At the time I write this devotion, I am taking part in a nationwide period of fasting and prayer for healing in the Church. I pray that these months later there has been a real change repairing the damage that was done by unfaithful bishops and priests, but I know that in reality things change so very slowly.
Our clergy still need our prayers, now and always, so that they will live up to the standards that Saint Paul gave for priests and bishops in his letter to Titus. One must completely surrender oneself to God in a life of prayer in order to “be blameless, not arrogant, not irritable, not a drunkard, not aggressive, not greedy for sordid gain, but hospitable, a lover of goodness, temperate, just, holy, and self-controlled.” (Titus 1:7-8). It is not an easy standard to live up to, and temptations of power and pleasure are hard to resist.
There is a great warning to our hierarchy and priests in today’s Gospel of their own danger if they lead those who have been entrusted to them into sin. However, Jesus also gives a message of great hope. (Luke 17:1-2). He tells His Apostles that if they have faith the size of a mustard seed that they can do incredible things. (Luke 17:6). If they repent of their sins, acknowledging their own weaknesses and seek to live out a sacramental life, open to grace, and receptive of the gift of faith, God will help them do incredible things, even living up to Saint Paul’s standards!
Christ also calls us to that faith. Some days it feels that the sacrifices of one little laywoman like me can do nothing to bring about the healing our Church needs. My prayers seem ineffectual to move others to repentance. But then, I remember the parable in today’s Gospel. All Christ asks of me is to have faith the size of a tiny mustard seed, faith that He gives me as a gift, and with that He can do wonders.
Sisters, our clergy always have and always will need so much grace to live the life of holiness that God calls them to in their vocation. Pray with me that the Lord will increase our faith (Luke 17:5) so that we will persevere in praying for our priests, bishops, cardinals, and Pope to lead us with true holiness. Our prayers will be heard, because our God is faithful even when His ministers may not be.
Pray for the Church and all of the priests today, sister.
Susanna Spencer is the Theological Editor for Blessed is She who studied theology and philosophy in her earlier life. She happily cares for her three adorable little girls, toddler boy, and her dear husband in Saint Paul when not writing and editing. She loves beautiful liturgies, cooking delicious meals, baking amazing sweets, reading good books, raising her children, casually following baseball, and talking to her philosopher husband. You can find out more about her here. She is the Theological Editor of both the Catechism Studies and the Mystery Studies.