As an Army family, we’ve lived all over and sometimes have not been near a Military base. So we’d look for the nearest civilian church to attend while in those areas.
At one place we lived, the elderly priest who was presiding at daily Mass seemed to be just going through the motions. It distressed me greatly. I was concerned about the other believers in the pews, and there are more than you might expect at an early morning weekday Mass. He sat down during Communion and rarely looked up. His actions and speech, seemingly done by rote, especially during the Eucharistic Prayer and Consecration, were just not conveying any sense of joy, awe, or thanksgiving. That’s what eucharisteo means: thanksgiving!
Beyond Aggravation + Into Action
I was concerned for this elderly gentleman who has been a priest for probably almost as long as I’d been alive (a long time!). And I started to wonder if things for him hadn’t become “old hat,” taken for granted, stale. That can happen in any vocation, role, or relationship. We can start to go through the motions in a marriage, a friendship, a career. Things that used to fill us with joy and gave us a bounce in our step and a smile on our face for seemingly no reason can dissipate. And so I prayed for him.
I have a prayer that I’ve been praying for priests in general for a long time now, and I decided to pray very specifically for him. I didn’t know him; I still don’t. But he is God’s emissary and he is in persona Christi. So he is deserving of my good will and concern.
That prayer was simply:
Lord, fill this priest with Resurrection joy and with ordination day enthusiasm and energy! Amen.
I began praying that for him at every daily Mass I attended when he was there, and that was most of them.
During the second week of my praying for him, this sweet soul had noticeably changed. There was definitely a conversion in his attitude and demeanor.
He became so animated that he was asking if anyone was celebrating a birthday near the end of Mass, and one time gave us the final blessing twice because he just felt like it! I wanted to giggle. He was looking right at us with a twinkle in his eye! He was standing there straight and tall to distribute the Eucharist, the Body of Christ, to those of us who came forward to receive during the Heavenly banquet. Praise God!
What an amazing change within such a short amount of time. I thanked God for what I witnessed. I don’t know how much of an impact my personal prayer for this priest affected the changes we all witnessed, but I know that mine were sincere prayers that were borne of love and respect for a man of God who had sacrificed his entire life to be here and in other places to offer the Sacraments to the faithful. It was a reminder that I should always pray for our Church’s bishops and priests.
May God continue to bless him with Resurrection joy and ordination day enthusiasm, with health and a clear mind, until He calls that good priest, that man of God, that faithful spiritual father, Home.
The Importance of Praying for Priests
I encourage each of you to consider praying more for our priests. Yes, individually, for your pastor and any associate pastors you might be blessed to have. Pray for the archbishop and auxiliary bishops of your diocese. Pray for any priest friends or acquaintances. Pray for that joy and enthusiasm so that those who are participating in the Mass from the congregation side and those on the altar, can be reminded of, and authentically thank God for, the sacred encounter with Christ they are engaging in at each Mass.
If your pastor is a Military Chaplain, he has even more demands on his time and more to deal with in the Military culture, chains of command, and other unit or community duties to contend with. He probably needs some extra prayers to the Holy Spirit for peace and ordered thoughts.
The priest’s mindfulness of the Word proclaimed and the message shared can truly inspire, encourage, and edify the hearers. Of course, it doesn’t matter if the priest who is celebrating the Eucharistic feast is absentminded, bored, or distracted. Christ is there, God is moving, and we are still receiving the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord. But the priest can help us to praise, glorify, bless, and adore God more fully and genuinely when he is exhibiting the proper mindful, reverent, and authentic demeanor because he is fully engaged, aware, and grateful for his irreplaceable, ordained responsibility in this “source and summit” of our Faith.
In Gratitude and Grace
Our priests are deserving of our prayers no matter where we are or who he is, but we should recall that they are in need of our prayers, as well. Pray for their good health, also. And make sure that you thank them for their sacrifice and service to the Body of Christ in their faith communities. It can only help and perhaps enhance their Resurrection joy and ordination day enthusiasm!
The Time I Prayed for a Priest (and a Miracle Happened) #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Lynda MacFarland loves Jesus and her fondest desire is to encourage others in their faith journey toward Home. She prays often that the things she does will glorify God and advance His Kingdom. Lynda is the author of one book (so far!), Drowning In Lemonade: Reflections of an Army Wife. You can find out more about her here.