Fr. John Hardon, S.J. writes, “Having taught priests for over 30 years, having lived with priests, and having labored for them, loving them and suffering with them—no words I can use would be too strong to state that the Catholic priesthood needs prayer and sacrifice as never before since Calvary…” (Quoted by Beckman, Praying for Priests: A Mission for the New Evangelization, p 20)
Advent season is a perfect time to pray Our Lady’s rosary for the holiness of priests; an intention most pleasing to the Immaculate Heart. We can consider it a fruitful spiritual work of mercy.
For that purpose, I offer the following reflections.
As you consider these rosary reflections, kindly recall the teaching of Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM, Cap.,
“It is true that laypeople contribute to the support of the clergy, but their contribution to the kingdom and to the priests should not stop there. The Lord today is calling the faithful in ever-growing numbers to pray, to offer sacrifices, in order to have holy priests. A concern, a passion, for holy priests has spread as a sign of the times throughout today’s Church. …The royal and universal priesthood of believers has a new way of expressing itself, contributing to the sanctification of ministerial priesthood.”
(Quoted by Beckman, Praying for Priests: A Mission for the New Evangelization, p 19)
First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation of Our Lord
Intention: Priestly obedience of faith
Fruit: the gift of wisdom and for yes to the divine will
Scripture: The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-33, 38)
Prayer: Father, I pray for priests to listen, hear and respond, as did Mary so that their hearts are receptive to the divine will. Please grant to priests the gift of wisdom to ardently desire holiness of life. Graciously protect them from temptations to flight, compromise, compensation, vice or sin.
Second Joyful Mystery: The Visitation
Intention: Joyful, faithful service
Scripture: During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:39-45)
Prayer: Father, I pray that priests never tire of going forth to serve wherever they are needed. Please grant to priests the experience of joy in their sacrificial love for souls. Sanctify your priests that they may sanctify your people, attracting souls to your kingdom.
Third Joyful Mystery: The Nativity of Jesus
Intention: Humility of the Christ child
Fruit: to love and be loved
Scripture: While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2: 6-12)
Prayer: Father, the prophet Isaiah said, “A little child shall lead them” (Is. 11:6). I pray for priests to be humble with a childlike trust in divine providence. Please heal priests of any fear of vulnerability that is required for authentic Christ-like love and service. May the Christ Child be born anew in the heart of every priest so they remember the Gift of Love.
Fourth Joyful Mystery: The Presentation
Intention: Growth in personal prayer
Fruit: holiness, purity, perseverance
Scripture: Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” (Luke 2:25-32)
Prayer: Father, I pray for priests to grow in the gift of personal prayer, that they may know the joy of encountering Jesus Christ and of having a lively interior life. Please raise priests to know the power of prayer from the heart.
Fifth Joyful Mystery: Finding the Christ Child in the Temple
Intention: Zeal for the Father’s House
Fruit: self-emptying charity for souls
Scripture: Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. (Luke 2:41-50)
Prayer: Father, I pray that priests will be always breaking open the living Word in Your temple, the Church. Graciously grant priests the gift of zeal for your house, zeal for Christ, zeal for souls, zeal for the priesthood, zeal for loving service, and zeal for heaven.
Closing Rosary Reflection
Self-Offering: Intercession for Priests
Heavenly Father, I, a poor servant, ask that I may glorify the Trinity in the offering of my daily prayers and sacrifices for the holiness of priests. I am inspired by the glorious witnesses of saints who went before me on the path of spiritual motherhood and fatherhood. I unite my offering to all the spiritual mothers and fathers of priests through the history of the Church. I pray that I may imitate their fidelity and fruitfulness in handing down the Faith to future generations by spiritually supporting all clergy in prayer –which is the heart of the New Evangelization. Amen.
Excerpts from: Praying for Priests: A Mission for the New Evangelization available from Sophia Press. For more on spiritual motherhood or fatherhood of priests: www.foundationforpriests.org.