Since yesterday was the 53rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations and Good Shepherd Sunday, today’s “Mondays with Mary” comes from the 1992 Apostolic Exhortation written by Pope St. John Paul II titled, Pastores Dabo Vobis (I Will Give Your Shepherds). The document was written to the bishops, priests, and lay faithful on the formation of priests. It’s divided into an introduction, six chapters, and a conclusion. Many of my friends who are Catholic priests either read this document before seminary or during seminary. Many of them attribute their vocation to the priesthood to Pope St. John Paul II (as well as to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI).
Here are six quotes on the Importance of Mary to the Catholic Priesthood –
1. “Today the prayerful expectation of new vocations should become an ever more continual and widespread habit within the entire Christian community and in every one of its parts. Thus it will be possible to relive the experience of the apostles in the upper room who, in union with Mary, prayerfully awaited the outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14), who will not fail to raise up once again in the People of God ‘worthy ministers for the altar, ardent but gentle proclaimers of the Gospel.’”
2. “’They [Priests] should be taught to seek Christ in faithful meditation on the word of God and in active participation in the sacred mysteries of the Church, especially the Eucharist and the Divine Office, to seek him in the bishop by whom they are sent and in the people to whom they are sent, especially the poor, little children, the weak, sinners and unbelievers. With the confidence of sons they should love and reverence the most blessed Virgin Mary, who was given as a mother to the disciple by Jesus Christ as he was dying on the cross.’”
3. “I appeal especially to families. May parents, mothers in particular, be generous in giving their sons to the Lord when he calls them to the priesthood. May they cooperate joyfully in their vocational journey, realizing that in this way they will be increasing and deepening their Christian fruitfulness in the Church and that, in a sense, they will experience the blessedness of Mary, the virgin mother: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!’ (Lk. 1:42)”
4. “And while I wish for all of you the grace to rekindle daily the gift of God you have received with the laying on of hands (cf. 2 Tm. 1:6), to feel the comfort of the deep friendship which binds you to Jesus and unites you with one another, the comfort of experiencing the joy of seeing the flock of God grow in an ever greater love for him and for all people, of cultivating the tranquil conviction that the one who began in you the good work will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (cf. Phil. 1:6), l turn with each and every one of you in prayer to Mary, Mother and Teacher of our priesthood.”
5. “Every aspect of priestly formation can be referred to Mary, the human being who has responded better than any other to God’s call. Mary became both the servant and the disciple of the Word to the point of conceiving, in her heart and in her flesh, the Word made man, so as to give him to mankind. Mary was called to educate the one eternal priest, who became docile and subject to her motherly authority. With her example and intercession the Blessed Virgin keeps vigilant watch over the growth of vocations and priestly life in the Church.”
6. “And so we priests are called to have an ever firmer and more tender devotion to the Virgin Mary and to show it by imitating her virtues and praying to her often.”
The apostolic exhortation ends with a prayer, which seems to have been written by Pope St. John Paul II, asking for the intercession of the Mother of Priests to pray for them in their vocations.
Mother of the High Priest, Jesus Christ and Mother of All Priests…Pray For Us.