Ave Maria Meditations
The priest’s mission seems hopelessly difficult. Has the world ever been as depraved as it is today? Have Satan’s cohorts ever been as numerous, as fierce, as cunning? Has the army of Christ ever been weaker compared to these powerful forces? A priest will lose confidence if he thinks about the enemy in comparison to himself. But it is Christ he should think about; Christ has given him his mission as the Father gave Christ His mission. (Jn. 20:21)
He is an ambassador of Christ (2 Cor 5:20) and Christ has declared, and He cannot be wrong: “I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself (Jn 12:32). Now shall the ruler of this world be cast out (Jn 12:31). Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world ” (Jn 16:33). Acting in the name of the Son of God, the priest is all powerful with the power of God. Acting in his own name, he is as weak as the weakest of men. He is feeble when depending on himself alone; he is unbeatable when he acts with Jesus. When he acts in the Name of Jesus, his very weakness is an encouragement.
Recall how the great Apostle boasted of his weakness so that the power of Christ could be shown through him (2 Cor 12:9). Consider your call brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God (1 Cor 1:26-9).
Jesus bequeathed His Mother to all men and women to bolster their confidence. It was to John, the priest, representing all priests, that she was directly given. Perhaps this was for the purpose of bolstering the confidence of priests most of all.
In his exhortation, Menti nostrae, Pope Pius XII counseled priests, “When you meet very serious difficulties in the path of holiness and in the exercise of your ministry, turn your eyes and your mind trustfully to her who is the Mother of the eternal Priest and therefore the loving Mother of Catholic priests. He made reference to some recent, wonderful events witnessed by many priests when they consecrated their flock to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and then concluded, “To the Beloved Mother of God, Mediatrix of heavenly graces, We entrust the priests of the whole world in order that, through her intercession, God will vouchsafe a generous outpouring of the Spirit which will move all ministers of the altar to holiness and, through their ministry, will spiritually renew the face of the earth.”
If priests follow the intent of the Holy Father and personally consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Virgin Mary, they will find in this total gift of themselves to Mary, a special motivation for complete confidence. Consider the following: they belong entirely to Mary; their efforts are her efforts; their success is her success; their failures are her failures if, following her desires, they should fail.
Mary wills their success:
– because it gives glory to God;
– because it promotes the mission of her Son;
– because it benefits the Church, born of Him and her on Calvary;
– because it benefits her children to whom she gave birth at the cost of great suffering and of whom she seeks to make other Christs;
– because she desires this success more than they do: a sweeping, boundless success.
This success is certainly within her power. Is she not the Woman destined to crush the head of the serpent? Is she not the Distributrix of all graces of conversion and sanctification intended for all those confided to her priests? Before undertaking any endeavor, they should consult her to be sure it is her endeavor and not theirs. Then they can move ahead with complete confidence keeping in mind, as much as possible, that they are acting in her name. Without Mary they cannot succeed; with Mary they cannot fail!
Mary and the Priestly Ministry: chapter 22
Fr. Emile Neubert SM