"His heart was moved with pity for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd."
Many of our Catholic churches are like this today because priests are burned out and some are watering down the teaching of the church. We need to pray for them! They have so much to do, they can be tempted to neglect their own prayer time. The danger there is you can’t give what you don’t have. St. Bernard of Clairveaux said, "Before you can be a channel, you’ve got to be a reservoir." I’ve been to many Catholic churches, and I hear over and over how the parish priest doesn’t give good homilies, or isn’t very pastoral. If that’s the case in your parish, I encourage you to set aside time every day to pray for him.
Not only are some priests burned out, but some are letting their teaching reflect the values of our culture instead of our church. When Jim and I were helping with engaged couples at our parish in California, many were already living together. We encouraged them to move apart or at least quit sleeping together until their wedding. Then we found out that our pastor was telling them it was okay to live together before marriage. I was very upset and went to see him. During our visit, the scripture from the first reading today came to mind "Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture says the Lord." (Jer 23:1) I told him as much. I reminded him that teachers and shepherds will be held responsible for the sins of those they lead astray. (Just as an interesting note: more marriages fail when couples live together before marriage.)
And so, I repeat, please pray for our priests! Pray that God will provide for their needs and keep them close to His heart; pray that they will be faithful to their prayer time so that God can empower them to minister more effectively; and pray that more young men will respond to the call to priesthood. Thank you Lord for the many holy priests in our church, please bless them as well as the luke-warm, the tired and lonely priests, through our prayers. In Jesus Name we pray. Amen.
Janice Carleton and her husband Jim live in Portland, OR and partner with Passionist Fr. Cedric Pisegna in Fr. Cedric Ministries. Janice also leads women’s retreats. She is the mother of 4 grown children and grandmother of 6. Visit Janice’s website at http://www.jcarleton.com/ or email her at [email protected].