The priests of the Diocese of Cheyenne will be on retreat at Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat House, Sedalia, CO this coming week (Monday to Friday). Next Friday, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Deacon Clark Lenz and Deacon Bryce Lungren will be ordained priests at 2:00 PM in the Cathedral of St. Mary. Friday is also the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. This week, please pray for our priests and the two men who will be ordained.
Father Teilhard de Chardin said “Nothing is so powerful on earth as purity and prayer.” He speaks in the book THE DIVINE MILIEU of a nun praying in a chapel: as she prays, all the forces of the universe seem to reorganize themselves in keeping with the desires of that tiny praying figure; the axis of the world seems to pass through that chapel. And Father Anthony de Mello wrote, “It is only at the end of this world that we shall realize how the destinies of persons and nations have been shaped, not so much by the external actions of powerful men and women . . . but by the quiet, silent, irresistible prayer of persons the world has never known.” (Sadhana, p. 144).
In part, I mention the importance of prayer because during the last year a few people have written letters to me to state that it is not good that all the priests go away on retreat or for conferences. They feel that it is imprudent to have them all away at the same time in case of emergencies or death. On the one hand, such letters show appreciation for the important presence of priests at critical moments of parishioners’ lives. On the other hand, these letters reveal a real poverty in understanding the power of prayer.
One of the most important things that a priest can do for his people is to be immersed in prayer, not only for his own spiritual life, but also for his people. In addition, it is essential for the priests to be together for days of prayer and fellowship. Those who advocate that priests should not go away and be together fail to understand their need for fraternity and being rejuvenated in communal prayer.
Finally, I think that such appeals to keep priests from going away for days of prayer reveal a heresy of contemporary Pelagianism, which Pope Francis wrote about in his latest Apostolic Exhortation. This heresy attributes too much power to human effort, rather than God’s grace. As Francis writes, they forget that everything “depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy” (Rom. 9:16) and that “he first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19). See 47-62, Gaudete et Esultate.
Please pray for our priests, for those to be ordained and for vocations to the priesthood.