The Feminine Gift is about to celebrate it's third anniversary (Tess, can you believe it?) and it occurred to me the other day that we have three years of posts that haven't seen the light of day in a dog's age. I feel that it's about time to resurrect some of our better works. Here's one of my favourites. It was my exhortation for all women to adopt a priest, known or unknown, and to pray her little heart out for him.
In 2007 the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy came out with a document called Adoration, Reparation and Spiritual Motherhood for Priests. It's a 40-page document filled with stories about women of all ages and walks of life who effectively changed the course of the lives of the people for whom they offered their prayers and sacrifices. It's exciting - and it speaks volumes about how motherhood is fundamentally important for the Church in these days of lagging numbers of priests and religious.
Within the document there is a story of a mother's group in a small town in Italy. This mother's group maintained three devotions for many years. First they prayed weekly before the Blessed Sacrament asking for vocations (especially from their own families). Secondly they offered their communion on the first Sunday of every month for vocations, and thirdly, they said this simple prayer after communion:
"O God, grant that one of my sons may become a priest! I myself want to live as a good Christian and want to guide my children always to do what is right, so that I may receive the grace, O God, to be allowed to give you a holy priest! Amen."
Would you believe that out of that small town of only a few thousand inhabitants, 323 vocations sprung up? 152 priests (both diocesan and religious) and 171 nuns from as many as 41 different congregations!!! Pope John Paul II beatified one of these priests in 1990, Blessed Philip Rinaldi, who had become Superior General of the Salesians, the third successor to St. John Bosco.
"The vocation to be a spiritual mother for priests is [...] unknown, barely understood and consequently, rarely lived [...] although fundamental and vitally important. It is a vocation that is often hidden, not apparent to the human eye, but intended to transmit spiritual life. Pope John Paul II, convinced of this, founded a cloistered convent in the Vatican where nuns would pray for his intentions as Supreme Pontiff." ~Page 10Despite your age or state in life, you - my sisters in Christ - are important and needed in the Catholic Church these days. You can adopt a priest or religious and become a spiritual mother to them, asking God to first help them to answer His call, and then to remain faithful throughout their lives. I urge you to read the document, which reads more like a book of stories than a Vatican communique. But even more so, I encourage you to become a mother to a religious.
There is an excellent homily on this here and the priest suggested a few different prayers to say. First say a memorare, for conformity to Our Lady; Second, a litany of the Sacred Heart for vocations; Thirdly, offer your communion on the first Sunday of every month for this intention, and say the prayer above of the Italian mother's group (changing the words a bit if you do not have children). If the first two can be done in front of the Blessed Sacrament, all the better. You can also consecrate your daily chores and tasks to God, offering them up for priests and for souls. The Lord turns these insignificant little acts into graces and distributes them to those who need them.
"[Servant of God Consolata Betrone] while working in the kitchen, prayed continuously in her heart, 'Jesus, Mary, I love you, save souls!', and she consciously made every little service and duty into a sacrifice. Jesus said in this regard, 'These are all meaningless things, but because you bring them to me with such love, I confer immeasurable value to them and shower them on the discontented brothers as grace for conversion.'" ~ pg. 21
Once you start praying and offering for our priests, sit back...and watch the Lord at work!!
**I also found an article about this document in the National Catholic Register here.