World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests Emboldens Priests to Embrace the Cross for the Sake of the Gospel
WASHINGTON – The World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests will be marked by the universal Church on June 11. This celebration was established by Pope John Paul II in 2002 and occurs annually on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On this day, the Church encourages priests to reflect upon the gift of priesthood they have received from Christ; and the faithful are encouraged to pray for their priests that they may be strengthened in their ministry and remain steadfast in their commitment to the Lord.
In his homily for the Holy Chrism Mass on April 1, Pope Francis reminded priests that the proclamation of the Gospel is always intrinsically linked to persecution. The Holy Father remarked that the weight of the cross was present throughout Our Lord’s life from beginning to end; just as he embraced its sufferings at every moment of his earthly life, so too must his priests: “If mere circumstances conditioned the saving power of the cross, the Lord would not have embraced everything,” he said. “But when his hour came, he embraced the cross fully. For on the cross there can be no ambiguity! The cross is non-negotiable.”
Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations echoed Pope Francis’ message: “Preaching the Gospel often results in rejection and isolation. Priests confront this harsh reality too. Yet, the power of the cross prevails. I urge all priests, especially those suffering in a particular way, to remember that they do not bear their crosses alone; it is through and by the cross of Christ that we are given all of the strength we need for the challenges ahead.”
Resources for supporting the life and ministry of priests are available for use on the USCCB website.