In my local parish we have a ministry called the “Traveling Chalice.” Families sign up to receive the traveling chalice, they host the chalice in their home for one week and pray for priests and priestly vocations including prayers for seminarians, nuns, friars, and all religious vocations. The hope is that through our prayers more young men will be called to the priesthood and will be faithful servants to our Lord and the community they serve. My husband and I recently had the traveling chalice in our home and were able to offer up our prayers for our priests and future priests.
While we had the chalice in our home, I found myself thinking of the importance of our priests. Not only are they a physical representation of Jesus by embodying his way of life here on Earth, but they also play a critical role in the lives of their parishioners by giving us the gift of the sacraments, guiding us in our journey to grow closer to our Lord and reach the Heavenly Kingdom, and in being a light in the darkness among so many other things.
Our priests also serve as defenders of our Church, her teachings and the way in which we live out those teachings in the public square. We have been blessed with a Church filled with sacred traditions, teachings, writings, holy objects such as relics, the sacraments, the lives of saints to look up too, the Holy Scriptures and so much more. And all of this has been handed down from Jesus to his apostles, to Peter our first Pope, all the way to current day to each of us who call themselves a Catholic. Our priests have the responsibility to pass this wealth of knowledge and tradition down to us, the laity, so that we can live it out in our daily lives.
Recently, however, I have seen and heard more and more priests, cardinals, bishops, etc., be timid in defending the faith. They shy away from the controversial topics that have people divided. Now more than ever we are in need of strong, faithful servants of Lord to defend the teachings He left us. We cannot allow society to force their ideas onto our Church. Our Church was founded on teachings that not only go against the societal norms of today, but even went against the societal norms during the time of Jesus. In the Bible, Simeon tells Mary at the presentation in the temple that Jesus will be “a sign that will be contradicted” (Luke 2:34). As disciples of Jesus, we too will be signs of contradiction. If we are truly living the way we are intended to, we will not fit in with today’s society. However, we should not fear to be seen as a contradiction because in the eyes of God we are living righteously and our reward will be great in Heaven.
Therefore, I pray for all our religious leaders – priests, bishops, cardinals, etc. – that they be filled with the fire and zeal of the Holy Spirit so that a passion for our Church can burn within each of their hearts. I pray that they have the courage to speak out against the societal issues that go against our Church teachings without fearing what others may say or think of them. I pray that they will be able to guide those individuals who have been placed in their care, instilling in them the strength and courage to stand firm in their faith and defend our Church especially during these times of conflict and division. Now more than ever we need religious leaders who will defend the Church, her teachings, and most importantly our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We need leaders who will share the truth with their communities and help be a guide for them so that they too can live according to God’s word.