Stir into Flame the Gift of God

From 1983 until 2015 I was a pastor/missionary. I valued greatly when someone told me that he or she was praying for me. Even with those assurances, there were days when it seemed that I was all alone, that the spiritual burden was greater than I could bear. Because of that experience I sense a great responsibility to pray now for those in spiritual leadership over me.

If you feel spiritual attack or pushback in your daily walk with Christ as a disciple, as a father or mother, as a college or high school student, or in the workplace, imagine what your priest/pastor is experiencing in their godly role of leading you and me to Christ.

Every morning I pray the following prayer for my priest. I found the prayer in the United States Grace Force Prayer Book.

O Almighty Eternal God, look upon the face of Thy Christ, and for the love of Him who is the Eternal High Priest, have pity on Thy priests. Remember, O most compassionate God, that they are but weak and frail human beings. Stir up in them the grace of their vocation which is in them by the imposition of the bishop’s hands. Keep them close to Thee, lest the Enemy prevail against them, so that they may never do anything in the slightest degree unworthy of their sublime vocation.

O Jesus, I pray Thee for Thy faithful and fervent priests; for Thy unfaithful and tepid priests; for Thy priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields; for Thy tempted priests; for Thy lonely and desolate priests; for Thy young priests; for Thy aged priests; for Thy sick priests; for Thy dying priests; for the souls of Thy priests in purgatory.

But above all I commend to Thee the priests dearest to me; the priest who baptized me; the priests who absolved me from my sins; the priests at whose Masses I assisted, and who gave me Thy Body and Blood in Holy Communion; the priests who taught and instructed me, or helped and encouraged me; all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way, particularly [Name(s)]. O Jesus, keep them all close to Thy Heart, and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity. Amen.

Imprimatur +Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison, 6 September 2018

Sounding the Alarm

I started my day by reading the following from Blessed Charles de Foucauld:

“We must stand up for the rights of our neighbour who is suffering from injustice; we must defend them all the more vigorously because we see Jesus present in them. Surely this is our duty because of our love for others for his sake. We have no right to be ‘sleeping watchmen’ or dumb watch-dogs. Whenever we see evil we must sound the alarm.”

Blessed Charles served as a cavalry officer in the French army, as well as an explorer and geographer, before becoming a Catholic priest and hermit who lived among Tuareg in the Sahara Desert in Algeria. He was assassinated in 1916 and is considered a martyr and in the near future he will be canonized as a saint.

Charles de Foucauld lived among the Tuareg, a tribe of Muslims, for nearly 15 years. He studied their culture and learned their language and published the first French-Tuareg dictionary. He compiled the poetry of the Tuareg with the hope that it would help him to evangelize them. He spent his days praying, working, and caring for the very poor nomads that lived around him.

Foucauld’s curriculum vitae is very different from ours, but our call to care and seek justice. What is justice? The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines it this way:

Justice Is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Justice toward God is called the ‘virtue of religion.’ Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good. The just man, often mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbor. ‘You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.’ (Leviticus 19:15)” (CCC, ΒΆ1807).

Where do you see evil? Any where God or your fellow human beings (from conception to natural death) are not given their due, there is injustice. We are called to love God, to worship him, to recognize that he is the creator and author of our lives. We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, to respect their rights and seek harmony in all relationships. I tend to want to go big, so big that I become frustrated and do nothing. The injustice can overwhelm us. Yet, the first step we take is to see Jesus present in each person and to love him or her for Jesus’ sake. Let’s join Blessed Charles de Foucauld in his prayer of abandonment.

Blessed Charles de Foucauld’s Prayer of Abandonment

Father, I put myself in your hands.
I abandon myself to you, I entrust myself to you.
Make of me what you will.
Whatever you make of me, I thank you,
I am ready for everything, I accept everything,
I thank you for everything.
Provided that your will be done in me, Lord,
as in all your creatures, in all your children,
in all those whom your heart loves,
I desire nothing else.
I put my soul in your hands,
I give it to you, Lord, with all the love in my heart,
because I love you,
and because it is for me a need of love
to give myself, to put myself in your hands,
I put myself in your hands with infinite trust,
for you are my Father. Amen.