Cardinal Newman has written a wonderful prayer, in which he reveals his priestly heart in conversation with God. I think that just to live this prayer is holiness for a priest:
Dear Jesus, help me to spread thy fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with thy Spirit and live. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my live may only be a radiance of thine. Shine through me, and be so completely in me that every soul I come into contact with might feel thy presence in my soul. Let them look and see me no longer, but only Jesus. Stay with me, and then I shall begin as thou shinest, so to shine as to be a light to others. This light of Jesus will come all from thee; none of it will be mine. It will be thou shining on others through me. Let me thus praise thee in the way thou dost love best, by shining on those around me. Let me preach thee without preaching, not by words but by my example, by the catching force of the sympathetic influence of what I do, and the evidence fullness of the love my heart feels today. AMEN!
Everywhere we go, we find people with this same tremendous hunger for God, a hunger only you priests can satisfy by giving them Jesus. They expect the tenderness and love of Jesus to come into their lives through you. They need you to touch them with the fragrance and compassion of his love.
In our homes for the dying we see people with terrible sufferings. Our sisters know that they can help these people go to God only by pouring out on them the tenderness and love of Jesus. A few days ago, when I was in our home in Calutta, a man came in and walked straight past me to the women’s area without even saying a word. He saw one of our sisters cleaning someone covered with dirt and worms, who had just come to us by ambulance from the streets. He just stood there staring, first the sister’s hands, then at her face, and then at her eyes. And suddenly he could see that through those hands, and through that face, and through those eyes the love of God was being poured out. As he was leaving, he stopped to talk to me and said, “I came here Godless and angry, but I am leaving with new understanding and with the presence of God in my heart. Now I know that God loves us. I saw his love in the touch of that sister, and in her eyes. I could see in the way all your sisters look at those patients that they know they are serving God.”
Another time in New Delhi, the Minister of Social Welfare said to me, “Mother Teresa, you and we do the same social work, but there is a great difference between us. You do it for someone, but we only do it for something.” For someone! As priests, this is what must motivate you. The man, the woman, the child coming to you for help is someone. And the one he is is Jesus!
Sometime back, our sisters were taking a man from the streets, and as they picked him up all the skin of his back remained stuck to the footpath. They brought him to our home in terrible condition, but he died with a beautiful smile on his face. I asked the sisters who cared for him “What did you feel deep down in your hearts when you were touching him?” One of the young sisters answered, “Mother, I was very, very sure that I was touching Jesus; that it was His body and His sufferings, His terrible sufferings that I was sharing.”
We need you priests, to teach us this, to help us realize this presence of Jesus. We need you to teach us how to be holy. More than anything else, we need you to teach us how to pray. The fruit of prayer is a clean heart, and Jesus tells us that those who have a clean heart can see God (Mt. 5:8). Another fruit of prayer is a deeper faith, and the fruit of that faith is love, and the fruit of love is service (2 Pet. 1:5-7).