The most difficult vocation I can imagine is that of being a Priest, Deacon or Religious in the Roman Catholic Church.
Over at Illegitimi Non Carborundum, the blog of Father James Farfaglia, the Catholic priest and writer from Corpus Christi Texas, Father wrote about Celibacy and Authenticity here. His thesis for the article is: "The charism of celibacy has to be lived out with authenticity." It is well worth reading for those of you who are celibate in vocation, as well as for those of us who, as parishioners, should be celebrating that special charism with you, and encouraging you in that calling.
Meanwhile, Monsignor Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, has written "On the Silence of Pastors and a Call to Prayer" at the diocesan blog where he does much of his writing here. He laments the state of preaching in the Church, and quotes the writings of Pope St. Gregory the Great, who was considered Great in part for some very solid teaching, like the excerpts quoted by the good Monsignor.
It is his conclusion that rings most true for me and should for all faithful Catholic Christians. It is a call to prayer:
Pray, Pray Pray! Well you know what you need to do. Pray for us who are clergy and leaders. An old saying is true, corruptio optimi pessima (the corruption of the best is the worst) or again, I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered (Matt 26:31). It is easy to criticize the clergy and well we deserve some of it. But realize this too, Satan has targeted the clergy, your bishop and your priests. It is easier for him to knock out the leaders than to go after the whole flock. Hence he targets bishops, priests and deacons. Send up your prayers as a hedge of protection around us. Pray for clergy who have become distracted and worldly. Pray for clergy who fear man more than God. Pray for clergy who have fallen under the burden of office. Pray for clergy who have been deceived by the evil one. Pray, pray, pray!I know many priests, some better than others that I have met over the years. I have not met one who I have any reason to believe take his vow of celibacy with anything but the utost seriousness, nor have I met one who is not committed to his vocation to the very best of his ability.
The priests I have in my heart and mind right now include Father Sam Johnston, an 84 year old retired priest of our London Ontario diocese, who has gotten almost more active since retirement than he was as a very active parish priest, our pastor here at St. George Parish in London, Father John Pirt, who convalidated our marriage with us this summer, and Father Tim Moyle, who gave us the gift of saying mass for My Dear Wife and I on the day of our convalidation while several hundred miles away. I think of one particular priest who brings a smile to my face each time I think of him, Father Michael Prieur, a wonderful teacher at St. Peter's Seminary here in London, also a friend of the family, Father Jim Mockler, the pastor of St. Peter's Cathedral Basilica, here in town, and Father Clement Agamba, of Ghana and the Diocese of Tucson, who's prayerful gentle faith has inspired us. Then, of course, there is Father Francis Jayaseelan, formerly the assistant at St. George's Parish, a Rosarian priest, and the two younger priests, who followed him here to our Diocese from Sri Lanka to take on the responsibility for the Diocesan Shrine. There are others who I have only encountered through their internet ministry, like Father Dwight Longenecker of Greenville SC, and in particular those quoted above, Father James Farfaglia, and Monsignor Charles Pope, whose writings and faith are an inspiration.
And of course, in pondering and praying for those who are active in ministering their vocation in the free world, I cannot forget Father Gordon MacRae, who ministers from the New Hampshire State Prison, not as a visitor, but as an inmate. Father Gordon was wrongly accused of sexual molestation, as even a cursory review of the evidence demonstrates, and has spent more than 16 years as an inmate, yet remains faithful to the Church, and faithful to his vows.
These good men have all been called to serve God in a special way, and have been given the charism of celibacy, which helps them in their service. It is wrong for us to think that the charism of celibacy and the other components of the vocation to priesthood exempts them from temptation, and from being sinners as we are. They need us to love them, to serve them in turn, to encourage them in their vocation, and above all to pray for them, as Monsignor Pope has asked. In fact, we should not have to be asked. This we should know and should do as part of our vocation.
In the morning Liturgy of the Hours which my prayer partners and I pray together, there is a time of intercession as a part of the liturgy. We add special intentions that come to mind at the conclusion. A particular intention that I have had on my heart and have voiced regularly lately, and will continue with is somewhat as follows:
We pray for all priests, religious and deacons, as well as those currently in formation, or discerning a call to vocation, that they will follow the Spirit of God in directing them in the path they are to follow in their vocation. We pray that God will send His angels to minister to their needs, to intercede for those needs to the Father of us all, and that warring angels will protect them from all evil that would come against them to separate them from their vocation. We pray also that Our Blessed Mother, and all the angels and saints would intercede on their behalf to the Father.Let us not forget these men, who like our Saviour have laid down the parts of their lives that we the laity take for granted, to be alter Christus for us.