[Originally published September 2018]
When we upgraded our website a few years ago, a photo was purchased for our use of a man with his head bowed and knuckles in his eyes and we added the caption: Our Priests Carry Not Only The Full Weight of Our Burdens But Their Own As Well. Today, in these days of renewed scandal, we have to consider an additional, undeserved burden many innocent priests must lift every day.
This reflection is inspired from some of the prayer requests and comments we’ve received as the abuse and coverup crisis gained steam in recent weeks. Especially painful has been not only the horror of the abuse itself and the lifelong trauma the victims must live with but also the collateral damage, as it were, falling on all priests presumed to be just like the perpetrators even though they are innocent and faithful.
We are hearing from many laity and good priests expressing something that is more increasingly evident with each passing day: that our priests need to know we are supporting them, grateful for them, and praying for them. It doesn’t take away the sting of this almost incredible and sad drama being played out in the American Church and elsewhere. Our community was founded to give our lives for the sanctification of priests and we’ve been doing that for over 70 years. Believe us, we say this to all priests: you are in our prayers constantly. To those who might feel praying for priests ignores the plight of abuse victims, know they are also the focus of our prayer. If all priests were as sanctified as God desires, there would be no victims.
You will notice that this week our usual suite of priest names is not on the chalkboard. We don’t want the chalkboard to give any impression that these are the only priests we are praying for. So this week, we are pausing the list of names so we can display a short message to all priests.
Everyone of you are precious and treasured by us.
Priests may value our prayers for them but, for us, we don’t just esteem and value our priests – we depend on you utterly!
Without you we cannot have Jesus.
Without you we cannot have the Mass.
Without you we cannot be absolved.
You are thus beyond precious to us and the English language lacks the proper adjectives to express this need and dependency.
So, however dark it gets, hang in there and hang onto the Cross: We need you!
We can’t see it but we believe it: Great Saints are in the making in this era. Perhaps only in Eternity will we appreciate the beauty that will come out of this madness. Thank you for your ministry and fidelity!