The below article posted at Catholic Exchange is a beautiful explanation of the important charism of spiritual motherhood in the life of the Church, and, our newly founded St. Joseph College Seminary is benefiting from precisely such a gift.
The Daughters of the Virgin Mother, a new apostolic movement in the Diocese of Charlotte, was established by Sr. Mary Raphael out of a desire to serve the spiritual and practical needs of our growing number of seminarians. It was founded in providential timing to support our college seminary as it launched with eight young men this Fall.
Read more about the critical role these “Other Mary’s” play in supporting the priesthood below.
God’s Special Weapon Against Evil: Spiritual Mothers
by Kathleen Beckman, Catholic Exchange
There is a most beautiful, vital vocation within a vocation that is “largely unknown, scarcely understood and, consequently, rarely lived, not withstanding its fundamental importance”: spiritual motherhood for priests. “It is a vocation that is frequently hidden, invisible to the naked eye, but meant to transmit spiritual life.” (Mauro Cardinal Piacenza, Eucharistic Adoration for the Sanctification of Priests & Spiritual Motherhood, 2013, p 12,13).
Cardinal Piacenza further explains the reason why now is the time to emphasize this vocation for the broader Church, “The present situation of the Church in a secularized world and the subsequent crisis of faith has the pope, bishops, priests and faithful looking for a way forward. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly clear that the real solution lies in the interior renewal of priests, and in this context the so-called “spiritual maternity for priests” assumes a special role. Through being “spiritual mothers”, women and mothers participate in the universal motherhood of Mary, who as mother of the Supreme and Eternal High Priest, is also the mother of all priests of all times.”
From the heart of the Church comes a call to imitate Mary in transmitting spiritual life to souls. A trumpet sounds, a need arises, and the role of Catholic womanhood is called forth. Where are the “other Mary’s”? I’ve often reflected on why the Lord Jesus, when He ascended to the Father, left behind His holy Mother at the start of the Church? Her presence, prayer, encouragement, wisdom, and exhortation; her feminine love must have strengthened the Apostles. Her maternal holiness and prayer helped to form the first clergy.
In the words of Fr. John Cihak, “The Blessed Virgin Mary’s role is to call out of the priest this celibate “agape” to help him become a husband to the Church and a spiritual father—a strong father, even in his weakness. She does this at the foot of the Cross by drawing the priest out of his own pain to offer pure masculine love in the midst of her own feminine love. This scene becomes the icon of the relationship between the priest and the Church.” (Fr. John Cihak article, “The Blessed Virgin Mary’s Role in the Celibate Priest’s Spousal and Paternal Love”, quoted by Beckman, Praying for Priests: A Mission for the New Evangelization, p 54, 55.)
The lesson for spiritual mothers: the more we reflect the heart of Mary, the more God can use us to spiritually call forth from men the masculine ideal of Christ-like spiritual fatherhood.
The role of a Catholic woman might be summed up in a word: MARY.
- Motherhood (physical and spiritual)
- Adoration (first duty to God)
- Resourceful (wise, creative)
- Yes to God (serving the divine will)
Some women will transmit life physically but all women of faith can be life bearers: Christ-bearers. What does Catholic womanhood have to do with the clergy? We can learn from several female saints whose lives bear witness to the beauty of spiritual maternity for priests.
Continue reading Woman: God’s special weapon in His fight against evil.