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.”

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Why spiritual motherhood for priests?

On the feast day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 19th of June I was blessed to be in the company of my dearest friend. We were both aware that is was the beginning of the Jubilee Year of the Priest, falling in this year ~ the 150th anniversary of the death of the Cure of Ars, St John Vianney, patron of parish priests.

Adoration, Reparation, Spiritual Motherhood for Priests

This same night I was to meet a new friend who shared with me copies of a beautiful booklet called, Adoration, Reparation, Spiritual Motherhood for Priests a timely publication put out by the Congregation for the Clergy. We briefly talked about the booklet and it was explained to me what 'Spiritual Motherhood for Priests' was all about.

Early the next week I was able to read the booklet in full and my heart was stirred! This was proundly important. As a mother I realised how critical it was that I pray for vocations in my own family if it be God's will to grant them and also to pray and offer for priests in general.

The real life stories of spiritual motherhood throughout the booklet inspired us both and gave us clear directions in just how to live this out in our own lives. It was a devotion worth spreading and sharing with other mothers and women throughout the world in whatever way possible.

Recently the Holy Father stated again the importance of using the social media to spread the Word of Christ. He states,

"Young people in particular, I appeal to you: bear witness to your faith through the digital world! Employ these new technologies to make the Gospel known, so that the Good News of God's infinite love for all people, will resound in new ways across our increasingly technological world!"

So a blog seemed a wonderful and tangible way to connect with other women from around the world, encouraging and supporting each other in living daily, a spiritual motherhood for priests.

The blessed 'fruit' of the prayers offered by the mothers of Lu.

In earlier times there was a certain northern Italian town where the mothers prayed together incessently for vocations to the priesthood and religious life and from this tiny village came 323 vocations and one Blessed of the Church! This is what we wish to share, banding together like the women from the village of Lu, asking God to draw forth priests and religious from our own families and to pray and sacrifice for an abundance of labourers for the harvest!

Why are women closely connected to the priestly ministry? The book, Adoration, Reparation, Spiritual Motherhood for Priests has this to say:

"Every priest has a birth mother, and often she is a spiritual mother for her children as well. For example, Giuseppe Sarto, the future Pope Pius X, visited his 70-year-old mother after being ordained a bishop. She kissed her son's ring and, suddenly pensive, pointed out her own simple silver wedding band saying, "Yes, Giuseppe, you would not be wearing that ring if I had not first worn mine." Pope St. Pius X rightfully confirms his experience that, "Every vocation to the priesthood comes from the heart of God, but it goes through the heart of a mother!"

Our perfect and most blessed example to us is Our Blessed Mother, she is a singular model. To understand further, I will quote from a letter sent out by the Congregation of the Clergy in 2007 in order to promote Eucharistic adoration for the sanctification of preists and spiritaul maternity:

"Without adding or detracting from the singular mediation of Christ Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary is acknowledged and invoked in the Church under the title of Adovcate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. She is the model of maternal love who must inspire all those who cooperate- through the apostolic mission of the Church - in the regeneration of all humanity.

In light of these teachings, which belong to the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council, the faithful are called to turn their eyes to Mary - shining example of every virtue - and imitate her as the first disciple. It is she to whom every other diciple was entrusted by Christ as she stood at the foot of the cross. By becoming her children, we learn the true meaning of life in Christ.

Thereby - and precisely because of the place occupied and the role served by the Most Blessed Virgin in salvation history - we intend in a very particular way to entrust all priests to Mary, the Mother of the High and Eternal Priest, bringing about in the Church a movement of prayer, placing 24 hour continuous Eucharistic adoration at the centre, so that a prayer of adoration, thanksgiving, praise, petition and reparation, will be raised to God, incessantly and from every corner of the earth, with the primary intention of awakening a sufficient number of holy vocations to the priestly state and, at the same time, spiritually uniting with a certain spiritual maternity - at the level of the Mystical Body - all those who have already been called to the ministerial priesthood and are ontologically conformed to the one High and Eternal Priest. This movement will offer better service to Christ and his brothers - those who are at once "inside" the Chruch and also "at the forefront" of the Church, standing in Christ's stead and prepresenting Him, as head, shepherd and spouse of the Church."

We hope to share many, many inspiring stories of the Church and of the lives of the saints who have been strong examples of spiritual mothers for priests.

Soon we will share a daily prayer for this intention and instigate novenas throughout the liturgical year for the intentions of priests. This is not just for women who have children, it is for all women as we are uniquely called to to motherhood, whether that be in the physcial sense or spiritually.

Please join with us on the feast day of our patroness, Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Our co-patrons are as follows, The Cure of Ars (St John Vianney) as our priestly patron. St Therese of Lisieux as our religious patroness. St Gemma Galgani as our single laywomen patroness. Blessed Anna Maria Taigi as our wife and mother patroness. We will talk about each patron in depth in the months to come to explain their vocation and significance to spiritual motherhood for priests.

Also each week during the Year of the Priest we will feature in the top, righthand corner a particular priestly ministry/order to pray for, each time you visit and see the prayer request in the top, righthand corner, if you could offer an Ave, would be a blessing indeed.