Many saints would repeatedly encourage others to pray for priests, that they would remain faithful to their vocation.
Being a Catholic priest in the 21st century is not an easy task. Priests in the English speaking world are generally not viewed favorably by the secular culture, and are constantly under suspicion.
Furthermore, parish priests in particular are often alone, living in an old rectory, in charge of 3-4 parishes, miles away from the nearest priest.
This type of isolation can often lead to an increase in spiritual attacks, where a priest starts to doubt his vocation and turn inward to seek consolation from his own vices.
With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that many saints would dedicate their entire lives in praying for priests, encouraging other to do the same.
St. John Paul II gave a speech to priests in the United States in 1979, where he made an appeal to the local Catholic population to pray for priests.
At times we hear the words, “Pray for priests“. And today I address these words as an appeal, as a plea, to all the faithful of the Church in the United States. Pray for priests, so that each and every one of them will repeatedly say yes to the call he has received, remain constant in preaching the Gospel message, and be faithful forever as the companion of our Lord Jesus Christ.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux was another saint who was passionate about praying for priests, as can be seen in her many letters.
Praying for sinners fascinated me, but praying for the souls of priests, whom I thought were purer than crystal, seemed strange to me! Ah! I understood my vocation in Italy: it was not going too far to have such useful knowledge… I lived with many holy priests for one month and understood that, if their sublime dignity lifts them above the angels, this does not mean that they are not weak and fragile…This is the vocation of Carmel, because the only purpose of our prayers and our sacrifices is to be an apostle of the apostles, to pray for them whilst they evangelize souls by words and above all by example.
St. John Vianney composed his own prayer for priests, praying that, “they be worthy representatives of Christ the Good Shepherd.”
Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard wrote in his book, The Soul of the Apostolate, a helpful illustration that shows why we need to pray, not only for priests, but good and holy priests.
If the priest is a saint, the people will be fervent;
if the priest is fervent, the people will be pious;
if the priest is pious, the people will at least be decent;
if the priest is only decent, the people will be godless.
The spiritual generation is always one-degree less intense in its life than the one who begets it in Christ.
As priests continue to struggle to stay faithful to their vocation in the modern world, be sure to pray for them on a daily basis.