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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

O Lord, Give us Many Holy Priests!

The Communion of the Apostles
 Luca Giordano (Italian (Neapolitan), 1634–1705)

A question came up the other day that elicited a difference of opinion between myself and someone with whom I was chatting. He believed that a priest's Mass was not valid if he said it while in the state of mortal sin unless he was repentant and had the intention of going to Confession as soon as possible. I thought that was inaccurate and part of the Donatist heresy. So I looked it up and here's what I found:
If a priest is in the state of mortal sin, can he still offer the Mass and perform the other sacraments? Source
During this time, St. Augustine (354-430) was the great champion of true Catholic teaching. In his In Ioannis evangelium tractatus, he forcefully distinguished the action of Christ versus the action of the minister when performing a sacrament: Christ acts by His power, while the minister acts by his ministry entrusted to him by Christ. Therefore, “…those whom Judas baptized, Christ baptized. So too, then, those whom a drunkard baptized, those whom a murderer baptized, those whom an adulterer baptized, if the Baptism was of Christ, Christ baptized” (5,18).

Nevertheless, St. Augustine also sharply chastised the minister not properly disposed to perform the sacrament: “As for the proud minister, he is to be ranked with the devil. Christ’s gift is not thereby profaned: what flows through him keeps its purity, and what passes through him remains clear and reaches the fertile earth…. The spiritual power of the sacrament is indeed comparable to light: those to be enlightened receive it in its purity, and if it should pass through defiled beings, it is not itself defiled.” (In Ioannis evangelium tractatus, 5, 15).

This question is particularly relevant to our own time when evil among the clergy is rampant. Think of the clergy overcome by lust like Cardinal McCarrick and other bishops and priests who are serial sodomites or fornicators with no intention of stopping. Every time they say Mass they commit a grievous sacrilege compounding and magnifying their guilt. How frightening to think of them uniting their bodies, covered with the leprosy of sin, with the pure body of Christ our Savior. It is Christ himself who confects the sacraments through the unworthy hands of the minister steeped in sin.

Do we pray for our priests? We need them. In justice, we should be on our knees imploring God's grace for them. A friend recently gave me a little holy card with a prayer to say during the Mass when the priest receives the Body and Blood of Our Lord:

O Lord, 

May Thou find shelter and rest gently within the heart of Thy priest....

Make him, O Lord a priest according to Thy Heart:

meek, humble, zealous, so that all he does will be for Thine honor and glory. Mold him into a man of prayer and labor, insensible to earthly things and sensible only to Thy love and to the graces of the Holy Spirit.

When we pray the rosary publicly before Mass, it always ends with this prayer:

O Lord, give us priests.

O Lord, give us holy priests. 

O Lord, give us many holy priests.

O Lord, give us many holy religious vocations.

O Lord, give us many holy, Catholic families.

This is where the revival of the faith begins - with personal holiness. So let us be busy to bring it about through prayer and sacrifice. 


  1. I've pretty recently read that it is also good to pray for the priest while he's praying the Confiteor. Also, and I've too often forgotten to, but pray for your priest before going to confession. I like when I walk to Mass, as it gives me time to do this.

  2. I pray this prayer for priests, but I also add the line:
    "O Lord, grant us a holy pope!"

    and God bless you, Mary Ann

  3. Interesting, Debbie, I started praying for the priest during the Confiteor several months ago. It just seemed the right thing to do rather than praying the prayer twice.

    And thank you, John. I will add that as well. May God bless all of us!

  4. Augustine's theory only works because priest not needed at all. Hence also why canon law admits a layman may baptize and in extreme emergency even a woman. Does canon law ever admit this of the mass? Probably not. Therefore this applies to baptism but not the mass (per Roman canon law).

  5. Not sure what your point is, Anonymous. Are you saying that there is no valid Mass if the priest is in mortal sin when he says it?