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Articles for translators and linguists - The Power of Prayer
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The Power of Prayer


The Adversary will do everything in his power to undermine our resolve to pray for our priests. He will frighten us with the burden of this responsibility, remind us of the haphazardness of our efforts, and persuade us that the whole thing is pointless and that our prayers will go unheard. And yet every sacrifice and prayer undertaken on behalf of our priests, even the smallest and least significant in our eyes, has infinite value before God. The story of the vocation of the great nineteenth-century German bishop, Wilhelm Kettler, is a case in point.

A promising career

The prospect of a brilliant legal career lay before the young and gifted Wilhelm. Success, prestige, wealth — all this was within his reach. He was already laying concrete plans to realize his dreams when suddenly one evening he had a vision that would forever change his life: “In a luminous cloud before me stood Christ showing me His Sacred Heart. Before Him knelt a nun with her hands raised in a gesture of supplication. From the mouth of Jesus I heard the following words: ‘She is ever praying for you!’ (…) Whatever it was — dream or no — it had an extraordinary effect on me. I felt profoundly touched; and from that moment on I decided to devote myself to God as a priest in His exclusive service.”

A mystery

Twenty years later, now as a shepherd of the Church, Bishop Wilhelm was visiting a bishop friend of his. That morning he celebrated Holy Mass in a convent chapel in a neighboring town. While giving out Holy Communion, he recognized one of the sisters as the one whom he had seen in his vision. On concluding the liturgy, Bishop Kettler asked the mother superior to introduce him to the sisters. He blessed them all, but the one he expected to see was not among them. He asked the mother superior if all the sisters from the convent were present. It turned out one was missing — the one who worked in the pigsty. When they fetched her in, Bishop Wilhelm begged to speak with the nun privately. Once they were alone, he asked her if she had ever prayed for him. With great simplicity she told him that she had no idea, since she had never known of his existence. In the course of their talk it came to light that she had a strong and tender devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and that out of love of His Sacred Heart she carried out all her duties, especially those that frightened and unnerved her. These internal struggles and works she would offer up to Jesus on behalf of a living soul in danger of forfeiting eternal life. Who exactly, she left it up to Jesus to decide. She also offered up her daily adoration hour for the intention of that soul. She had done this since childhood, she told him. The bishop learned that the nun was thirty-three years old and that her birth date happened to be exactly the date of his conversion. She had not known whom she was praying for and had no wish to know if her prayers and acts of mortification had borne fruit. It was enough for her that God knew. While Bishop Kettler wrestled with the depth of his emotions, the nun knelt down meekly before him and asked for his blessing.

Mercy

Upon returning to the home of his bishop friend, Kettler said: “I have found the one to whom I owe my vocation. The lowliest and poorest nun in the convent! I shall never be able to thank God for His mercy, for that sister has been praying for me for almost twenty years. God heard her prayers even before she began to pray. He foresaw that her birthday would be the day of my conversion. Later He accepted her prayers and acts of mortification. What a lesson and reminder for me! If I should ever be tempted to boast of my successes and achievements before people, I shall have to remember that I achieved everything thanks to the grace of the prayers and mortifications of a poor sister working in a convent pigsty. And if such work should ever seem unimportant to me, I shall have remind myself that what this sister has with meek obedience and self-detachment offered up had such value in God’s eyes that thanks to her deeds the Church has a bishop!”

An invitation

God wants us to support others with our prayers, sufferings, and acts of self-denial. Can we have any doubt about this? And if not, then why are we so disinclined and hesitant to offer them up. Courage!

How to pray for our priests?

Praying on one’s own: every day recite the prayer given below and a chaplet of divine mercy for the priest of your choice. Continue to pray for him even after his death. If possible, add an act of self-denial, a fast, or a particular suffering to your prayer. You can also offer Jesus an hour a week of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and receive Holy Communion more frequently for the intention of our priests.

Marguerite Apostolate

On the other hand, you may wish to invite your friends to form a “marguerite” (after the name of the flower) — a special group devoted to praying for a given priest. Ideally, a marguerite consists of seven members, so that there is at least one person praying for the priest’s intention every day of the week. In this way members will keep their priest protected by a wall of daily prayer. Marguerite members commit themselves to one day of prayer a week for their “adopted” priest — for life. In addition to reciting the suggested prayer along with the chaplet of divine mercy, they will offer up their sufferings and, in accordance with the request of the Holy See, an hour a week of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. The pledge to pray for a priest for life should be made in a larger group specially convened for the occasion, ideally after Mass and Holy Communion. The prayer of commitment goes as follows: “O God, One in the Trinity, and Mary, Queen of Peace, I pledge perpetual prayer for Father…. (here name the priest of your choice). I bury my pledge in the Christ’s glorious Cross and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Amen.”

If possible, the ceremony should include the priest for whose intentions the group has vowed to pray. After the pledge, the group may present him with a memorial marguerite, preferably a handmade card bearing the names of those who have promised to pray for him. The first and family name of the priest will be inscribed in the center of the flower; on each of the seven petals will appear the first and family names of the seven individuals or families who have made their pledge of perpetual prayer before God.  

Małgorzata Radomska

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The article was published with the permission from "Love One Another!" in August 2016.




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