“Every vocation to the priesthood comes from the heart of God but passes through the heart of a mother.” (Pope Pius X as quoted in the Vatican’s 12/8/07 document Eucharistic Adoration For the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Maternity, p.11)
In the 12/8/07 document (In the Vatican document), the faithful are exhorted “to turn their eyes to Mary—shining example of every virtue—and imitate her as the first disciple” (Id. at pg. 6). The document continues “Thereby …we intend in a very particular way to entrust all Priests to Mary, the Mother of the High and Eternal Priest…” (Id).
At the foot of the cross, Jesus entrusted all his priests, through the apostle John, to His holy mother (John 10:26-27). In imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we embrace Spiritual Motherhood for holy women to spiritually adopt priests “ in order to help them with their self-offering, prayer and penance.” (Id. at pg. 5). With the Blessed Virgin Mary as our model, we seek to provide each priest in our diocese with at least one Spiritual Mother, who will commit to anonymously adopt him and pray for him and his vocation as long she lives. In keeping our eyes focused on Mary, we realize that “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.” (cfr LG 65) (Id at pg 6).
Spiritual motherhood can be practiced by a woman of mature faith of any age and in any position in life who is willing to make the lifelong commitment. It is open to single women, married women, mothers, widows, grandmothers, women who are ill, godmothers and consecrated religious. “Independent of age or social status, everyone can become a mother for priests”. (Id at pg.11). “Because we, as human beings, are composed of Body and Soul, all women are capable to bear children spiritually”. (Fr. Joseph Aytona, CPM).
In the spirit of holy detachment, the spiritual mother knows who her priest son is; however, he will not know her identity until her death. Throughout her life, the spiritual mother will have a hidden, spiritual connection with her priestly son, as Mary had with Jesus. “Through prayer, including regular Eucharistic adoration, and by uniting their sacrifices from ordinary life to Jesus on the Cross, the women become a pleasing fragrance to Christ and a spiritual power house for the Church and priesthood.”
“Through prayer, including regular Eucharistic adoration, and by uniting their sacrifices from ordinary life to Jesus on the Cross, the women become a pleasing fragrance to Christ and a spiritual power house for the Church and priesthood.”
(Gannon Kaufmann, Mary. “Understanding the Vocation of Spiritual Motherhood of Priests.” Incarnate Institute. 27 Dec 2011. <http://www.incarnateinstitute.org/content/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=/x7wAV8Fcu4=&tabid=75>.)
Pope Benedict XVI: “The vocation to be a spiritual mother for priests is largely unknown, scarcely understood and, consequently, rarely lived, not withstanding its fundamental importance. It is a vocation that is frequently hidden, invisible to the naked eye, but meant to transmit spiritual life.” (Eucharistic Adoration For the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Maternity, pg 10).
What a beautiful statement describing the life of a spiritual mother, a vocation within a vocation, that ultimately has the power to change the world through the sanctification and fortification of the ministerial priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church.
For this reason, listen to Our Lady’s call to your heart to assume the spiritual adoption of one priest, supporting him in his immense responsibility of bringing Our Lord to an ever more secular world. The vocations of both a priest and a spiritual mother are immensely important.