Below is the video of the Lenten Reflection, which I gave to my brother seminarians at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis this evening. This is the third in a series of Lenten Reflections, which our senior class gives each year on the 7 Last Words of Christ. May our Blessed Mother intercede for us as we walk the Way of Beauty, and may we accept her into our lives, that she may cooperate with us in our vocations now, and in the future as priests.
The full text of my reflection follows, it draws on the book: “Mary and the Priestly Ministry” by Father Emile Neubert, SM:
7 Last Words Reflection 2-23-16
“Behold your Mother”
+In the name of the Father, and of the Son…
“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “behold your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:26-27).
As his final gift, right before he died, Christ gave His mother to His whole family on Earth. Christ says: “Woman behold your Son. He gives us to his Mother, to be placed under her care. For us who feel called to give our lives to the service of God as a priest, Christ in a very special way through these words, commits us to the School of Mary. He says: “Look, this is your Mother. Go to her! Son, behold your mother!
The Son of God, became flesh in the womb of a little Jewish girl from Nazareth. While we call this the Incarnation, the Council of Ephesus taught that Mary is also “Theo-Tokos, Greek for Mother of God, or God bearer. This is profoundly at its heart a Christological declaration. It depends on Christ in order to be real.
The one whom Mary bore is truly God and truly man. Christ, the high priest received his human nature from Mary. Thus the Blessed Virgin, is involved in making the Son of God our priest. He received his priestly vocation from the Father, who sent him into the World. His priestly anointing is the grace of the hypostatic union, a gift of the Holy Trinity. But it is his human nature, which enables the Son of God to be Priest, to offer sacrifice on our behalf and it was Mary who gave it to him.
The words of Christ from the Cross, “Behold your Mother!” confirm then the spiritual maternity of Mary and they proclaim the culmination of it, at the very moment the mystery of the Redemption itself is achieved. If we notice at the foot of the Cross there are others who would have seemed more likely to be chosen by Christ to care for his mother. Mary the wife of Clopas, the brother of St. Joseph who is the mother of St. James, Mary Magdalen, whom Christ had a special affinity for and John whose mother, Salome was still alive. Nonetheless, it was to John that Christ confided Mary. Precisely because John was a priest and it is to priests, above all, that Christ gives His Mother because He has a great love of them and they have a greater need of her.
Mary, too though needs priests. It is especially through them that she is able to continue to carry out her mission of giving Jesus to the world, of sanctifying souls and transforming them into other Christ’s. Thus, as men in formation for the priesthood Mary has a special love for each one of us. She desires to help us in our Vocation and in the future as priests of the Church.
In his very nature a son carries something of his mother. He receives his body and his very life from her. The nurturing she gives him reflects all that is the best, the noblest, and the most generous in her. All of these make him an extension and a part of her with the consequence that whatever pleases him, pleases her, whatever he suffers, she suffers; and when he dies, something more precious than her own life dies within her.
In Mary’s case, these maternal rights were more intense than any other mother. Mary’s motherhood was uniquely for her only Son. She existed only for him and she alone through the Holy Spirit formed him within her womb. Mary, shares in the redemptive and sacrificial nature of Christ’s death on the Cross. She cooperates with his priestly service. From the moment she presented him in the temple, and heard the words of Simeon she knew of the sorrowful role she would eventually play in his Sacrifice.
She nurtured the Victim in view of the Cross. As Jesus grew in age, the closer the fatal hour came. Yet, still she loved him. Her fiat becoming ever more sorrowful and yet, more determined, became more loving. With every step of Christ in his passion, she renewed her fiat. She gave her yes to God, again and again and again. This time, instead of giving Christ to her, her yes gave him away to the world. It was then at his crucifixion, that Mary, united herself to the will of the Father regarding her Son, and to the intentions of her Son regarding the Father and the redemption of mankind. Her will, her love, and her sufferings were entirely one with those of her Son. She offered him, and offered herself with him.
Mary played a real part in the Sacrifice of the Cross – a part of unlimited suffering and love that lasted thirty-three years. If Christ then was willing to make Mary an associate of his priesthood as Pius X states, then any man who desires to be effective in his future priestly ministry, must allow the Blessed Virgin to be an associate and cooperate in their vocation and their priesthood as well.
The last gift, Jesus gave us before giving every drop of his Sacred Blood on the cross, was His mother.
Most of you know that on the first day of class this semester I was in Chicago for my Great Aunt’s Visitation. I was blessed to get to go and take my Mom and Grandmother to go and spend some time with her a few days before our retreat. While we were there, my grandmother pulled out one of our Schola CD’s and gave it to her. Aunt Carol looked down at the CD and the image of our Lady on the cover and began to cry. She had battled cancer, mourned the death of her husband, and had lost most of her desire to eat. With an infection on her lungs she struggled to breath. Aunt Carol was dying. As she started to cry, Aunt Carol made a statement, which I believe sums up the role that Mary must play in our discernment of the priesthood: “Without her, I don’t know what I would do. Without Mary helping me and giving me strength, I don’t know how I could do this and be able to embrace it….”
Mary, comforted Christ through his passion. She bore his sufferings within her heart, and still she gave her yes, totally, freely, and thus fruitfully back to the Father. I think it is safe to say that Mary helped Christ to embrace his death. She loved him and formed him for 33 years in preparation for it.
If you want to know your vocation, go to Mary. If you want to know Christ, go to Mary. If you want to have strength to say yes to a major decision in your life, whether it is to become a Rector of a seminary or to embrace your death, go to Mary. If you want to be a priest, you cannot do it without her help. We must go to Mary. Mary, our mother always leads us to Christ, she always points us to her Son, and she always helps us in whatever we need. We like John must be willing to take her into our home, we must take her into our hearts. If we want to be like Christ; if we want to be a priest, there is no other way. And so we too must act when we hear Christ say: Woman, behold your son. For brothers, we must behold our mother. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…