How to Pray for Priests inTrouble by wjj14051


									  How to Pray for
  Priests inTrouble                                                                     Part 1
   by Fr Peter Sanders

When you see a priest who has gotten
himself into hard times, it’s pretty hard
not to fall into gossip. In this first of two
articles, let’s look at two strategies of
prayer that will really help him and the

                                   “W          hat to do now?” Fr. James
                                               said to himself. “I’ll just
                                               sleep in my car, transfer
                                   the payments of my credit card debt
                                   between the different accounts, and
                                   see if God helps me in some way. And
                                   they’ll see what they’ve done to me!” It
                                                                               psychologically and spiritually able to
                                   was 11:00 pm; suspended from ministry
                                                                               con�nue with the priestly ministry,
                                   by his bishop, James had just le� the
                                                                               given the shape he was in. It would be
                                   rectory without thinking where he
                                                                               a process on all those levels of coming
                                   should go, much less calling the bishop
                                                                               to grips with the damage James had
                                   to ask what he could do. In addi�on
                                                                               caused himself, those who were dear
                                   to the untreated alcoholism, there
                                                                               to him, and several communi�es
                                   were a string of nega�ve psychological
                                                                               where he had ministered. But for now,
                                   reports, but James’ take on them was
                                                                               everything was at a dead end.
                                   that “God was not in the reports; I
                                   have to make up my own mind about           In the life of most human beings there
                                   what I am going to do. It’s because all     are �mes of being in trouble and
  Fr Peter is a member of the      these people want to do me in that all      priests are no different. Fr. James got
  Oratorian Community of           this is happening; they’re jealous of all   into serious trouble that disrupted
  Monterey, Pastor of Ord          the good I have done… and ungrateful!       his life, that of his bishop, his friends
  Military Catholic Community      They want revenge. They’re judging          and several communi�es. What can
  and Director of New              me.” A million thoughts – it was all a      be done by people who are either
  Pentecost Catholic Ministries.   whirlwind in his mind… or unrelen�ng        affected by priests in trouble or simply
                                   nightmare. The next months would            see them at a distance in a process of
                                   be the most painful of all trials, trying   self-destruc�on? The easiest thing is to
                                   in vain to prove that he was morally,       cri�cize or lament their situa�on which

New Pentecost Catholic Ministries
most o�en turns into destruc�ve              been in trouble? Whether it is criminal    this is a personal determina�on
gossip. Encouraging a priest in trouble      behavior, addic�ons and substance          between you and the Lord. You can ask
by sugges�ng help and friendship             abuse, sexual problems, unresolved         Him to lay this burden of prayer on your
is a very holy thing to do, yet when         childhood      conflicts,     character     heart un�l it is His will that it be li�ed.
someone is psychologically vexed,            defects that produce dysfunc�on in         That may be hours, days or months.
offering help can quickly turn into           communi�es, you can help this broken       Some of my prayer burdens for priests
a disaster in the rela�onship, if one        leader of the Body of Christ who is in     last months, and are recurring. It is
does not know how to handle anger,           trouble.                                   up to God, and your coopera�on with
manipula�on and confusion. If you can
help in this way, that will be a work of     When it is a ques�on of genuine
mercy! If, like most, you can’t, there are   persecu�on from without for the name
some specific ways to pray that can be        of Jesus, the trouble of suffering for Him
of enormous help. The two following          brings spiritual vigor and an increase
guidelines for intercessory prayer, and      in the gospel. Spiritual or physical
two more that soon follow in another         martyrdom demands its own type of
ar�cle, can be useful prayer strategies      prayer, as for example the powerful
for anyone in trouble. They are offered       intercession of the community on
here in rela�onship to priests so that       behalf of Peter and John when they
your spiritual work can bear much fruit      were in jail (Acts 4:23-31). Or maybe it
in the Church.                               is a religious system that cannot handle
                                             or tolerate a prophe�c move of God,
Being “in trouble”                           as for example the persecu�on of a St.
                                             Francis of Assisi, St. John of the Cross,
Most o�en, being “in trouble” is the         or St. Philip Neri. Prayer for people in
result of our own character issues,          persecu�on is another subject and Him. The most important thing is that
errors in judgment, poor decisions, or       deserves a�en�on, but it is not in the you persevere, as Jesus teaches.
moral failures. The above example of         scope of this ar�cle.
Fr. James’ problems stemmed from a                                                     Should you disclose to the priest that
series of bad decisions, sinful pa�erns      For whom should we pray? you praying for him? That depends. If
of conduct, and brokenness in his                                                      you sense that it will genuinely li� him
family’s background that was erup�ng         May I suggest that before we start to up and encourage him, then that could
in his life and adversely affec�ng his        speculate about all the priests that be in order. But anonymous prayer
ministry. The trouble that priests find       might be in trouble, that we first without any prospect of recogni�on
themselves in are no different from           approach God in prayer and ask Him or reward is always the more purely
that of others, except that our posi�on      for whom we should intercede? Simply mo�vated prayer.
of responsibility in the Body of Christ      say to Him, “Lord, you know the priests
and in society in general brings with it     who are in trouble and in most need of I’ll outline two areas of prayer, then
                                                                                       give some examples of how each of
The trouble that priests find themselves in are                                         these areas can be taken to God on
                                                                                       behalf of your priest. Two other areas
no different from that of others, except that                                           of prayer will follow in another ar�cle.
our position of responsibility in the Body of                                           Strateg y 1: Relationships
Christ and in society in general brings with                                            with God and fellow
                                                                                        human beings
it consequences that are not only painful but                                           “May he grant you in accord with the
harmful as well... there is potential for serious                                       riches of his glory to be strengthened
                                                                                        with power though his Spirit in the
long-term damage in many people’s lives.                                                inner self.” (Eph: 3:16)

                                                                                        As human beings, we can never be
consequences that are not only painful       prayer. I want to pray for the ones that   ourselves – the way God made us
but harmful as well. Add to that the         are on your heart. Please reveal to me     – without being in holy rela�onship
spiritual dimensions of our rela�onship      that special one who you want me to        with God and others. The Catechism of
to the Church and to the society, and        pray for.” Surely over the next day or     the Catholic Church recognizes that the
there is poten�al for serious, long-term     two the Lord will focus your mind and      human person has the capability of,
damage in many people’s lives.               heart on just that priest who needs        “self-knowledge of self-possession, and
                                             your prayer.                               of freely giving himself and entering
Can you think of some of the priests that                                               into communion with other persons.
you have known or heard of that have         For how long should they pray? Again,
And he is called by grace to a covenant                 Strategy 1
with his Creator.” (357) Fr. James was
being shut down with respect to each            Sample prayer for holy
of these aspects of his rela�onships,
isola�ng himself as the vic�m.                rela�onships with God and            Our prayer must
                                                       others:                     always be on the
Begin to pray that the priest you
are interceding for will seek a daily
encounter with the Lord in bad �mes
                                              Dear Lord, I bring Fr James
                                              [subs�tute the name of the
                                                                                   side of mercy and
and in good. Ask for the grace for him
to cul�vate the rela�onship with the
                                              priest you are led to pray for] to   restoration and it is
                                              you, with all the rela�onships
Father, Son and Holy Spirit and that          that have been broken in his life.   in the understanding
he seeks a holy and healthy sharing of
life and affec�on with others, including
                                              Restore these rela�onships to
                                              wholeness, beginning with his
                                                                                   and the freewill that
Mary, the Mother of priests and the
saints. Pray that his rela�onship with        rela�onship with you. Teach him      this will take place.
other priests and also with his bishop        to seek you in in�macy each day.
or superior would be marked by mutual         I claim for him the power of his
respect and an honoring of his gi�s and       Bap�sm into you and the gi�s of
talents. This is the spiritual gi� of piety   your Spirit in Confirma�on. May
                                                                                                Strategy 2
in rela�onships.                              these lead him to be for�fied             Sample prayer for the
                                              every day with your character. Let
Strateg y 2: Healing and                      life – your divine life – flow into    restora�on of the image of
restoration of Image of                       him and through him by virtue                   God:
God                                           of the Eucharist he celebrates.
                                                                                    Dear Father in heaven, that Fr.
“For those he foreknew he also                Help him to feel that prayer is
                                                                                    James is in such trouble shows
predes�ned to be conformed to the             the sign of his faithfulness to
image of his Son.” (Rom 8:29)                                                       that your image in him has
                                              you; ins�ll a hunger for prayer
                                                                                    been broken. I now pray for the
                                              into him. Purify his mind of any
The Image of God being intact in                                                    restora�on of that image a�er the
                                              mechanical or rou�ne no�ons of
a human person means that he or                                                     Image of your Son Jesus Christ.
she is able to conduct him/herself,
                                              prayer and replace them with the
                                                                                    Infuse your divine and heavenly
interiorly and exteriorly in wholeness        deeper life of in�macy with you,
                                                                                    light into his mind and heart.
and holiness. The two powers of the           and through you, a holy and life-
                                                                                    Help him open up to your gi�s of
Image are 1. Intellect – the ability to       giving in�macy with others.
                                                                                    understanding, knowledge and
understand or grasp the things in life
                                                                                    wisdom. Please help him to see
and 2. Will – the ability to make the
right choices that lead to the des�ny                                               his trouble truly through your
of life and holiness. When the intellect                                            eyes that have never ceased to
is darkened, mental and spiritual                                                   desire his good. I proclaim his
disorienta�on sets in, which leads to                                               heart and mind open to your
wandering far from God’s plan. When                                                 heart and mind, and I bind them
the will is trapped, cap�ve to other                                                to you. Break the shackles off
forces, then decisions are taken that                                               him, Lord; deliver him to be able
lead to sin and death. In this condi�on,                                            to choose what you want for his
a person lives in a primi�ve, sub-human                                             life and ministry, and help him to
condi�on; he or she strays from des�ny                                              feel this new freedom in you.
in God.

Our prayer must always be on the side
of mercy and restora�on and it is in the
understanding and the freewill that
this will take place.                                                              In the next ar�cle we will build on this
                                                                                   founda�on of prayer, giving guidelines
Begin to pray that the priest you are                                              concerning the cri�cal issues of
interceding for will seek a daily encounter                                        “Spiritual Ba�le” for priests as well as
                                                                                   how to pray for an in-filling of the Holy
with the Lord in bad times and in good.                                            Spirit.


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