Terrific movement of prayer for priests: Seven Sisters Apostolate

Posted on 18 August 2018 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Recently, I’ve written about some things that bishops and priests should do in this crisis time.  I’ve also made suggestions to lay people about things they can do.

However, there is one thing that lay people can do… especially lay women… which will be of enormous value in the coming days.

Last June, I attended a party arranged for the 90th birthday of a priest friend in my native place at the parish where he still helps on Sundays.  The pastor there is also an old friend.  While I was there, I kept hearing references to the “Seven Sisters”.  I inquired and learned of this great apostolate.

Seven Sisters Apostolate

This is a bit of a movement, actually.

In essence, 7 women and perhaps a couple alternates, commit for 1 year to 1 hour of prayer for 1 priest each week.   Hence, there is a lady on Monday, one on Tuesday, etc., ideally in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

In some cases, though this is not obligatory, the priest or bishop may not even know who they are.

There are good resources at their site.

This is a terrific apostolate.   They are in the process of having the movement designated as an association of the faithful.

May I suggest to some of you women who read here regularly that you might contact them and seek to start a local group for your local bishop and priests, the pastor of your parish, a retired priest, where you are?

Also, I would not object were a group of Seven Sisters might consider praying for me.   Perhaps one of you know six others where you live who also read this blog.

 

Where Are the Bishops Who Will Defend Faithful Priests? 

by a Diocesan Priest for Crisis Magazine

August 4, 2018
The Memorial of St. John Marie Vianney.

It is hard to communicate to people the life of a priest. The inexpressible joys that we experience every day are so difficult to express, as is the privilege of journeying with people through the dark valleys in their lives with hope that we can be the shepherd who brings them comfort. In light of the current ecclesial climate, I would like to share my story—not so much my biography, though elements of it are mentioned in several places. I would like people to know where my heart is. It is tired, and it is broken—I can physically feel pain in my chest. While I know there is hope in Christ our light, and while I know that this is his Church, and that the harvest is at hand, in which one day the weeds and wheat will be separated, it would be foolish at present not to address my hurt and my frustrations. I think others can benefit from hearing as well, so this writing is my feeble attempt to share my story—our story, the story of an American priest.

First, I must say that I love being a priest. I have always loved being a priest. This is my vocation; it’s my love, to serve the people of God. God made it apparent to me from my youth that I was called to be a father to many and to spend my life for love and service of the Church in a way which is single-hearted. He granted me a love for the Eucharist and a passion for preaching the truth. I attended parochial school. In my teenage years, I was moved particularly by the voice of John Paul II to respond to the call of the Lord. This call was fostered by Steubenville conferences and Lifeteen events, and my love for truth was fed by EWTN, along with the writings of the pope who would become a saint. I even spent several years in lay ministry (one as a missionary) before entering seminary in the fall of 2002.

At the time I thought I knew what I was getting into. I knew that my love for the truths of the Church as proclaimed by John Paul the Great was not shared by many of the American clergy. Year after year, as my peers were ordained, the disdain of Baby Boomer clergy for these “young” priests became known. “Rigid,” “Conservative,” and “Pre-Vatican II” were among the favorite buzz words used to describe the emerging clergy of the day. I also knew the environment of my home diocese: my parish was rocked by a scandal involving a priest and one of my teenage peers; the long-time pastor of my home parish was known for having multiple affairs (one mistress was known personally to my mother)—it even was long-rumored that he had personally funded several abortions; and another priest at a church near my home was seen in public with apparent male lovers. And yes, I knew about the sex abuse scandals; I entered seminary in their shadow. My classmates and I, we knew what we were dealing with.

The Dallas charter came along and the criticisms were clear: there was still no bishop-accountability. Yet, we were filled with hope. There was a new era, a freshness in the Church. The moral laxity of the 1970s was drying up and the people of God were hungry for truth. New bishops came, appointed by an informed John Paul II and his successor (I remember crying tears of joy when Benedict was elected, despite the open contempt of Boomer clergy). Gone were the days when men such as Weakland, Untener, Gumbleton, and Imesch were rising to the episcopacy despite their open dissent from the magisterium. There were new bishops who wanted solid, orthodox priests to teach people about the truth and beauty of the authentic message proclaimed by Christ to his Church.

I knew there would be resistance—we knew there would be resistance, but we would have the backing and support of our spiritual fathers. They would protect us and stand up for us. Even though we may be lambasted by our brothers (many of whom were living deviant lives—both hetero and homosexual), we knew the men to whom we pledged respect and obedience would protect us.

We were wrong.

In my years of priesthood I have learned what the greatest good is for a bishop: to address as few complaints as possible. So, if a priest is having a gay affair, if he has a serious drinking problem, if he is sleeping around with women, if it is clear that he has mental disorders that inhibit him from overseeing a parish, if he is wicked and cruel, if he regularly abuses the liturgy, if he preaches heresy, if he contradicts the bishop, or if he teaches counter to the moral teaching of the Church, as long as there is no traceable record of complaint, or continual outcry from the people, then all remains the same, as long as the sins remain mostly occult. If a bishop can legally turn a blind eye, he will. Because otherwise, he may have to do something unpleasant.

To some extent this intentional and willful ignorance is understandable. I think I know why these men act (or don’t act) as they do. Whenever a bishop takes action against a priest, there is outcry. Especially if it is a popular priest who preaches what people want to hear. I know of so many situations where a bishop has justifiably removed a priest, only to be met with a deafening, unyielding chorus of disapproval. Letters are written (both to the press and to the Nuncio). Petitions are signed. Websites are created. Tweets are formulated with trending hashtags. All detail the plight of a kind-hearted priest being persecuted by a malevolent bishop for no apparent reason. It has to hurt the morale of other priests trying to do the right thing. This is a terrible thing to do your job and be persecuted for it—within the Church, despite the words of our Lord: “The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”

If I may, I now speak for myself and my peers directly to the American prelates: Bishops, we can appreciate how you feel when attacked for doing what is right. We can appreciate the hurt, the desolation, and the immense loneliness. We can appreciate it, because we live it as well. We live it when we preach a homily defending the Church’s teaching on marriage, and are chastised by you for “upsetting the people.” We live it when we express how difficult it is to live with someone who drinks himself into a rage every night, and we are told by you that we need to “get along with our pastor.” We live it when you let our brothers mock us behind our backs over cocktails with benefactors. We live it when we are chastised for legitimate liturgical expressions and our brothers who preach counter to the faith are given plush parishes and diocesan offices. We live it when our peers call us names, and paste misplaced quotes of Pope Francis on our doors. We live it when we see seminarians leave because a priest made an advance on them and you do nothing about it after we report it. We live it when our family and friends part ways with us because of Church abuse scandals. We live it when we are insulted in public. We know that it is difficult to do what is right in the current climate.

We often look to you, our spiritual fathers, for solidarity and support. We need someone to stand with us to be “shining lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” But we remain alone. At best, you ignore us, and, at worst, you punish or reprimand us. We don’t always get it right, especially when we are newly ordained, but think of this: Is it fair to berate a young priest for overzealous imposition of Latin, when you know his pastor is cruising gay bars and do nothing? Is it prudent to rebuke a son for preaching on an unpopular topic, while his colleague regularly openly endorses contraception? Is it fair to continue to punish us for honest mistakes while our colleagues live an open life of dissipation, which you ignore?

We are resolved to “Celebrate faithfully and reverently, in accord with the Church’s tradition, the mysteries of Christ, especially the Sacrifice of the Eucharist.” We are resolved to “exercise the ministry of the word worthily and wisely, preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith.” Yet, we are criticized while those who live a wanton lifestyle, at the expense of the people of God, and at the cost of the salvation of souls are not. Can you imagine how this grieves us? Can you imagine how alone we feel?

We can no longer find consolation in our spiritual fathers. When I was a young seminarian, I could find consolation in the words of the pope. Those days are gone. Pope Francis often says things that confuse the people of God and appear to contradict the very material we preach; even more distressing, he joins the ranks of his generation who label and stereotype younger clergy. He now gives them permission to call us “little monsters,” and provides them with cliché adages to use out of context, such as “Who are you to judge?!” This has created an environment of intense loneliness.

Bishops, we want to stand with you. We want the corruption gone, without counting the cost. We want to fight against the lavender mafia and immorality in the ranks of the priesthood. We are willing to take the hits with you! We are willing to defend you! We are willing to stand up! We are willing to pick up the slack if you need to remove men from ministry. We are ready to console and pastor those misinformed souls that will be hurt if you take the right action. It’s time to stand up to all of this. It’s time. It’s past time. It sadly is too late for many—but not all. Enough is enough. We want to be in solidarity with you. Are you in solidarity with us?

Every scenario you have read in this reflection is true and born out of my personal experience. The corruption in the Church is real. I can tell you this, if you feel hurt or betrayed, please know that I do, too. If you have been hurt by a priest such as me, who is well-intentioned but fallible, I implore your forgiveness and beg your mercy. If you have been hurt by the abusive behavior of a priest, words cannot express my sorrow. Please let us help you. I remain in the Church not because she is free of corruption, but because she preaches the Truth of Jesus Christ, the Truth that I know makes us free. He has promised that the gates of hell, let alone human corruption, will never prevail against her. Know that these truths, along with one other essential factor, are what keep me doing what I do and enduring this nonsense.

That other essential factor is love. I do what I do because of Love. I love the Lord, who gave me this call. But that doesn’t keep me here, in the diocesan priesthood; I could love God in a quiet, beautiful monastery or hermitage somewhere far removed from this nonsense. I am here because I love you. We love you. You are worth the scars, the neglect of the hierarchy, the scorn of peers, the ridicule, and the immense loneliness. This love of the Lord and love of you brings far more joy than this mess could ever hope to extinguish. We love you, we are here for you, and above all, Jesus Christ is Lord!

St. John Vianney, Pray for us!

 

 

Pope Francis asks Catholics to pray for their priests in July

See article from Catholic News Agency


Pope at Chrism Mass: A Good Priest Makes Christ Present to His People

VATICAN  |  MAR. 29, 2018 | Hannah Brockhaus/CNA/EWTN News

VATICAN CITY — At his annual chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, Pope Francis said that a good priest is one who is close to his flock and who makes Jesus’ presence felt in people’s lives.

“A priest who is close to his people walks among them with the closeness and tenderness of a good shepherd; in shepherding them, he goes at times before them, at times remains in their midst and at other times walks behind them,” the Pope said March 29.

“We either make Jesus present in the life of humanity or let him remain on the level of ideas, letters on a page, incarnate at most in some good habit gradually becoming routine.”

Francis spoke to priests living in Rome about the “virtue of closeness” during the chrism Mass of Holy Week, the Mass at which the Pope, as the bishop of Rome, blesses the oil of the sick, the oil of catechumens and the chrism oil, which will be used throughout the diocese over the coming year.

In his homily, he said that closeness is more than just a good action, but “an attitude that engages the whole person, our way of relating, our way of being attentive both to ourselves and to others.”

When people say that a priest is close to them, they usually mean two things, he explained. One, that the priest is always present to them and does not appear too busy to spend time with them. The other is that he speaks with everyone: young, old, poor and unbelievers. These are “street priests,” Francis said.

“Closeness is crucial for an evangelizer because it is a key attitude in the Gospel,” he continued. It is also the key to mercy, because “mercy would not be mercy” if it was not carried out in proximity to the other person, like the works of the Good Samaritan.

The Pope also said he believes closeness is the key to truth. This is because truth is more than the definition of situations and things “from a certain distance,” but it is also fidelity. “It makes you name people with their real name, as the Lord names them, before categorizing them or defining ‘their situation,’” he noted.

He also warned against the temptation to turn truth into an idol, something which gives comfort and is dressed up in the words of the Gospel, but which does not “let those words touch the heart.”

“Much worse, it distances ordinary people from the healing closeness of the word and of the sacraments of Jesus,” he stated.

He also described three areas where priests should be especially attentive to Mary’s words to the servants in the Gospel account of the Wedding at Cana: “Do everything Jesus tells you.”

The first is closeness in spiritual conversation. Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman is a good example of how to gently help people see and acknowledge their sins, Francis said.

“The Lord gives us a model of spiritual conversation; he knows how to bring the sin of the Samaritan woman to light without its overshadowing her prayer of adoration or casting doubt on her missionary vocation.”

The second area where priests need to be close to people is in confession. Just like Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, “nor do I condemn you,” we, too, can add, “Go, and sin no more,” the Pope said. “The right tone of the words ‘sin no more” is seen in the confessor who speaks them and is willing to repeat them 70 times seven.”

And, finally, priests need to be close to both God and their flocks in their preaching, he noted, explaining that, “in the homily, we can see how close we have been to God in prayer and how close we are to our people in their daily lives.”

He encouraged priests, if they feel far from God, to draw nearer to their people. The little ones, especially, will teach them “to look at Jesus in a different way.” And if priests begin to feel far from their people, they should approach the Lord and Scripture, he said.

“In the Gospel, Jesus will teach you his way of looking at people and how precious in his eyes is every individual for whom he shed his blood on the cross. In closeness to God, the Word will become flesh in you, and you will become a priest close to all flesh.”

“Through your closeness to the people of God, their suffering flesh will speak to your heart, and you will be moved to speak to God,” he continued. “You will once again become an intercessory priest.”

 

As a priest, you realize there is no such thing as coincidence

 Father Sergio Argüello Vences | Mar 28, 2017

God had sent me to this Mass to speak to this daughter of his who had such a great need for him.

I had woken up content and looking forward to celebrating Mass in the parish. I sprang from bed, eager to get ready and to arrive early for my appointment with Our Lord and his people.

Mass went beautifully.

At the end, some women approached me, “Father, could you hear our confessions?”

I said yes — there were only three of them — but after I’d finished hearing the confessions of the first three women, I saw more people had gotten in line, and then more and more … until three hours had passed. I was hungry, thirsty and ready for a break.

I started to head back to the seminary, content with the morning’s ministry, when another woman approached me. “You’re a priest, right? My father died yesterday and they are going to bury him today, but I haven’t been able to find a priest.”

The prayer that came to my mind was, “Lord, I see that you want me to work in your name today! I just ask that you give some peace to my stomach!”

I celebrated a Mass of Christian burial for the woman’s dad, and decided to take a taxi back to my house and finally get some breakfast, and perhaps even lie down for a bit. Though you might not realize it, celebrating two Masses and hearing three hours of confessions on an empty stomach isn’t that easy.

So with an almost childlike excitement, I readied to dig into my sandwich … and as if the world was suddenly in slow motion, a brother arrived to tell me: “They are looking for you. Father. The parish priest got sick and there’s no-one to celebrate the 1 p.m. Mass …”

My human frailty immediately began to protest and my thoughts turned in complaint to God. “But, Lord, you know that I haven’t even had breakfast! I’ll go, but afterward, give me a break … or better yet, send another priest!”

God never ceases to amaze me, because just as I finished complaining to him, I clearly felt his response: “On the day of your ordination, you told me that you offered yourself completely to me and to my people.

“Besides, go to this Mass. I have a surprise for you.”

I gobbled down my sandwich and went to celebrate another Mass, feeling, quite frankly, angry.

I went out of a sense of obligation and not because I felt any desire to go.

But as I entered the sacristy to vest, my anger started to calm down. A couple approached me and said, “Father, our daughter tried to kill herself a month ago and we have convinced her to come with us to Mass today. Please include her in your intentions.”

This must have been the surprise: God had sent me to this Mass to speak to this daughter of his who had such a great need for him. As a priest, you realize that there is no such thing as a coincidence. God himself directs our paths.

It was a marvelous moment of Providence because the Gospel of the day was just what the girl needed: “Come to meall you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

As I celebrated the Mass, I was convinced that it was God who had placed me there — before beginning, I had prayed before the tabernacle, asking him to speak through me. I “reminded” him that I hadn’t had breakfast, and that I was a little angry …

And the Mass was overflowing with grace. I don’t know how to explain it, but it was Jesus himself who guided it. He was the one speaking while I gave the homily. They were his words — even today I can’t describe what happened — his words were words of comfort, of caresses, of fortitude, of encouragement.

After Mass had ended, the couple approached me again, this time with their daughter. She was crying and embraced me. “Father, I so desperately needed to hear everything you said. I need God’s help so much. I have distanced myself from him. Now I just want to place myself before him, and ask him to love me and to help me go forward …”

When this young woman embraced me, I felt God’s whisper: “I needed you in this Eucharist. This is why I had you come …”

I love Our Lord — how he finds his ways to get where people need him. This young woman who tried to kill herself is now a regular at the 1 p.m. Mass. God has changed her life.

And since that day, any time that I feel tired or angry because of the excess of work, I think, “Get going. Go to Mass and live it as if it were your first and last Mass. God needs you.”

And it seems that God answers me, “Be at peace. Go. I celebrate Mass in your place. Only lend me your hands and your mouth …”

Say a prayer today for the priest of your parish. Undoubtedly, he’s also gone to celebrate a Mass or two without having had breakfast, and even feeling a little angry …

[Translated and adapted from Aleteia’s Spanish edition. This piece reflects how both the demands made of priests and also the regulation of their ministry vary from country to country, depending on factors such as the number of faithful relative to the number of priests.]

 

 

A Pre-Lenten Preparation for Priests and a Request for Prayers from the Faithful

Msgr. Charles Pope   http://blog.adw.org/2018/02/pre-lenten-preparation-priests-request-prayers-faithful/

February 12, 2018

Priests need to prepare for Lent too. The Book of the Prophet Malachi provides a kind of mini-examen for them.

As we consider the sins of the priests enumerated below, please understand that neither the biblical text nor my commentary should be construed as meaning that all or even most priests are like this. Sadly, though, sins and shortcomings are far too common among the clergy. As priests must strive to be better and more holy, so must the laity remember to pray for us.

With that in mind let’s consider the sins of the priests (as described by Malachi) in three basic areas.

Shoddy Sacraments

A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? So says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. You say, “How have we despised thy name?” By offering polluted food upon my altar. And you say, “How have we polluted it?” By thinking that the Lord’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that no evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that no evil? Present that to your governor; will he be pleased with you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts. Oh, that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire upon my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and the food for it may be despised (Malachi 1:6-12).

Those are strong words indeed. While the injunction regarding blemished and polluted animals has changed, the intrinsic problem remains: careless celebration of the Liturgy and the sacraments.

One of the most common complaints from the faithful regards priests who violate liturgical norms and/or allow others to do so. Few things offend charity and unity as much as the open, sometimes egregious violation of liturgical norms. Although some violations are minor, why not just celebrate the Liturgy as it is set forth in the books? There are of course options, and not every complaint of the faithful is accurate or fair, but God’s people have endured several decades of exotic and often egocentric liturgical experiments, which are not approved and which take the focus off God and the proper worship due Him.

A priest cannot be expected to clear up every problem in the Liturgy the day he walks through the door, but proper liturgical formation of the faithful with due regard to charity and patience is one of his essential tasks as pastor of souls—and he should begin with himself. The liturgy, both its mechanics and its spiritual significance, should be his study and his great love.

Another problem that can emerge is inattentiveness to the dignity and beauty of the Mass and the sacraments. Proper attire and decorum are important ways that we communicate our love for God and one another. Priests should be properly vested, prepare their sermons prayerfully, and avoid mannerisms that are inappropriate or overly casual. Opulence is not necessary, but priests should ensure that liturgical appointments are clean, in good repair, and of proper dignity.

Decades ago, poor immigrant communities sponsored the construction of some of the most beautiful churches. They also supplied some of the finest art and liturgical implement. It is important that we keep what they have bequeathed to us in good repair. Further, priests can and should teach the faithful to follow the example of these recent ancestors of ours by seeking to build and maintain worthy churches, erected for the glory of God and not just the utility of man. In the recent past, many of the faithful have been shocked and hurt by the senseless “wreckovation” of sanctuaries and altars. Thanks be to God, many people today are growing in their appreciation of older churches and are seeking to preserve them.

If God was offended by the offering of a lame or sick animal, why should we think He is pleased with just “any old stuff” in the Sacred Liturgy? God does not need our gold chalices or our tall churches, but He knows that the shoddy, perfunctory, “anything goes” celebration of the Sacred Liturgy says something about our hearts, our priorities, and what we value.

Priests must avoid all conscious violation of liturgical norms, make central the devoted study of liturgy, and inspire respect among the faithful for the Sacred Liturgy. St. Paul summarizes well his liturgical teaching of 1 Cor 11-14 by concluding with this: But all things should be done decently and in good order (1 Cor 14:40).

Burdens not Blessings? Behold your Barrenness!

“What a weariness this is!” you say, and you sniff at me, says the Lord of hosts … And now, O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not lay it to heart to give glory to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings; indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung upon your faces, the dung of your offerings, and I will put you out of my presence. So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may hold, says the Lord of hosts. My covenant with him was a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him, that he might fear; and he feared me, he stood in awe of my name (Malachi 1:13, 2:1-5).

The priests of that ancient time had families, and God warned that if the fathers did not obey, their children would suffer many curses. While priests today do not have children of their ownmany call us “Father”!

In our day, the sins and omissions of priests surely have brought trouble upon the faithful. We have been through a period in which too many priests have been rebellious, unfaithful to Church teaching, slothful, unprepared to preach, un-prayerful, and irreverent. Some have even been guilty of grave sins and violations of their state in life. In addition, far too many priests and religious have left the sacred call they agreed to live for life.

All of this has resulted in many troubles for the faithful. Some are discouraged and angry; most are poorly catechized and ill-informed on critical moral issues. Many are confused by priests and bishops who have openly dissented, who do not listen to God or lay to heart His teaching and stand in awe of His name.

In this way, the flock is often harmed by this poor priestly leadership and example. Eighty percent of Catholics no longer attend Mass. Many of those who do attend are barely in communion with the Church’s teaching and struggle to live the glorious vision set forth in the Gospel.

Sadly, this text from Malachi echoes a similar one from Zechariah: Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered (Zech 13:7). This is why the sins of priests are so serious and why the faithful must pray for them fervently. Not only are priests subject to targeted attack by Satan, they are also especially susceptible to grandiosity, pride, and the sin of craving human respect.

Pray that priests do not become weary of exhortation or speak of their office as a burden. Pray, too, that they do not succumb to modern notions that the Gospel is too burdensome for the faithful and therefore fail to preach it or to encourage the faithful to live it.

Sacerdotal Silence

True instruction was in [Levi’s] mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you have not kept my ways but have shown partiality in your instruction (Malachi 2:6-9).

Silent pulpits are all too commonplace in the Church today. Some priests prefer to “play it safe,” fearing to preach about the issues of the day out of human weakness. Others do not believe certain teachings themselves or think them impractical in modern times. Still others have turned aside from the truth, preaching and teaching outright dissent; by preaching corruption they cause many to stumble.

It is tragic as well that so many priests are permitted to mislead the faithful without being disciplined for it by their religious superiors.

The text says that a priest should guard knowledge. That is, he should protect it from those who would distort it; he should refute error. He must also guard it from misunderstanding and see that it is presented in balance with other truths in Scripture and Tradition. St. Paul says this of a presbyter: He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it (Titus 1:9).

The text of Malachi also warns against partiality, wherein a priest chooses which truths he will teach or emphasize and which he will not. St. Paul said to the elders at Miletus, Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:26-27). Yes, the whole counsel, the complete truth, is to be taught by the priest.

Some of these rebukes concerning partiality must still be made today. Encourage your priests when they speak confidently and clearly. Thank them; give them support even if they challenge you. The job of a priest is not to be popular but to be a prophet. It’s tough work and it isn’t always welcomed. Even the prophets needed support from the 7000 who had still not bent the knee to Baal or kissed him (cf 1 Kings 19:18). Pray for priests and encourage them to announce the whole counsel of God.

These are some of the sins of priests that God sets forth, but let us not forget that the world has many hard-working, dedicated, loyal, and holy priests. Yet, as these passages remind us, priests can lose their way. They can forget the glory of the liturgies they celebrate, refer to their office and the gospel as burdensome, and grow silent out of fear or laziness.

Pray for priests!