Tuesday, April 22, 2014

April 22, 2014: Divine Mercy Novena #9, Pray for Priests' relationship with Blessed Mother

If you want to find the secret to a man’s success, for whom should we look? The woman behind the man. It is the wife who helps her husband look good, helps him prepare for the next day, and builds his confidence. Likewise, behind every priest whose ministry is fruitful and successful is Blessed Mother. It is to her that a priest, after a long day, confides all his troubles and anxiety. Cardinal Timothy Dolan discovered that every priest who had been a model for him over the years had an unshakable trust in Blessed Mother. Sister Briege McKenna said at a priest conference, “No wonder you priests are so close to Blessed Mother, for you and Blessed Mother both look at Jesus--and you both say, as no one else can, ‘This is my body; this is my blood.’

Bishop Fulton Sheen said that the real good news of the Incarnation of Our Lord, which occurred in the little town of Nazareth, is that the Incarnation continues right here and now, as the Word of God is enfleshed each day in the heart and mind, speech and actions, of his disciples. This means that priests will have to respond, just as Blessed Mother responded to Archangel Gabriel, to the following: Will you provide God the Son with a human nature? Will you allow the Lord to become incarnate for his people in and through you?

Blessed Mother teaches priests and all of us that discipleship, serving her Son, should be prepared for uncertainty. She reminds us that when we say “Thy will be done” to the Lord we are surrendering our most prized commodity — our future and our security to plan our life. Just as she encountered the happiest moments, such as Bethlehem, and the saddest moments, such as Calvary, we too will face both joys and sorrows in our discipleship. She teaches us fidelity in such moments. Her lesson is that what is happening to us is not as significant as with whom it is happening, for what is of the essence is that, at both the crib and the cross, she is close to Jesus. That is fidelity.

As a good mother will display a special love for whichever of her children might be sick, troubled, or ignored by the others, so does Blessed Mother for her spiritual children. She is the “comforter of the afflicted,” “refuge of sinners,” “health of the sick,” and “help of Christians.” In showing her tenderness for her children, she teaches the priests how to be a good shepherd.

Blessed Mother also helps priests discover and deepen their identity. The first moment of self-identity a baby has is when the infant, held up by its mother, stares into its mother’s eyes and sees there its own reflection. Likewise an effective way we discover the priestly identity is by gazing into the eyes of the Blessed Mother. Therein we see the reflection of Jesus.

We need to pray for our priests so that they will deepen their relationship with their Heavenly Mother who will help them discover and persevere in their identity, vocation, and mission as priests.

(This reflection was taken in part from Cardinal Timothy Dolan's Priests of the Third Millenium)