We were inspired to begin this prayer movement in 2018, as one of our all-time favorite feast days is fast approaching — St. Thérèse of Lisieux on October 1. While we are always eager to celebrate this little powerhouse saint, who is a Doctor of the Church, we are still riddled by the devastating recent reports of abominable abuses by Catholic clergy. We’ve been pondering our role and reexamining our prayer life, particularly our annual practice of praying a nine-day novena for our own special intentions leading up to October 1st.
INSPIRED BY A YOUNG SAINT
St. Thérèse has inspired us to dig deeper. She has rekindled in us the desire to respond to a dire need and resurrect a devotion close to her heart – praying for priests. The necessity of praying daily for the souls of priests was revealed to young Thérèse, who felt called to become “an apostle of the apostles” before the age of fifteen.
“Praying for sinners fascinated me, but praying for the souls of priests, whom I thought were purer than crystal, seemed strange to me! … I lived with many holy priests for one month and understood that, if their sublime dignity lifts them above the angels, this does not mean that they are not weak and fragile. If holy priests, whom Jesus calls in His Gospel «Salt of the Earth» show by their behavior great need for prayer, then what must one say about the ones who are lukewarm? Did Jesus not also say: «If the salt lost its taste, what could one use to make it salty?» Oh Mother! How beautiful is the vocation to preserve that salt destined for souls! This is the vocation of Carmel, because the only purpose of our prayers and our sacrifices is to be an apostle of the apostles, to pray for them whilst they evangelize souls by words and above all by example…” (Ms A 56r).
Hence something deeply struck her during the pilgrimage: if even the most «holy» priests did not hide their weakness and fragility, and «showed by their behavior to have great need of prayer»…Then what happened to the «lukewarm» people who spoilt «the salt destined for souls»? – St. Thérèse
A DIRE NEED FOR TODAY’S CHURCH
Little Thérèse devoutly prayed for priests out of love for them and for the souls to which they minister. The Catholic Church needs holy priests more than ever. While writing this, we shed tears as more devastating stories surfaced about clergy abuses and struggles from our friends whose family members are currently or have been priests.
This has strengthened our resolve though, too. The laity comprises the majority of the Body of Christ, and we are tired of feeling helpless. Every critical work must be rooted in prayer, and right now we need to pull out the “big guns” — powerful intercessors like St. Thérèse, to share in this work of prayer. We begin Sunday, September 23rd to intentionally pray for priests for 40 days amidst the scandalous and heartrending wreckage. We hope that you will join us. It’s super EASY – we’ve prepared everything for you already!
THE 40 DAYS TO PRAY FOR PRIESTS OVERVIEW
The breakdown is below. We’ve prepared simple, downloadable tools for you to make this seamless to integrate into your prayer time.
We commit to pray for one priest each day — their vocation, holiness, intentions, etc. — for 40 days.
Begin: Start today!
Ends: 40 days later (but hey, perhaps you’ll be inspired to keep praying daily like St. Thérèse.)
We’ve compiled 16 different prayers for priests into one document (see downloads below) so there are many options, including St. Thérèse’s prayers which are listed first. You could pray the same prayer daily or try different ones. Maybe you want to say the one-liner prayer a few times a day or watch the prayer video, or spontaneously pray from your heart. Pray as you feel inclined, just remember to intercede for one priest each day over 40 days.
Use the calendar below to write down the names of 40 priests. You don’t need to know a priest to pray for him, so if you can’t think of 40 priests, use online search to help you (i.e., you could look up your diocesan website, search Twitter for clergy, etc.)
You can keep the calendar in your prayer spot, post it somewhere as a reminder, or take a photo and mark it in your favorites on your phone – whatever works for you.
Whether you let the priests know that you prayed for them is up to you, but it’s always nice to hear from someone that has prayed for you. Feel free to use this image in the downloads below to assure priests that they have been in your prayers.
Calendar DOWNLOAD HERE -> Pray for Priests Calendar
Prayers for Priests DOWNLOAD HERE -> Prayers for Priests
Social Media sharing image: “Forty Days to Pray for Priests” BELOW
Facebook cover: “Forty Days to Pray for Priests” BELOW
Image for priests: “I prayed for you” BELOW
Although these words are from 1889 in a letter that St. Thérèse wrote to her sister, they still apply today:
«Oh, my Celine, we are living for the souls, we are apostles, let us save above all the souls of Priests. These souls should be more transparent than crystal. Alas, how many unworthy priests there are, how many priests who are not holy enough! We pray, we suffer for them and, on the last day, Jesus will be grateful…» (LT 94).
Pray for priests, today, every day. And through our prayers, as St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, we can support and “urge [them] to live in a manner worthy of the call [they] have received” (Eph 4:1.)
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, pray for us. Jesus meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto Thine.