The priesthood has taken a lot of hard knocks from within and without lately and so many of us have felt quite helpless and sad. We love our brother priests and wish we were able to help them through their difficult times, whether those crosses are brought on by their own actions or someone else's. There are many ways we can love our priests, particularly those we know, but have you ever considered spiritually adopting a priest you do not know?
There are a few organizations out there that match people up to priests for this purpose. One very special group is the Handmaids of the Precious Blood. These women are cloistered nuns "offering their lives for the sanctification of priests in Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration."
That is their vocation. But they have also extended an invitation to all lay people to join them in prayer through the Lay Associates of the Priesthood. No meetings, no fees, no dues. Just a commitment to praying daily for a specific priest.
There are over 40,000 priests in the United States. When you email the Handmaids with your mailing address, they will assign you a priest to pray for and mail you his first name. Easy. And so important.
Need a more impressive recommendation than mine? Father John Hardon was the Handmaid's spiritual and canonical advisor for 27 years before his death. He wrote a biography about the order's founder and called him "a prophet for the priesthood."
In addition to the Lay Associates, the Handmaids also invite priests, religious and deacons to adopt their own priests through the Confraternity of Mary, Mother of Priests. Religious and lay people are also invited to consider a further commitment to the apostolate of prayer and sacrifice for priests by becoming an Oblate of the Precious Blood.
The challenges that our priests face will not be getting any easier. We need them but they also need us. I've written before about Spiritual Motherhood for Priests. Won't you take look and pray about it?
One last word... You don't have to be perfect to offer yourself in this way for another soul. God will accept the little that you bring and He will use it. If you struggle with prayer, you will find that graces will come through your sincere commitment to your priests and you will pray better and more than you thought you would. And if you hesitate because you think that you already have so many loved ones to pray for... remember that authentic love never divides but only multiplies. It is like having more children. Do you forget to love any of the ones you have? If you had more, would you forget them? Of course not. Perhaps God is calling you to allow love to multiply in you for priests.
Some interesting and related links...
Father Hardon on The Value of Prayer and Sacrifice for Priests
On praying For Priests
Spiritual Motherhood for Priests
Fr. Z on Spiritual Motherhood
How to Pray for Priests