Blessed Virgin Mary: December 2011 Archives

To the Spiritual Mothers of Priests

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7 December 2011
Cathedral of the Holy Family
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Last evening, I was privileged to offer Holy Mass in the presence of the Spiritual Mothers of Priests of the Diocese of Tulsa. The Mass--of the Immaculate Conception--was offered in humble thanksgiving for my twenty-five years of priesthood. It marked, at the same time, the third anniversary of the beginning of the Spiritual Mothers of Priests in our diocese. A lovely reception followed. I am immensely grateful to the Spiritual Mothers of Priests of the Diocese of Tulsa for saying "Yes" with magnanimity to a special vocation that, while hidden, is bearing fruit in the lives and in the hearts of priests the world over.

A Song From the Womb

"Rejoicing, I will rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God. He has clothed me with the garment of salvation, and with the robe of justice He has wrapped me about, as a bride adorned with her jewels" (Is 61:10). A song intoned from the womb! The Church takes the jubilant words of the prophet Isaiah and places them in the mouth of the tiniest and most vulnerable of human creatures, an embryo implanted in the mothers womb, a human person, already full of grace: this is the Immaculate Conception. The mother is Saint Anne. The child full of grace will be named Mary.

Oh, the audacity of the sacred liturgy! The Immaculate Conception begins to sing in the cloister of the womb. If you would delight the heart of God, says little Mary, learn my song and sing with me. Nothing so ravishes the heart of God as the song of one very little, very vulnerable, very poor, and, at the same time, immensely great in the mind of God. Here is the immaculate child destined to crush the head of the ancient serpent. Here is the immaculate child lowly, poor, and inexpressibly rich in the mercy that clothes her like a garment and in a holiness that shines more brightly than a million galaxies in the firmament's darkest night.

Prelude to the Magnificat

"Gaudens, gaudebo in Domino." "Rejoicing, I will rejoice in the Lord." The melody of this evening's Introit soared pure as crystal in a kind of ecstatic cry of undiluted joy in God. Mary herself intoned the first chant of the Mass today: a kind of prelude to her Magnificat. Already -- just conceived -- the child Mary begins to sing, and the whole Church takes up her song. On no other feast of the year does the Virgin Mary open the Mass by singing in the first person singular. "Rejoicing, I will rejoice" (Is 61:10). Mary's message, from the first instant of her Immaculate Conception, is one of joy in God.

The Tree of the Cross

The joy of the Immaculate Conception springs from the mystery of the Cross. The Collect says that Mary was "preserved from all stain" in foresight of the death of Christ on the tree of the Cross. Yes, in foresight, for there was never a moment when Mary was not present in the mind of God: present to God in all her loveliness, in the immaculate splendor that would be hers because, from all eternity she was destined to be the all-holy Mother of God.

Conceived in the Mind of God

Given that Mary was conceived into a race rebellious and hostile to God, she too had to be redeemed, bought back from the bondage of Adam's progeny in this valley of tears. God, conceiving her in His mind, before she was conceived in the womb of Saint Anne, willed her, and saw her immaculate.

The Precious Blood of the Son

The Father, from all eternity, willed an Immaculate Mother for His Only-Begotten Son. Thus did the Father accept, in advance, the Precious Blood of the Son shed in His most bitter Passion, not in atonement for any sin of Mary's, but in order that by the power of that Blood, the very Blood formed for the Word by the power of the Holy Ghost in her virginal womb, Mary might enter the world pure and free, with a purity and freedom unknown in the world since the creation of Eve
Holy and Immaculate Before the Father

In the Collect we asked that, by Mary's intercession, we might come into the presence of God "with pure hearts." Saint Paul says that "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph 1:3) chose us in Christ "that we should be holy and immaculate before Him" (Eph 1:4). This standing before God in holiness contrasts with the fear of Adam and Eve who, upon hearing the sound of God in the garden, "hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden" (Gen 3:8). The naked Christ, exposed to the gaze of the Father on the tree of the Cross, casts out the fear that caused our first parents to make of the trees of the garden a screen between themselves and the Face of God. The first effect of the grace of Christ is that it makes us come into the presence of the Father, "free from fear" (Lk 1:73). "For you have not received the spirit of bondage in fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: 'Abba, Father'" (Rom 8:15).

Blessed the Clean of Heart

In the Collect, we further asked that we might come unto God with clean hearts. "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God" (Mt 5:8). Mary, the Immaculate Conception, is the Mother of the clean of heart. By her intercession, she obtains from Christ, again and again, the application of "the blood of his Cross" (Col 1:20) to every heart darkened and defiled by sin. The Collect inspires us to pray, specifically through the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the poignant petition of King David: "A pure heart create for me, O God" (Ps 50:12). And you, dear spiritual mothers of priests, will you not make this same prayer for every priest as he ascends the altar to offer the Holy Sacrifice? "A pure heart create for him, Thy priest, O God."

The Secret of the Mass returns to the same petition, asking that "we may be delivered from all our faults" by Mary's intercession. A culpis omnibus liberemur! What a stupendous petition! And it is a petition that the Father grants freely and graciously, for all that is sought through the Immaculate Heart of Mary is, by that very fact, asked through the Heart of Jesus, and nothing of what is asked through the Hearts of Jesus and Mary will the Father deny. "If you ask the Father any thing in my name, He will give it to you" (Jn 16:23).

Glorious Things

The Communion Antiphon will deploy a phrase from Psalm 86, a song in praise of Zion, the city cherished by the Lord "Glorious things are said of thee, O city of God" (Ps 86:3), but in place of "city of God" will say "Mary." "Glorious things are spoken of thee, O Mary." Yes, glorious things, because from Mary "has arisen the Sun of Justice, Christ our God" (cf. Mal 4:2).

In the Radiance of Christ

In fulfillment of Malachi's prophecy, the "sun of justice" rises from the womb of the Virgin "with healing in His wings" (Mal 4:2), that is to say with wholeness for those fractured and fragmented by sin; with purity for those fallen into the filth of every manner of vice; with beauty for those distorted by the attempts of the Evil One to twist and disfigure men and women created in God's image and likeness. Mary, the Immaculate Mother of the clean of heart, is also the Mother of all those whom she brings to be healed in the radiance of Christ, the Sun of Justice.

Spiritual Mothers Collaborate With Our Blessed Lady

Spiritual Mothers, if you would continue faithful and fearless in your mission: entrust your priests--all priests--to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Weaknesses do not shock Our Blessed Lady. The sight of sin does not repulse her. Even betrayals do not make her bitter. She was, I think, even more of a mother to Peter after his shameful denial of Jesus than before. Speak to the Immaculate Virgin confidently, as mothers to a Mother. In the priests entrusted to your own maternal care, collaborate with Mary; unite your hearts to her Immaculate Heart. There are no sins so dark, no vices so entrenched in a soul, no trials so harsh, no work so burdensome that Mary cannot enter in, ministering mercy, delivering from enslavement, infusing hope, and making light the burden.

The First and Last Word Given to Joy

Return, for a moment, to the Introit. "Rejoicing, I will rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God. He has clothed me with the garment of salvation, and with the robe of justice he has wrapped me about, as a bride adorned with her jewels" (Is 61:10). This is the song of every new beginning in grace. For me, for us, this New Year of Grace will be marked by a new beginning, or rather, by continuity in the newness that characterizes every thing wrought by Him who says, "Behold, I make all things new."

The New Song

Sing then the new song of every man and woman once paralyzed by fear, but now set free to stand unafraid with the Son of the Virgin in the sight of the Father. Sing the new song of every heart darkened and stained by sin, but now made bright and clean by grace. Sing the new song of every life wounded by sin, but healed by the Sun of Justice who, in a few moments, will be lifted above the altar "with healing in his wings" (Mal 4:2). The last word and the first belong to joy. This joy is Mary's. And she wants you to have it, this evening, and for ever.

Our Lady and the Priesthood

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My Mother's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart
is to be your refuge and your place of solace.
Go to my Mother in all your needs.
She is your Mother of Perpetual Help, that is, of unfailing help.
My Mother is at the service of all my priests.
She is their Mother, but she is also the humble handmaid of the Lord.
In every priest of mine she recognizes me,
and she places herself wholly at my service in my priests.
For all of that, she remains the Immaculate Queen of heaven and of earth.
All the riches of my Sacred Heart are hers to give away as she sees fit.
She administers the treasury of my Kingdom,
and all that is mine is hers to bestow freely and lavishly
according to the desires of her maternal and merciful Heart.

If all my priests knew this
-- not merely with their minds, but in their daily experience --
the priesthood would be transformed.
My Most Pure Mother is the faithful and indispensable collaborator
of the priest who represents me and pursues my work in the Church.
My Mother is attentive to the ministry of the priest
and to his personal spiritual needs,
as she was attentive to my ministry
and to all my needs during my life on earth.

Priests who do not collaborate with my Immaculate Mother
will be stifled in the exercise of their priesthood.
I Myself chose to have my Mother at my side
at the Hour of my Supreme Sacrifice.
I gave her to my beloved disciple John
so that all my priests would understand
that my Mother's place is at the side of every priest of mine,
especially when he stands at the altar
to offer my Sacrifice to the Father, and to speak and act in my Name.

Never fail to recognize the mystical presence of my Mother in the Mass.
She is there at your side.
She rejoices in your distribution of the fruits of my redemption,
and participates in it.
The hands of every priest are, in some way, held in my Mother's hands.
She acts with the priest.
Her participation in the Holy Sacrifice renewed upon the altar is silent but efficacious.
Her presence at the altar, though invisible, is real.
My Church has long acknowledged the presence of my Mother
at every offering of my Holy Sacrifice,
but it is now more than ever necessary
that priests should deepen their awareness of this most precious gift.
She is the Coredemptrix.
Just as my Sacrifice is renewed mystically in every Mass,
her offering, her participation in my offering, is also renewed.
The priest who knows this and allows it to penetrate his heart
will be graced with a holy fervour in every Mass he celebrates.

I grieve over the carelessness with which some priests approach my Holy Mysteries.
The remedy for this lack of reverence, attention, and devotion
is a filial recourse to my Mother.
Hers it is to prepare the heart of the priest
to offer the Holy Sacrifice worthily.
My Mother is full of solicitude for all her priest sons.
She wants to see them go to the altar clothed in humility,
in purity, in innocence of heart, and in profound adoration.
She accompanies every priest in the sacred actions of his ministry.
She sustains every priest by means of her all-powerful intercession.

My Mother is the guardian of all priests
and it is my desire that she be recognized as such.
The priest who knows this will have a refuge in temptation;
he will be safe under her protecting mantle.
If he should fall out of weakness, or negligence,
she will be there to raise him up
and to direct his steps into the way of penitence and of holiness.

From In Sinu Iesu, The Journal of a Priest


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I am your Mother of Perpetual Help
and I am the Mediatrix of all graces for my dear children.
My eyes of mercy are turned toward you.
My Heart is open to you.
My hands are ever raised in prayer for you,
or open over you, to shower abundant graces upon you
and upon those for whom you pray.

I am pleased that you want to imitate my son Saint John
in making your home with me, in opening to me every part of your life.
In this way, you allow me to act upon you,
but also you allow me to act with you and through you.

My presence and my action are revealed in gentleness,
in sweetness, and in mercy.
I want you to resemble me spiritually just as my Jesus resembled me physically.
Jesus, looking at me, saw the perfect reflection
of all the dispositions and virtues of His Adorable Heart.
I, looking at you, want to see my own Immaculate Heart mirrored in yours.
I want to communicate to you and to all my priest sons the virtues of my Heart.
By consecrating yourself to me, you have made this possible,
and already my transformation of you has begun.

My Son has given me sway over the hearts of His priests.
I will transform, and purify, and sanctify
the heart of every priest consecrated to me.
Mine it is to change the souls of priests,
to wash them, to lift them up into the heavenly places
so that their conversation may be with my Son,
and through Him with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
For this reason am I rightly called Porta Caeli, the Gate of Heaven.
It is the will of my Son that His priests should live,
while they are yet on earth, in the heavenly places.
He would have them enter with Him into the sanctuary of heaven,
beyond the veil where, as Eternal High Priest,
He offers Himself ceaselessly
as a Victim of praise and propitiation to His Father.

The Holy Spirit is the living flame of this heavenly holocaust.
All of heaven glows with the Fire of Love
that burns in the Heart of the Son
who stands before His Father as Eternal High Priest.
I am for all my priest sons the Gate of Heaven.
If any priest would ascend, even in this earthly life,
into the glory of the heavenly liturgy
ceaselessly celebrated by my Son before the Father's Face,
he need only approach me.
I will open the way into the mysteries of heaven for him.
I will teach him the reverence, the silence, the profound adoration
that befits one called to serve at the altars of my Son, and in His place.

Let me be for you the Gate of Heaven.
Come to me at every opportunity.
Pray my Rosary.
I will make you share in all that I hold in my Heart.
I bless you now and I bless those for whom you have prayed to me.
I bless my priest sons.
I love them with all my Heart and I follow them in their comings and goings.
When they fall I weep over them,
and all my desire is to lift them up, to cleanse them, to heal their wounds,
and to see them restored to the grace of friendship with my Son.

I am present to you and I hear the prayers you address to me.
I will open my hands, full of graces and blessings,
over the souls whom you recommended to me.
I am ever willing to come quickly to the aid of my poor children.
I am every ready to help them them,
to lift them when they fall,
to bind up their wounds,
and even to intervene in such a way
as to repair the effects of their wrongdoing.

I am not distant. I hear every prayer addressed to me.
My maternal Heart is moved to pity when my children,
and especially my priest sons, have recourse to me in their needs.
I am the Mother of Mercy, Mater Misericordiae,
honoured by the Church in her chant to me.
I do turn towards you my eyes of mercy, and I am ever willing to help poor sinners.
Let sinners come to me; I will never turn them away.
Let them appeal to my Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart;
they will never be disappointed.

As for you, dear son of mine, persevere in praying to me.
Hold fast to my Rosary
and beware of every ploy of the Evil One to separate you from it.
My Rosary is your safeguard and your weapon
in the fight against the forces of evil.
At the same time, for you it is a remedy and a comfort.
Do you not see how the Rosary has stabilized you?
Do you not experience its healing and all its benefits?
Pray my Rosary and teach others to do the same.
Trust me for the unfolding of the plan of my Son.

From In Sinu Iesu, The Journal of a Priest

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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