Spiritual Mothers of Priests
Today being the Feast of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests, I thought I would bring you the article Sr. John Mary wrote for our recent community newsletter. (No, the newsletter hasn't been posted on our website yet but as soon as it is I will let you know.) My Brother, the Priest...
Ten years ago I never thought I’d say that! Not that he did not have priestly qualities but because he had set his course on a different path. It was the evening of my Perpetual Profession of Vows, as I said goodbye to my 22 year old brother Jeff , I whispered to him to stay close to our Blessed Mother. He became very solemn and said, “we don’t pray the rosary enough.” I realized then the Lord was awakening within him a desire to live his faith more fully. Two years later he entered what is now known as Bishop Simon Brute College Seminary and seven years after that on June 2, 2012, he was ordained a Priest of Jesus Christ for the diocese of Evansville, Indiana!
He is only a man, this brother of mine, but a man chosen by God to be indelibly marked as an “alter Christus”. “The world looks to the priest, because it looks to Jesus! No one can see Christ; but everyone sees the priest, and through him they wish to catch a glimpse of the Lord! Immense is the grandeur of the Lord! Immense is the grandeur and dignity of the priest!”
~ Blessed John Paul II
My brother, the priest...As I write this article he is one week old, a “baby priest” some say. As the days pass I find myself uniting my life to his priesthood. His offering of Christ and all of humanity to the Father. His call has called me to a greater realization of my own priestly vocation as a baptized daughter of God, offering my life through, with and in Jesus to the Father by the Holy Spirit, to pray and do penance. To live Saint Paul’s admonition to the Romans, “...I beg you through the mercy of God to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may judge what is God’s will, what is good, pleasing and perfect.”
~ Romans 12:1 - 2
All the Sisters here have been just as delighted as I am over this wondrous gift of a priestly vocation in my family. As contemplative nuns, dwelling in spirit at the foot of Calvary, we take seriously our mandate to be Spiritual Mothers, especially of priests. To pray and do penance for the sanctification of priests following our Lady of Sorrows, Mother of the Eternal High Priest and Helper in his work of Redemption.
The vocation to be a spiritual mother for priests is hardly known, barely understood and consequently, rarely lived, although fundamental and vitally important. It is a vocation that is often hidden, not apparent to the human eye, but intended to transmit spiritual life.
~ Adoration, Reparation, Spiritual Motherhood for Priests by the Congregation for the Clergy 2007
Through fidelity to our daily hidden life we seek to help priests to be faithful in all their life of self-offering, prayer and duty. I think of the closing words of Bishop Charles C. Thompson, who ordained Fr. Jeff and his classmate Fr. Brian Emmick, “Dare to be priests of JOY.” Yes, we offer our lives for priests that they may know and show forth the joy of a life totally dedicated to Christ. I ask your continued prayers for my little brother, the priest - that he may be a holy priest. A holy priest means a holy people!
...the community of the baptized…’by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, that...they may offer spiritual sacrifices.’ This ‘common priesthood’ is that of Christ the sole priest, in which all his members participate…But ‘the members do not all have the same function.’ Certain members are called by God, in and through the Church, to a special service of the community. These servants are chosen and consecrated by the sacrament of Holy Orders, by which the Holy Spirit enables them to act in the person of Christ the head, for the service of all the members of the Church. The ordained minister is, as it were, an ‘icon’ of Christ the priest.
~ Catechism of the Catholic Church 1141, 1142
Fr. Jeff pictured with his and Sr. John Mary's brother Mitch (right) and Mike (left), one of Sr. Mary Andrea's brothers.