Support Vocations Prayerfully
BOOK PICK: Praying for Priests
PRAYING FOR PRIESTS
A Mission of the New Evangelization
By Kathleen Beckman
Sophia Institute Press, 2014
288 pages, $19.95 (e-book, $9.95)
To order: sophiainstitute.com or (800) 888-9344
But as Archbishop Fulton Sheen (whom Praying for Priests quotes) noted, “Out of hundreds of possible ways of fostering vocations, prayer was the single one Our Lord specified” (emphasis original).
Inspired by publications of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, Kathleen Beckman co-founded the Foundation of Prayer for Priests, a movement of the New Evangelization to sensitize Catholics to their privilege and duty, as members of the communion of saints, to pray for and nurture priestly vocations.
With the twin power of Eucharistic adoration and the Rosary, Beckman wants to kindle a broad movement of “prayer warriors” to beg the Lord for an abundance of workers in the vineyard of the Spirit: “[T]he real condition of [the] … priesthood … requires a continuous commitment of prayer ‘for the fruitful ministry of priests.’ The Holy See asks that we pray particularly for the sanctification of priests.”
She develops this responsibility particularly as an aspect of the New Evangelization, with special attention on the role of women in spiritually mothering present and future priests. She devotes attention to the Marian aspect of a woman’s spiritual maternity, as well as adding her own experiences; reflecting on the ordination of a priest she had supported by prayer, she wrote: “I experienced the maternal love of Mary and rejoiced in the making of another priest!”
Rooted in Holy Hours and the Rosary, Beckman offers several sets of scripturally-based meditations on the mysteries of the Rosary. She adds other prayers and meditations as well and rounds out the book with testimonies of new priests about the support they received from lay prayer.
I confess a certain reticence about the private dimension of Beckman’s reflections. The same applies to her interpretations of others’ actions to promote vocations (see “Heroines of Spiritual Maternity”), especially when it comes to those not canonized. That said, I could adduce others, e.g., Sister Wanda Boniszewska (1907-2003), a Polish nun who bore the stigmata in support of priestly holiness and atonement for priestly sins. I also fear her reflections on male-female complementarity, to which St. John Paul II gave so much attention, will be lost (and thus even more needed) in a society where powerful forces work to obliterate sexual distinction and the humanity that goes with it.
Nevertheless, this book is timely and necessary, a reflection of how laypeople can legitimately share in the Church’s vocational task.
John M. Grondelski writes from Shanghai, China.
- Dec. 28, 2014-Jan. 10, 2015