By Elise Harris
Catholic News Agency
VATICAN --- In his latest prayer video, Pope Francis asked Catholics to dedicate the month of July to giving a spiritual gift to their pastors by praying for them, especially the priests who are tired or lonely.
“The tiredness of priests…Do you know how often I think about it?”
This is the opening line of Pope Francis’ newest prayer video, published July 3 and dedicated to his intention for the month.
As the video flashes scenes of priests working in difficult situations, including war and disaster relief, Francis speaks in his native Spanish, saying, “priests, with their virtues and defects, work in many different areas.”
“Working on so many active fronts, they cannot remain inactive after a disappointment,” the pope said. And when these moments come along, it is good for a pastor to remember “that the people love their priests, need them, and trust in them.”
The video then displays scenes of priests administering the sacraments, visiting the sick, and speaking with parishioners.
After being given a flower by an elderly woman, the priest featured in the video puts it in a vase inside of his parish and prays as members of his congregation bring more flowers to add to the bouquet.
Francis closes the video asking Catholics to join him in praying “that priests, who experience fatigue and loneliness in their pastoral work, may find help and comfort in their intimacy with the Lord and in their friendship with their brother priests.”
Pope Francis has often spoken of the need for consecrated persons to care for their vocation both spiritually and temporally, especially when he is meeting with priests and religious during international trips.
His specific concern for priests who feel weary on the job goes back to the beginning of his pontificate, and is an issue he has brought up on multiple occasions.
In his homily for the chrism Mass during Holy Week in 2015, the pope spoke to priests directly about getting worn out, saying: “the tiredness of priests! Do you know how often I think about this weariness which all of you experience?”
“I think about it and I pray about it, often, especially when I am tired myself,” he said, and admitted that he prays for every priest and their ministry, especially those who serve “in lonely and dangerous places.”
The tiredness of a holy priest who gives his life in service, Francis said during the Mass, “is like incense which silently rises up to heaven. Our weariness goes straight to the heart of the Father.”
Francis’ prayer intention for priests is part of the monthly “Pope Video” initiative, which is a project of the Jesuit-run global prayer network Apostleship of Prayer.
The Apostleship of Prayer, which produces videos on the pope’s monthly prayer intentions, was founded by Jesuit seminarians in France in 1884 to encourage Christians to serve God and others through prayer, particularly for the needs of the Church.
Since the late 1800s, the organization has received a monthly, universal intention from the pope. In 1929, an additional, missionary intention was added.
However, as of last year, rather than including a missionary intention, Pope Francis opted to have only one prepared prayer intention – the universal intention featured in the prayer video – and will add a second intention for an urgent or immediate need should one arise.
The videos are filmed in collaboration with the Vatican Television Center and mark the first time the Roman Pontiff’s monthly prayer intentions have been featured on video.