An Inspired Prayer
Yesterday, being Thursday, the day of adoration and reparation for priests, I posted a passage pertaining to the priesthood from the writings of Sister Josefa Menendez of the Society of the Sacred Heart. Today, I want to share with the readers of Vultus Christi the prayer for priests that Josefa received from Our Lord. The translation from the French is my own.
O Jesus, by Your loving Heart, I beg You to inflame with the zeal of Your Love and of Your Glory all the priests of the world, all missionaries, and all those charged with announcing Your Divine Word, so that set ablaze with a holy zeal they may rescue souls from the demon and lead them all to the shelter of Your Heart where they will be able to glorify You ceaselessly. Amen.
Fire Upon the Earth
Josefa’s prayer resonates with the Magnificat Antiphon sung at First Vespers of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: Ignem veni mittere in terram, et quid volo nisi ut accendatur? “I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and what will I but that it be set ablaze?” (Luke 12:49). This profound harmony with Sacred Scripture and with the liturgy of the Church is one of the indications that a particular inspiration comes from God.
Another favourable indication is the catholicity of the text; there is nothing narrow about it, nothing that looks towards self. The prayer embraces “all the priests of the world, all missionaries, and all those charged with announcing the Divine Word.” The triple repetition of all attests to the catholic horizons opened in Josefa’s soul by her intimacy with the Sacred Heart.
Twice in her prayer Josefa uses the word zeal. The virtue of zeal is radically incompatible with sloth, pusillanimity, and lukewarmness: vices that, at certain hours, tempt every priest. She speaks of rescuing souls from the demon; like the great Saint Antony of Egypt, the little domestic sister of Poitiers had no illusions about the machinations of the Evil One and the reality of spiritual combat. The rage of the Evil One was, according to the testimony of her superiors, something Sister Josefa experienced in the most disconcerting ways.
Into the Shelter of the Sacred Heart
Josefa Menendez calls the Sacred Heart of Jesus an asile, that is to say, a safe place, a shelter. The mission of priests, as she presents it, is to lead souls into the shelter of the Sacred Heart where, says Josefa, “they will be able to glorify You ceaselessly.” Once a soul has crossed the threshold of Our Lord’s pierced side, everything in that soul turns to thanksgiving and praise.