Excerpt from, "The Value of Prayer and Sacrifice for Priests":
What grace does a priest most need? There is no doubt in my mind that the one grace that the priest most needs is to embrace the Cross. His union with Christ Crucified is the priest’s key to an effective priesthood. His power as a priest comes from the Cross as he identifies himself with the Crucified Lord. What are we saying? We are saying that a priest must be willing and able to have happen to him what happened to his Master in Palestine. As I've told so many priests and by now have so often told myself, I am only as much a priest and genuinely priestly as I am ready and willing, like Jesus Christ, to suffer for souls.
Can we be more specific? Yes, the principal cross which priests experience today is the suffering they feel with the situation in the Church today. As one priest put it I quote, “The cross is the present, the now experience and not some imagined and future pain.” That is why making the Way of the Cross – and I am now recommending the Stations of the Cross to others – I consider a most effective way of praying for priests. To make the Way of the Cross, uniting oneself with Jesus Christ, no longer suffering in His physical body, but suffering in His Mystical Body, which is the Church.
I would recommend that all the faithful daily offer at least one prayer for all the priests in the Church and especially for those who have done most for them in their lives. I try to remember at Mass every day the priest who baptized me, the priest who heard my first Confession, who gave me my First Holy Communion, the bishop who ordained me, the bishop who confirmed me. I recommend, therefore, that all the faithful daily, in a special and concrete way, pray for priests. I further strongly recommend that all the faithful offer up each day some sacrifice. I am tempted to say some little sacrifice. NO! I suggest it be the most difficult sacrifice of the day for priests. I further recommend that when we hear about a priest who has been unfaithful to his high calling, that our first and immediate reaction should be to pray for him. I finally recommend we do everything in our power to extend and propagate the apostolate of prayer and sacrifice for priests.
Needless to say, the Church of the future will not only survive, but please God in our own country, will thrive. But that will occur only where and insofar as the priests have not only been faithful to their vocation, but have lived their priesthood how I like to say this, in a living martyrdom in union with the first martyr, Jesus Christ. It is, therefore, no mere recommendation or exhortation as far as I can make an imperative. Pray and sacrifice for priests.