The website for Madonna House, the apostolate founded by Catherine de Hueck Doherty, just posted this reflectionby Christopher Zakrzewski. It first appeared in their magazine Restoration in 2004, but it’s more timely now than ever.
The essay begins by describing a priest who battled the loneliness of his vocation and eventually left the priesthood.
The fact is that there are parishes that are notoriously indifferent to their parish priests. And even in parishes with conscientious, caring families, the tempo of modern living often prevents them from extending the hospitality they would like to.
However if we wish to keep our priests, we must somehow find the will and the time to treat them as members of our families—for that is what they really are.
…Priests are not Robinson Crusoes. The Sacrament of Holy Orders does not automatically confer upon them the charism of hermits in the desert. There is nothing supernatural about them when it comes to their need for the give and take of human interaction.
…In two crucial areas, in the celebration of the Mass and the administering of the sacraments, Catholics will always depend on their priests. However, the writing is on the wall.
The laity is going to have to learn to become less dependent on their priests for many of the latter’s non-essential ministries.
So here’s an idea. How about forming local prayer groups to “adopt” a priest? The sole aim of such groups would be to pray for the intentions of a specific priest.
Just think of the powerful graces that would flow to him! This is just one idea that has recently been implemented in many parishes in the United States and Canada.
We must also make a bigger effort to open our homes to our priests. Cook up some meals for him for the week and visit him at the rectory. Invite him home for dinner. Tell him he has a standing invitation to drop in at any time—and remember the importunate widow. Don’t take no for an answer.
When all else fails, use your little children as ambassadors. In one instance, after our invitations were repeatedly unsuccessful, our five and three-year-old sons managed to talk our pastor into coming to our house to watch a video.
And remember to pray for our priests!