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There are Two Kinds of Priests (Part 2)

“There are two kinds of priests, those people pray for and those for whom people do not” (sister of a priest).

Read Part 1 here

Homily from 2nd Sunday after Easter (Praying for Shepherds)

Let this homily inspire us to pray and offer sacrifices and sufferings for our priests! We can truly make a difference. They need us!

“I am the good Shepherd: and I know Mine, and Mine know Me” (John 10:14).

On this Good Shepherd Sunday, instead of focusing on the good shepherds themselves, let us spend our time reflecting on one important way shepherds become good and stay good. To do this well, I am reminded of a pithy saying my sister once spoke to me when the priest scandals were first coming to light shortly after the turn of the 21st Century. She said:

“There are two kinds of priests, those people pray for and those for whom people do not."

If you recall, last Sunday we spoke about how the justice of God was satisfied by various prayerful, faithful souls in order that God’s Mercy, healing and peace could be granted to men (listen to that homily here). There is something of that same theme here… in how good shepherds are made and maintained. In a word, each good shepherd owes gratitude for his vocation and his life’s work to the prayers and sacrifices of others. Let me, once again, show this by looking at two historical examples.

Second Example - Another story (read First Example here)

First, let us go back to the 15th Century… to meet Nicholas, Cardinal of Cusa (1401-1464), Bishop of Brixen. A great shepherd of the Church, a reputable Papal legate and reformer of spiritual life for the clergy and the faithful of his times, he was a man of silence and contemplation. He was deeply moved by a dream-like vision which touches upon our theme today…

In the vision, Cardinal Nicholas was given a guide who needed to show h​​im something. Together they entered a small, ancient church decorated with mosaics and frescoes from the early centuries, and there the Cardinal saw an amazing sight. More than a thousand nuns were praying in the little church. Despite the limited space, they all fit due to their slender and composed nature. The sisters were praying, but in a way that the Cardinal had never seen. They were not kneeling but standing; their gaze was not cast off into the distance but rather fixed on something nearby which he could not see. They stood with open arms, palms facing upwards in a gesture of offering.

Surprisingly, in their poor, thin hands they carried men and women, emperors and kings, cities and countries. Sometimes there were several pairs of hands joined together holding a city. A country, recognizable by its national flag, was supported by a whole wall of arms, and yet even then there was an air of silence and isolation around each one of them in prayer. Most of nuns, however, carried one individual in their hands.

In the hands of a thin, young, almost childlike nun, Nicholas saw the Pope. You could see how heavy this load was for her, but her face was radiating a joyful gleam. Standing in the hands of one of the older sisters he saw himself, Nicholas of Cusa, Bishop of Brixen, and Cardinal of the Roman Church. He saw the wrinkles of his age; he saw the blemishes of his soul and his life in all their clarity. He looked with stunned and surprised eyes, but his fright was soon mixed with an unspeakable bliss.

His guide whispered: “Now you see how sinners are sustained and carried and, in spite of their sins, have not given up loving God.”

“What about those who do not love anymore?” the Cardinal asked.

Suddenly, he was in the crypt of the church with his guide, where once again, more than a thousand nuns were praying. Whereas the former ones were carried in the nuns’ hands, here in the crypt, they were