The following is by the Most Rev. Michael C. Barber, S.J. Bishop Barber took part in a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, with Order of Malta, to the shrine where Our Lady appeared in 1858. This is part of his May 8 homily from a Mass at Sacred Heart Parish Church in Lourdes.

I had heard years ago about the Diocese of Arlington, and how they were ordaining so many young priests — more than any other diocese in the USA. I always wondered what their secret was.

Last year I was invited to give a retreat to the priests of Arlington, and I accepted because I wanted to find out what their secret was. Of course it helps to have a good bishop. While on the retreat one of the priests came to see me.

He said, “I don’t have a problem to discuss. I just feel called to share something with you. I am a full-time hospital chaplain. I visit sick people all day, every day. I made these little prayer cards with a picture of the suffering Christ. On the back I wrote a short prayer. I ask the sick if they’ll say this prayer.”

The prayer says something like “I offer all my sufferings for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and sisterhood in the diocese of Arlington.”

Because of these prayers offered by the sick and suffering for the sake of the Diocese, Bishop Paul Loverde ordained 100 new priests in 10 years.

Or take another case. I am a Jesuit priest and I lived for years in a Jesuit high school community in San Francisco.

One of our priests there faithfully followed the three pillars of the Jesuit Rule for 40 years: 1. Prayer and Mass in the morning. 2. Teach five classes during the day. 3. Scotch and soda in the evening.

After 40 years of teaching physics, he was diagnosed with a serious illness and told he had to move to the Jesuit infirmary in Los Gatos. Most priests hate to get news like that, and resist going to the infirmary. He, on the other hand, went dutifully and found he was given a new mission-in-life: the Prayer of Intercession.

He had a large statue of the Sacred Heart moved into his infirmary room. He sent out emails to all the Jesuits saying: send me your intentions. I’m here all day and I want to pray for your intentions. Like St. Paul, he offered his sufferings for the sake of Christ’s body, which is the Church.

Well, things started happening, people’s lives were being changed. Prayers were answered: exams were passed, scholarships were granted, alcoholics started going to AA, mothers wrote that their kids were going back to church again … and many more.

Then a few years later when the doctor told him “We are going to amputate your leg on Friday” he sent out an urgent email: “This Friday many special graces and blessings are going to be granted. Send me your most important intentions.”

At that point I was a seminarian, and wrote and asked him to pray that I would get approved for ordination. And this Jesuit was approved and ordained.

I believe all these things were granted by God because this Jesuit Father offered his suffering, together with Christ on the Cross, for the sake of the members of the Church.

We are gathered here in St. Bernadette’s parish church. Even if the Blessed Mother had never appeared to her, everything Bernadette needed for salvation is here. When you go home, look around your parish church. Everything you need to get to heaven is there.

They did a survey recently, in one of the newspapers in my city. They found that people who go to church regularly live longer — about seven years longer on average.

My friends, those who are baptized, those who have their sins forgiven in confession, those who receive the Lord’s Body and Blood in Holy Communion don’t just live longer …

You will live in eternity!

Story from The Catholic Voice.

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