I have a very large basket of prayers, cards, booklets and pamplets that I have amassed over the years, and I often pull from that basket to use as bookmarks. I pulled a card today randomly. It was the Ordination card of a priest. He was Ordained on Saturday, May 18th, 1946, and offered his first Solemn Mass the next day. I did not know him, and suspect that his card was within one of my endless collection of used Catholic books.
What struck me was the first line on the card, which read:
Please pray for me.
Normally I wouldn't think so much about a card, but we started this apostolate last week, and it can't be a coincidence that I stumble upon the Ordination card of a priest and the first line is "Please pray for me."
I searched for this priest's name. I wish I could have been happier with what I found. When he died a large amount of money was unaccounted for in the parish he had run for many years. They may never know where it went, and his record keeping was poor.
I don't pretend to know where that money is, or if this priest was even guilty of anything besides awful record keeping. But it brings to mind another aspect of 40 Days for Priests... perhaps one of the most troubling needs for prayers. When the Priesthood is attacked, especially from within, it leaves a trail of broken souls and broken vows. The pain to lose a soul to sin that is a Priest must be excruciating for Our Lord and His Mother.
Pray for the beleaguered or fallen priests, for those are perhaps in most in need of His mercy. Priests fall for many reasons. They may have poor formation, dependencies, a lack of faith or heterodox beliefs, temptations personal to themselves or in their apostolate, vanity or venality or pride, power seeking, or personal proclivities. The reasons are as numerous as sins in the world, but because of their place in the hierarchy of Order, they are perhaps the most likely to suffer such a fate.
As a soul rises in responsibility, he or she also rises in attacks by Satan, who will tempt in any way he can. The worst of this attack is that Satan, and the other malignant spirits and the souls of the Damned, cannot enjoy their temptation of humans to sin. Enjoyment is a positive emotion. They only redouble their effort to make a soul stay in sin. It is an endless need... an insatiable desire. The desire to destroy.
Pray especially hard for priests you know, or don't know, who may have til now not lived the life expected of them as priests, for whatever reasons. I cannot imagine the pain our Lord must feel, mixed with anger and resentment, of priests that fail to live up to His standard, and fail to avail themselves of His mercy, and His graces, as they should.
Please pray for priests, both living and deceased.