June 19, 2017
The recent 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima has renewed the devotion to the Rosary for many Catholics.
This renewal is true for many brother priests and myself, as the daily recitation and contemplation of the Mysteries of Jesus Christ through the heart of Mary were a significant part of our formation and now support us in ministry. A strong devotional life assists everyone in their journey to a deeper relationship with the Lord, especially true for priests and seminarians.
Considering the devotional life of a priest, the Blessed Virgin must play an integral role in discernment, formation, and the enduring life of the priest. Beyond the priest’s relationship with the Mother of God, he often looks to the examples of saintly priests and their intercession to build the virtues of priesthood. The universal patron of priests, St. John Vianney, offers each priest the example built on humility and a true care for souls.
Reading the hagiography (writing of saints’ lives) of St. John Vianney, I entered into his world and work to understand how his love for souls overcame many of the hardships he endured in priesthood. While the regularized penance he practiced offers a beautiful example of the sacrificial life of the priest, his extreme austerity of life was arduous to mimic. As one learns more and more about the intense ascetical practices of this great saint, it may be difficult to see how priests can truly follow the example of his priesthood.
Alas, my disheartened state was burst when I considered this holy saint’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Here is a devotional practice that not only offers great joy and peace for the priest, but is one of the great unifying practices among all priests.
I should stop here and make a note that the ultimate example of priesthood was given by Jesus Christ and the ultimate unification among priests and all the faithful is the Eucharist. I write about the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. John Vianney as a demonstration of the bounteous advocates and examples the Lord grants to the Church for us to follow Christ more closely.
This year during his homily for the Chrism Mass, Pope Francis reminded priests that we cannot move forward without Mary. “Her ‘contagious fullness’ helps us overcome the temptation of fear, the temptation to keep ourselves from being filled to the brim and even overflowing, the temptation to a faint-heartedness that holds us back from going forth to fill others with joy.” Through the intercession of Mary, we priests come to fully live the joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and allow that joy to be shared with those we encounter.
St. John Vianney had great devotion to many saints, but his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary was quintessential. He offers a beautiful example of a priest whose life is focused on moving the souls entrusted to his care. He desired to move these souls closer to Jesus Christ and promoted devotion to Mary as a principal means toward her son.
Today, young men seeking the priesthood are encouraged to develop a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. As the Mother of Priests, her intercession offers so many blessing for us priests.
As you pray for vocations from our diocese, I implore you to invoke the intercession of the Blessed Mother and ask that you offer a holy Rosary for those discerning the call to the joy of priesthood.
The recent 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima has renewed the devotion to the Rosary for many Catholics. This renewal is true for many brother priests and myself, as the daily recitation and contemplation of the Mysteries of Jesus Christ through the heart of Mary were a significant part of our formation and now support us in ministry.