The following is a deeply personal statement written by a pastor in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and posted in the bulletin in order to give guidance to his troubled flock. In this poignant bearing of his heart, he not only gives us all good advice about how to find a way forward, but adds a new perspective to the scandal that has shaken our Church to its core.
As the Church undergoes yet another purgation of predator priests and the bishops who cover for them, it’s more important than ever to rely on the Sacraments to keep ourselves strong. And we can bring great healing to both ourselves and our priests by going the extra mile to show support to the good priests who have ministered to us and our loved ones so faithfully and devotedly during our lives. The following are five easy ways to do this in the midst of this crisis.
1. Become involved with the Foundation of Prayer for Priests which offers a variety of ways that you can support the priesthood, from “adopting” a priest to resources that can be used in parishes to pray for priest.
2. If you know a good priest who has been working diligently and faithfully in the Lord’s vineyard, take a moment to tell him how much you appreciate him. Our good priests are suffering right alongside us and are also bearing the additional suffering of being “guilty by association” with predator priests even though the vast majority of our priests are completely innocent of these atrocious crimes. Take a moment to thank him and let him know that you’re praying for him and the faithful to whom he has devoted his life.
3. If you want to go the extra mile, submit your “good priest story” to us here at Women of Grace and we will publish it as a way of reminding the faithful that all is not lost! There are still good priests out there! And even though we cannot post the full name of the priest or parish (to protect him from being the target of the vengeful), these stories will also help to buoy the morale of our priests. If you would like to write the story yourself, that’s great, but if not, simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the particulars and I will write it up for you!
3. Remember to enlist the help of our saints in your prayer for our Church during this difficult time. In particular, invoke St. Joseph, who is the Patron Saint of the Universal Church. St. John Vianney is the patron saint of diocesan priests and St. Maria Goretti is the patron saint of abuse victims. St. Charles Borromeo is the patron saint of bishops, cardinals, seminarians and spiritual leaders. And don’t forget to pray for your parish by invoking whoever your church is named after whether that be Our Lord or Our Lady under their various titles, or a particular saint.
4. Make arrangements with your pastor to host a parish holy hour or communal rosary to pray for priests, including those involved in the scandal, those who covered up for them, and the victims. We will be publishing some of these events which we hope will give you some ideas. If, for whatever reason, your parish is unable to do this, host an event in your home!
5. And while you work for the building up of the faithful and our good priests, don’t forget yourself! Spend extra time in prayer during this difficult time. If there was ever a time to rely on the strengthening grace of the Blessed Sacrament, it’s now. If possible, attend an extra Mass during the week and/or visit the Blessed Sacrament for a few minutes. Whenever you are feeling particularly discouraged, pick up the weapon of choice for precisely this kind of battle – the Rosary. It will not only help you, but it will enlist the aid of Our Blessed Mother whose intercession is unequalled!
In addition to your “good priest” stories, let us know what you’re doing to keep yourself buoyed during this time. Chances are, there is someone out there who needs help and the Lord will use your words to speak to their heart.
These are all simple things we can all do to meet the challenges of our day. Yes, it might require a little extra effort, but those efforts can never be in vain. Our Lord will certainly use each and every one of these little sacrifices to fill in the cracks in the walls of the Church He built on earth.
In the meantime, let us all remain united in spirit and in love for our Church and its Founder, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
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