December 2021

Meditations for priests



The fundamental task of the priest: to make Jesus Christ known

From the Gospel of Luke

“After this the Lord appointed seventy[-two] others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, ‘The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.’” (Lk 10:1-6)

From the Magisterium of the Catholic Church

“Priests […] are consecrated to preach the Gospel and shepherd the faithful and to celebrate divine worship, so that they are true priests of the New Testament. […] Exercising […] the function of Christ as Shepherd and Head, they gather together God’s family as a brotherhood all of one mind, and lead them in the Spirit, through Christ, to God the Father.” (Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 28)

“The purpose, therefore, which priests pursue in their ministry and by their life is to procure the glory of God the Father in Christ. That glory consists in this-that men working freely and with a grateful spirit receive the work of God made perfect in Christ and then manifest it in their whole lives. Hence, priests, while engaging in prayer and adoration, or preaching the word, or offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice and administering the other sacraments, or performing other works of the ministry for men, devote all this energy to the increase of the glory of God and to man's progress in the divine life.” (Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis, 2)

“Since Jesus Christ has proclaimed that the special sign of discipleship with Him is that we ‘have love one for another’ (John xiii, 35; xv, 12) can we give a mark of greater love for our neighbors than to assist them in putting behind themselves the darkness of error by instructing them in the true faith of Christ? As a matter of fact, this type of charity surpasses all other kinds of good works inspired by love just as the mind surpasses the body, heaven surpasses earth, eternity surpasses time. […] If none of the faithful is exempt from the obligation of charity, can the clergy who, by their truly marvelous election and holy vocation, participate in the very priesthood and apostolate of Jesus Christ, claim such exemption? Or can you, Venerable Brothers, you who possess the plenitude of the priesthood and are, each in his own diocese, the divinely constituted pastors of the clergy and Christian people, claim to be exempt from the same law of love? (PIO XI, Encyclical Letter, Rerum Ecclesiae, 6)

From the writings of Blessed Father Paolo Manna

“We are apostles! The Apostles did not have anything in mind other than to serve, but they always served Jesus Christ, only and uniquely. We are apostles, and we wander far and wide, we work generously, only for the sake of souls, only for the Church, only for heaven!” (P. Manna, Apostolic Virtues, translated from Italian by Fr. Steve Baumbusch, PIME, New York 2009, 18)

“I remember the bitter feelings I had during my frequent journeys to missions. […] I did not say anything, I was one of many Europeans… But those men, those women, those children told me so many things; they said they were creatures of God, with an immortal soul like mine… redeemed like me… even in them the Son of God had become man. And they ignored everything. But they said much more that concerned us personally as priests. They were precisely those souls who had directed our life… they were the reason for our priesthood, our vocation. There were no strangers to us, but God had entrusted them to us to save them…” (P. Manna, Chiamati alla santità, Napoli 1977, p. 65)

“It is frightening to think… we will be called to account for so many souls, for whom we care little.” (P. Manna, Chiamati alla santità, Napoli 1977, p. 66)


“In the world there are those who are more learned, more powerful, more skilled than the clergy; indeed, ever greater initiatives are done in the area of social welfare than we can accomplish. But in and of themselves they are not enough for eternal life. Our task is to save souls.” (P. Manna, Chiamati alla santità, Napoli 1977, p. 73)

“The task of the priest: to give Jesus Christ, to give him to everyone, to the bad, to the good, to the perfect, to children and adults, learned and ignorant. […] We are chalices of Jesus, destined to pour out Jesus into souls. We must be full of Jesus to be able to pour Him out [into others]; we must imbue ourselves with the spirit of grace, with the love of Jesus Christ, in order to give it to others.” (P. Manna, Chiamati alla santità, Napoli 1977, p. 76)

“The priest is a soldier who must never stop fighting for the conquest of souls. He is a fisher of people who must go out on the high seas: […] to catch in his net those who drown in the sea of the world. He is a harvester and, in order to bring in the harvest, he has to be able to bear the scorching heat and the burden of the day. He is a bursar who must give a rigorous account of his administration. He is a shepherd who has to go forth over mountain and valley in search of the lost sheep. The priest cannot save himself; his health is linked to that of many others.” (P. Manna, Chiamati alla santità, Napoli 1977, p. 145-146)

Questions for reflection

  • How many times do I pray for those entrusted to my pastoral care?
  • What am I most engaged in of the following activities: building a Church, managing and leading a pastoral center, office work, talking and meeting people, praying for them?
  • Do I feel more like a builder, a teacher, a lecturer, a clerk, than a priest mediating between people and God?


Lord Jesus,
Sacrificial Lamb on God’s altar,
Our servant and High Priest.
My hands were anointed with Holy Chrism
On the day of my ordination.
I place my hands now in your hands
As Mary, your mother, did in Nazareth.
I entrust myself to God the Father,
Who confirmed your ministry beside the Jordan River.
Through my priestly ministry,
Let me be a sign of the gathering of the church,
Which comes together to celebrate your deeds among us.
Let me know and be able to show others
The beauty of Your Bride who is the Church.
Let her light shine with all her splendor in the Eucharist
And may she illuminate the path of your disciples.

O Divine Savior, today I ask you:
- may I renew my priesthood with the power of the Holy Spirit,
- may I always be humble and strong in my vocation and mission,
- may a willingness for sacred service increase in me daily,
- may I ardently desire to strive for holiness.

Jesus, High Priest, make every person see through me, and my saving ministry,
The love of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
One true God who lives and reigns forever and ever.



for Consecrated persons



The missionary dimension of the poverty of consecrated persons

From the Gospel of Matthew

“Now someone approached him and said, ‘Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?’ He answered him, ‘Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He asked him, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus replied, ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” (Mt 19:16-22)

From the Magisterium of the Catholic Church

“There is another failing that the missionary must scrupulously avoid, and that is the desire to make any profit beyond the acquisition of souls. There is, of course, no need to delay on this point. If a man is the victim of a craving for financial gain, how can he fulfil his obligations of working single-mindedly for the glory of God? And how can he, for the increase of God’s glory, hold himself ready to sacrifice everything he has, even his life, to the work of calling others back to a state of spiritual health?” (Benedict xv, Apostolic Letter on the Propagation of the Faith throughout the World, Maximum Illud, 21)

“Religious should diligently practice and if need be express also in new forms that voluntary poverty which is recognized and highly esteemed especially today as an expression of the following of Christ. By it they share in the poverty of Christ who for our sakes became poor, even though He was rich, so that by His poverty we might become rich (cf. 2Cor 8:9; Mt 8:20).” (Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life, Perfectae Caritatis, 13)

“Evangelical poverty is a value in itself, since it recalls the first of the Beatitudes in the imitation of the poor Christ. Its primary meaning, in fact, is to attest that God is the true wealth of the human heart. […] Consecrated persons are therefore asked to bear a renewed and vigorous evangelical witness to self-denial and restraint, in a form of fraternal life.” (John Paul II, Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Vita Consecrata, 90)

From the writings of Blessed Father Paolo Manna

“Jesus’ entire life was a continuous lesson in poverty and detachment from all earthly things. He taught this from the ‘pulpit’ of His cradle, from the ‘pulpit’ of [His humble life in] Nazareth, and especially from the highest of all ‘pulpits’, that of His cross.” (P. Manna, “Il Vincolo”, I [September 1929], n. 2, 11)

“Those missionaries who [seek] in any way [personal gain], little by little no longer look after the interests of God; they stop being shepherds, and become mercenaries, to whom the sheep are of little interest.” (P. Manna, “Il Vincolo”, I [September 1929], n. 2, 11)

“Let us not place too much value on money as a vehicle for the apostolate. I would like [everyone] to understand the correct force of the phrase ‘too much.’ The Gospel [evangelization] will not go far if it needs money as a crutch. Even if it looks like progress, it won’t be a lasting or true progress.” (P. Manna, “Il Vincolo”, I [September 1929], n. 2, 12)

“Souls, even today, are converted by the Holy Spirit by the missionaries’ life of penance and holiness, by their zeal and prayers. […] Money-based propaganda clips the wings of the Holy Spirit and goes where all human means end up, that is, not very far.” (P. Manna, “Il Vincolo”, I [September 1929], n. 2, 12)

“[A missionary] who holds something back and is not willing to give everything to Jesus, is a missionary in name only. The Church and the Institute do not know what to do with such a man.” (P. Manna, Apostolic Virtues, translated from Italian by Fr. Steve Baumbusch, PIME, New York 2009, 131)

“Are you missionaries? Then you must have this spirit of detachment from all earthly things, and you must regulate your lives according to this spirit. Even if you had the vow of poverty, without such a spirit, that wouldn’t make you any better.” (P. Manna, Apostolic Virtues, translated from Italian by Fr. Steve Baumbusch, PIME, New York 2009, 135)

Questions for reflection

  • Do others see that I lead a simple life, in the daily choices I make, and in my lifestyle?
  • In my apostolate, do I place my trust in prayer or in material things?
  • Do I accept what I have with simplicity and joy, or do I look continuously for personal/material gain, and an ever more comfortable life?
  • How attached am I to my personal possessions? Am I willing to share what I have with others, and without hesitation?



I abandon myself into your hands;

do with me what you will.

Whatever you may do, I thank you:

I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.

I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:

I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,

for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,

to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,

and with boundless confidence,

for you are my Father.

Charles de Foucauld

for the laity


(Blessed Paolo Manna)

The missionary co-operation

From the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians

“But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ.” (Eph 4:7,11-13)

From the Magisterium of the Catholic Church

“All men are called to belong to the new people of God. Wherefore this people, while remaining one and only one, is to be spread throughout the whole world and must exist in all ages, so that the decree of God’s will may be fulfilled. In the beginning God made human nature one and decreed that all His children, scattered as they were, would finally be gathered together as one (cfr. Jn 11:52).” (Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 13)

“What specifically characterizes the laity is their secular nature. […] They live in the world, that is, in each and in all of the secular professions and occupations. They live in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life, from which the very web of their existence is woven. They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven. In this way they may make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity.”  (Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 31)

“Since the whole Church is missionary, and the work of evangelization is a basic duty of the People of God, this sacred synod invites all to a deep interior renewal; so that, having a vivid awareness of their own responsibility for spreading the Gospel, they may do their share in missionary work among the nations.

As members of the living Christ, incorporated into Him and made like unto Him through baptism and through confirmation and the Eucharist, all the faithful are duty - bound to cooperate in the expansion and spreading out of His Body, to bring it to fullness as soon as may be. Therefore, all sons of the Church should have a lively awareness of their responsibility to the world; they should foster in themselves a truly catholic spirit; they should spend their forces in the work of evangelization.” (Second Vatican. Council, Decree on the Mission Activity on the Church, Ad Gentes, 35-36)

“In all the baptized, from first to last, the sanctifying power of the Spirit is at work, impelling us to evangelization.” (Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, 119)

“In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf. Mt 28:19). All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients. […] Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are ‘disciples’ and ‘missionaries,’ but rather that we are always ‘missionary disciples.’” (Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, 120)

From the writings of Blessed Father Paolo Manna

“Only a missionary Church will save the Faith from the world and thus save herself.” (P. Manna, “Le missioni cattoliche”, 1948, p. 147)

“The co-operation of the faithful is an essential factor in the conversion of the infidels.” (P. Manna, The conversion of the pagan world. A Treatise upon Catholic Foreign Missions, translated and adapted from the Italian of rev. Paolo Manna, M. Ap. by rev. Joseph F. McGlinchey, d.d., Boston, Society for the propagation of the Faith 1921, 175)

“The Pope, the bishops, etc., are the pastors, the rulers, the ministers of the Church. But they alone are not the entire Church. Church is a Greek word which signifies an assembly. The Church is the union of all the faithful. It is entire Christendom, together with its pastors. The layman is right in saying that the Pope and bishops have received the mission of converting the world, just as he would be right in saying that the commander-in-chief of a nation and his staff have the mission to fight for the conquest of a country. But just as the generals alone, without the soldiers, cannot conquer a country, so those who govern the Church, without the faithful, cannot conquer the whole world for Jesus Christ.” (Ibid., 175-176)

“It is an undeniable truth that the faithful have an important, yes, a necessary, part in the apostolic work of the Church. So true is this, that without a widespread activity and continuous co-operation on their part the forces and the zeal of the bishops and the missionaries will accomplish very little.” (Ibid., 177)

“Co-operation in the apostolate of the Church is for Catholics a most strict obligation, a bounden duty.” (Ibid., 181)

“And now to those who cannot become missionaries, I would say if your India is here, may God bless you. But remember — you have obligations also towards the real India, and all countries that are still in darkness. […] If you cannot go yourself, at least, by every means in your power, especially through prayer and alms, help the missionaries and facilitate the accomplishment of their great work.”  (P. Manna, The workers are few. Reflections upon Vocation to the Foreign Missions, translated from the Italian of rev. Paolo Manna, M. Ap., by rev. Joseph F. McGlinchey, d.d., Boston, Society for the propagation of the Faith 1911, 206)

“The co-operation [in the missionary work] required is not simply a “good work” that can or cannot be done. It is the duty of every baptized.” (P. Manna, I fedeli per gli infedeli, Milan 1909, 25)

Questions for reflection

  • How conscious am I of being a missionary disciple of Jesus?
  • How am I part of the missionary work of the Church?
  • How often do I ask the Holy Spirit to help me bear witness to Jesus Christ?
  • Where is my “India” as a land of mission today?


Lord Jesus Christ,
By your Most Holy Blood,
May the light of truth shine upon all humanity.
Lead us out of faithlessness and
Embrace us in mercy.
Fill the apostles of your Gospel,
With apostolic zeal,
So that those who may not yet knew Christ,
May see in them His Love, and by their ministry,
Enter the flock of Christ.
Support the endeavors of all missionaries.
May their work lead others to the truth, and to love.
May those who are slow-footed or
Fearful on their journey of faith,
Be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Beloved Savior,
Give missionaries health, optimism, and faith
That they can may gain strength from your sacrifice on the Cross.
We ask for special graces on those whose work is hard or burdensome,
That they may be strengthened by your Spirit,
As they lovingly proclaim the Gospel
By what they say,
And by their service to you.
May your Holy Church continue to grow
Through the world.
We ask this
In your name,
Jesus our Lord and Redeemer,