I have just read our Pope's Letter inaugurating a special Holy Year for Priests, running from the Feast of the Sacred Heart in 2009 (the 19th of June) until the return of that feast in 2010 (on the 11th of June), to mark the sesquicentennial of the death - or rather, the passage to eternal life - of the holy Curé of Ars, St John Vianney, patron of parish priests.
I must say, until I read this letter I had no idea of the beauty and depth of the Holy Father's evidently long meditation on the priesthood, the Sacred Heart, and St John Vianney.
What an extraordinary manifestation of traditional priestly piety is this Letter! It shrinks not from proposing voluntary adherence to the evangelical counsels, and not excluding serious self-discipline and penitential living, as helping bring about that holiness in the priest which comes of fidelity to grace and perseverance in prayer, that thus the holy, zealous priest as a true and faithful witness of the One Priest, Christ, will impel himself to undertake a vigorous evangelization of the scattered sheep, a preaching by word and example, centred on the Eucharist and Confession as the great sacramental means of salvation proposed by the prodigious love of God to men, and providentially mediated to all through the sublime gift of Holy Orders that makes the priesthood so wonderful, and so unmerited by those truly conscious of what it is that they all unworthy receive, to what they are called to be configured, and what they must needs hand over to the multitudes: the priest must shine forth as the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
This is what our world, and we sinners need: holy priests, priests after the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who alone can minister to the doubts and fears and wounds of man in the Lord's Name.
After God Himself, I must attribute the hope of my salvation to the fatherly guidance and sacred ministry of His priests: for it is they who feed us with the Eucharist, offer up the all-sufficient Sacrifice, preach to us and bless in His Name, even washing us of our sins, as the Lord gave them command. Retribuere, dignare, Domine, omnibus nobis bona facientibus, propter Nomen tuum, vitam æternam. Amen.
Please pray for priests.