Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mary's Maternity: Mission and Influence

O Mary, Mother of God, deign to accept my humble homage and grant that I, too, may enjoy the blessed fruits of your maternity.
1. The Feast we celebrate today honours Mary under her most beautiful title and in her most glorious prerogative: Mother of God. This title and prerogative were solemnly proclaimed by the Council of Ephesus, to oppose the Nestorian heresy. Today the Church congratulates Mary for this supreme dignity, which raises her above all other creatures, even to the threshold of infinity, and makes her Queen, not only of men, but also of angels. This is the dominant theme throughout the Mass. The Introit repeats the prophecy of Isaias which, even in the Old Testament, had foretold the sublimity of our Blessed Lady, "Behold, a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and His Name shall be called Emmanuel" (Isaias 7:14), that is, God with us. The Epistle (Sirach 24:23-31), applying to Our Lady an extract from the Book of Wisdom, sings the praises of her divine maternity: Mary is "the mother of fair love" in whom is "all grace of the way and of the truth … all hope of life and of virtue," since through her alone God gave to the world His only-begotten Son; through her alone men have had their Saviour. He who wants Jesus must seek Him in Mary's arms; he who wishes to propitiate the Saviour must have recourse to her who is His Mother. How sweetly, then, does her maternal invitation sound in our ears: "Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits." Yes, let us go to Mary and we shall not be deceived; in her we shall find all we can desire, because Mary gives us Jesus, the Redeemer, Father and true Food of our souls. Not only does she give Him to us, but, by the example of her wonderful life, she teaches us to love Him, to imitate Him, to follow Him, and to profit as much as possible from His redemptive, sanctifying work. Thus Mary extends her maternity to us too, fulfilling toward us the duties of a Mother, and we can repeat with full confidence the prayer which the Church puts on our lips today: "O Lord … grant that we who believe her to be indeed the Mother of God may be aided by her intercession with Thee." (Collect)

2. The Feast of Mary's Maternity should awaken in our hearts confidence and trust in her who, because of her dignity as Mother, has the greatest influence with her divine Son. In praising the Mother of God, we beg her to use her maternal power in our behalf: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners." What greater advocate could we find? What more powerful Patroness? Jesus cannot resist His Mother's supplications, nor can Mary resist those who invoke her under her sweetest title: Mother. If every woman is touched when she hears herself called "Mother", will not Mary be even more deeply touched when she is invoked as "Mother of God"? Then let us call her by that name, let us treat her as our own Mother — since Jesus, when dying on the Cross, put at our disposal the treasures of her maternity. Our Lady has a maternal mission to accomplish in our souls. Jesus Himself has entrusted it to her; therefore, it is very dear to her, and she desires to fulfil it perfectly. Yes, Mary wishes to be our Mother, she wishes to use the privileges and treasures of her maternity for our advantage, but she cannot do so unless we entrust ourselves to her care like docile, loving children. Even among those who are consecrated to God, not all realize sufficiently the necessity of giving themselves to Mary as her children, of opening their soul to her maternal influence, of having recourse to her with complete confidence, of calling upon her aid in all their difficulties and dangers, and of placing their whole spiritual life under her patronage. In the natural order a child needs a mother, and suffers both morally and spiritually without one; so also in the supernatural order, souls need a mother, they need Mary, most holy. Without her and her maternal care, souls suffer, their spiritual life is stunted and often becomes lax, or, at least, is not as vigorous as it should be. On the other hand, when souls give themselves to Mary, seek Mary, and trust themselves to her, their interior life progresses rapidly, their journey toward God is more simple and swift; everything becomes easier because there is a Mother's hand to sustain them, there is a Mother's heart to comfort them.

"Your name, O Mother of God, is filled with every divine grace and blessing. You carried in your womb Him whom the heavens could not contain. You nourished Him who feeds the whole world. The Lord of the universe willed to have need of you, for you gave Him the flesh which He did not have before. Rejoice, O Mother and Handmaid of God! Rejoice! You have for debtor Him who gives existence to all creatures; we are all debtors to God, but God is debtor to you!

"O most holy Virgin, you have more goodness and charity than all the other saints and you have greater access to the throne of God than they, because you are His Mother. I, then, who am celebrating your glories and praising your immense goodness, beg you to be mindful of me and my miseries." (St Methodius)

"O great Mother of God, I, too, will say with St Bernard: 'Speak, O Lady, because Your Son is listening to you, and whatever you ask He will grant you!' Speak, then, speak, in my favour, O Mary, my advocate, wretched as I am. Remember it was for my benefit, too, that you were given such power and dignity. God willed to make Himself your debtor by taking His human nature from you, so that you might freely dispense the riches of His divine mercy to the poor and wretched.

"If you, who are so immensely good, do good to all, even to those who do not know and honour you, how much more should we hope in your benignity, we who wish to honour you and love you and who trust in your aid? O Mary, although we are sinners, you can save us, because God has enriched you with mercy and power that surpasses all our iniquity. O most sweet Mother, to you I give my soul, that you may purify it, sanctify it, and consecrate it wholly to Jesus." (St Alphonsus)

**Reflection by Fr. Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen from Divine Intimacy

A Dieu, but Not Farwell - St. Therese's Promise to Pray for Her Priest in Death

Therese wanted to be sure that Maurice was not left without a proper good-bye. The indications of death were by now undeniable: “I can tell you with assurance that the Spouse is at the door."  By the time Thérèse wrote this letter to Maurice, she had reached the summit of her mysticism. From the mountaintop she saw the landscape as a whole and was sure of what she said to him. This time, with a clarity which left no doubt, she solemnized her promise to him, knowing that it was no empty wish but something which God would bring to fulfillment.


July 13, 1897

My dear little Brother,

Maybe when you read this little word I shall no longer be on earth but in the land of eternal happiness! I don’t know the future, but I can tell you with assurance that the Spouse is at the door. It would take a miracle to keep me in this land of exile, and I don’t think Jesus is about to work this useless miracle.

O my dear little brother, how happy I am to die! Yes, I am happy, not to be delivered from the sufferings of here below (quite the opposite, suffering joined to love is the only thing that seems to me desirable in this valley of tears). I’m happy to die because I feel that it’s God’s Will, and because I shall be much more useful than I am now to souls who are dear to me, to yours very specially.

In your last letter to our Mother you asked that I write you often during your vacation.  If the Lord still wants to prolong my pilgrimage for a few weeks, and if our good Mother gives permission, I shall still be able to scribble you a few little notes like this one, but what’s more likely is that I shall be doing more than writing to my dear little brother, more indeed than speaking to him in the tedious language of earth: I shall be very near to him, I shall see everything he needs, and I shall give God no rest until He grants me everything I want! … When my dear little brother leaves for Africa, I shall follow him not only in thought and in prayer; my soul will be with him forever, and his faith will know very well how to discover the presence of a little sister whom Jesus gave him, to be a support to him, not for a mere two years but until the last day of his life.

All these promises, my brother, seem a little fanciful to you perhaps, but you have to start realizing that the good God has always treated me like a spoiled child. It is true that His Cross has followed me from the cradle, but Jesus made me love that Cross with a passion. He has always made me desire whatever He wanted to give me. Will He begin, then, to fulfill those desires no longer once I am in heaven? I just can’t believe that, and I say to you: “Soon, little brother, I shall be near you.

Ah! I earnestly beg you to pray hard for me. I need prayers so much right now. But above all pray for our Mother. She would love to keep me here below for a good while yet, and to obtain that, this kind Mother has had a novena of Masses offered for me to Our Lady of Victories, who once cured me in my childhood. But feeling that the miracle wasn’t going to happen, I have asked and obtained from the Holy Virgin that she console my Mother’s heart, or rather that she make her agree that Jesus should carry me off to Heaven.

À Dieu little brother until we meet in Heaven soon.
Th. de l’Enf. de la S.F.
rel. carm.
[Thérèse of the Infant and of the Holy Face
Carmelite Religious]”

Monday, December 30, 2013

St. Therese Counsels Child-like Trust in God for Young Priest

“Ah, my brother, you can sing as I do of the mercies of the Lord. They shine in you, in all their splendor. You love St. Augustine and St. Mary Magdalene, those two for whom “many sins were forgiven because they loved much.” Me, too; I love them. I love their repentance, and especially their loving boldness. When I see Magdalene coming forward before all those guests, washing with her tears the feet of the Master she adored, Whom she was touching for the first time, I sense that her heart understood the depths of love and mercy in the Heart of Jesus. And sinner though she was, this loving Heart was ready not only to forgive her, but still more to lavish upon her the blessings of His divine intimacy and lift her to the heights of contemplation.

Ah! dear little brother, since it has been given to me too to understand the love in the Heart of Jesus, I assure you that it has banished all fear from my own heart. The memory of my faults humiliates me and prompts me never to rely on my own strength, which is nothing but weakness, but this memory speaks to me even more of mercy and love.  When we cast our faults into the devouring fire of Love with total childlike trust, how would they not be consumed, so that nothing is left of them?

I know there are saints who spent their lives doing astonishing penances to make up for their sins, but what of it? “There are many mansions in the House of my Heavenly Father.  Jesus said that, and that’s why I follow the way He is tracing out for me. I try not to worry about myself at all anymore. I leave it to Him to do in my soul whatever He wants. I did not choose a hard life to make up for my own faults. I chose it to make up for the faults of others.  I have just reread this brief word that I’ve written you and I wonder if you’re going to understand me, because I’ve explained myself very poorly. Don’t think I’m disparaging the repentance you feel for your faults, or your desire to make up for them. Oh no, far from it! But you understand: now that we are two the work will go more quickly (and I, with my way, will get more work done than you)—and that’s why I hope that someday Jesus will make you walk by the same way as me.”

"Thérèse’s close call with death made her hasten to finish Maurice’s education in the Little Way.  The memory of past sins still haunted him, and she knew that fear of God would undermine his confidence in Him, and that she must not allow this to happen. 

By this point in her life, Thérèse had come to her own deep conviction that “God is nothing but Mercy and Love,” and it became the foundation of her Little Way, her definition of God. In the Old Testament He is YAHWEH, which means “I am Who am.” In the New Testament John the Evangelist makes the bold statement “God is Love.” Thérèse placed a nuance on his statement by saying He is Merciful Love. It was her most profound intuition: that the very nature of God’s Love is to be merciful. The furthest thing from Him is the desire to punish anyone, to cause suffering. Thérèse once said that when we suffer He shields His eyes so as not to look.  He is all tenderness and compassion.
Furthermore, for Thérèse, it was the nature of God’s Love that His Mercy cannot be purchased. He must give it freely. All love is in fact freely given if it is truly love. God loves us with a sovereign freedom, out of sheer benevolence. He loves us for our sake, and He wants us to love Him for His sake, in a relationship that is pure and devoid of calculation. Thérèse explored this truth to extraordinary depths. She knew for certain that no amount of good works, no matter how heroic, could ever purchase God’s love, because He wants to and must give it freely.  She even said that our good works are all blem
ished and make us displeasing to Him if we rely on them. He does not love us because we deserve to be loved but because we need to be loved.

In taking the stress off good works and moving it to confidence in God’s love, Thérèse did not deny the necessity of our good works. They remain absolutely necessary, but not as bargaining chips to buy salvation. They are necessary because they are an expression of our love for God and inevitably flow from it. They make us beautiful in the eyes of God. When we fail to perform them, however—and there will often be failure, for we are weak and our nature is skewed—our reaction should not be a craven fear of God’s 
punishment but a confidence which leads us to depend on His mercy and starts us off again in the good life we desire.

This is Thérèse’s “theology,” which she was at pains for Maurice to learn. The foundation on which the Little Way is built is the merciful love of God. Only when she was convinced of His limitless mercy could she walk on this joyful “Way of Confidence and Love.” This is what would free Maurice from the guilt which plagued him and it would make him the missionary he must become, a preacher of the Good News of God’s love to those who have never heard of it.”  (from Maurice and Therese by Patrick Ahern)

St. Therese Calls Priest to Follow the Little Way of Confidence

“What pleases God in my little soul is that He sees me loving my littleness and my poverty: it is the blind hope that I have in His mercy.  That is my only treasure. Why can it not be yours? … To love Jesus, the more one is weak, without desires and without virtues, the more one is suitable for the operations of (God’s) consuming and transforming love. It is confidence and nothing but confidence that must lead us to love.”

That passage in her letter of September 17 is the clearest expression of the Little Way that Thérèse has left us. It puts an end to all the objections which Maurice or anyone at all might make about his or her human failure.  How can someone as mediocre as I, we say, presume to love God? Thérèse’s answer is bold: “The more one is weak, without desires and without virtues, the more one is suited for the operations of God’s consuming and transforming love.” Discouragement is simply not allowed in the spirituality of Thérèse. We may approach Him no matter how poor we are; in fact, the poorer the better, for the more we may then rely upon God. No matter in what situation we find ourselves, the only requirement is that we put our trust in His merciful love.

St. Therese Promises Her Young Priest Prayers Even in Heaven

The letters St. Therese wrote to Maurice are among the longest she wrote to anyone, and they are especially rich because they were written at the high point of her life. For a long time they belonged to him alone. When he died in 1907, the executor of his will gave them back to the Carmel. During his lifetime, we know that he read them over and over. We may be sure that he especially loved the third letter, and often went back to dwell on the great promise which she made him and which she repeated a number of times in later letters: 

“Monsieur l’Abbé, you must find me very strange. Maybe you regret having a sister who seems to want to go to enjoy eternal rest and leave you to labor on alone. But let me assure you, the only thing I desire is God’s Will. … I don’t know the future, but if Jesus makes my premonition come true, I promise to remain your little sister in heaven. Far from being broken, our union will become a closer one, for then there will be no more cloister and no more cloister and no more grills, and my soul will be free to fly with you to the missions far away. Our roles will still be the same. Yours will be apostolic labor, and mine will be prayer and love.”

How many nights he must have read those words by the light of his kerosene lamp, and as he drifted into slumber how they must have brought peace at the close of a day.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

St.Therese Initiates a Young Priest into the Mystery of Suffering

Writing to Maurice on the day after Christmas, Thérèse endeavored to initiate him into the mystery and the meaning of suffering. 

“Our Lord never asks us for sacrifices that are beyond our strength. … When he asks the sacrifice of all that is most dear in this world it is impossible … not to cry out as He did Himself in the Garden of His agony: ‘Father, let this chalice pass from me … nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.’  It is most consoling to remember that Jesus, the Strong God, experienced our weakness. … Monsieur l’Abbé, your lot is truly beautiful, since Our Lord … first put His Own lips to the cup which He now holds up to yours.” 

If he was to be a missionary, he had to be ready to suffer in union with Christ.  But he should not worry that he was not yet a saint. Neither was she, she assured him. 

“Monsieur l’Abbé, … pray for me, who am no angel as you seem to think, but a poor little Carmelite who is very imperfect—yet who in spite of her poverty wants, like yourself, to work for the glory of God.”

She still had a way to go on her journey, though she was close by now to its end. Maurice had a much longer road to travel on his, but she never doubted that he would reach the journey’s goal, nor that she would be able to help him along his way.

Letters Between Therese of Lisieux and A Struggling Young Priest

Maurice and Therese: The Story of a Love shows how St. Therese ministered, through prayer and correspondence to an aimless young priest unsure of his vocation and unstable in his devotion. Maurice Belliere wrote to Therese's Mother Prioress to ask that a nun pray for him, Therese was assigned to the task, and their 21 letters illustrate the young woman's extraordinary ability to love. She wasn't deeply familiar with Maurice, and she didn't agree with him on lots of things, but she was naturally inclined to have faith in him--a necessary aspect of love, and one that deserves attention.

December 26, 1896


Monsieur l’Abbé,

I would have liked it if I could have answered you sooner, but the rule of Carmel doesn’t allow us either to write or to receive letters during Advent.   However, by way of exception, our Reverend Mother let me read your letter, because she knew that you needed to be specially sustained by prayer.  I assure you, Monsieur l’Abbé, that I am doing the very best I can to get you the graces you need. These graces will certainly be given you, because Our Lord never asks us for sacrifices that are beyond our strength. It is true that sometimes this divine Savior makes us taste all the bitterness of the chalice which He presents to our soul. When He asks the sacrifice of all that is most dear in this world it is impossible, apart from a very special grace, not to cry out as He did Himself in the Garden of His agony: “Father, let this chalice pass from me … nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.”

It is most consoling to remember that Jesus, the Strong God, experienced our weakness, that He trembled at the sight of His own bitter chalice, the very one which He had once so ardently desired to drink.  Monsieur l’Abbé, your lot is truly beautiful, since Our Lord chose it for Himself and first put His own lips to the cup which He now holds up to yours.  A Saint has said: “The greatest honor that God can pay to anyone is not to give him much but to ask much from him!” Jesus, then, is treating you in a privileged way. He wants you to begin your mission already and to save souls through suffering. Isn’t it by suffering and dying that He Himself redeemed the world?  I know that you aspire to the joy of laying down your life for the divine Master, but martyrdom of the heart is no less fruitful than that of bloodshed, and from now on this martyrdom is yours; so I have good reason to say that your lot is a beautiful one and that it is worthy of an apostle of Christ.

Monsieur l’Abbé, you come seeking consolation from the one whom Jesus has given you for a sister, and you have every right to do so. Since our Reverend Mother allows me to write you, I would like to carry out the pleasant mission she has given me, but I feel that the surest means of achieving my purpose is through prayer and suffering.  Let us work together for the salvation of souls. We have only the one day of this life to save them and thus to give Our Lord some proof of our love. The tomorrow of this day will be eternity, when Jesus will reward you with the hundredfold of those sweet and lawful joys which you are giving up for Him. He recognizes the extent of your sacrifice. He knows that the suffering of those who are dear to you adds to your own suffering. But He too suffered this martyrdom. To save souls He too left His Mother; and He looked down at the Immaculate Virgin standing at the foot of the Cross, with a with a sword of sorrow piercing her heart. 

I also hope that our Divine Savior will console your dear Mother, and I urgently ask Him to do so.  Ah! If the divine Master were to let those you are leaving for love of Him know the glory He has in store for you, and the host of souls who will form your cortege in heaven, they would already be rewarded for the great sacrifice your going away is going to cause them.

Our Mother is still not well. However for some days now she is a bit better. I hope that the divine Child Jesus will give her the strength to carry on for His glory. This beloved Mother sends you a picture of St. Francis of Assisi, who will teach you how to find joy in the midst of life’s trials and struggles.  I hope, Monsieur l’Abbé, that you will continue to pray for me, who am no angel as you seem to think, but a poor little Carmelite who is very imperfect—yet who in spite of her poverty wants, like yourself, to work for the glory of God.

Let us stay united in prayer and suffering close to the crib of Jesus.

Your unworthy little sister,

Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face

Blessed John Paul II

From the Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis” 

O Mary,
Mother of Jesus Christ and Mother of priests,
accept this title which we bestow on you
to celebrate your motherhood
and to contemplate with you the priesthood of,
your Son and of your sons,
O holy Mother of God.

O Mother of Christ,
to the Messiah - priest you gave a body of flesh
through the anointing of the Holy Spirit
for the salvation of the poor and the contrite of heart;
guard priests in your heart and in the Church,
O Mother of the Savior.
O Mother of Faith,
you accompanied to the Temple the Son of Man,
the fulfillment of the promises given to the fathers;
give to the Father for his glory
the priests of your Son,
O Ark of the Covenant.

O Mother of the Church,
in the midst of the disciples in the upper room
you prayed to the Spirit
for the new people and their shepherds;
obtain for the Order of Presbyters
a full measure of gifts,
O Queen of the Apostles.

O Mother of Jesus Christ,
you were with him at the beginning
of his life and mission,
you sought the Master among the crowd,
you stood beside him when he was lifted
up from the earth
consumed as the one eternal sacrifice,
and you had John, your son, near at hand;
accept from the beginning those
who have been called,
protect their growth,
in their life ministry accompany
your sons,
O Mother of Priests.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Only Those Wounded by Me

A Reflection by Dom Mark Kirby

I who am here before you,
I am the Word.
No book, however beautifully written,
can speak to your heart as do I,
for I am Eternal Wisdom,
and Infinite Love,
and Uncreated Beauty
in dialogue with your soul.
My words are not like the words of men,
My words surpass even the words of My saints,
though I often speak through them
and continue to touch souls through their writings.
My words are like arrows of fire shot into the heart
and wounding it
so as to inflame it,
and heal it with Divine Love.
Make yourself vulnerable to My words.
Allow Me to speak to you in such a way as to wound you
with the piercing of Divine Love.
When you come before Me and wait upon Me in silence,
you are, in effect, waiting upon Me and allowing Me,
when I choose and in the way I choose,
to wound you with an interior word
and to set you on fire with a communication of Divine Love.
Expect Me, then, to speak to you,
to console you, and to enlighten you,
but also to wound you.
Unless I wound you in this way,
you will be incapable of withstanding the attacks of the enemy
and of bearing witness to Me in the midst of darkness and tribulation.
In the spiritual battle that is coming,
only those wounded by Me will emerge victorious.
This is why I call all My priests to seek and to accept the healing wounds of My Love. Those who keep watch before My Eucharistic Face
will be among the first to be so wounded.
I have called you to adoration because I desire to wound you not once,
but again and again, until your whole being is wounded
and so, purified and set ablaze with the fire of My Love.
Were that your soul were wounded
as many times as I was wounded in My Body for love of you
in the combat of My most bitter Passion.
Allow Me, then, to pierce you through and through
until, wounded by Divine Love,
you are wholly sanctified and made fit for My purposes and designs.
This I desire not only for you, but also for all My priests.
I would wound each one again and again with My burning love
so as to purify the whole priestly order in My beloved Church,
and present it to the eyes of the world as a victimal priesthood
made holy in the holocaust of Divine Love.
Until My bishops and My priests allow Me to wound them
with the fiery arrows of My Divine Love,
their own wounds — wounds of sin — will continue to fester
and to spread a filthy infection of corruption and of impurity in the Church.
Let each one beg Me to wound him,
for in wounding My beloved priests,
I will heal them, and in healing them,
I will sanctify them, and in sanctifying them,
I will offer glory to My Father
and fill the world with the radiance of My own Face
and the love of My own Heart.”
This is, in truth who you are:
a sinner held fast in the embrace of My Divine Friendship.
When I withdraw this grace of conversation with Me for a time,
it is so that you will not mistake it for the product of your own imaginings,
and also, so that you will not grow accustomed to My words
and so, little by little, fail to take them to heart and to treasure them.
I speak to you so that you might share My words
when the occasion arises to do so.
Share My words humbly, with no thought for yourself.
Remain hidden in Me:
I will hide you from the observations of men in the secret of My Face,
I will prepare for you a secret place deep within the sanctuary of My pierced side.
There you can go to remain hidden and silent,
sharing My words freely and without the fear of being noticed or praised.
Ask Me to hide you in My wounds.
There is a place for you in each of My five wounds;
each of them represents a refuge against the temptations that threaten you,
and the traps set by the devil,
who would ensnare you and rejoice to see you fall.
The wound in My right hand
is your refuge from sins of disobedience and self-will.
Take refuge there
when you are tempted to take the path that is easy and broad.
The wound in My left hand
is your refuge from sins of selfishness,
from directing all things to yourself, and grasping the attention of others
by seeking to take to yourself what your right hand has given Me.
The wound in My right foot
is your refuge from sins of inconstancy.
Take refuge there when you are tempted to be inconsistent,
and when you waver in your resolutions
to love Me above all things,
and to place Me first in your affections and in your desires.
The wound in My left foot
is your refuge against sins of sloth and of spiritual lethargy.
Take refuge there when you are tempted to give up the struggle
and to consent to despair and discouragement.
Finally, the wound in My side
is your refuge from every false love
and every fleshly deceit promising sweetness,
but giving bitterness and death instead.
Take refuge in My pierced side
when you are tempted to look for love in any creature.
I have created you for My love,
and My love alone can satisfy the desires of your heart.
Enter, then, the wound in My side
and, penetrating even into My Heart,
drink deeply of the springs of love that will refresh and delight your soul,
and wash you in preparation for the wedding of your soul with Me,
for I am the Bridegroom of your soul,
your Saviour from all that would defile you,
and your God who is love and mercy
now and unto the ages of ages.

From In Sinu Iesu, The Journal of a Priest

Friday, December 27, 2013

Yearning of the Maternal and Merciful Heart

Reflection by Dom Mark Kirby

I am your Mother,the Mother given you by my Son Jesus, from the Cross,
in the solemn hour of His Sacrifice.
And you are my son, dear to my Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart,
precious to me, and ever under the mantle of my protection.

Let me live with you as I lived with John,
the second son of my Heart
and the model for all my priest sons down through the ages.
Speak to me simply
and with complete trust in the compassion of my maternal Heart
and in the power given to my maternal intercession.
There is nothing that you cannot bring to me,
nothing that you cannot present to me,
nothing that you cannot offer me, even to your very sins.
Anything given to me by my sons, I press to my Heart;
all that is impure, every vestige of sin
is consumed in the flame of love that burns in my Immaculate Heart,
in the fire of love that is the Holy Spirit in me,
the very Fire of the Divinity.
Give to me, then, all that you would offer to my Son and to His Father.
It will be purified as gold in the furnace
because I will press it to my Heart.
Nothing impure can endure the flame of love that burns in my Heart.
Only love remains.

Give me your weaknesses, your past sins, your daily faults,
and I will present to my Son only the love with which,
in spite of all your weaknesses,
you desire to live Him, and with Him, love the Father.
I am your Mother.
I am the Mother from whom you need hide nothing.
Even those things that you think are hidden
appear clearly to me in the pure light of the Godhead.
When I see a priest son of mine disfigured or polluted by sin,
I am moved, not to judge him but, to show him mercy
and to employ all the means at my disposal
for his full recovery from the vestiges of sin.
So many of those who struggle against inveterate habits of sin and pernicious 
vices would find themselves quickly set free from them
if they would only approach me with filial confidence
and allow me to do for them
what my maternal and merciful Heart moves me to do.
There are no limits to my intercessory power
because the Father has so ordained it.
One can never go wrong in turning to me.
No matter how complex the problem,
no matter how sordid the sin,
I am the Handmaid of the Divine Mercy,
the Refuge of Sinners,
and the Mother of all who struggle against the forces of darkness.
Come to me, then.
I can even say those comforting words first spoken by my beloved Son:
“Come to Me, and I will give you rest.”
It is not enough to have some practices in my honour in the course of the day:
I desire more, and you are called to more.
You are called to reproduce the life of Saint John with me
in the Cenacle and at Ephesus.
If only you knew the bonds of love for Jesus,
and of obedience to the Father,
and of joy in the Holy Spirit
that united John’s soul to mine.
We were the nucleus of a family of souls
that has grown wondrously through the ages:
the family of all those who, like John,
lived with me, learned from me, and allowed me so to love them
that love for my Jesus blazed in their hearts like a great fire,
the fire that my Son came to cast upon the earth.
(From In Sinu Iesu, The Journal of a Priest)

Open to Me, My Sister . . .

Even though you are asleep, if only Christ has come to know the devotion of your soul, he comes and knocks at her door and says, “Open to me, My sister.”  “Sister” is well put, because the marriage of the Word and the soul is spiritual.  For souls do not know covenants of wedlock or the ways of bodily union, but they are like the angels in heaven.  “Open to Me,” but close to strangers.  Close to the times, close to the world, do not go out of doors to material things, do not abandon your own light and search for another’s because material light pours out a dark mist, so that the light of true glory is not seen, “Open,” therefore, “to Me,” do not be open to the adversary or give place to the devil.  “Open yourself to me,” do not be confined, but expand, and I will fill you.  And because, in My passage through the world, I have found very much trouble and vexation and have not readily had a place to rest, do you then open, that the Son of man may rest His head on you, for He has no rest save on one who is humble and quiet.

~St Ambrose of Milan

St. Catherine of Siena: Exemplar of Spiritual Motherhood

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today I would like to talk to you about a woman who played an eminent role in the history of the Church: St Catherine of Siena. The century in which she lived — the 14th — was a troubled period in the life of the Church and throughout the social context of Italy and Europe. Yet, even in the most difficult times, the Lord does not cease to bless his People, bringing forth Saints who give a jolt to minds and hearts, provoking conversion and renewal.
Catherine is one of these and still today speaks to us and impels us to walk courageously toward holiness to be ever more fully disciples of the Lord.
Born in Siena in 1347, into a very large family, she died in Rome in 1380. When Catherine was 16 years old, motivated by a vision of St Dominic, she entered the Third Order of the Dominicans, the female branch known as the Mantellate. While living at home, she confirmed her vow of virginity made privately when she was still an adolescent and dedicated herself to prayer, penance and works of charity, especially for the benefit of the sick.
When the fame of her holiness spread, she became the protagonist of an intense activity of spiritual guidance for people from every walk of life: nobles and politicians, artists and ordinary people, consecrated men and women and religious, including Pope Gregory xi who was living at Avignon in that period and whom she energetically and effectively urged to return to Rome.
She travelled widely to press for the internal reform of the Church and to foster peace among the States. It was also for this reason that Venerable Pope John Paul ii chose to declare her Co-Patroness of Europe: may the Old Continent never forget the Christian roots that are at the origin of its progress and continue to draw from the Gospel the fundamental values that assure justice and harmony.
Like many of the Saints, Catherine knew great suffering. Some even thought that they should not trust her, to the point that in 1374, six years before her death, the General Chapter of the Dominicans summoned her to Florence to interrogate her. They appointed Raymund of Capua, a learned and humble Friar and a future Master General of the Order, as her spiritual guide. Having become her confessor and also her “spiritual son”, he wrote a first complete biography of the Saint. She was canonized in 1461.
The teaching of Catherine, who learned to read with difficulty and learned to write in adulthood, is contained in the Dialogue of Divine Providence or Libro della Divina Dottrina, a masterpiece of spiritual literature, in her Epistolario and in the collection of her Prayers.
Her teaching is endowed with such excellence that in 1970 the Servant of God Paul VI declared her a Doctor of the Church, a title that was added to those of Co-Patroness of the City of Rome — at the wish of Bl. Pius ix — and of Patroness of Italy — in accordance with the decision of Venerable Pius XII.
In a vision that was ever present in Catherine’s heart and mind Our Lady presented her to Jesus who gave her a splendid ring, saying to her: “I, your Creator and Saviour, espouse you in the faith, that you will keep ever pure until you celebrate your eternal nuptials with me in Heaven” (Bl. Raimondo da Capua, S. Caterina da Siena, Legenda maior, n. 115, Siena 1998). This ring was visible to her alone. In this extraordinary episode we see the vital centre of Catherine’s religious sense, and of all authentic spirituality: Christocentrism. For her Christ was like the spouse with whom a relationship of intimacy, communion and faithfulness exists; he was the best beloved whom she loved above any other good. This profound union with the Lord is illustrated by another episode in the life of this outstanding mystic: the exchange of hearts. According to Raymond of Capua who passed on the confidences Catherine received, the Lord Jesus appeared to her “holding in his holy hands a human heart, bright red and shining”. He opened her side and put the heart within her saying: “Dearest daughter, as I took your heart away from you the other day, now, you see, I am giving you mine, so that you can go on living with it for ever” (ibid.). Catherine truly lived St. Paul’s words, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
Like the Sienese Saint, every believer feels the need to be conformed with the sentiments of the heart of Christ to love God and his neighbour as Christ himself loves. And we can all let our hearts be transformed and learn to love like Christ in a familiarity with him that is nourished by prayer, by meditation on the Word of God and by the sacraments, above all by receiving Holy Communion frequently and with devotion. Catherine also belongs to the throng of Saints devoted to the Eucharist with which I concluded my Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (cf. n. 94). Dear brothers and sisters, the Eucharist is an extraordinary gift of love that God continually renews to nourish our journey of faith, to strengthen our hope and to inflame our charity, to make us more and more like him.
A true and authentic spiritual family was built up around such a strong and genuine personality; people fascinated by the moral authority of this young woman with a most exalted lifestyle were at times also impressed by the mystical phenomena they witnessed, such as her frequent ecstasies. Many put themselves at Catherine’s service and above all considered it a privilege to receive spiritual guidance from her. They called her “mother” because, as her spiritual children, they drew spiritual nourishment from her. Today too the Church receives great benefit from the exercise of spiritual motherhood by so many women, lay and consecrated, who nourish souls with thoughts of God, who strengthen the people’s faith and direct Christian life towards ever loftier peaks. “Son, I say to you and call you”, Catherine wrote to one of her spiritual sons, Giovanni Sabbatini, a Carthusian, “inasmuch as I give birth to you in continuous prayers and desire in the presence of God, just as a mother gives birth to a son” (EpistolarioLettera n. 141: To Fr Giovanni de’ Sabbatini). She would usually address the Dominican Fr Bartolomeo de Dominici with these words: “Most beloved and very dear brother and son in Christ sweet Jesus”.
Another trait of Catherine’s spirituality is linked to the gift of tears. They express an exquisite, profound sensitivity, a capacity for being moved and for tenderness. Many Saints have had the gift of tears, renewing the emotion of Jesus himself who did not hold back or hide his tears at the tomb of his friend Lazarus and at the grief of Mary and Martha or at the sight of Jerusalem during his last days on this earth. According to Catherine, the tears of Saints are mingled with the blood of Christ, of which she spoke in vibrant tones and with symbolic images that were very effective: “Remember Christ crucified, God and man….. Make your aim the Crucified Christ, hide in the wounds of the Crucified Christ and drown in the blood of the Crucified Christ” (EpistolarioLettera n. 21: Ad uno il cui nome si tace [to one who remains anonymous]). Here we can understand why, despite her awareness of the human shortcomings of priests, Catherine always felt very great reverence for them: through the sacraments and the word they dispense the saving power of Christ’s Blood. The Sienese Saint always invited the sacred ministers, including the Pope whom she called “sweet Christ on earth”, to be faithful to their responsibilities, motivated always and only by her profound and constant love of the Church. She said
before she died: “in leaving my body, truly I have consumed and given my life in the Church and for the Holy Church, which is for me a most unique grace” (Raimondo da CapuaS. Caterina da SienaLegenda maior, n. 363). Hence we learn from St Catherine the most sublime science: to know and love Jesus Christ and his Church. In the Dialogue of Divine Providence, she describes Christ, with an unusual image, as a bridge flung between Heaven and earth. This bridge consists of three great stairways constituted by the feet, the side and the mouth of Jesus. Rising by these stairways the soul passes through the three stages of every path to sanctification: detachment from sin, the practice of the virtues and of love, sweet and loving union with God.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us learn from St Catherine to love Christ and the Church with courage, intensely and sincerely. Therefore let us make our own St Catherine’s words that we read in the Dialogue of Divine Providence at the end of the chapter that speaks of Christ as a bridge: “out of mercy you have washed us in his Blood, out of mercy you have wished to converse with creatures. O crazed with love! It did not suffice for you to take flesh, but you also wished to die!… O mercy! My heart drowns in thinking of you: for no matter where I turn to think, I find only mercy” (chapter 30, pp. 79-80). Thank you.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

My One Desire is to be a Victim of Your Sacred Heart

Heart of Jesus, wounded for love of us, make me worthy to make reparation for all the wounds our sins have inflicted upon You.

1. We find in the hymn for First Vespers of the Feast of the Sacred Heart the following words: "Lo, the proud, insolent procession of our offences has wounded the innocent Heart of God." And even more realistically it continues: "The lance which the soldier wielded was directed by our sins" (Roman Breviary). These lines recall to our minds the words addressed by Jesus to St Margaret Mary: "Behold this Heart which has so loved men … but which, in return for its infinite love, finds only ingratitude; it meets only with forgetfulness, indifference and outrages, and all this at times even from souls bound closely to it by the bonds of a very special love." A soul that loves God cannot remain indifferent to these complaints; it wants to expiate, repair and console, having "the most powerful motives", as Pius XI teaches, "of justice and of love: of justice, in order to expiate the injury done to God by our sins … and of love, in order to compassionate the suffering Christ, patient and covered with opprobrium, and to bring Him insofar as our human weakness permits, some comfort in His sufferings" (Miserentissimus Redemptor). It is easy to understand that we must make reparation for our own sins, but sometimes we do not see as clearly that reparation should also aim at consoling the Heart of Jesus. "But indeed, can acts of expiation console Christ who now reigns happily in heaven?" asks Pius XI. "'Give me a lover and he will understand what I say'" (ibid), replies the great Pope in the words of St Augustine. In fact, a soul who lovingly penetrates the mystery of Jesus will realize that when, in Gethsamane, He saw all our sins, He also saw the good works we would do in order to comfort Him. What we do today with this intention consoled Him then in reality. This thought spurs us on to further acts of reparation, so that Jesus finds no reason to complain sorrowfully to us: "My Heart hath expected reproach and misery … I looked for one that would comfort Me, and I found none" (Mass of the Sacred Heart).

2. The idea of reparation brings to mind that of "victim of reparation" well-known to lovers of the Sacred Heart, and officially recognized by the Church in the Encyclical of Pius XI on reparation. This venerable document explains what should be done by one who intends to offer himself as a victim: "Such a one assuredly cannot but abhor and flee all sin as the greatest of evils. He will also offer himself wholly and entirely to the will of God and will strive to repair the injured divine Majesty by constant prayer, by voluntary penances and by patiently bearing all the misfortunes which may befall him; in a word, he will so organize his life that in all things it will be inspired by the spirit of atonement" (Miserentissimus Redemptor). This is far from the fantastic idea of victim which some souls adopt. Under the pretext of being obliged to take upon themselves extraordinary immolations, they avoid the reality of ordinary, daily life and imagine they are capable of enduring all kinds of suffering, whereas actually, they try to escape the sacrifices which present themselves every day. The idea of a victim of reparation offered by the doctrine of the Church is, on the contrary, something very serious, concrete and realistic. The victim soul should make reparation for sin; and it will accomplish this by always doing what is contrary to sin. Sin is an act of rebellion against God and His will, as manifested by the commandments and the arrangements of divine Providence. Therefore, to do what is contrary to sin will consist in a total adherence to God's will, by accepting it with our whole heart in all its manifestations, in spite of the repugnances we may feel. This, then, is the programme of a victim soul: not only to avoid sin, even the smallest one, but to embrace God's will in such a way that He can really do all that He wants with it. To this docility, the soul will add prayer and voluntary mortifications, which will have value only because they are offered by a heart entirely submissive to the divine will. And let us note that the first penitential act mentioned in the Encyclical is "the patient endurance" of the adversities of life.
"O God, why can I not bathe with my tears and blood all the places where Your Heart has been insulted? Why am I not permitted to make reparation for so many sacrileges and profanations? Why is it not given to me to be the mistress of the hearts of all men for a single moment, in order to atone, by the sacrifices I would make, for the neglect and folly of all those who have not wished to know You, or who, even knowing You, have loved You so little? But, O my adored Saviour, what covers me with confusion and what most grieves me is that I myself have been one of these ungrateful souls. You, my God, see the depths of my soul; You see how I suffer because of my ingratitude and the unworthy treatment I have given You. Behold me, O Lord, my heart broken with grief, humbled and prostrate, ready to accept from Your hand all that it pleases You to ask of me in reparation of so many outrages" (St Margaret Mary).
"You know, my God, that my one desire is to be a victim of Your Sacred Heart, wholly consumed as a holocaust in the fire of Your holy love. Your Heart will be the altar on which I shall be consumed by You, my dear Spouse, and You will be the Priest who will consume this victim by the fires of Your most Sacred Heart. But, O my God, how ashamed I am to see how guilty is this victim and how unworthy to have her sacrifice accepted by You! But I am confident that all will be consumed by this divine fire!

"By offering my whole self to You, I understand that I am giving You my free will, so that henceforth, You alone will be the Master of my heart and Your will alone will regulate my actions. Therefore, dispose of me always according to Your good pleasure; I am content with everything, since I wish to love You with a love that is patient, mortified, wholly abandoned to You, an active love, a strong, undivided love and, what is more important, a persevering love" (St Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Jesus, Spirituality of St Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Jesus).

A Reflection from Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen on Reparation

Allow Your Heart to be Pierced: A Reflection by Dom Mark Kirby

I have so much to tell you and, at the same time, all that you need to know for this Work is already given to you in the Gospel of Saint John, the friend of My Heart.

Yes, I have called you to become another John.
I want you to gaze upon My Face with all the tenderness and adoration that the Holy Spirit gave him during the years he spent in My company.  Even after My Ascension he discerned My abiding presence
in the Sacrament of My Love
and learned to contemplate there the glory of My Eucharistic Face.
John was the friend of My Heart.
When he saw My Heart pierced on Calvary,
his own heart was pierced too.
This created between him and My Most Holy Mother the deepest of bonds.
This it was that sealed the covenant of filial and maternal love
that I established between them by the virtue of My words from the Cross.
It was this that made their life together
after the birth of My Church at Pentecost
a model of perfect unity and of burning charity.
John and Mary together graced the Church
by living in fidelity to the words I spoke from the Cross
and by abiding in the mystery of My pierced Heart.
Their own hearts
— the Immaculate Heart of the Mother and the pure heart of the son
were a single channel of mercy and of light for souls.
I want it to be the same for you and for all My priests
in their relationship to My Most Holy Mother.
Allow your heart to be pierced as was hers on Calvary.
Thus will your heart be united to Mine through hers.
John’s heart was mystically pierced
when he saw blood and water gush forth from My side.
Your heart will be pierced in the mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist,
not only when you stand at the altar to offer Me to My Father,
but also when you remain in My presence,
seeking My Eucharstic Face, eager to receive My instructions,
and allowing Me to reshape you
into the priest I have, from the beginning, wanted you to be.
The piercing of your own heart will not be in a single thrust.
It will be a work of My grace and an intimate, even hidden, action of the Holy Spirit.
You will know that your own heart has been pierced
when you begin to experience a continual and sweet union
with the Heart of My Mother and with My own Sacred Heart.
This I will do for you,
but I desire to work the same grace in the souls of all My priests.
Even in the beginning, I wanted My friendship with John
to serve as a model for the other apostles.
I will not refuse the intimate friendship of My Heart
to the priests I have chosen for myself.
This is the secret of priestly holiness:
union with My Eucharistic Heart
through the pierced Heart of My Mother and of yours,
the Blessed Virgin Mary.

(From In Sinu Iesu, The Journal of a Priest)

Dom Mark Kirby, www.vultus.stblogs.org

Offer Me reparation by offering Me yourself: A Reflection by Dom Mark Kirby

Be for Me another John,a friend for My Heart,
a consoler in My loneliness,
an advocate on behalf of poor sinners
and, especially on behalf of fallen priests,
and of those who have lost hope in My infinite mercy.
Be a companion for Me in the Sacrament of My Love,
the Sacrament of My Divine Companionship for every human wayfarer
in this valley of tears.

I remain unknown.
I am left alone.
Even those who claim to profess
the mystery of My real presence
in the Sacrament of the Altar
forsake Me.
I am treated with a terrible indifference,
with coldness,
and with a lack of respect
that causes the Angels to weep
because they cannot offer me reparation
for the coldness and indifference of human hearts.
Only men can make reparation for men.
What is lacking is the loving response of a human heart
to My Eucharistic Heart,
pierced, alive, and beating in the Sacrament of the Altar.
Only a human heart can make reparation for a human heart.
For this reason the Angels are sorrowful.
The adoration and the praise they offer Me is angelic.
It is the expression of the perfections I have place
in their angelic nature.
Without ever dying, they immolate themselves before Me
in the tabernacles where I dwell on earth
by lowering themselves in the most humble adoration
and by placing all their angelic perfections
–their beauty, their strength, their intelligence–
beneath My feet.
The Angels are like living flames
who burn in My Eucharistic presence
without ever being consumed.
For all of this, My Angels cannot replace
a single human heart in My presence.
What I look for from men,
what I wait for, above all, from My priests,
my Angels cannot give Me.
And so I turned to Saint John to comfort Me;
to love when the love of others grew cold;
to hope in Me when the trust of others was shaken;
to remain faithful to Me when the faith of others was put to the test.
John was, among the Apostles, My loving friend,
My adorer, the one who understood the mystery of reparation to My Heart.
John made reparation for Peter’s denial of Me,
not by standing in judgment over Peter,
whom he honoured and loved as a father,
but by weeping with Peter,
and by offering himself in reparation for Peter’s fall.
Again, it was John who offered Me faithful love
in exchange for Judas; faithless betrayal.
He made reparation to My Heart that suffered so grievously
when Judas walked out of the Cenacle into the night.
In that moment, John gave Me all the love of his heart,
begging Me to accept it
in reparation for Judas’ cold and calculated plot against Me.
Be another Saint John for My Heart.
Offer Me reparation by offering Me yourself
in the place of those who flee from before My Eucharistic Face;
in the place of those who cannot bear to remain
in my presence, close to My Heart;
in the place of those priests of Mine
who have time for all else save for Me.
Give Me your companionship,
give Me your confidence,
give Me your grateful affection.
Let nothing keep you from carrying out this design of Mine.
One who makes reparation for My priests
will discover on the last day
that His own sins, though they be many,
will be covered over by a single act of reparation,
for reparation is the exercise of love,
and love covers a multitude of sins.
Love Me, and you will fulfill all that I am asking of you.
Love Me, and I will fulfill all that you ask of Me. . . .
I desire a company of Johannine souls, priest adorers and reparators,
and upon them I will pour out rivers of grace
for the renewal of My priesthood
and the joy of My Spouse, the Church.

From In Sinu Iesu, The Journal of A Priest


Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Affliction of Maternal Love: The Sorrowful Consoler

For the holy martyrs, the more they loved Jesus, the less they felt torments and death, and the sight alone of the sufferings of a crucified God was sufficient to console them.  But was not our afflicted mother, also, thus consoled by love for her Son, and the sight of his sufferings?
   No, for this very Son who suffered, was the whole cause of her grief; and the love she bore him was her only, and too cruel executioner.
For the whole martyrdom of Mary consisted in seeing and pitying her innocent and beloved Son who suffered so much.  Therefore, the more she loved him, the more bitter and inconsolable was her sorrow.  “Great as the sea is your destruction, who shall heal you?” Ah, queen of Heaven, love has alleviated the sufferings of other martyrs, and has healed their wounds; but who has ever soothed your great sorrow?  Who has ever healed the cruel wounds of your heart?  Who will heal you?  If that same Son, who could give you consolation, was by his sufferings the sole cause of your sorrows, and the love that you did bear him caused all your martyrdom?  Therefore, while the other martyrs are all represented with the instrument of their passion St. Paul with the sword, St. Andrew with the cross, St. Lawrence with the gridiron, Mary is represented with her dead Son in her arms, because Jesus himself alone was the instrument of her martyrdom due to the love which she bore him.  In a few words, St. Bernard confirms all I have said “With the other martyrs their great love soothed the anguish of their martyrdom; but the more the blessed Virgin loved, so much the more she suffered, and so much crueler was her martyrdom.”

(St. Alphonsus Liguori)

Victimhood of Love

Today’s passage from the writings of Blessed Columba Marmion is taken from Union With God, Letters of Spiritual Direction and the preceding commentary is provided by Dom Mark Kirby.  Both capture for us the deep union that comes through suffering with and for Christ and how this suffering can bring about a renewal of the priesthood.
Sharing in the Passion of Christ
For the friend of Christ, for the member of His Mystical Body, for one baptized into His saving death, and nourished by the adorable Mysteries of His Body and Blood, suffering is a means of union with Jesus, Priest and Victim. In His infinite wisdom, the Father has reserved for each and every member of His Son’s Mystical Body a certain portion of His Passion. Our Lord Jesus Christ asks His friends, one by one, if they will allow Him to suffer in them, to complete His Passion in their flesh and in their hearts.
The Holy Spirit
With suffering comes a great anointing. He sends upon one who suffers with Him, and in whom He deigns to suffer, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, so that one may be able to suffer joyfully and in the peace of a complete submission to the designs of His Sacred Heart.

For Priests
Our Lord chooses to have need of our sufferings and asks for them, in some instances, specifically for the renewal of the priesthood in His Church, and for the spiritual regeneration of priests weakened by sin and held in various forms of bondage to evil. To these souls, Our Lord says that, by their humble participation in His Passion many priests will be healed and purified and restored to holiness.

Freely Given
He does not inflict suffering, but He humbly and meekly asks for our “Yes” to it. “Will you,” He asks, “consent to this work of mine in you and through you?”
Blessed Dom Marmion, formed by the contemplation of Love Crucified in his daily Way of the Cross, never hesitated to invite souls who sought spiritual counsel from him, to enter into the way of victimhood and to offer themselves to the Father in the hands of Jesus, the Eternal High Priest. The sufferings involved are not extraordinary tortures; they are the sufferings of the body, of the heart, and of the soul that are woven into the fabric of every life. They are the sufferings of the husband, wife, mother, child, sick person, and priest. They are the sufferings of betrayal, abandonment, failure humiliation, weakness, helplessness, pain, and uncertainty. And they are, all of them, infinitely precious in the eyes of the Father when united to the Passion of His Beloved Son.
Dom Marmion's Reflection
For what regards your weaknesses, your failings, the Good God permits them in order to keep you in humility and in the sense of your nothingness. God can always draw good from our miseries, and when you have been unfaithful and have failed in confidence and in abandon to His holy will, if you humble yourself deeply, you will lose nothing, but on the contrary, you will advance in virtue and in the love of God.
If everything happened you just as you could wish, if you were always in robust health, if all your exercises of devotion were performed to your satisfaction, if you had no doubts and uncertainties for the future, etc., with your character you would quickly become full of self-sufficiency and secret pride; and instead of exciting the bounty of the Father of Mercies and of drawing down His compassion on His poor weak creature, you would be an abomination in God’s eyes. “Every proud man is an abomination to the Lord. You must therefore set to work. Our Lord loves you He sees into the depths of your soul, even into recesses hidden from yourself, and He knows what you need; leave Him to act, and don’t try to make Our Lord follow your way of seeing things, but follow His in all simplicity.

Uncertainty, anguish, disgust are very bitter remedies necessary to the health of your soul. There is only one road that leads to Jesus, namely that of Calvary; and whosoever will not follow Jesus along upon this road must give up the thought of divine union. “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

Take courage! I have as much need myself of these considerations as you have, for nature does not like sacrifice, but the reward of sacrifice namely, the love of God, is so great, that we ought to be ready to bear yet more in order to attain it.

Holy Medal for Spiritual Motherhood for Priests

As a reminder of the daily commitment made by the Daughters of St. Philip Neri to pray for priests and to offer up daily sacrifices in reparation for sins against the Holy Eucharist and the Sacred Heart of Our Lord, I thought as part of one's consecration could be the reception of the following medal.  

The medal was designed by French artist Fernand Py (1887–1949). It depicts the priest vested for Mass, aided by the Church/Our Lady/the Spiritual Mother to lift the chalice to Our Lord’s pierced side, from which flows the Blood and Water. The text is drawn from the Rite of Ordination to the Priesthood: “Receive the power to offer sacrifice to God.”