Reflections on the Priesthood from “A Year with the Bible”

Day 138: Remember to pray for bishops, priests and deacons.
Saint Paul, one of the original bishops of the Church, frequently asked for prayers.
Scripture: Colossians 4:2-6
Closing Prayer: Lord, grant your grace in abundance to my bishop and to all the clergy of the Church who are in communion with him. Fill them, I pray, with prudence, fortitude, and holy zeal for the salvation of souls that they may effectively fulfill the mission you have entrusted to them.

Day 141: The Lord grants some the gift of celibacy.
God’s invitation to consecrated celibacy is a gift, not a burden; a blessing, not a curse.
Scripture: Matthew 19:10-22 and 1 Corinthians 7:7-9, 32-35
Closing Prayer: I thank you, Lord, for calling some men and women to minister to your people in celibacy for the sake of the kingdom and as living reminders of your own love for all people. Bless and protect their chastity with the graces they need for holy perseverance.

Day 154: Christ gave the Apostles the ministry of reconciliation.
Christ continues his saving work through the Church he established and in particular through the sacraments. The Apostles, being the first priests of the New Covenant, received from him the mission of appealing to sinners and reconciling with God.
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:17-20
Closing Prayer: Lord, you know how many and great are my offenses against you. Have mercy on me, and humble me so that I will not fear or hesitate to confess my sins to the priests, whom you have entrusted with the sacred ministry of reconciliation.

Day 157: Pray, pray pray for vocations.
Just as the Lord said, ” Ask and it shall be given to you,” he tells us here to implore God to send more laborers into the harvest, particularly priests and religious.
Scripture: Matthew 9:35-38
Closing Prayer: Lord, have compassion on your Church! Because of our countless sins of omission and commission we are harassed and helpless in many ways. Please strengthen and guide those who have stepped forward to embrace the priestly or religious vocation you have called them to, and send us many, many more of them!

Day 158: The scriptural basis for Apostolic succession.
Like links in an unbreakable chain, each Catholic bishop in every generation stands in a direct and uninterrupted line of apostolic succession stretching back in time to the original Apostles.
Scripture: Acts 1:15-26
Closing Prayer: Lord, thank you for my bishop. Strengthen and guide him as he shepherds your flock. Grant him the grace of true repentance for his sins, assistance with his shortcomings, and a desire to rely ever more fervently on you. Augment and invigorate his goodness and talents, for his salvation and for the good of your Church.

Day 159: The solemn duties entrusted to bishops and priests.
Saint Augustine (354-430) wrote: “What I am for you terrifies me; what I am with you consoles me. For you I am a bishop; but with you I am a Christian. The former is a duty; the latter is a grace. The former is a danger; the latter, salvation.”
Scripture: 1 Timothy 4: 11-16
Closing Prayer: Lord, I pray that you would bless and sustain each and every bishop, priest, and deacon of your Church. Grant them clarity of mind, an abundance of grace, persistence in carrying out their appointed work, and courage to boldly teach the truth, regardless of human respect.

Day 167: The devil always strikes at the shepherd.
Pray, pray, pray for the bishops and pastors of the Church, for they have a very heavy responsibility before God.
Scripture: Ezekiel 34:5, 8-12
Closing Prayer: O Eternal Shepherd, purify and strengthen the bishops and pastors of the Church, especially those who falter or run away from their duties. Bless your Church, Lord, with many dedicated, faithful, and courageous men to guard and guide your flock.

Day 168: Jesus made Simon Peter the first pope.
Simon Peter denied Christ three times. But after he repented of his treachery, and made a three-fold public profession of his love for the Lord, when Christ entrusted him with the office of supreme pastor (shepherd) of the Church.
Scripture: John 21:15-17, Luke 22:31-32
Closing Prayer: Lord, your grace is more powerful than my sin. You restored Peter and even made him the chief shepherd of your Church. I ask, Lord, that you would forgive my sins and help me love and follow you, in unity with the successor of Peter, for the rest of my life.

Day 225: Obey Christ and his Church.
How can you call yourself a Christian if you refuse to heed the words of those whom the Lord appointed to teach in his name and with his authority?
Scripture: Matthew 18:15-17, Hebrews 13:17, Luke 10:16
Closing Prayer: Lord, I want to hear your voice and follow you. Therefore, I will humbly listen to and obey–in all things except sin–your appointed shepherds in the Church.

Day 258: Find a wise priest to be your spiritual director.
One great remedy against all manner of temptation, great or small, is to open the heart and lay bare its suggestions, likes and dislikes, to your director; for. . .the first condition which the Evil One makes with a soul, when he wants to seduce it, is silence.” (Saint Francis de Sales)
Scripture: 1 Samuel 3:7-18
Closing Prayer: Lord, you often deign to teach us truths about ourselves through the instrumentality of others who are wise and competent to guide others. I pray that you will lead me to one of your holy servants to whom I can confide the details of my soul and by whose wisdom I may draw closer to you.

Day 276: The priesthood is a sublime calling from God.
The partial and imperfect Old Testament priesthood was but a faint foreshadowing of the perfect and eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ, which the Lord calls some men to participate in to serve the Church.
Scripture: Leviticus 20:26, Numbers 16:9, 2 Chronicles 29:11, Hebrews 3:1, 4-6
Closing Prayer: Lord, thank you for your precious gift of the priesthood. I weep for the sins committed by priests who have betrayed you, and I give you praise and thanks for the good, dedicated, and faithful priests with whom you have blessed your Church.

Day 289: Open your heart to the truth of Christ’s authority.
Countless Christians, from the Apostles themselves down to the present generation, have suffered and sacrificed to deliver the Good News of Jesus Christ to you.
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Closing Prayer: O Lord, I thank you for the tenacious persistence of all those courageous men and women in the church who have overcome hardship and adversity to ensure that I would know the truth. Help me widen my heart to receive it.

Day 291: Bishops and priests must teach sound doctrine.
Like it or not, bishops, priests, and deacons will be judged strictly by the Lord on whether they taught sound doctrine during their ministry. Woe to those who intentionally do not.
Scripture: Titus 2:1-15
Closing Prayer: Have mercy on the bishops and priests of your holy Church, O Lord! Confirm them in the knowledge of the truth and strengthen their wills to speak the truth, regardless of opposition and loss of human respect.

Day 305: The first Pope’s first sermon.
Picture yourself in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost as Saint Peter and the other Apostles, with uncontainable joy and zeal, fearlessly preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to a world that had been longing for that every moment since the days of Adam and Eve.
Scripture: Acts 2:29-36
Closing Prayer: Blessed were they, Lord, who were alive to witness the first Pentecost of the Church and hear with their own ears the message preached by the blessed Apostles. But more blessed still are they who did not see and hear this directly but believe by faith the promises they gave.

Day 340: Through the gospel, priests become our fathers.
The ancient Catholic custom of calling priests “father” can be traced all the way back to the Apostles. Saint Paul’s own teaching on this issue includes an encouragement that Christians would imitate both his good personal example but also his example of referring to himself as their “father”.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 4:14-16, 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12
Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, you ordered that the priests of your Church would minister to your people on their journey homeward to heaven. Grant us in your mercy an abundance of good and holy priests who will faithfully serve as worthy spiritual fathers.

(A Year with the Bible- by Patrick Madrid)