‘Priesthood is a warrior’s vocation’
The Memorare campaign for twenty seminarians by 2025 is well underway. So far 34,800 Memorares have been prayed by parishioners and clergy in our diocese, with great hope and expectation. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus said, “The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few; so, ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” (Mt 9: 37-38). We ask in trust and believe in hope that our prayer will bear abundant fruit.
This past summer Bishop Robert Barron preached a powerful homily with this passage on the type of shepherds — priests we need today in our parishes and Church. Bishop Barron in his preaching reminded priests that their hearts must feel compassion for those who are troubled, and abandoned just as Jesus’ heart was for those who were helpless and alone. One of Jesus’ desires is to share his shepherding responsibility with those he calls to be his priests. He desires priests who know firsthand the brokenness of Father’s children for the Father’s children are close and dear to Him.
As we pray our Memorares for more seminarians, please pray that the young men in our parishes will see what Jesus sees and that their hearts would be conformed to His heart leading them to have mercy and compassion for those abandoned, forsaken, addicted, and lukewarm in their own faith. Mercy and compassion for those who struggle with temptation, sin, and spiritual warfare in their own lives and for those who are confused and doubt their own identities as beloved sons and daughters of the Father.
Jesus called the twelve disciples, giving them his power and authority to share in his ministry to the lost, the broken and abandoned of the world. Jesus sends the disciples out to proclaim the kingdom of God, to heal every disease and illness, to raise the dead, to cleanse those who have leprosy and to drive out demons (Mt 10:8).
I want you to pause right now for a few moments of prayer. Bring the names and hearts of the young men in your parishes to the heart of Jesus. Ask Jesus right now, to stir up in their hearts, to awaken within them his voice of compassion, mercy, and love for the troubled, the abandoned, the broken, the isolated, those confused about the Father’s love for them and those who have no need for Jesus in their lives. Ask Jesus to enliven the hearts of the young men in our families and parishes to hear his thirst for more shepherd priests to act in his name. Beg Mary Our Mother to help them hear Jesus’ voice.
Bishop Barron’s homily for Sunday, June 18, titled “Shepherds, Warriors, Healers” is calling forth seminarians to be shepherd priests who are strong and willing to do the hard and challenging work of Jesus. He says. “Don’t think for a second that the priesthood is some kind of namby-pamby vocation. On the contrary, priesthood is a warrior’s vocation. Listen, Jesus gave them authority over unclean spirits. Are there unclean spirits around you? You bet there are. Yes, unclean spirits, yes, in the full metaphysical sense, but also unclean spirits of pride and envy and anger and sloth and gluttony and lust, imperialism, and the drive for power, hatred and violence. You bet there are unclean spirits. There are a lot of unclean spirits and Christ calls shepherds, pastors, warriors, healers and gives them authority over the unclean spirits.”
Bishop Barron goes on to say, “The real priesthood is tough! It’s a warrior’s work! The Lord has given authority to these shepherds, over these unclean spirits. One of the problems is I think everybody, especially young people, are beset by these unclean spirits. But there’s nobody around them who has claimed authority over them … ‘Oh, no, you can do whatever you want, you can be whoever you want to be,’ yeah and this is leading everybody over the cliff. What we need are laborers, warriors, shepherds and healers, who have the authority from Christ over unclean spirits and can affect the transformation of the world. That is what priests are all about. To see and to drive the unclean spirits out. You don’t dialogue with the devil or evil spirits, instead you drive them out. It’s the priests who have been given the authority to do it. To cure every disease and every illness of the heart and of the mind.”
This past summer at the Bishop’s Fishing tournament I was speaking on the call to priesthood. As I looked around the room and I saw several of our youth and I mentioned that perhaps some of our youth here will become priests someday. Their response was a head shaking no, which begs the question, “When they see priests, what do they see?” Namby-pamby priests? What would happen if they saw priests as warriors and healers? Priests who drive out the unclean spirits? Priests, warriors and healers who cure every disease and every illness of the heart of the mind in the name of Jesus?
When you pray your Memorares, pray for seminarians to become Priests who are shepherds, warriors and healers.