In Saint Catherine of Siena’s Dialog, she tells us how God the Father communicated to her the importance of praying for our bishops: “You should love them therefore by reason of the virtue and dignity of the sacrament, and by reason of that very virtue and dignity you should hate the defects of those who live miserably in sin, but not on that account appoint yourselves their judges, which I forbid, because they are My Christs, and you ought to love and reverence the authority which I have given them.”
We take these words to heart as we at American Life League begin our Pray and Fast for the Bishops campaign. Because our priests and bishops face an increasing assault, not only on our Church, but on their own souls, we intend to storm the gates of heaven with our mortification and prayers.
It may sometimes be too much to bear as we watch some of our bishops either remain silent when it comes to blatant abuses against the faith by pro-abortion politicians, or actually appear in high-profile events with some of the most radical and anti-life political figures. When bishops and priests adamantly refuse to deny Holy Communion to some of the most radical pro-abortion and pro-homosexual public officials, we are put in a difficult position. Do we speak up or remain silent?
While we are certainly obligated to stand up for the faith and defend our Holy Mother Church, we must remain vigilant about any words or actions that could be construed as anything less than charitable when it comes to our bishops or any other clergy. We may criticize their actions, but we must never personally attack them.
Let us remain always in love and in charity and pray that these shepherds, who have been entrusted to help God deliver us from evil, guide us through an immoral world filled with temptation and sin. The problem is that our priests and bishops are not immune to temptation and sin. They are under heightened spiritual attack because Satan is quite aware that the best way to scatter the flock is by destroying the shepherd.
While some actions and decisions made by some of our bishops have certainly caused concern, it isn’t the bishops themselves whom we must admonish, but the decisions and deeds specifically. Most of us are familiar with the expression that warns against throwing stones at glass houses. Though we may not all be saints, we are all called to strive for saintliness.
Our clergy have willingly taken up the cross. Like St. Christopher, they have agreed to carry us through the tainted waters of this world where traps and snares are constantly laid before us. Imagine all of the overwhelming emotions that must run through our priests’ and bishops’ minds as they hear our confessions. Imagine all of the frustrations they must experience when they see the divisions in our Church as they try to remain faithful and become peacemakers.
This Lent, we ask every single Catholic to pray more Rosaries, chaplets, and litanies to the saints for the sake of our bishops. We ask that Saint John Vianney intercede on our behalf and ask Jesus to give His “Christs” the fortitude to carry on as our shepherds.
There are many things you can do for our clergy. Spend an hour in Eucharistic adoration once a week specifically for our bishops. Have a Mass—or a few Masses—said on behalf of all of the shepherds of the Church. Any sacrifices you make this Lent, give them up specifically for the needs and intentions of our clergy. There are many ways we can pray, practice mortification, and make other sacrifices to benefit our bishops.
Please share this campaign with all of your fellow parishioners, family, and friends. Visit American Life League’s website at http://www.all.org/prayandfast/ for more about the campaign and share it on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Let this Lent be the season of sacrifice and giving for the good of the Church.
Rey Flores is American Life League’s director of outreach. He can be reached at RFlores@all.org.