World Day of Prayer for Priests

Today, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, is the World Day of Prayer for Priests, instituted by Pope Saint John Paul II in 2002, a reminder that Christ came in true human nature, with a human body, flesh and ‘heart’, and all that means, the emotions and affections proper to being a man. Christ could say with the Roman poet Terence, Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto, ‘I am a man, and nothing human is alien to me’, albeit with a bit of a different meaning and emphasis, for Christ knew no sin, and was perfect in mind, body and soul.

The Priesthood, as the Curé D’Ars said, is the love of the heart of Jesus. Even if at times their own human weaknesses obscure that love, the priest is still an alter Christus, and we must pray that they re-discover and live up to their exalted vocation, which is not primarily their work but Christ’s, and God’s.

Again to Saint Jean Vianney (declared the patron of all priests in 2009 by Pope Benedict, inaugurating the year he dedicated to priests), if we really understood the priest on earth, we would die not of fright, but of love. (cf., CCC, #1589).