As we draw closer to Lent, most of us will begin discerning how in particular we are going to increase and focus our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Today, I have a specific suggestion for adding to your Lenten prayer focus. The catch is that it doesn't end with Lent but continues until the end of your life. Sound like a big commitment? It's not scary at all... and I actually think you will love it and find that it draws you further into the joy God has called you to...
Let me introduce you to the Handmaids of the Precious Blood, an order of cloistered nuns who "offer their lives for the sanctification of priests in Eucharistic Adoration." From their website:
The Handmaids are cloistered contemplatives dedicated to the honor, worship, and praise of God. By their hidden apostolate, they extend the arms of prayer and sacrifice around the world, with a special solicitude for God's priests. A Pontifical community, their love for the Church is expressed in unswerving loyalty and fidelity to the Holy Father. Eucharistic Adoration is a special aspect of their ecclesial mission.
Beautiful. And the lay person is not excluded from participation in this privilege but has the opportunity to spiritually adopt a priest through their Lay Associates of the Priesthood. No meetings. No fees. No requirements other than daily prayer for a specific priest.
When you fill out their "Adopt a Priest" form, they will match you with a priest and send you a prayer card with the name of your priest (first name only) and welcome packet. That's all there is to it. You take on the role of spiritual mother to one of God's chosen servants... and God willing, you will meet and embrace someday in heaven.
The nuns would love to have every priest spiritually adopted and currently have almost 30,000 members. I signed up a couple years ago and Father N. has become a part of my thoughts and prayers and family. I know I will never meet him in this life but I find myself wondering how he is and have asked the Lord to give me a nudge when Father needs extra prayers. I think of him on the feast of his patron saint and very much look forward to our heavenly meeting.
I strongly encourage you to prayerful consider adding this privilege of prayer to your life as a part of your Lenten practice this year. I really can't see any down side and can certainly attest to the blessing. If you pray daily, this is not a difficult obligation at all. Please visit the Handmaids' website to learn more and to be encouraged by their beautiful witness and resources.
If you need any more encouragement, I'll just tell you that the late Father John Hardon was instrumental in establishing this lay apostolate and was a great friend to the order. Hey, a little Catholic name-dropping never hurts. :)