“The Priesthood is God’s greatest gift to man, its faithful fulfillment is man’s greatest gift to God.”
– Father Gerald Fitzgerald, sP, Founder
This was the conviction of our founder, Father Gerald Fitzgerald, s.P. He would write: “I believe I am justified in saying that the priesthood is God’s greatest to man because it gives us Christ in the world today. Its faithful fulfillment is man’s greatest gift to God, because the priesthood not only gives Christ to man, but gives Christ to God. In giving Christ to God, he is not only giving the sacramental Christ, but Christ in you.”
Jesus knows what He is doing! “He Who is Wisdom deliberately chose to utilize men in the salvation of their fellowmen, chose to have a priesthood of His own.”
Our founder gave the Handmaids of the Precious Blood the motto “Pro Christo In Sacerdote Suo”, “For Christ in His Priest”, to focus on the special identity a priest has, marked and conformed to Christ the High Priest. We honor and serve Christ by serving his priests in our ministry of prayerful impetration and sacrifice.
The Vital Role of the Priest
Jesus instituted the priesthood to bring the Blessed Sacrament into existence, to reconcile humanity with God, that there might be a priest to lift the Victim to his heavenly Father, to give him in holy communion, to give the fruit of his Passion. Jesus, who is divine, infinite Wisdom, chose the priesthood to deliver through the centuries the fulfillment of his divine plan of merciful love.
As servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Cor 4:1), Father Gerald realized that “There is no one in the world so poor as one who dies, not understanding how rich he is. Is there any beggar in the world so pitifully poor as the priest of God who dies not appreciating his priesthood? Dear God! The man who receives his priesthood, has received the greatest gift that God can give to an individual man. When he gives himself to us in holy communion, he does indeed give himself, but when he gives himself in the priesthood, he gives himself in such a way that the priest can give him to others–to his Father and to his people.”
The Need for Holy Priests
A priest is a combatant in the spiritual warfare for souls, and in this contest can fall victim to the weaknesses of our human nature and original sin. Precisely because the mission of the priest is so critical, it is imperative that the priest himself be a holy man of God; his must be a constantly renewed and watchful response to the call of the Lord.
Jesus was under no illusions when he chose the apostles, nor when he set the sacramental seal of priesthood upon men throughout the ages. “We bear this treasure in earthen vessels,” wrote Saint Paul (2 Cor 4:7). In the holiness of a priest the Father is glorified, Jesus is loved, and thousands are brought to salvation.
The Gospel is addressed to everyone who wishes to follow Christ: we must daily be converted anew. All the more is this addressed to priests who must “pray continually and never lose heart” (Lk 18:1), overcome themselves, think in a divine way, and give an account of negligences, timidity, lack of fidelity and faith and hope. In his vocation to give glory to God, a priest also accompanies the human family towards fullness of life in God, sharing the difficulties of life choices, hopes and disappointments, sufferings and joys.
Anyone who would truly honor the priesthood must do so by helping priests. If we strengthen a priest by our prayer and sacrifice, “we strengthen the very hand of Christ, the heart of Christ, the lips of Christ, the eyes of Christ. All vocations stem through the priesthood of Christ. Christ Himself at the altar comes to Mass by the hands of a priest. So, in strengthening the priest you strengthen the whole Church.” (Father Gerald, s.P.)
Interestingly, Father Gerald coined the phrase “poorest of the poor” to refer to the priest who does not appreciate the gift of his priesthood. Chosen from among men, Jesus does not hesitate to chose the ministers of his mercy from among sinners (Jn 15:16; Lk 5:8). “We know that Jesus Christ has stamped these souls with His image and so we know without having any visions that what we do for them we do for Christ Himself.”
Joining the fight on behalf of priests is not complicated. Simply pray. Fast. Sacrifice. Adopt a deliberate attitude of gratefulness for their daunting but rewarding ministry and let them know you appreciate their “Yes!” to Christ’s call. Pause this moment, even on the web, and pray a short prayer for a priest you know who is in need…or for a priest you don’t know who is in the greatest need. Pray for a priest in Purgatory. Pray for a newly ordained priest. Pray for a priest in a dying condition. Pray for a priest in in great danger, for one who is tempted, for one who may be falling into worldliness. Pray for the saintly priest. Pray for them all. Become convinced that your individual prayers and sacrifices matter enormously in the salvation of their souls and in the lives of all they influence—because they do.
Adopt A Priest – spiritually adopt a priest anonymously
[Conversely, submit a priest’s name for adoption: Submit A Priest For Adoption]
A Vocation for Priests – explore the call of the Handmaids of the Precious Blood
Oblates of the Precious Blood – our external apostolate of praying and sacrificing for priests in affiliation with the Handmaids of the Precious Blood
A Chalice Returned – a story of a resurrected priest through the power of prayer
Eucharistic Adoration for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Maternity – Congregation of the Clergy Document about the importance of praying for priests, especially Adoration