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There are Two Kinds of Priests (Part 1)

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

Read Part 2 here

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

Let this homily inspire us to pray and offer our daily duties, especially the most difficult ones, as living sacrifices 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.

First Example: A story (see second Example here)

Let us learn something from one of the leading figures of the German episcopacy of the 19th century, a good shepherd, Bishop Ketteler, and how he owed his gratitude to a simple nun, the least and poorest lay sister of her convent.

In 1869, a German bishop was sitting together with his guest, Bishop Ketteler of Mainz. During the course of their conversation, the hosting bishop brought up his guest’s extremely blessed apostolate. Bishop Ketteler explained to his host, “I owe thanks for everything that I have accomplished with God’s help, to the prayer and sacrifice of someone I do not even know. I can only say that I know somebody has offered her whole life to our loving God for me, and I have this sacrifice to thank that I even became a priest.”

He continued, “Originally, I wasn’t planning on becoming a priest. I had already finished my law degree and thought only about finding an important place in the world to begin acquiring honor, prestige and wealth. An extraordinary experience held me back and directed my life down a different path.

“One evening I was alone in my room, considering my future plans of fame and fortune, when something happened which I cannot explain. Was I awake or asleep? Did I really see it or was it just a dream? One thing I do know, it brought about a change in my life. I saw Jesus very clearly and distinctly standing over me in a radiant cloud, showing me his Sacred Heart. A nun was kneeling before Him, her hands raised up in prayer. From His mouth, I heard the words,

‘She prays unremittingly for you!’

"I distinctly saw the appearance of the sister, and her traits made such an impression on me that she has remained in my memory to this day. She seemed to be quite an ordinary lay sister. Her clothing was very poor and rough. Her hands were red and calloused from hard work. Whatever it was, a dream or not, it was extraordinary. It shook me to the depths of my being so that from that moment on, I decided to consecrate myself to God in the service of the priesthood. I withdrew to a monastery for a retreat, and I talked about everything with my confessor. Then, at the age of 30, I began studying theology. You know the rest of the story.