Good afternoon!

Well yesterday we celebrated the feast of the sacred heart of Jesus and I described how in a sex mad world, many are craving other parts of the body and not the heart.

All that aside today we celebrate the immaculate heart of Mary and I think that it’s fitting that last night in our church we had an prayer for priests because if there is one thing very dear to the immaculate heart of Mary, it’s her priests.

But first a little fun. After a very tiring day yesterday I got up to go to the Carmelite mass at 8am and so did Seamus. We went for a coffee afterwards and Rayne joined us who had just come from a night shift at the hospital.

Anyway this stranger began to talk to us and he asked us what we were doing. I went for the make or break cut to the chase and go for the jugular answer. “We are catholic missionaries to the gay community”.

That’s what I’m like before coffee in the mornings….blunt and grumpy!! Thank God for Rayne who puts up with me…he must really love me because he’s certainly not with me for the money or for an easy life!!

Anyway our new friend thought that it was awesome that we are missionaries and asked me what my favourite passage of the bible was while sharing his! He went onto share the pain and troubles of His life and as always, the honesty and vulnerability was humbling.

Now for those of you who don’t know, the Carmelite church is in a very rich area of London and “Church Street Kensington” is full of antique shops where millionaires go.

Our new friend managed the wine shop across the street and invited us for a viewing and champagne!!

The most expensive bottle of wine was over £500. We took 3….not!!

So as we sipped the £42 bottle of champagne out of glasses worth £38 we smiled and said “thank you Our Lady” and we’ll of course keep in touch with our new friend and help him as we can.

Yet as I walked to the gym (slightly tipsy) I pondered on Our Lady’s love for priests and how many priests too find themselves in situations of addiction and confusion while trying to do their ministries

I reflected on the prayers the night before and while they were well meaning, if I was a priest I’d have felt pressure, terrible pressure.

Pray for heretic priests, pray for unholy priests, pray for tepid priests….it felt like a machine gun of accusations rather than a litany of mercy.

Do the same people who pray for these priests love these priests and help them? How is criticising and complaining constantly about priests actually going to help them and how can we be praying for them to be perfect if we’re also hurdling missiles at them?.

Over the last years I’ve been very fortunate to live with and get to know many priests at a personal level.

I made one astounding discovery that might shock you all!!! They are profoundly human🤣🤣🤣

Priests like anyone else have inner wounds, have had difficult lives, have crisis of faith etc. and more than any group of people need love, inner healing and encouragement.

It’s true that at times they can behave in terrible ways and fall way short of perfection but who are we to judge? We can obviously judge an act but never the person.

Many times I’m very disappointed at the lack of mercy towards priests. If anyone deserves to hate priests it’s me after all I’ve been through and yet I don’t. I pray for every one of them that may have ever hurt me and as best I can let it go.

So when I see pious Catholics with their rosaries saying “Father did this and Father did that” I wonder if they have not totally missed the point?

It’s so easy for religious pride to set in and when I hear this what I actually hear is “if I was a priest I’d never do…..”

In reality if we were all priests tomorrow we might be like demons. It’s easy read books about being a holy priest but it’s quite another thing going to the seminary for all those years, coping with the demands of the modern church while acutely conscious of one’s own weakness, frailty and shortcomings.

Of course many of us have been very wounded by priests too and very often priests are wounded by their fellow priests and so we all need healing and maybe counselling etc.

Yet we must still forgive less we fall into the snare of pride.

And who is the best person to help heal our hearts and to help us to love our priests without judging? Our Lady!

And what better gift today could we give our Lady than to forgive our priests from Our hearts, to confess and mortify any religious pride that we may have and come to love our priests as ordinary and often weak human beings who are so often in need of our encouragement, support and gratitude.

So may Our Lady bless us all today through her immaculate heart with her love for priests and may we be full of humility and patience when it comes to their shortcomings like we expect them to be with ours.

Now if that isn’t worth having a glass of bubbly for, I don’t know what is.

Happy feast day!!

Michael