Rorate Caeli

Prayer of a Parishioner

A parish priest outside the Catholic church of Bagshot, Surrey, 1950s (Source)

In a recent purchase of a very handy 1950s pocket edition of a Bible - that had first been given as a gift to a priest -, there was a folded typed prayer card, with the following...

Prayer of a Parishioner 
Thank you, Lord, for the shortcomings of our Priests!
If they did not have them,
they would not be able to understand our own weaknesses.
I forgot that, when outside, they must greet everyone.
I also forgot that they always have to welcome others
with a smile on their lips,
even when they are somewhat dead inside.
I ask you, Lord, that I may practice charity with our Priests,
that I may understand that I have only one Priest to suffer,
while he has to suffer us all.


croixmom said...


Mom in the Shoe said...

What an excellent prayer, and a timely reminder. Thank you for sharing this with us.

David said...

That prayer is very timely in view of the sermon by a young FSSP priest I had the pleasure to hear today. The sermon was about the sacrament of Confession and the ministry of extraordinary love it entails.

Scott Quinn said...

God bless our priests!

Alan Aversa said...

Strange prayer

Why would we want to thank God for our priests' shortcomings? God doesn't will priests have shortcomings. That's akin to thanking Him they're sinners. God is not responsible for our being sinners.

Christ is a priest. He has no shortcomings, yet He understands our weaknesses.

John L said...

Sorry I can't join in that prayer. There are shortcomings and shortcomings. The currently prevalent shortcomings of Catholic priests have to do with a lack of fidelity, and I pray that these shortcomings will cease to exist.

I understand your motivation for posting this prayer; the crisis in the priesthood is so appalling that it is easy to become embittered and give up on priests.

Daniel Arseno said...

Those of you who can't appreciate this prayer because of the reference to the priest's shortcomings, I wonder how you are able to pray on Easter Vigil:

"O certe necessarium Adae peccatum... o felix culpa, quae talem ac tantum meruit habere redemptorem"

A Canberra Observer said...

It is a great prayer.

the only problem is if the priest doesn't know they have any failings ...

Andrew said...

Excellent prayer, but lately the priests I've met forget they have any weaknesses. They come down on people like a tonne of bricks whilst excusing the serious scandals of their brethern in the priesthood.

Whats Up! said...

Beautiful Prayer.
Very poetic and a lesson to us all.
Thank you.

Knight of Malta said...

See Diary of a Country Priest; some priests have it very hard. I have a holy priest friend who has fought cancer. He said if he goes into remission he will let himself go. Pray for him.

Dymphna said...

This prayer is a good reminder of what a priest has to put up with every day. Someone is always whinning, complaining or being bitter and he has to be patient, kind and loving with a bunch of people who barely deserve it.

Dymphna said...

John L, a shortcoming might be that Father stutters or just isn't intrested in hearing about little Johnny's soccer game. A shortcoming could just be an annoying personality quirk, not a sin.

GMMF said...

I've read some saints say that God permits us to fall into sin sometimes to humble us and teach us compassion, as well as to how much we depend on him (he doesn't directly the sin, but he may remove His gracious aid which helps us to resist).

For example, in the Audi Fili, St. John of Avila teaches that for those who pass harsh judgment on others for a particular sin, God often punishes them by allowing them to fall into that same sin, which teaches them compassion for the other sinners.

This prayer seems related to this theme, although not necessarily dealing with sin as New Catholic mentions.

Virgil said...

John L said, "Sorry I can't join in that prayer. There are shortcomings and shortcomings."

Alan Aversa said, "Why would we want to thank God for our priests' shortcomings? God doesn't will priests have shortcomings. That's akin to thanking Him they're sinners. God is not responsible for our being sinners."

Have we decided to give up on distinctions now? To Mr. John L's point, which sins are we supposed to attempt not to excuse? Do we not have a duty, as stated in all the Catechisms to excuse the actions of others, and if it is impossible to excuse those actions, then we must excuse the intentions. On what grounds will you be unable to join in that prayer?

Mr. Aversa, I can only second New Catholic's statement, and remind you of the same point I just made to John L: Shortcomings are not necessarily sinful at all. And yes, God does will those non-sinful shortcomings so that the proud may be confounded by the weak and small things of this world. I can only imagine how you handle the Exsultet "O Felix Culpa"??? Must give you a heart attack.

Instead of jumping on the internet to enforce our own definition of orthodoxy at every single post, let's take a moment to consider the priest, and what he is. To slightly switch your comment Mr. Aversa (which is obviously completely true), not only is Christ a priest, priests are Christ. It's important we don't forget that, whatever their shortcomings may be.

"the only problem is if the priest doesn't know they have any failings ..." Snarky much, A Canberra Observer?

New Catholic said...

Mr. Werling, your comment was deleted by mistake, please post it again.

Knight of Malta said...

Also, please read Exiles by Ron Hansen, who is not just our Nations best living writer, but a Roman Catholic as well.

It is about the true story of Nuns who perished at sea, but also about the poet-priest Gerard Manly Hopkins, who didn't live to see one of his poems published, but wrote some of the best poems of his age (Cf. God's Grandeur

Knight of Malta said...

I forgot to mention, and why Exiles is relevant to this discussion is twofold: Fr. Hopkins died very young, "exiled" from his Anglican family, in a remote area. And, really, died for his faith.

He had "shortcomings", but don't we all? As an ex-Intelligence Officer, the thing I hate most in this world is being scrutinized. Look at yourself, and that log in your eye, before you look at others!

Cluny said...

While there is truly only one Priest Who is perfect, earthly mortal priests, bishops, and the rest of us will ALWAYS have sins and shortcomings.

Even St. John the Evangelist wrote, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

If priests had no sins, they wouldn't need to go to confession, now would they?