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St. Monica and the Prayers of Mothers

August 27, 2015 35 Comments

CEP III July 1961On this Feast of St. Monica, who prayed at length for her son, I’d like to say that my mother prayed for me, too! And I really needed (and still need) her prayers.

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. This is why Satan hates priests and seeks to topple them. Corruptio optime pessima (The corruption of the best is the worst.)

I have always felt my mother’s prayers very powerfully. I pray that my mother, Nancy Geiman Pope, who died in 2005, and is now at home with the Lord. She 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 of their necessity. She told me that the Lord had told her that Satan wanted me and all priests and that she had better pray for me. I never doubted that she did and I’m sure she 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. My mother came out and told me to “Come down from the roof at once!” and that she would hire someone to clean them. She later explained that her concern was that I, so near to my ordination, was now a special target of the Evil One and that I might have fallen from that roof by his evil machinations.

Yes, she always told me she was praying for me. I have come to see both her wisdom and my need for her prayers. I have also come to value the prayers of so many of my parishioners, who have told me that they were praying for me. Yes, I need a hedge of protection—and so do all other priests. Pray for priests! Pray, pray, pray!

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

Thanks be to God; I have been a faithful and fruitful priest for 26 years. But I know that it was not I who accomplished this. It was the Lord and so many people, like my mother, who have prayed for me.

Back in my 33rd year of life and my 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 for me. 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. Sometimes I’m weary in the work, but never weary of the work.

But I am no fool; I know that 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).

So today on this Feast of Monica, my thoughts stretch to my mother. Thanks, Mom, for your prayers and for your wisdom. You knew that precious gifts, like the priesthood, also come 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 me and then prayed some more.

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, others in the great beyond, and many others still here on this earth. Pray for priests! Pray, pray, pray!

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

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Comments (35)

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  1. Tom says:

    Thanks for the reminder to pray for our priest!

  2. Mary M says:

    Beautiful post, Monsignor.

  3. Laura says:

    What a beautiful post, Monsignor. Your mom must have a very special lady to have raised such a wonderful son. I am sure she prays and watches over you with much love. Holding you and all our priests in prayer!

  4. OraEtLabora says:

    St. Monica and Mrs. Nancy Geiman Pope, pray for all your sons and daughters, priests and laity, so that we might all be bolder in faithful witness to the Glory of our Lord God Jesus Christ. Amen.

  5. Donna says:

    I always remember in prayer priest all over the world, in every circumstance of life at Mass after receiving Holy Communion, daily. But my first prayer is always for the priest celebrant who brings Jesus present to me and the others in Holy Communion. I pray for his priestly needs, his personal needs and for protection from the evil one. I am with your momma in remembering the great need in this……there are many good priest today, especially those speaking out in a more public way the Gospel message as well as the works of the evil one, well known priest in the Church at large, only to be tripped up and silenced and the people only see the human component involved in the blame and not the bigger picture which includes the supernatural component of the evil one. I remember one such well known priest who said that if a priest should fall the layity shares some of the blame….because they did not hold that priest up enough in prayer!
    This always makes me think of Exodus 17:11-12 where Moses’ uplifted hands got heavy. The layity must be Aaron and Hur to our priests, holding them up in prayer so the evil one does not overcome them…..or the Church…..or the world………the decay of society and the moral life, of human dignity, is because so many of the people of God are no longer on the top of the hill, with the priests, holding up the world, the Church, in prayer.

  6. Christopher says:

    Thank you Msgr Pope for sharing the reality of the world today.

    I hope that in my lifetime i see the prayer to Saint Michael restored to the end of each mass.

    Sadly, I grew up in the 70’s when most of these things were being eradicated and to date have not experienced this powerful prayer’s return.

    Praying for you!

  7. Michael Marsili says:

    Hi Msgr.

    I pray for priests everyday, some in particular, all in general. You are right on the money about Satan hating priests. We have seen the damage done when a priest has caused scandal. Most of us know that most priests, however imperfect they may be, are truly dedicated to the vocation to which they have been called, some are in fact heroic. I think prayer for priests do help; it is a spiritual battlefield after all. Thanks for all you do.

  8. Vijaya says:

    That is such a beautiful photo — your mother’s peace and joy is palpable.

    I love this beautiful prayer (don’t know who composed it) for priests.

    O Jesus, Eternal Priest, keep Thy servants within the shelter of Thy Sacred Heart, where none may harm them. Keep unstained their anointed hands, which daily touch Thy Sacred Body. Keep unsullied their lips, purpled with Thy Precious Blood. Keep pure and unearthly their hearts, sealed with the sublime mark of Thy glorious Priesthood. Let Thy holy love surround them and shield them from the world’s contagion. Bless their labors with abundant fruit, and may the souls to whom they minister be here below their joy and consolation, and in Heaven their beautiful and everlasting crown. Amen.

  9. Barbara says:

    Dear Msgr. Pope, I greatly enjoy and profit from your posts. I was deeply touched by the one about the death of your Mom and Dad and the struggle with mental illness. This post also touches me deeply and I will increase my prayers for our priests. I also want to thank you for the musical selections at the end of each post. They are so powerful and “I am so glad they prayed for me”. Peace.

  10. Matthew says:

    Msgr:
    In one sense I appreciate this post and yet in another I find it very depressing. I am in the process of applying to the seminary. I know my weakness. Columns such as this increase my anxiety and fear and cause me to wonder should I move ahead in this. I know your intent is not discouragement but that is sometimes what I feel.
    Your prayers for me would be appreciated.
    Matthew

    • C Beltz says:

      Matthew,

      It sounds like the evil one is tempting you. I would suggest each time you find yourself weak, you head straight to a Church or better yet, a Divine Mercy chapel and pray for the Lords grace to move foward in His Mercy. He will lead you to where you are supposed to go.

      You are in my prayers.

    • Msgr. Charles Pope says:

      Jesus is the only one who can strengthen us. He does not fail.

      • Candida Bohnne Eittreim says:

        Amen Father, He NEVER fails us. God bless your loving heart. You are always held in my daily prayers.

  11. Kim says:

    Our parish has initiated the Seven Sisters Apostolate to pray for our priest every day. Since I have committed one hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament every Tuesday to pray for our priest, I have learned to love the gift of the priesthood so much! Praying for his specific needs each week has opened my eyes to the danger that he is in from evil forces. Everybody, pray for the priesthood, and for your priest specifically!

    http://www.sevensistersapostolate.org/

  12. Val says:

    You will find here a compilation of prayers for priests:
    http://www.cureprayergroup.org/devotions.htm

    Prayer for Priests

    O Jesus, our great High Priest,
    Hear my humble prayers on behalf of your priest, Father [N].
    Give him a deep faith, a bright and firm hope, and a burning love which will ever increase in the course of his priestly life.

    In his loneliness, comfort him.
    In his sorrows, strengthen him.
    In his frustrations, point out to him that it is through suffering that the soul is purified, and show him that he is needed by the Church, he is needed by souls, he is needed for the work of redemption.

    O loving Mother Mary, Mother of Priests,
    take to your heart your son who is close to you because of his priestly ordination, and because of the power which he has received to carry on the work of Christ in a world which needs him so much.

    Be his comfort, be his joy, be his strength, and especially help him to live and to defend the ideals of consecrated celibacy.
    Amen.

    (Cardinal Carberry)

  13. SPM says:

    If there is one group of people that Satan hates more than priests, it is seminarians. He also loves irony. Prior to ordination, what I had previously believed were my greatest personal strengths were attacked and became weaknesses. Humiliation is a favorite tool. If you were a great student, all of a sudden papers would be erased on the computer the night before they were do. Or you would blank out during a test.

    If you are a seminarian – and that of course includes those who are eventually ordained – bad things will happen to you. However, never forget that the battle has been won. God’s strength is far more powerful that Satan’s attacks.

    Offer it up. Pray. And be aware of your weaknesses and avoid any possible trap. Have a tendency to over-drink? Don’t touch a drop of alcohol – outside of Mass, of course. A little to attracted to gambling? Don’t even buy a lottery ticket. Self awareness, and be on guard that when you are ordained, every little weakness that you never even thought could be a problem will be the subject of attack.

    But never forget that Christ is victorious. Pray, have a strong spiritual director, and pray.

  14. Cristian Chisvasi says:

    Thanks! I have two worse experience before my ordination. First time in the roof more than six meter i was takedown with my left hand almost destroyed, and the second time în the top of the mountain în 2400 m I come down five m and my team brother saved me în the last moment, and the Evil destroyed my rosary ring and the cheast. I want to thanatologie foreall the prayer for the priest.

  15. Richard Connell says:

    This comment is really a comment on a recent post to the this blog about replying to Protestants who object to seeking the intercession of the dead. Since, this post is about prayer, the comment seems appropriate to me.

    You can suggest this theological thought experiment to a Protestant/Evangelical: “Suppose your wife (or husband, as the case may be) was sick and not going to church on Sunday, but you were. Further, suppose your wife asked you to pray for her when you got to church, would you?” The Protestant/Evangelical replies, “Of course!” You then say, “Suppose, while driving to church, you died instantly, by being blind-sided by a semi, and went to heaven. Would you do for your wife in heaven what you said you would do for her on earth, but were unable to, that is ask Jesus to help her?”

    If he says no, and one guy did say to me that he would not ask Jesus in heaven what he said that he would ask of Jesus while he was on earth, then you can point out to him that in his theology the saints in heaven are more callous than the Christian wayfarers on earth.

    A little thought experiment that I constructed.

  16. Catharine says:

    Thank you for this lovely post, Father. Priests are definitely in the cross-hairs as far as Satan is concerned–and you are entirely correct, with the iniquitous intention that if he can only strike the shepherd (disable the priest), he can move in on the flock with impunity.
    Over the years, I feel more and more called to pray for all priests and religious, to the point of putting this intention into my daily set of prayer intentions (as a sort of continuing and permanent intention).
    Do you, Father, based upon your personal experience, believe that we should pray generically for all priests & religious, esp. those in most need (sort of general intention)? Or, should we limit ourselves to praying for certain priests & religious by name? On the one hand, I am convinced that praying & offering for persons specifically by name is more powerful (at least for those named); on the other hand, I don’t want to see anyone in need of prayers & suffrages get left out altogether.

  17. Kelly says:

    Thank you Msgr for yet another great post. I live in Northern Mn and we are remarkably blessed with awesome priests. I pray for all of them daily as well as our Bishop. We love our priests very much and know that they are all targets of the evil one. Keep up the great work in God’s vineyard, you are my favorite writer who happens to be a priest!

  18. Thomas McNichol says:

    Msgr. Pope, this was posted on a thread from FreeRepublic.com that had linked this topic and would love to hear your response so that I might relay it to the person who posted it.

    God love you and I do pray for all priests(especially those I really like 🙂 )
    Here is the quote:

    “Satan hates priests and seeks above all to get to us.”

    “priests” are not a Christian Church office in the NT.
    Every believer is a priest.

    Noted that the author had to go back to the OT to find a passage NOT about priests, but about Christ, to make up support for an unbiblical idea.

    • Msgr. Charles Pope says:

      The critic fails to distinguish between the royal priesthood and the ministerial priesthood.

    • one anonymous says:

      There are “Shepherds”, “Elders”, “Apostles”, “Disciples”…. the critic would have to at least admit that. There are those called and given the “gift”, the “calling” by the Holy Spirit to Shepherd the flock. Our Priests and with great and awesome responsibilities and many attacks from the devil who likes nothing more than to corrupt a Priest and so attack the whole flock… yes, many many prayers for our Priests!!

      PAUL SPEAKS TO THE EPHESIAN ELDERS… ACTS 20: 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians, to feed the church of the Lord which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.

    • AA Cunningham says:

      Far too many protestants posting at freerepublic.com; which is very hostile to Catholicism, are ignorant of Scripture as evidenced by their failure to acknowledge and admit the differences between the ministerial Priesthood of the ordained and the common priesthood of the believer. Said differences are spelled out repeatedly in the New Testament but one is only aware of that if you take the time to read it in its entirety.

  19. Francis Earl says:

    The worst crisis in this age and generation is the ignorance of God. Who has this primary responsibility??? Priests, Rabbis, Imams etc…

    Even St. Augustine was drawn to God by St. Ambrose, a priest,

  20. Msgr. Charles Pope says:

    Thank you all for your kind prayers and comments!

  21. Doug says:

    Msgr.
    Every morning I am reminded by my small collection of statues of saints to pray for my children, deacons and their families, and all priests. especially those who have ever heard my confession, celebrated Mass when I was in attendance, or given me aid and comfort. Monsignor I think you are surely included in that last bit. Thank you. Your posts are a continual source of inspiration and encouragement.

  22. Gayle says:

    Such important words! The wonderful, dynamic priest for whom I have been working has fallen to an attack by satan. So sad. As the mom of a seminarian, I could let this ‘get’ to me, but I know that Our Lord has the victory in the end. It is crucial that we pray for our priests. I would encourage women to check out Fr. Joseph Aytona, CPM’s (Fathers of Mercy)BEAUTIFUL small book called Spiritual Motherhood. They have an apostolate-Family Vocation Ministries/Spiritual Motherhood for Priests. So much help and wisdom for praying for our priests. We are in a battle-get praying!

  23. Priest says:

    Msgr. I am where you were when you described your 5th year. Please pray for me.

  24. john smith says:

    Thank you for being a Priest, Monsignor.

  25. paolo says:

    Thank you, monsignor, for this great post!

  26. Thanks, Msgr. Pope. As a Mom of 7, grandmother of 8, the kids & grands are always on my heart.

  27. Cynthia Simon says:

    Thank you for posting this inspiring, heartfelt story of the graced-filled protective prayers of your beautiful mother, of faithfulness in trials and the always ever present need we all have for prayer, especially for priests. Know that my husband and I pray daily together and include prayers for the priesthood, especially during these troubled times. We are all in this spiritual warfare together and I and my household are prayer warriors in the battle. This was an especially touching article for untold reasons. I can’t imagine a day without prayer.

  28. TeaPot562 says:

    Our older son was ordained to the Priesthood more than 25 years ago. My BW and I pray for each of our children one day during the week but for our Priest son, extra prayers on the weekend for the trials and decisions that he will face in the coming week. We don’t know what problems or temptations he may face; but Jesus does.
    We find inspiration in the story of St. Monica; but there are many other mothers in history known to have prayed for their sons, some of whom became saints.
    Again, with the one or more priests in your local parish: You don’t know what problems or temptations may be bothering a specific priest, but your prayer for him would not be wasted.
    A Rosary would not be a bad idea; the Blessed Virgin Mary has a relationship with someone important. And He has been known to grant her favors. (See John 2:1-11.)
    TeaPot562

  29. Margi Christos says:

    I pray for priests, seminarians, seminarys and priest with additictions. We need and love our priests!!!! Thanks you for being so brave. WE NEED YOU!!! You strenghten us! Thanks so muuch!

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