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Benedict reflects on Mary and the priesthood [Catholic Caucus]
Insight Scoop ^ | August 12, 2009 | Carl Olson

Posted on 08/12/2009 3:32:57 PM PDT by NYer

From CNA:

During Wednesday’s general audience in Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of there being a “nexus” between the Blessed Virgin Mary and the priesthood. Like St. John, he said, all priests “are called to accept her into their home.”

Pope Benedict pointed out that this nexus is rooted in the mystery of the Incarnation. “God does not act against our freedom,” he explained. “He needed the yes of his creatures.”

“St. Bernard of Clairvaux, in one of his homilies, explained in dramatic manner this decisive moment of universal history, when heaven, earth and God Himself await this creature’s response,” he added.

“Mary is truly and profoundly involved in the mystery of the Incarnation, of our salvation. … Sacrifice, the priesthood and the Incarnation go together and Mary is at the heart of this mystery,” the Pontiff said.

And from Asia News:

The Incarnation, he then said, "is intended from the outset as a gift of self", so "sacrifice, the priesthood and Incarnation go together and Mary is at the heart of this mystery”.  Benedict XVI continued, saying that from the cross, Jesus sees his Mother and the beloved apostle, a very important individual, but more important he is a prefiguration of all loved people, all the disciples and especially all priests. " "It's a kind of testament”, Jesus entrusts his mother to the care of the disciple to his mother this child. 

Following in the footsteps of St. John, for the priest "is not a formal thing”, but the call to introduce Mary "into the dynamism of ones entire existence, in all that constitutes the horizon of ones apostolate”. It is thus easy to understand the primary source, “the fundamental reason for the predilection Mary feels for each one of them, because just as Jesus was, they too are close to her heart, because like her they are committed to witnessing and spreading  the saving love of Christ in the world. " 

The Holy Father went on to reflect a bit more on the Curé d'Ars. Unfortunately, I've not yet found an English translation of the entire audience (Vatican Information Service is taking a summer break until August 17th).

Fr. John Cihak, a young priest of the Archdiocese of Portland (OR) who is currently serving in the Vatican, has written two exceptional articles for Ignatius Insight about the two topics above: the relationship between the Blessed Mother and priests, and the practical and spiritual example of St. John Vianney for priests. The following is from the first, "The Blessed Virgin Mary's Role in the Celibate Priest's Spousal and Paternal Love," and is a beautiful reflection on the Cross:

The Central Mystery: The Cross

This complementary engagement of the Blessed Virgin Mary's feminine love with the priest's masculine love happens within the central mystery of the priesthood: the Cross, and specifically in the scene of Our Lady and St. John at the foot of the Cross. Call to your imagination the scene: there is Our Lord nailed to the Cross, bloodied and broken in His passion. At the foot of the Cross, we find Our Lady and the only priest who stood with Our Lord eis telos (Jn. 13:1), St. John. The Blessed Virgin Mary is in utter agony; both she and His priest are being interiorly drawn into His crucifixion.

There is so much silence around this mystery. We are basically only told the geographical facts of the scene. Jesus is the one who sets it all in motion with His gaze: "When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said..." (Jn. 19:26). It begins with a gaze from our Lord seeing His Mother and His priest. None of the Lord's words in the Gospels are superfluous, especially those he uttered while upon the Cross. Therefore, these words from the Cross are some of the most important words uttered to Our Lady and one of His first priests.

She hears, "Woman, behold your son" (Jn. 19:26). He calls her "Woman", not "Mom". Feel the distancing. These words must have been especially painful for her. As mother all she wants is to be close to Him and even to die with Him so that she can be close to Him. "Woman" isolates her from Him. He pushes her away, not in cruelty, but so that she can become the New Eve, the mother of all those who would live eternally. Her agony is the labor pains giving birth to the Church. Here the distinction between Our Lady and the Church, which should never be a separation, is perhaps a little more pronounced. Here she is giving birth to the Church, acting as Mother of the Church, through her interior agony.

St. John is at her side. It is no coincidence that a priest of the new covenant stands at the Cross with Jesus. St. John also is undergoing his own interior crucifixion, being conformed as priest to the Cross of the eternal High Priest. Perhaps we can sense St. John's helplessness. There is no worse feeling for a man than that of helplessness. What words could he utter seeing her in such agony? The sword piercing her Immaculate Heart is going through his priestly heart as well. This is not some heroic charge to victory. It is blackness, loneliness, a dark night; it is the whole messed-up incongruity of the collision between love and sin. It feels like and is death.

"Then Jesus says to the disciple, 'Behold your mother!'" (Jn. 19:27). At this moment, Jesus asks the Apostle in the depth of his own pain to attune himself to her. As priest, he must decide to put her first, attune himself to her heart. He must put her suffering ahead of his own. I imagine St. John turning toward Our Lady, and looking at her with such tenderness and reverence. Jesus sends His command deep into the heart of his priest, "Look at her...receive her...take care of her." As a man, he must feel helpless and inadequate, but now he has been given a manly task. St. John is commanded to care for her, to comfort her, to hold her, to protect her because she is so alone and vulnerable at that moment. Such a command would resonate deeply in the heart of such a man: he must look beyond his pain and accommodate himself to her, and have all that is best about being a man rise up within him in a great act of celibate agape. The choice to be attentive to her pain brings him to the threshold of entering into his spousal love and paternity as a celibate, as the Church is coming to birth.

I like to meditate on that scene, pondering the eyes of Our Lady and St. John as they meet in their mutual agony. Neither of them seems to have Jesus anymore. At that moment she needs St. John; she also allows him to help her. She is so alone at that moment. She who is sinless allows her great poverty of spirit to need this man and priest beside her. Her feminine complementarity draws out the best in St. John's masculine heart. The need for his support and protection must have connected to something deep within him as a man. How does he help her? St. John says that he then took her "into his own" (in Greek, eis ta idia). What does this mean? "His house," as many translations read? "His things"? What about "everything that he is"? Perhaps it indicates that he takes her into his life as a priest.

She also is supporting him. He is depending on her in that moment for he too is so alone. I wonder if he felt abandoned by the other apostles. She leads the way in sacrificing herself, for her feminine heart is more receptive and more attuned to Jesus'. She is not only present but leads the way for him, helping the priest to have his own heart pierced as well. There is much here to ponder as she engages his masculine love. He gives himself over to her, to cherish her and console her. At this moment she needs him and needs him to be strong, even if she is the one really supporting him.

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 Cross by drawing the priest out of his own pain to offer pure masculine love in the midst of her own pure feminine love. This scene becomes an icon of the relationship between the priest and the Church. The priest hands himself over to the Church in her suffering and need – to have his life shaped by hers. At the foot of the Cross the Church agonizes in labor to give birth to the members of the mystical body. I am struck by the next verse in this passage from the Gospel of St. John: "After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said... 'I thirst'" (Jn. 19:28). It was after this exchange of love at the foot of the Cross that "all was now finished".

Read the two essays in their entirety:

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Ministry/Outreach; Prayer

1 posted on 08/12/2009 3:33:00 PM PDT by NYer
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...


2 posted on 08/12/2009 3:33:30 PM PDT by NYer ( "One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone"- Benedict XVI)
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Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

To: Carl from Marietta

Moron? This is a Caucus thread.

4 posted on 08/12/2009 3:41:56 PM PDT by NYer ( "One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone"- Benedict XVI)
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To: Carl from Marietta

The pope is not a moron but I do know that morons exist and make it very evident.

5 posted on 08/12/2009 4:02:21 PM PDT by tiki (True Christians will not deliberately slander or misrepresent others or their beliefs)
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To: Carl from Marietta

Stay off this thread.

6 posted on 08/12/2009 4:02:40 PM PDT by Admin Moderator
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To: Carl from Marietta

Thanks for providing such a detailed proof for your statement.

One of these days the Southern Baptists will have to accept the notion that the “Whore of Babylon” mentioned in the Apocalyse has more to do with Islam, and not their cherished target, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

7 posted on 08/12/2009 4:15:27 PM PDT by blackpacific
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To: NYer

This is wonderful! I love the first 8 sentences; there is so much there. I also especially love his meditation on Mary and John’s eyes meeting in mutual agony at the foot of the cross.

Thank you for a mini retreat!

8 posted on 08/12/2009 4:50:09 PM PDT by Melian ("An unexamined life is not worth living." ~Socrates)
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To: Melian; NYer
It's a lovely meditation. I (of course! who else?) have one small quibble.

"Woman" was an honorific form of address for ones mother. You can see that at the Wedding at Cana - "And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come." John 2:4.

This is also true, by the way, of Scots Gaelic. A Highlander in the old days (and may still in the very few places where Gaelic is a first language) would address his mother as "a bhean" - "o woman". And that's exactly what Jesus says in the Gaelic Bible (I had to go upstairs and hunt it out - it's not on line - at least only the Gospel of Mark is on line. If you want to read John, you have to have a hard copy.)

9 posted on 08/12/2009 5:50:32 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: NYer
Benedict reflects on Mary and the priesthood [Catholic Caucus]
The Priesthood — A Priceless Gift
Forming Those Who Form Priests: The Gift of Purity of Heart
Spiritual Mothers of Priests: Your Questions [Year of the Priest]
Eucharistic Season in the Year of the Priesthood

Pope's Address at Audience With New Archbishops: "Carry Deeply in Your Hearts Your Priests"
No Matter What, He Always "Acts Like a Priest" [Ecumenical]
On Priestly Identity
What Can I Do For the Year of the Priest?
The Rosary for the Year of the Priest [Catholic Caucus]

Pope Notes His Goal for Year for Priests
On the Year for Priests
Curé d'Ars: Model Priest [Year of the Priest]
ZENIT Launches Column on Priesthood

[Justin] Cardinal Rigali on the Year for Priests
Church Being Given Chance to Rediscover Priesthood [Year of the Priest]
Celebrating the Year of the Priesthood
St. John Vianney's Pastoral Plan

Year of the Priest Letter (Media immediately scrutinize its contents for controversy)
Year of the Priest [Catholic Caucus]
The Year for Priests [Catholic Caucus]
Year of the Priest Begins Friday
U.S. bishops launch website for Year for Priests

10 posted on 08/12/2009 10:25:36 PM PDT by Salvation (With God all things are possible.)
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To: AnAmericanMother
would address his mother as "a bhean" - "o woman".

These customs are so interesting. I remember one of the ladies in my craft group in Norman saying that her father had addressed letters to his mother (back in Sweden), "My dearest little old mother ..."

If I tried that with OldTax-lady, though ...

11 posted on 08/13/2009 5:34:38 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Good intentions mean nothing. Incentives and constraints mean everything.)
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To: AnAmericanMother

Thank you for that interesting post.

I have always asserted that calling Mary “Woman” was not being cold in any way. Jesus called almost every woman He met “Woman” whether they were strangers or family. It had to have been a sign of respect. He would never have been cold or disrespectful to the common man— he saved that for the Pharisees!

12 posted on 08/13/2009 10:15:03 AM PDT by Melian ("An unexamined life is not worth living." ~Socrates)
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