“Hey kids, Father Aníbal Mendonça is coming to visit. He has a present from Cana of Galilee for us and he wants to come here this evening to give it to us because he’ll be vising Mogofores. Let’s start our prayers now and Father Aníbal will join in when he arrives. When he comes in, don’t forget to stand up to say hello, ok?”
“Why’s that?” the little girl who lives with us wants to know.
“Why do we have to stand up from the sofa?”
“It’s a matter of respect”, I told her. And before I could say anything else, David joined in.
“Don’t you know that priests are more important than the angels?”
The little girl looked at him in astonishment through her beautiful blue eyes, but said nothing. She’s already used to the strange things the Powers often say. I smiled, happy that David was able to remember the episode from the life of Saint Padre Pio that brought up his comment. Do you know it?
From early childhood, Padre Pio was friends with his guardian angel. Up until his adolescence, Padre Pio thought that everybody talked with their angels like that. He just thought it was the norm. Little by little he began to realise that this was unusual and so little by little he became more discreet about it.
Whenever he would go in to a church, Padre Pio would see his angel enter in front of him. Then came the day he was ordained a priest and he went in to the church for his first Mass. But on that particular morning he was surprised to see that the angel didn’t go first. When Padre Pio asked him why not, the angel replied: “Now you’re a priest. You have a dignity that’s far greater than mine!”
Here at home, we teach our kids to respect priests, without whom the promise of Jesus – I will be with you until the end of time – wouldn’t be possible. And we pray that God might choose, from among our boys, at least one to serve Him in priesthood.
When we speak about the priests we know, we follow the maxim of Don Bosco: “About priests say good things or say nothing”. Sometimes, naturally, we disagree with their pastoral practices or we conflict with their personality, but between sharing different points of view and slander there’s a gulf we cannot cross.
Divine Mercy Sunday is also the Sunday of priesthood. Because if the apostles received the grace to consecrate the bread and wine at the Last Supper, on Divine Mercy Sunday they received the grace to forgive sins through confession.
May this beautiful Sunday also be a day of thanksgiving in our homes and a day of prayer for priests! Let’s not forget – their dignity is greater than the dignity of the angels.