The Foundation of Prayer for Priests
In 2007, in light of increasing attacks on the priesthood from within and without, and particularly after the scandals that had done such damage to the Church, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy saw the need to begin a global movement of prayer for priests. To that end, the Congregation issued a booklet to the bishops of the world, entitled Eucharistic Adoration for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Maternity. In the booklet’s introduction, Cláudio Cardinal Hummes, then Prefect of the Congregation, wrote:
We intend in a very particular way to entrust all priests to Mary, the Mother of the Eternal High Priest, bringing about in the Church a movement of prayer, placing 24 hour continuous Eucharistic adoration at the center, so that a prayer of adoration, thanksgiving, praise, petition, and reparation will be raised to God, incessantly and from every corner of the earth, with the primary intention of awakening a sufficient number of holy vocations to the priestly state and, at the same time, spiritually uniting with a certain spiritual maternity — at the level of the Mystical Body — all those who have already been called to the ministerial priesthood and are ontologically conformed to the one High and Eternal priest. This movement will offer better service to Christ and his brothers — those who are at once ‘inside’ the Church and also ‘at the forefront’ of the Church, standing in Christ’s stead and representing Him, as head, shepherd and spouse of the Church.
In 2013, Kathleen Beckman, L.H.S, a retreat director and Catholic radio host who had spent the past decade working with priests in the ministry of healing and deliverance, was inspired by the second edition of the Congregation’s booklet to turn the prayer initiative into a formal movement. And so in July 2014, Beckman established the Foundation of Prayer for Priests with support from the Congregation for the Clergy.
As the excerpt above indicates, Beckman’s apostolate is fundamentally Marian and Eucharistic. The FPP particularly encourages Eucharistic adoration and the rosary as ways of praying for priests. Though the movement is for men and women equally, a special aspect of this work for women is the focus on spiritual motherhood of priests. This means uniting oneself with Mary’s universal motherhood of priests and participating in this life-giving function through communion with Mary, the most powerful form of which is the consecration to Jesus through Mary. This spiritual maternity was practiced by many women saints, such as St. Catherine of Siena and St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
Another great source of inspiration in this area is Venerable Concepción Cabrera de Armida (1862-1937). Conchita, as she is also known, was a Mexican mystic who inspired the creation of several apostolates in her home country. On many occasions she heard God speaking to her, and Jesus gave her the mission of being a spiritual mother of thousands of priests and priests-to-be. Conchita practiced this spiritual maternity by prayer, suffering and reparation for the sins of priests.
Coordinated with the establishment of the Foundation of Prayer for Priests was the release of Kathleen Beckman’s excellent book, Praying for Priests: A Mission for the New Evangelization (published by Sophia Institute Press). In it, she explains why priests need the prayers of the laity, and gives real-life examples of the efficacy of intercessory prayer in increasing vocations, strengthening priests who are suffering, and even bringing priests who have abandoned their vocations to repentance.
Beckman is at her best when writing about Mary’s special love for priests and the work of spiritual motherhood united with her. These chapters will increase the reader’s devotion both to Mary and to the priesthood, and will be of particular interest to lay women. There is also a beautiful chapter on how to make a holy hour for priests.
The book includes a number of prayers for priests, notably three scriptural Rosaries: one for priests, another for vocations, and a third in reparation for the sins of priests. These include not only meditations from Scripture but passages from two apostolic letters of St. John Paul II: Pastores Dabo Vobis, dealing with the formation of priests, and Salvifici Doloris, on the Christian meaning of human suffering.
Those who wish to learn more about this crucial apostolate can also visit the website of the Foundation of Prayer for Priests, which offers a myriad of resources on the priesthood, spiritual motherhood, spiritual fatherhood, and various forms of intercessory prayer for priests.
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