Monday, June 22, 2009

Spiritual Motherhood and the Year of the Priest

According to Zenit, the Internet is awash with suggested initiatives for the Year of the Priest, inaugurated by the Holy Father last Friday on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This may be true but as yet it is not as easy to find reports of individual, group or Diocesan responses in action.

The most frequently made suggestion so far seems to be that of 'adopting' a priest for whom you will pray throughout the year. Three examples on individual blogs are 'Bevansinc' (specifically for priests of the English Diocese of Arundel and Brighton (although you don't have to live in the diocese to take part); Jane Teresa's blog 'My Heart was Restless'; and Anna Arco's blog at the Catholic Herald. Meanwhile last week's 'Joan Knows' on Vatican Radio mentioned the idea in passing, rather as if she had just thought of it!. Mulier Fortis posted that she felt that praying for priests was somehow part of her vocation.

However, I am especially concerned in this post with Spiritual Motherhood, a more permanent commitment and contribution that women can make to the Sanctification of Priests and the renewal of the Priesthood, which are central to our Holy Father's intentions in calling for this Sacerdotal Year. It's not my purpose to describe my own experience as a spiritual mother but I will attest most forcefully that it is indeed a specific vocation, that it is profoundly spiritually demanding, rewarding, and usually hidden, often from the priest or priests whom the Lord sends to the mother as spiritual sons.

This post is published as a gentle exhortation to my female readers who feel attracted to the idea or simply want to find out more. Here are two essential places on my bloglist sidebar where you will find sound spiritual advice and information. This is the website of the Congregation for Clergy headed by Cardinal Hummes. Here, by clicking on the 'stained glass window' you will find several relevant documents, but of specific interest is Document 05 'Eucharistic Adoration for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Motherhood'. This is a 40 page pdf explanatory booklet which begins with the letter the Cardinal wrote to bishops in December 2007.

Vultus Christi, the wonderful and spititually indispensable blog of Fr Mark Kirby has many important posts in its archives. Search them! Typing in 'Bishop Slattery' will enable you to read all about this good and dear bishop's response to Cardinal Hummes' letter and document. Thanks to his Excellency, Tulsa Diocese now has a group of some 30 spiritual mothers. Preparatory to the eventual signing of their individual oblations at a special ceremony of consecration in April this year, they underwent a period of discernment and formation, (see link to report at top of sidebar here) which rightly and properly underlines the seriousness of their promise and commitment. Following from the example of the Tulsa model I would humbly advocate that anyone interested in spiritual motherhood, should consult her Parish Priest or Spiritual Director if she has one. I pray that the reading recommended above will inspire others to consider doing this.

As far as other US dioceses are concerned I can only find Providence and 'Adoro Te' mentioned the other day that a group may be starting up in Minnesota. I have as yet been unable to find any diocese in England and Wales, or in France where the Cardinal's suggestion and wish have been taken up. I wonder how much positive feedback he has had. (If any reader knows differently I'd be most grateful for the information.) As readers know, I'm isolated here and do not have a parish priest to whom I can appeal. My next task is therefore to write to Archbishop Nichols , (who has a most encouraging message about the Year of the Priest on the Westminster website) and to Bishop Dagens of Angouleme.

In the meantime, as I'm sure you'll agree, there is one uniquely special priest for whom we should all pray, namely Pope Benedict himself. Thank you Holy Father for the treasury of spiritual opportunities and graces you have offered to priests and laity in the institution of this sacerdotal year. May God protect and strengthen you and keep you well. Ad multos annos!

With my prayers for all here,
In Christo pro Papa


pelerin said...

Many thanks for these details. It is all a bit of a mystery to me so far but the idea does appeal to me and I shall be reading up as much as I can. Thank you.

Jane said...


Thanks for your comment. I think the suggested reading will clear up a lot of the mystery much more effectively than any words of mine could do.

We'll keep in touch about it, I'm sure.

God bless,

epsilon said...

Jane, you say: "Following from the example of the Tulsa model I would humbly advocate that anyone interested in spiritual motherhood, should consult her Parish Priest"

What does one do after requesting that the Rosary be said before Mass on Sunday (as an alternative to chatting in the church) and that we have an hour's adoration of the Blessed Sacrament every week - a request I made before the beginning of Lent this year - when the response by my parish priest to the first was to give permission to say the Rosary in the side chapel out of everyone's way, and "no go" to adoration?

The outcome of all this was that I made a poster inviting people to join me in the chapel to which one or two responded. What we do have though are copies of "The Shack" being offered to read and share at the back of the church - and no catholic literature such as CTS booklets. This is all from a parish priest who was a former Carmelite monk.

Jane said...


Thank you for your comment.

Since you mention the CTS, I imagine you're in UK. I'm wondering which Diocese. If it's Westminster the things you have asked for are perfectly in accord with the Archbishop's exhortation at the beginning of the Year for Priests, not to mention many of the Holy Father's!

I will post more about Spiritual Motherhood soon but should clarify here that it's something you can do in a totally hidden way. You don't need to belong to a Parish or Diocesan group, but I repeat, if you haven't already got one,do try and find a Spiritual Director. (That can be a bit of a minefield these days. Try the Catholic Spiritual Direction link on my sidebar. As an orthodox catholic you will find great advice about this process.)

In the meantime, the very suffering caused to you by your PP's attitude can be offered up for him or any priest of your choice.

My own situation and the fact that I have another e-friend in a similar boat to yourself, allows me some understanding of your despondency and expect you are nervous to ask him for anything else, but perhaps you could gently ask if there any initiatives in the parish pipeline to support the Year of the Priest.

In the meantime, if you want to email me privately, please do. We could have a more frank exchange that way! I will tell you that by making this offer in the past, I now have six very special spiritual friends. This is a wonderful mutual support, especially if you are isolated.


I'm also on Facebook as Jane Mossendew Fulthorpe

I'll keep you in my prayers.
In Christo pro Papa