God, succour Your Priests and Religious
Come, God, I ask Your full attention to this prayer for Your Priests and Religious that rises from my heart and echoes endlessly through my life. Come; respond with deepest nurturing love to the needs of these who dedicate their entire adult lives in service of others for Your sake.
Their Sacramental vocation issues directly from You. They freely give their lives to worship and service. Reward with ever-greater blessings—their worship, their generosity, their kind acts of service, their renewals, and their fidelity. As they persevere in faith and hope, many develop into the kindest and wisest persons.
Regard them compassionately with the human eyes of Your divine Son. Respond to each as to Your beloved Jesus. Be present to them daily throughout the years, for life is long and diverse, with times of hope and fulfilment and times of routine and disappointment.
Observe tenderly! Are there not periods when Priests and Religious may be overwhelmed with discouragement or depression! Are there moments when others’ lack of appreciation hurts them? Are there periods when they may experience boredom in prayer or in the endless demands of their apostolates! Are there days when they may wonder if in their youthful hope and ardour, they threw away their lives for no real purpose; and times when they glimpse sweeter, more fulfilling possibilities reflected from others’ lives? Are there times when they wonder if their prayers, teachings, or efforts, offered sometimes at great cost to self, do actually ignite inspiration or spark progress in the lives of God’s people?
In times of doubt, they may be trapped in the dilemma, “does this God I give my life for truly exist, and as loving God?”, yet there is no certainty or verification either in faith or in unbelief. Have mercy on such barrenness or struggle. Lovingly tend Your chosen ones in these hardships. Lead them to flourish in Your love and grace.
Let no person or circumstance denigrate their Sacramental identity and worth. Inspire others with humble respect for their human progress to wholeness and holiness. Priests can be ruined in an instant by another’s delusion or lie or by one moment’s alleged weakness. Give them the justice of others’ discernment and reasonable mercy. Give them wisdom to serve with discretion yet without anxiety. Alert them to hidden threats from others’ neuroses or perfidy. Let potential accusers recognise the sinful presumption of judging or destroying those called by God into service. Provide witnesses to their integrity and goodwill and render detractors’ testimony ineffectual. In Jesus’ name, I humbly yet insistently demand as baptised child of God, that You will triumphantly defend Priests and Religious from sin and from others’ betrayal. Angels of God constantly protect and intercede for them.
They have generously relinquished some lawful human comforts and rights, even the fundamental right to family, although many would make the best of parents and spouses. You made man and woman for complementary purposes that are denied them by Church rule in order to free them to serve each person as loved Other, so it is incumbent on You, the Church, and their people to support them in this superhuman law. Let all people respect and guard their vocation, for their lives extend through years across the range of human need and possibility.
They have no career or home or garden of their own. They have no one of their own to embrace them or to speak with loving tenderness to them. They may receive and give only limited human touch and emotion despite personal humanity deepened by compassion for others. They will, once, twice, or more, love another deeply, as every human does, yet they are required to resolutely guard their solitary commitment to God and to the good of others’ souls. They may sometimes dislike someone, but will seek to extend kindly compassion towards everyone.
God, my being blazes with prayer for each one imprisoned in goodwill and solitude when doubt, conflict, anxiety or loneliness assail them. It rises with the command of love and compassion that You give them vivid moments when they truly know and feel Your love and presence and the loving concern of their brothers and sisters on earth and in heaven. Be there for them, God, with Your Spirit and Your angels, in their fervour, in their successes, in their disappointment about themselves, in their doubts about their usefulness to others, in their boredom, in their faithful years of generous effort that seem to bear little fruit and contain little for their human selves for brief or extended times.
I am incensed for sake of each person who even for a period feels trapped, confused, alone in their choice to love God above all and to sacrifice their lives for others in prayer and service. My anger is my determined call to You, our God to have gentle, tender, practical mercy upon the whole humanity of Your Priests and Religious.
With fierce urgency, and with gentle persuasion, I ask You to carry them powerfully through their times of confidence and faith, and to nurture them gently through their times of pain, loneliness, and doubt. Direct them to seek adequate recreation and nurture of self and each other in music, hobbies, sports, reading and interactive humour and conversation, as part of their quest for the human wholeness that constitutes holiness.
I plead for fullness of grace and mercy for all these men and women throughout the ages. I am not any of these amazing but ordinary humans, but I am they, each one, in the heart and mind that cries out from my soul for each one as if he, and she, is me. I love you, human souls as if you are me, imprisoned as I also am in my limited individuality and in my helplessness, and in my human absence from you, and in my not being you. I cannot wait to pray for you for when I am worthy, wise, or holy. Yes, I/you, not perfect, very human, uneven in our good, sometimes failing badly, but God, be present, powerful, tender and loving, always.
God, Spirit, Mother, Saint and Angel are able to bless and comfort you.
Then come, God, come Spirit, come Mother, come Saint, come Angel, with great love and power and tenderness, to me, each priest and Religious. This is my clear, unquenchable prayer rising from my will, and it is God’s love in me for you. July + October 2005