Priesthood: March 2009 Archives

Spiritual Mothers of Priests

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In Union Our Lady's Yes

On the evening of March 24th, vigil of the Annunciation of the Lord, thirty-three women of the Diocese of Tulsa, having completed their initial formation as Spiritual Mothers of Priests, made their oblation during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered by His Excellency, Bishop Edward J. Slattery in Holy Family Cathedral. An exhortation by Bishop Slattery followed the singing of the Gospel of the Annunciation. His Excellency recalled the maternal solicitude for priests exemplified by Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, Blessed Marie de Jésus Deluil-Martiny, the Servant of God Louise-Marguerite Claret de la Touche, and the Venerable Maria Concepción Cabrera. Then, he called the women to stand before the altar, just outside the sanctuary, where together they said:

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Holy Father (Jn 17:11), behold, I come to do Your will (Heb 10:9), placing myself, with all that I am, and all that I do, in the wounded hands of Your Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Eternal Priest and immaculate Victim.

I entreat Him to unite my offering
to the Holy Sacrifice that is about to be renewed
upon the altar of this our Cathedral Church
for the sake of all thy priests,
and in particular for the priest-son
who will be entrusted to me.

Holy Father,
keep them from the Evil One (Jn 17:15)
and sanctify them in the truth (Jn 17:17)
that the love with which You have loved Your Only-Begotten Son
may be in them
and that Your Son Himself may be in them (Jn 17:26).

Bind them by a most tender love
to the Virgin Mary, Mother of all priests,
that, by her intercession, they may be
overshadowed by the power of the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:35)
in every act of the Sacred Ministry.
Thus, may their priesthood,
supported by my humble oblation,
reveal the Face of Jesus and His Most Sacred Heart
for Your glory
and for the joy of the whole Church.

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The Blessed Medal

Bishop Slattery presented each woman with a blessed medal depicting a priest vested for Mass, helped by a woman -- Mother Church, Our Lady, a Spiritual Mother -- to raise a chalice made ready for to receive the Blood and the Water flowing from Our Lord's pierced side.

The medal bears, in Latin, the inscription of a text taken from the Rite of Ordination to the Priesthood, and addressed to the new priest: "Receive the power to offer sacrifice unto God."

Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, may you wear this medal as the outward sign of your inner likeness to her maternal Heart, which is ever full of mercy and solicitude for her Son's priests.

A Priest Son for Each Mother

Then, His Excellency handed to each Spiritual Mother an envelope containing a profile of the priest entrusted to her, indicating some of his special challenges and needs. The name of the priest was not given to his Spiritual Mother, nor will he know her name. The mission of the Spiritual Mother is essentially hidden and silent.

Take as well the burdens of the priest whom you are adopting as your son; support him with your prayers, refresh him with the joy of your charity, and do penance for his sins and failings.

The formation of this first group of Spiritual Mothers will continue on a permanent basis, and other groups of women will also be formed for this precious and efficacious way of helping priests to grow in holiness.

19 June 2009 -- 19 June 2010

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The translation here is my own.

In occasione del 150° anniversario della morte del Santo Curato d'Ars, Giovanni Maria Vianney, Sua Santità ha annunciato questa mattina che, dal 19 giugno 2009 al 19 giugno del 2010, si terrà uno speciale Anno Sacerdotale, che avrà come tema: "Fedeltà di Cristo, fedeltà del sacerdote".

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of the Holy Curé of Ars, Saint Jean-Marie Vianney, His Holiness announced this morning that, from 19 June 2009 until 19 June 2010, a special Sacerdotal Year will be held, which will have as its theme: "Fidelity of Christ, Fidelity of the Priest."

Il Santo Padre lo aprirà presiedendo la celebrazione dei Vespri, il 19 giugno p.v., solennità del Sacratissimo Cuore di Gesù e Giornata di santificazione sacerdotale, alla presenza della reliquia del Curato d'Ars portata dal Vescovo di Belley-Ars; lo chiuderà, il 19 giugno del 2010, prendendo parte a un "Incontro Mondiale Sacerdotale" in Piazza San Pietro.

The Holy Father will open it by presiding at the celebration of Vespers on 19 June, solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, in the presence of the relics of the Curé of Ars brought by the Bishop of Belley-Ars; he will close it on 19 June 2010, by participating in a World Encounter of Priests in Saint Peter's Square.

Durante questo Anno giubilare Benedetto XVI proclamerà San Giovanni M. Vianney "Patrono di tutti i sacerdoti del mondo". Sarà inoltre pubblicato il "Direttorio per i Confessori e Direttori Spirituali" insieme ad una raccolta di testi del Sommo Pontefice sui temi essenziali della vita e della missione sacerdotale nell'epoca attuale.

During this Jubilee Year Benedict XVI will proclaim Saint Jean-Marie Vianney "Patron of all the priests of the world." Also to be published are a "Directory for Confessors and Spiritual Directors" together with a collection of texts of the Supreme Pontiff on the essential themes of the life and mission of priests in the present time.

La Congregazione per il Clero, d'intesa con gli Ordinari diocesani e i Superiori degli Istituti religiosi, si preoccuperà di promuovere e coordinare le varie iniziative spirituali e pastorali che saranno poste in essere per far percepire sempre più l'importanza del ruolo e della missione del sacerdote nella Chiesa e nella società contemporanea, come pure la necessità di potenziare la formazione permanente dei sacerdoti legandola a quella dei seminaristi.

The Congregation for the Clergy, in collaboration with the Ordinaries of dioceses and the Superiors of Religious Institutes, will undertake to promote and coordinate the various spiritual and pastoral initiatives that will be put in place to foster greater awareness of the role and mission of the priest in the Church and in contemporary society, as well as the necessity of realizing the permanent formation of priests, linking it to that of seminarians.

Bollettino Ufficiale Santa Sede


VATICAN CITY, 16 MAR 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received members of the Congregation for the Clergy, who are currently celebrating their plenary assembly on the theme: "The missionary identity of priests in the Church as an intrinsic dimension of the exercise of the 'tre munera'".
  "The missionary dimension of a priest arises from his sacramental configuration to Christ the Head", said the Pope. This involves "total adherence to what ecclesial tradition has identified as 'apostolica vivendi forma', which consists in participation ... in that 'new way of life' which was inaugurated by the Lord Jesus and which the Apostles made their own".
  Benedict XVI highlighted the "indispensable struggle for moral perfection which must dwell in every truly priestly heart. In order to favour this tendency of priests towards spiritual perfection, upon which the effectiveness of their ministry principally depends, I have", he said, "decided to call a special 'Year for Priests' which will run from 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010". This year marks "the 150th anniversary of the death of the saintly 'Cure of Ars', Jean Marie Vianney, a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ's flock".
  "The ecclesial, communional, hierarchical and doctrinal dimension is absolutely indispensable for any authentic mission, and this alone guarantees its spiritual effectiveness", he said.
  "The mission is 'ecclesial'", said the Pope, "because no-one announces or brings themselves, ... but brings Another, God Himself, to the world. God is the only wealth that, definitively, mankind wishes to find in a priest.
  "The mission is 'communional' because it takes place in a unity and communion which only at a secondary level possess important aspects of social visibility. ... The 'hierarchical' and 'doctrinal' dimensions emphasise the importance of ecclesiastical discipline (a term related to that of 'disciple') and of doctrinal (not just theological, initial and permanent) formation".
  Benedict XVI stressed the need to "have care for the formation of candidates to the priesthood", a formation that must maintain "communion with unbroken ecclesial Tradition, without pausing or being tempted by discontinuity. In this context, it is important to encourage priests, especially the young generations, to a correct reading of the texts of Vatican Council II, interpreted in the light of all the Church's doctrinal inheritance".
  Priests must be "present, identifiable and recognisable - for their judgement of faith, personal virtues and attire - in the fields of culture and of charity which have always been at the heart of the Church's mission".
  "The centrality of Christ leads to a correct valuation of priestly ministry, without which there would be no Eucharist, no mission, not even the Church. It is necessary then, to ensure that 'new structures' or pastoral organisations are not planned for a time in which it will be possible to 'do without' ordained ministry, on the basis of an erroneous interpretation of the promotion of the laity, because this would lay the foundations for a further dilution in priestly ministry, and any supposed 'solutions' would, in fact, dramatically coincide with the real causes of the problems currently affecting the ministry"

Of You I Ask Something More

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"So few souls remember to thank Me after receiving My Body and Blood. This is true even of my priests -- my priests, my friends, my chosen ones from whom I expect more, from whom I desire more.
Hearts have grown cold and indifferent towards Me in this the Sacrament of My Love. For many, receiving Me has become a routine action devoid of faith and with no manifestation of adoration and of love. How has My Church come to this?
I will raise up holy priests to rekindle a burning love for the Most Holy Eucharist in the hearts of my faithful. I am calling many priests to adore My Eucharistic Face and to approach My Open Heart in the Sacrament of My Love. These are the priests whom I will use to minister first to their own brothers in Holy Orders and then, through them, to vast multitudes of souls who have never understood the mysteries of My Body and Blood offered to the Father and given up for the life of the world.
It is in these few precious moments after Holy Communion that My Heart seeks to hold conversation with My friends, but so many turn away from Me to busy themselves about many things. Of you . . . I ask something more. Remain with Me for these few moments. Listen for the sound of My voice in your heart. Know that My desire is to speak to you and to listen to all that you have to tell Me. It is in these moments that I am most disposed to grant the requests made of Me in faith."

Singing Priests

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Singing Priests

Yesterday, here at the Cenacle, we held the first meeting of the Diocesan Priests' Schola Cantorum, a group of nine priests who have decided to come together weekly to study the chants of the Graduale Romanum, and to sing them at various liturgical celebrations of the Diocese of Tulsa. We will sing for the first time in Holy Family Cathedral at the Mass of Chrism during Holy Week.

Our first session began with a presentation of certain characteristics of the Lenten Propers in the Graduale Romanum, followed by some simple vocalizations (warm-up exercises). We worked on two pieces; the Introit, Dilexisti, and the hymn, O Redemptor. Given that it was the very first time the group of us had sung together, the effect was not at all displeasing. A suitably Lenten luncheon followed.

An Indispensable Element of the Roman Rite

One of things that emerged in our discussion is the spiritual value of the Propers of the Mass. (The Propers, by the way, are a constitutive element of the Mass of the Roman Rite. A Mass without them is truncated, deformed, and theologically impoverished. To replace the Propers with "something else" is, effectively, to dismantle the spiritual architecture of the Roman Rite.

As I sang through the Gradual of this morning's Mass, I was once again seized by an inner awareness of the "sacramental" potential of the Chant. Nothing conveys the Word of God as efficaciously as the Chant of the Church:

Cast the burden of thy cares upon the Lord, and He will sustain thee.
V. Still I will call upon the Lord; He will not be deaf to my appeal when many take part against me. (Psalm 54: 23. V. 17a, 18b, 19a)


A priest said yesterday that since he began reciting daily this prayer to the Servant of God Pope John Paul II, he has received everything for which it asks. I thought it worth sharing with you, dear readers.

Holy Father John Paul,
be a father to my soul.
Pray for me, protect me, instruct me,
and guide me in the way of holiness.
Obtain for me the gift of perfect chastity,
burning love for the Eucharist,
total dedication to Christ and to the Church,
and the grace to conduct myself always and everywhere
in a manner worthy of the Priesthood of Jesus Christ.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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