Monday, June 29, 2009

In imitation of the mothers of Lu

The rural villiage of Lu in Italy.

Upon reading the booklet Adoration, Reparation, Spiritual Motherhood for Priests, one of the stories that struck me most was of a group of Catholic mothers living in a rural village in Italy - the mothers of Lu. What I saw immediately was that small acts of faithfulness and devotion were rewarded many times over in an abundance of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. This should be of no surprise, for Holy Scripture tells us:

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Matthew 7: 7-8.

It also reminded me that parents have a special spiritual authority over their children, it is God given and an awesome responsiblity and privilege. These mothers called upon Heaven for their children and they were mighty prayers indeed.

The mothers banded together in faith and mutual love for God and their children. This was spiritual motherhood in action, it was simple, it was constant. I thought about this and I realised firstly, just how important it is to ask God to bless our own families with religious vocations if it be God's Holy Will and secondly that this is doable!

Today we do not live in the small, isolated confinds of a village or town. This world has opened up in a universal way and we see this particuarly in the online world where mothers from one end of the globe to the other can communicate with each other.

While this world has grown large, Catholic mothers all over the globe can still band together as the mothers of Lu once did - together we can pray and be inspired with stories of faith, we can support each other in our shared mission of praying and offering for priests and vocations. God willing, here at Spiritual Motherhood for Priests, can be one such place.

Please join with us every Sunday in offering the prayer at the end of this post, the same prayer offered by the mothers of Lu, asking God daily for the gift of priests and religious, especially from our own families. (It is also permanently in the righthand sidebar.)

Here now is the story of the mothers of Lu:

"The little village of Lu, northern Italy, with only a few thousand inhabitants, is in a rural area 90 kilometres east of Turin. It would still be unknown to this day if, in the year 1881, the family others of Lu had not made a decision that had “serious consequences”. The deepest desire of many of these mothers was for one of their sons to become a priest or for a daughter to place her life completely in God’s service.

Eucharistic Adoration

Under the direction of their parish priest, Msgr. Alessandro Canora, they gathered every Tuesday for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, asking the Lord for vocations. They received Holy Communion on the first Sunday of every month with the same intention. After Mass, all the mothers prayed a particular prayer together imploring for vocations to the priesthood.

Through the trusting prayer of these mothers and the openness of the other parents, an atmosphere of deep joy and Christian piety developed in the families, making it much easier for the children to recognize their vocations."

This picture is indeed unique in the annals of the Catholic Church.
From 1 to 4 September 1946, the majority of the 323 priests and religious met in their village of Lu for a reunion which attracted world-wide attention.

"Did the Lord not say, “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt 22:14)? In other words, many are called, but only a few respond to that call. No one expected that God would hear the prayers of these mothers in such an astounding way. From the tiny village of Lu came 323 vocations!: 152 priests (diocesan and religious), and 171 nuns belonging to 41 different congregations. As many as three or four vocations came from some of these families.

Blessed Philip Rinaldi

The most famous example is the Rinaldi family, from whom God called seven children. Two daughters became Salesian sisters, both of whom were sent to San Domingo as courageous, pioneer missionaries. Five sons became priests, all joining the Salesians. The most well-known of the Rinaldi brothers is Blessed Philip Rinaldi, who became the third successor of St. John Bosco as Superior General of the Salesians. Pope John Paul II beatified him on 29 April 1990. In fact, many of the vocations from this small town became Salesians.

St John Bosco

It is certainly not a coincidence, since St. John Bosco visited Lu four times during his life. The saint attended the first Mass of his spiritual son, Fr. Philip Rinaldi in this village where he was born. Philip always fondly recalled the faith of the families of Lu:

“A faith that made our fathers and mothers say, ‘The Lord gave us our children, and so if He calls them, we can’t say no.’”

Fr. Luigi Borghina and Fr. Pietro Rota lived the spirituality of Don Bosco so faithfully that the former was called the “Brazilian Don Bosco” and the latter the “Don Bosco of Valtellina”. Pope John XXIII once said the following about another vocation from Lu, His Excellency, Evasion Colli, Archbishop of Parma: “He should have become pope, not me. He had everything it takes to become a great pope.”

Every ten years, the priests and sisters born in Lu come together from all around the world. Fr. Mario Meda, the long-serving parish priest of Lu, explained that this reunion is a true celebration, a feast of thanksgiving to God who has done such great things for Lu."

The prayer that the mothers of Lu prayed was short, simple, and deep:

“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.”

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