|Priests must look to Mary as the perfect model for
On Wednesday, 12 August
, at the General Audience held at the Papal Summer Residence in
Castel Gandolfo, in the context of the upcoming Solemnity of the
Assumption the Holy Father reflected on the connection between Our Lady
and the priesthood. The following is a translation of the Pope's
Reflection, which was given in Italian.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The celebration of the
Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, next Saturday,
is at hand and we are in the context of the Year for Priests. I
therefore wish to speak of the link between Our Lady and the priesthood.
This connection is deeply rooted in the Mystery of the Incarnation.
When God decided to become
man in his Son, he needed the freely-spoken "yes" of one of his
creatures. God does not act against our freedom. And something truly
extraordinary happens: God makes himself dependent on the free decision,
the "yes" of one of his creatures; he waits for this "yes".
St Bernard of Clairvaux
explained dramatically in one of his homilies this crucial moment in
universal history when Heaven, earth and God himself wait for what this
creature will say.
Mary's "yes" is therefore
the door through which God was able to enter the world, to become man.
So it is that Mary is truly and profoundly involved in the Mystery of
the Incarnation, of our salvation. And the Incarnation, the Son's
becoming man, was the beginning that prepared the ground for the gift of
himself; for giving himself with great love on the Cross to become Bread
for the life of the world. Hence sacrifice, priesthood and Incarnation
go together and Mary is at the heart of this mystery.
Let us now go to the Cross.
Before dying, Jesus sees his Mother beneath the Cross and he sees the
beloved son. This beloved son is certainly a person, a very important
individual, but he is more; he is an example, a prefiguration of all
beloved disciples, of all the people called by the Lord to be the
"beloved disciple" and thus also particularly of priests.
Jesus says to Mary: "Woman,
behold, your son!" (Jn 19:26). It is a sort of testament: he entrusts
his Mother to the care of the son, of the disciple. But he also says to
the disciple: "Behold, your mother!" (Jn 19:27).
The Gospel tells us that
from that hour St John, the beloved son, took his mother Mary "to his
This is what it says in the
[English] translation; but the Greek text is far deeper, far richer. We
could translate it: he took Mary into his inner life, his inner being, "eis
into the depths of his being.
To take Mary with one means
to introduce her into the dynamism of one's own entire existence — it is
not something external — and into all that constitutes the horizon of
one's own apostolate.
It seems to me that one
can, therefore, understand how the special relationship of motherhood
that exists between Mary and priests may constitute the primary source,
the fundamental reason for her special love for each one of them.
In fact, Mary loves them
with predilection for two reasons: because they are more like Jesus, the
supreme love of her heart, and because, like her, they are committed to
the mission of proclaiming, bearing witness to and giving Christ to the
Because of his
identification with and sacramental conformation to Jesus, Son of God
and Son of Mary, every priest can and must feel that he really is a
specially beloved son of this loftiest and humblest of Mothers.
The Second Vatican Council
invites priests to look to Mary as to the perfect model for their
existence, invoking her as "Mother of the supreme and eternal Priest, as
Queen of Apostles, and as Protectress of their ministry". The Council
continues, "priests should always venerate and love her, with a filial
devotion and worship" (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, n. 18).
The Holy Curé
d'Ars, whom we are remembering in particular in this Year, used to like
to say: "Jesus Christ, after giving us all that he could give us, wanted
further to make us heirs to his most precious possession, that is, his
Holy Mother (B. Nodet, Il pensiero e l'anima del Curato d'Ars,
Turin 1967, p. 305).
This applies for every
Christian, for all of us, but in a special way for priests. Dear
brothers and sisters, let us pray that Mary will make all priests, in
all the problems of today's world, conform with the image of her Son
Jesus, as stewards of the precious treasure of his love as the Good
Shepherd. Mary, Mother of priests, pray for us!