Greetings dearest Seven Sisters...
"De Maria numquam satis"-"Concerning Mary there is never enough"
Ancient adage of the Church
When we go to Mary she points to Jesus, she gives us Jesus - always. How fitting that each New Year of the Lord begins with the Solemnity of Mary: the Holy Mother of God, honoring our mother too. I have been praying for you in a special way since then: that this January has awakened a longing to know and love Mary more fully. As for me, I have committed to read one new book regarding Mary each month of 2017. My first was Fr Raoul Plus' The Little Book of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Model of Christians, Cause of our Joy. Indeed, she is CAUSE of our JOY! She gave us our Redeemer, our King, our Emmanuel!
As Catholics, it is elementary - to Jesus, through Mary. Yet some have forsaken this at times, myself included, and have needed this requisite reminder. St Louis de Montfort so beautifully encourges: "We never give more honour to Jesus than when we honour His Mother, and we honour her simply and solely to honour Him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way of leading to the goal we seek - Jesus, her Son. ... She is an echo of God, speaking and repeating only God. If you say, 'Mary,' she says, 'God.'
In our prayer offerings as Seven Sisters, aside from the commitment to pray solely for one priest or bishop and his sanctity during our Hour, our only other firm amendment is prayer that his relationship with Mary will be deepened. Every Holy Hour inherently includes this petition. The strength of this petition is imperative, for the priest is not his own. He belongs to Mary. In the final paragraph of the book which I strongly recommend every Anchoress read, The Priest is Not His Own (Fulton Sheen) this is confirmed: "Is it any wonder, then, that she is the Woman in every priest's life? No priest is his own. He belongs to the Mother of Jesus, once and always the Priest-Victim." This relationship is distinctive in mankind, and we have a privilege to pray for its fruition for the priest for whom we pray!
While we look to Mary as universal Mother, as intercessors we especially view and seek her as the first disciple of Christ, reminding and teaching us to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us in our prayer efforts. Like Mary, let us seek the Will and Way of God. This month's painting radiantly depicts the witness of Mary as a model to our own intercession: mirthfully docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Pope Francis teaches: "A mother does not stop at just giving life. With great care she helps her children grow, teaches them the way of life, accompanies them always with her care, with her affection, with her love, even when they are grown up. In a word, a good mother helps her children to come of themselves." As we grow in discipleship in Christ, following Mary as our quintessential model, we become more fully who we are created to be - and likewise for the priest.
Regularly, many of the Seven Sisters share how they have deeply sensed the camaraderie of Mary in the formation of their prayers. Her strong witness "to do whatever He tells you" spurs us on, keeps our heart and mind steady on the task at hand: to pray for all goodness, beauty and truth to be accomplished in the lives of the priests for whom we pray - and nothing less. God's Will and Way - and nothing less.
St John Paul II reminds: "The Blessed Virgin Mary communicates to believers an ever-new capacity to await God's future and to abandon themselves to the Lord's promises." This is precisely what our Seven Sisters' prayers entail for our recipients! As one priest recently stated to a group of Seven Sisters gathered, "Don't pray I will be the priest you want me to be. Pray that I will be the priest God wants me to be!"
Dearest sisters in Christ, take hold of the JOY and REWARD of soliciting the help of Mary in your prayers for priests - and likewise in so doing, growing in relationship with her yourself! "Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did." (St Maximilian Kolbe)
Let us then seek Mary as that echo of God. As we say, 'Mary", let us discover that she answers, "God" - every time!
United in prayer and mission -
that our prayers may find the heart of every bishop and priest
... eternal gratitude as you each remember to offer a wee Hail Mary for me every day....
PS - I just returned from a most beautiful time with Seven Sisters in Nebraska. The motto of the state is "the good life". I assured them that when the Seven Sisters takes root in Nebraska it will be a "better life"! I have also spoken recently at two local Serra clubs and anticipate speaking to two others in the near future. There is another talk in the works at a coffee house in Rochester, MN. Please do not let up on the daily Hail Marys - every one is needed!!