Our late great Pope Saint John Paul II had a great love for priests, and also a great love for the priesthood. He wrote a wonderful Apostolic Exhortation called, “Pastores Dabo Vobis” which means “I Will Give You Shepherds.” In this writing, he reminded us that God promises His people that He will never leave them without shepherds to gather them together to guide them. He also reminded us that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, entrusted to the Apostles and their successors the ministry of shepherding God’s flock. He also stated that priests play a vital role in shepherding the flock and are essential to the mission of the Church.
The publication, “The Catholic Telegraph”, reported that in a recent address Pope Francis asked the faithful to “be close to your priests with affection and with your prayers, that they may always be shepherds according to God’s heart.” He also challenged his priests and called on them “to bring the healing power of God’s grace to everyone.” In another address at a Mass of Ordination at the Vatican, the publication “Daily Mail”, reported the Pope stated that priests “should ensure they always forgive rather than condemn and described them as ministers of unity in the Church” and told them to live for God’s pleasure rather than their own.
The following prayer provided by “Catholic On Line” reflects the essence of the priestly vocation:
O Lord, my God, You renew the church in every age
by raising up priests outstanding in holiness, living witnesses of your unchanging love.
In your plan for our salvation, you provide shepherds for your people.
Fill the hearts of young men with the spirit of courage and love that they may answer your call courageously.
Give the people the grace to encourage vocations in their family by prayer and good example.
Raise up worthy priests for your altars and ardent, but gentle servants of the gospel.
Give the church more priests and keep them faithful in their love and service.
May many young men choose to serve you by devoting themselves to the service of your people.