Good morning, Father Angelo,
I hope you are fine. I have a question, and this time it’s about my inner life.
Until now I had never confided to anyone the story that I am going to humbly entrust to you.
It is about my inner life. I started praying for priests in 2016. In practice, it was the year in which yet another story of sexual abuse had shocked the church and the world, especially the United States. I began to pray for the priests to thank Christ for the graces and the mercy he gave me.
By praying for priests my spiritual life has progressively changed. I felt like Christ was acting and was more and more present in my life. I began to feel his presence more and more, and He began to provide for both my spiritual and material needs, and to guide my life along safe paths. It almost seemed that He, in his communication and in guiding me with his love, was addressing me directly.
At first, I doubted it was true, but every time I delved through study and research, I realized that what I received in prayer was correct and real. Why does this happen, Father Angelo? Why did Christ suddenly start acting in my inner life?
Over time my prayer for the priests increased: I started praying for my own priests, bishops, cardinals, to the point where I started praying for the Holy Father, Pope Francis. Like a small plant that turns into a big tree. And I didn’t stop there. My prayers have extended to those who themselves pray and intercede, as nuns and sisters. And each time Christ responds with His providence.
I ask for your opinion on this, dear father, and for advice on how to behave. Thank you very much.
P.S. Since I came across this website, every time I pray for priests you are included too.
Answer of the priest
1. I believe that there has been a positive turning point in your spiritual life precisely because of a particularly precious good work, which is the prayer done for priests.
2. Although conferred a particular sanctity by reason of the character imprinted on their soul in the day of their priestly ordination, they are not exempt from the temptations of the evil one.
When St. Thomas wonders why Jesus Christ let himself be tempted, he replies that he did it “that we might be warned, so that none, however holy, may think himself safe or free from temptation. Wherefore also He wished to be tempted after His baptism, because, as Hilary says (On Matthew, 3): «The temptations of the devil assail those principally who are sanctified, for he desires, above all, to overcome the holy».
Hence also it is written (Sir 2:1): «Son, when you come to the service of God, stand in justice and in fear, and prepare your soul for temptation»” (S. Th., III, 41, 1).
3. Your prayer communicates immense strength in the world.
Alexis Carrell, a Nobel laureate in medicine who converted in Lourdes after a resounding miracle, said that “prayer is the most powerful form of energy we can arouse”.
After yet another scandal at the hands of priests, the Lord aroused in you the desire to pray for them.
Indeed, it was the Lord who aroused this desire in you, “for God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work” (Phil 2:13).
By reciprocating, it is as if you had opened the door to the Lord, who has entered even more into your life.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus was right in saying that a well returned grace is followed by many others.
4. The temptations to which priests are exposed are of various kinds. I will just point out one: inurement to what they do.
Accustomed to being in the Church and going around the altar, they may lose awareness of the greatness of their mission.
I am writing to you on 23 September 2022, memorial of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.
Here is the advice he gave to one of his spiritual daughters: “Enter the church in silence and with great respect, considering and deeming you unworthy to appear before the Majesty of the Lord”.
The priest enters it all the time for a thousand reasons. And here he takes the risk of not thinking at all that he is standing before the Majesty of the Lord.
Padre Pio also wrote to the same person: “When you leave church, have a collected and calm attitude: at first greet Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, ask him for forgiveness for the shortcomings committed in his divine presence and do not part with Him unless you have first obtained the paternal blessing”.
Because of the constant coming and going, the priest is tempted not to think at all about the preciousness of that moment both for himself and for the faithful entrusted to him.
If, on the contrary, the priest was aware of it, his life would be a continuous blessing: from the Lord to him, and from the priest to his faithful.
5. In a letter sent to his spiritual director, he wrote: “Pietrelcina, April 7, 1913.
My dear father, I was still in bed on Friday morning when Jesus appeared to me.
He was all battered and disfigured. He showed me a great multitude of regular and secular priests, among whom were several ecclesiastical dignitaries. Some were celebrating, while others were donning or taking off the sacred vestments.
It was very painful for me to see Jesus in such distress, so I asked him why he was suffering so much. I did not receive any answer. Nevertheless, his gaze turned again on those priests; but soon after, as if horrified and weary of looking, he withdrew his gaze. And when he raised his eyes and looked at me, to my great horror I noted two tears coursing down his cheeks. He went away from that crowd of priests with an expression of great disgust on his face and cried out: «Butchers! ».
Then turning to me he said: «My child, do not think that my agony lasted three hours, no. On account of the souls that I have benefited most, I will be in agony until the end of the world. During the time of my agony, my child, nobody should sleep.
My soul goes searching for some drops of human compassion but alas, I am left alone beneath the weight of indifference. The ingratitude and the sleep of my ministers makes my agony all the more grievous.
Alas, how little they correspond to my love! What afflicts me most is that they add contempt and disbelief to their indifference.
Many times I have been on the verge of thunder against them, had I not been held back by the Angels and by the souls who love me. Write to your (spiritual) father and tell him what you have seen and heard from me this morning. Tell him to show your letter to the Provincial Father…»”.
6. This dramatic vision of Padre Pio leads to reflection.
Therefore, continue to pray a lot for priests so that they are aware of their vocation and of the most holy realities of which they are ministers.
In proportion to this prayer, the Lord will bless you more and more.
Thank you very much for particularly including me in this prayer.
I wish you well, I too bless you and gladly reciprocate a special remembrance in prayer.
Translated by Chiara P.