Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mary, Eminent Formator of the Priesthood

Every priest knows that Mary, because she is a mother, is the eminent formator of the priesthood, since she is the one who knows how to shape the priestly heart; the Virgin, therefore, knows and wants to protect priests from dangers, exhaustion, and discouragement: with motherly solicitude she watches over the priest so that he may grow in wisdom, age, and grace before God and before men (34).

Those who do not know how to imitate the virtues of their mother are not devoted sons. The priest, therefore, must look to Mary if he wants to be a humble, obedient, and chaste minister who can give witness to charity through total donation to the Lord and to the Church (35).

The masterpiece of Christ's priestly sacrifice, the Virgin represents the Church in the most pure manner, "without stain or wrinkle," totally "holy and immaculate" (36). The contemplation of the Blessed Virgin keeps ever in sight the ideal that the priest must always pursue in his ministry of caring for his own flock, so that this flock also may be "the wholly glorious Church" through the priestly gift of his own life (37).

Finally, Mary is the "offering Virgin." The Church has perceived in the heart of the Virgin who carried the Child to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, a willing oblation that transcended the ordinary meaning of the rite (51). "You offer your Son, Holy Virgin, and you present to the Lord the blessed fruit of your womb. You offer the holy victim, pleasing to God, for the reconciliation of us all" (St Bernard).

This union of the Mother with the Son in the work of redemption reaches its culmination at Calvary, where Christ "offered himself, immaculate, to God" (52) and where Mary was beside the cross (53) suffering deeply with her Only Son and associating herself with motherly courage to his sacrifice, adhering lovingly to the immolation of the Victim engendered by her and offering herself as well to the Eternal Father. To perpetuate throughout the centuries the Sacrifice of the Cross, the Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice, memorial of his death and resurrection, and he confided it to his Spouse, the Church... who accomplishes it in union with the Saints in Heaven and, in the first place, with the blessed Virgin, whose ardent charity and unshakable faith she imitates (54).

Therefore the Church, with this same oblationary fervor and spirit lived by Mary, continually exhorts the priest to prepare himself and celebrate the Eucharist, center and summit of his interior life and apostolate. May his priestly hands elevate the consecrated bread and wine, Body and Blood of the Lord, just as Mary offered him as a child in the Temple, and having consummated the redemption at the foot of the cross, may he return it to the Father as an expiatory offering for our sins.

~ Mons. Norberto Rivera, Archbishop, Primate of Mexico
excerpts from The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life and Ministry of the Priest ~

Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest, Mother of all priests and our Mother, help us respond generously to the Holy Spirit's request, through the voice of His Church, to offer up to God Eucharistic adoration for priests. Amen.

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