Wednesday, 8 June 2011

June Prayer to the Sacred Heart (7): A prayer for priests

The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus. When you see the priest, think of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Every Consecrated Host is made to burn Itself up with love in a human heart.
St John Vianney (1786-1859)

The greatest tragedy which has faced the Catholic Church in my life-time is the way in which some sick and wicked men have brought the priesthood into such disrespect. It is a matter of personal sadness for me as I have known so many good and holy priests, and what has happened in recent years has caused so much damage to how people see the Church. When we pray for the future of the Church we must, therefore, have a special thought for our priests. With this in mind the relationship between the Sacred Heart and the priesthood must have a top priority in our prayers. In 2009, when Benedict XVI inaugurated the then ‘year for priests’ ( On the Feast of the Sacred Heart) he reminded us what St John Vianney said of the priesthood. “the priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus”. Indeed, this quotation appears in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (1598).

You can read what Benedict says in full by going HERE.
But here are a few excerpts.

God’s heart, as the expression of his will, is spoken of twenty-six times in the Old Testament. Before God’s heart men and women stand judged. His heartfelt pain at sins of mankind makes God decide on the flood, but then he is touched by the sight of human weakness and offers his forgiveness. Yet another passage of the Old Testament speaks of God’s heart with absolute clarity: it is in the eleventh chapter of the book of the Prophet Hosea, whose opening lines portray the Lord’s love for Israel at the dawn of its history: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son” (Hos 11:1). Israel, however, responds to God’s constant offer of love with indifference and even outright ingratitude. “The more I called them”, the Lord is forced to admit, “the more they went from me” (v. 2). Even so, he never abandons Israel to the power of its enemies, because “my heart”—the Creator of the universe observes—“recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender” (v. 8).
The heart of God burns with compassion! On today’s solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus the Church presents us this mystery for our contemplation: the mystery of the heart of a God who feels compassion and who bestows all his love upon humanity. A mysterious love, which in the texts of the New Testament is revealed to us as God’s boundless and passionate love for mankind. God does not lose heart in the face of ingratitude or rejection by the people he has chosen; rather, with infinite mercy he sends his only-begotten Son into the world to take upon himself the fate of a shattered love, so that by defeating the power of evil and death he could restore to human beings enslaved by sin their dignity as sons and daughters. But this took place at great cost—the only-begotten Son of the Father was sacrificed on the Cross: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (cf. Jn 13:1). The symbol of this love which transcends death is his side, pierced by a spear. The Apostle John, an eyewitness, tells us: “one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water” (cf. Jn 19:34).....The very core of Christianity is expressed in the heart of Jesus; in Christ the revolutionary “newness” of the Gospel is completely revealed and given to us: the Love that saves us and even now makes us live in the eternity of God. ….God’s heart calls to our hearts, inviting us to come out of ourselves, to forsake our human certainties, to trust in him and, by following his example, to make ourselves a gift of unbounded love.
While it is true that Jesus’ invitation to “abide in my love” (cf. Jn 15:9) is addressed to all the baptized, on this feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the day of prayer for the sanctification of priests, this invitation resounds all the more powerfully for us priests.

And so our prayer for today is simple .

Father, we pray that all your priests will love the heart of Jesus more and more. When we see a priest we pray that we will see the heart of Jesus shining out. St. John Vianney pray for our priests.

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