boys and girls along with her prayers.

  45. TaillerHews says:

    You da’ man! 🙂

  46. BJ says:

    A very good article indeed Monsignor!

    In addition to the laity praying for our Priest, the Priest can do several things to protect themselves and thus be the strongest leaders of their flocks.

    1) Priest should spend more time with strong Faithful fathers(dads) and grandfathers…………problem solving, strength and leadership are contagious. God simply wired men for these traits, period.

    2) Every Priest in America should learn and start saying the Traditional Latin Mass as soon as they possibly are able. It is not just for the protection of the lay souls but the TLM is for the protection and salvation of the Priest’s eternal soul. It is no accident that Lucifer could only penetrate a very small number of clerical minds and hearts while the Latin Mass was the standard. American Priest need to learn and start offing the TLM asap. It may be challenging to learn, but at this point what do you have to loose?

    3) I can’t remember which Saint said this, but it is absolutely true. “The three most powerful virtues that lead us to Holiness are Piety, Reverence and Purity.

  47. Fr. Steve Gallagher - Diocese of Juneau says:

    May your mother, as well as the Blessed Mother, continue their mothering in you. “Henceforth I have a witness in heaven. My defender is there in the height. My own lament is my advocate with God, while my tears flow before him.” (Job 16:19) – (JB)

  48. annebender says:

    The Handmaids of the Precious Blood are a religious order of cloistered nuns who commit their lives to praying for priests. Anyone is welcome to adopt a priest to pray for through them. And, if you are so committed, you can apply to become an Oblate of the Precious Blood (OPB) and really give your life over to prayer for priests. You can learn more about the Handmaids here: http://www.nunsforpriests.org/

  49. Gary Blake says:

    I will pray for the Priests, Deacons and all in positions of spiritual authority. This includes other religious, i.e., nuns, brothers, lay leaders, etc. May God protect them from the flaming darts of the wicked one. Protect them with the spiritual weapons at our disposal; Ephesians 6:11-19.

  50. Florinda Azavedo says:

    I shall pray for the structures of our Church.
    Congrats Msgr. Charles Pope. The article is very inspirational, detailed and does expose an active Church!
    Msgr. you are so lucky to have such an awesome MOTHER!!!

  51. Cecilia says:

    Thank you very much for your article. I also try to pray for priests especially using the devotion of the Holy Face by Sr. Mary for St. Peter. Just recently I was discouraged by some priests in our area who were behaving “badly” but I am not judging them but pray for them. I am encouraged by your devotion to your vocation. As St. John Mary Vianney said we shall only know the value of priests when we go to heaven. May God bless you and all priests.