While I was away enjoying all the fine comforts Akron can offer (Luigi's anyone?); the Catholic Telegraph (paper for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati) ran my next column:
The Importance of Prayer for our Priests
One of the downfalls of being a full time teacher when I was a newly ordained priest was the fact that I was scheduled for the early morning Mass every day before heading off to the high school. While ‘morning people’ might rejoice in this prospect, it was admittedly a struggle for me to adjust my schedule to a 6:30 a.m. start time. Much to my surprise, a relationship quickly formed between me and the sixty to eighty attendees of that early Mass, and I started to look forward and enjoy these quiet Masses before heading off to the high school. I realized that just as I was sacrificing for my parishioners, they too were sacrificing for me; a family relationship grew and we all flourished.
It was an odd shift happening before my eyes: I, a celibate priest, was becoming a father. Even though most of the congregation was much older than me, I was giving them the strength and encouragement to start the day, just as my human father used to do when I was much younger. We had become a family, and I know now that just as I was praying for them, they were praying for me. We were sealed in Christ, united to become His Body, present to the world.
This reciprocal prayer becomes a vital and necessary aspect of life in the parish, for it is in prayer that the body is truly made one. However, it is not an easy thing to foster, especially as our lives grow more and more hectic, both in the families of the parish, but also on the part of the priest. Hence, we must make this union of prayer much more explicit than it ever has been before.
Into this need, the Vocation Office is proud to announce the formation of a new apostolate within the Archdiocese of Cincinnati: St. Michael Prayer Warriors. This movement is designed to bring the lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati together in prayer for our Archbishop, priests and seminarians, as well as an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
There are two reasons to bring this movement together. First, prayer is effective. I can tell in my life when my prayer life has grown weak or I have neglected my prayer responsibilities; things that usually come very easy become very difficult. Secondly, as St. Paul reminds us: love is the mark of the Christian community, and the expression of love is to sacrifice and pray for one another.
However, we have not been formed in prayer as we should, and the question arises: How do we pray for each other? It seems like such a simple question, yet the spiritual masters have been writing on this very topic for 2,000 years.
To help begin the apostolate of St. Michael Prayer Warriors, the Vocation Office is hosting the inaugural ‘Call of the King Conference’ on Sunday, September 21, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the evening at the Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center, 5440 Moeller Avenue in Norwood, Ohio. The event features Fr. Anthony Brausch, speaking on the pursuit of individual holiness and renewal within the Church. Several priests and seminarians will also speak on how the prayers of the faithful have made a difference in the following of their vocation as a priest. The event is free of charge, so bring your friends and fellow parishioners as well.
Your priest has given up much to follow his call, this is a small sacrifice to make for him and his holiness. For more information, visit www.cincinnativocations.org/prayerwarriors.shtml