Vol. I, Oct. 1995


In the School of Mary

Dear Brothers in the Priesthood!

"Every priest can say of himself: ‘I have become a debtor before God and man.’" Our Holy Father had our "continuous debt of gratitude" in mind when he expressed these sentiments last year in his Holy Thursday Letter to priests. The more conscious we become of our priesthood, the more we reflect on this grace granted to us and on the responsibility that has been placed upon our shoulders, the more we shall become aware of our poverty. Such utter poverty will make us happy to be able to identify ourselves as "sons of Mary"! This year our Holy Father insisted in his letter to us priests, that because our priesthood "must be lived in union with the Mother, the handmaid of the Lord, our priesthood will be protected in her hands, yes, in her Heart."

1. During this month of October we are again invited to live this happy sonship in a special way; it is the month dedicated to the Holy Rosary. Since we want to say the rosary every day, the focus of this dedication must be to achieve a still more intimate love for our Heavenly Mother through this devotion during October. This is the harvest month, and the fruits the Church desires us to gather by this means are summed up for us in the Directory on our ministry and priestly life (see § 68), where the rosary is a way in which we can meet all Mary’s maternal help and assistance. On the one hand, she leads us through the mysteries of the rosary to Christ. Again, she introduces us into all truth, just as she spoke to the Apostles in the Cenacle about her Son! On the other hand, she is never more mother to any one than when we pass this time of the holy rosary with her, thus opening and disposing our hearts to her maternal affection and care.

2. The value of this devotion lays not just in the fact that we recite here the most precious prayers we have. While not strictly speaking ‘liturgical’ prayer (Cf. the remarks of P. Paul VI on this matter in Marialis Cultis), still:

  • We confess the entire mystery of our faith in the Apostles Creed, we recite the prayer our Lord taught us, we greet our Lady with the angelic salutation and give glory to the most Blessed Trinity.
  • We confess before God, that means we pray: we approach the most intimate mysteries and treasures of our consecrated life: the Most Blessed Trinity, our Crucified Lord (Whom we meet every day at Holy Mass and Communion), the Communion of Saints in heaven as well as on earth. All the while we pray, we are constantly in the presence of our Heavenly Mother.
  • Having the fixed period for the ten Hail Mary’s in each mystery, we reflect with her guiding help on the entire life our our Lord, about the joyful moments of Hs childhood, on the sorrowful hours of His Passion, and His glorious resurrection to eternal life and glory.

She turns this prayer into a school of spiritual formation: in the joyful mysteries she gives us, among others, the lesson about her material care and our need for childlike confidence. She loves us out of love for God, she offers us her example of virtue, watches over us night and day, wants us to belong totally to God and to be found always with God as she was.

She presents us to Christ as the light in every moment of darkness: Jesus in the Garden in moments of sorrow and confusion; Jesus at the Pillar in times of physical pain; Jesus crowned with thorns when calumnies and envy cause us pain; Jesus with the Cross on His shoulder when the many duties seem to become an insupportable burden; Jesus on the Cross in moments of despair, when friends turn against us.

We all must grow spiritually in order to reach spiritual maturity, and this can be achieved only through purgations. In such hours our Virgin Mother wants to make sure that we grow in faith and trust in His merciful love, even as He, in His darkest hours, trusted in His Father’s love: "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit!"

She also reminds us to hope in the glorious reward through the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus, and consoles us with His assistance through the mission of the Holy Spirit. She directs our attention to the life to come so that we look not for earthly success, but have ever eternal life and glory before our eyes.

By praying the rosary with Mary (in her presence. She prayed the Pater Noster and the Gloria Patri with Bernadette, but not the Ave Maria, which, of course, is addressed to her), she will really lead us into that world in which we ought to be at home: the spiritual world about which we are to preach and into which we are called to lead souls.

3. The Holy Rosary should be, along side the Liturgy of the Hours, a part of our continuous daily prayer. Here we are formed personally and are introduced into all the dimensions of human life.

Repeating St. Gabriel’s salutation, ‘Hail, Mary,’ we unite ourselves to the contemplation of the ‘gratia plena’ and share the admiration of all the holy angels for the Queen of Heaven and Earth. We become priests full of trust, full of comprehensive paternity. The Heart of the Mother of God become more and more ours! Her love and spiritual joy, her peace and patience, kindness and goodness, her purity and self-control will mark our priestly heart!

O Mary, our Mother,
You are that light, through which we can find God!
You bring the love, with which we long to fill our hearts!
You are the source of tranquil peace, in which we find rest!

In the holy rosary we learn the Mysteries from the Mother, Mother Mary and Mother Church:

  • we learn to accept what is taught to us;
  • we learn to listen again in order to understand, perhaps, more deeply.
  • we learn to be a disciple in every moment of life.
  • we learn, once more, to be a servant: "a servant of the Church"
    (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 1553).

Assisting at these classes of the Mother of all men, we have the best introduction into the joys and sufferings of souls entrusted to our care. The repetition of the Hail Mary creates an atmosphere of tranquility in which our capacity for attention, docility, comprehension and compassion will grow. With her motherly Heart we understand those who come to us and are able to counsel them in conformity with the will of God. Like Mary, like the Church we are near to them in all their needs. A priest who says his rosary well, makes the life of Christ present in his own and adds this ‘gracious’ presence of Christ to his normal sacramental ministry.

4. In this month let us try to renew our priesthood through the renewal of this devotion!

If we find time for these fifteen minutes of loving communion with our Heavenly Mother, then we will never fail in the daily offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass nor in the entire recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours.

Let us take all the needs of the souls entrusted to us into this classroom, where we can speak with Mary as a father speaks with the mother about the children. Let us take an example from the Holy Father, the shepherd for all mankind, who every First Saturday kneels before an ever growing flock of the faithful to recite the rosary. Could it not be like this in our parishes as well? where is the father who does not teach his children to love and respect, to obey and assist their mother?

And looking forward to the month of the Poor Souls, we should remember that the Holy Church offers a plenary indulgence for a rosary said privately before the tabernacle or in common with someone else. This can be applied to a poor soul.

Finally, let us accustom ourselves to starting our rosary with the Sanctus (the ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’) with the intention of renewing our union among ourselves and with our Holy Guardian Angels who constantly adore God and venerate our Blessed Mother. God’s blessing. Prayers for prayers.

Fr. Titus Kieninger, ORC