Ordination season is upon us now and a new group of men are being ordained all over the country. Never forget how necessary priests are not just in the obvious and external ways but also in more hidden ways.
Holy Order – As priests we are ordained to Holy Orders. Thus, among the many ways we can understand the ministry of the ordained clergy is that we provide “holy order” by our obedience to the Bishop or Superior and by unifying the faithful under our care to the Bishop and the Church. Nothing is more egregious (and also silly) as a disobedient priest who thereby creates disorder. By our obedient link to the Bishop we help exercise a threefold office of teaching, governing and sanctifying. Priests preserve order in the Church by uniting their parishioners in the truth of the Gospel. And, like it or not, priests also unify the faithful by the charitable but clear authority of the priestly office which is meant to resolve conflicts, set directions and observe proper limits. Unity is a very precious gift from the Lord which He, by his own design, has rooted in the Sacrament named for that very gift of Holy Order.
Sanctifying Ministry – I would like to mention only very briefly one aspect of the sanctifying ministry of the priest. Surely we sanctify the faithful in a unique way through the celebration of the Sacraments and the proclamation of God’s Word. But another way we do this, a way perhaps more hidden and ordinary, is to pray for our people. The Church both commends us to pray for the faithful under our care and also commands it.
A Ministry of Prayer – How does she command it? By the obligation to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the Breviary. Every day we priests are obligated to pray this somewhat lengthy series of prayers and to earnestly pray for the faithful and in union with the whole Church. The basic series of prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours includes: The Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Mid Day Prayer, Evening Prayer and Night Prayer. Ideally we should pray it through out the day at each appointed hour. But, due to our busy and often unpredictable schedules many of us pray large sections of it in the morning and another part of it later in the evening.
An image: But you must know that your priests pray for you. As I hold the Breviary in my hands I often imagine I am holding the faithful of my parish in my very hands. It is my duty and privilege to pray for them, and also for the whole Church.
Someone is praying for you – I want to keep this brief (always a challenge for me) because I simply want you to know that someone is praying for you. Surely my prayers are especially for my parishioners. But you who regularly read this blog are parishioners of mine too. I pray for you each day.
I also wanted to keep this short in hopes that you might see this video which is a very touching way of depicting how priests pray for their people and their people pray for them.