Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Of interest to Spiritual Mothers: A Website, a Book and a Rosary Novena

Catholic Culture recently had an item on a site named "A Vocation to be a Priest" which is designed and run by teens who are seriously considering becoming Catholic Priests. Well worth exploring this UK initiative here. The menu includes a section on Religious Orders and there is also a forum on the site which helps with discernment.

My regular correspondent in Nebraska has let me know about a new book for use at Holy Hours entitled "Praying for Priests". It is by "a very saintly priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha". It is a free will offering at this time and can be ordered from Gloria Deo Catholic Bookstore at:

My friend also tells me that this is a "beautifully bound book of 85 pages printed on quality paper".

Father Mark Kirby of Tulsa Oklahoma, and author of the well-known and much loved
"Vultus Christi" blog, has composed a special Rosary Novena. He is preparing to welcome two postulants to his Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle and has invited us all to join him in praying the Novena in the days leading up to their reception. As with everything Father writes, it is beautiful and both inspired and inspiring. Direct link here

The first and third items mentioned above are in the sidebar and will remain there permanently.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

"Opus Bono Sacerdotti" New item in my sidebar

Thanks to my sister mother of priests and regular correspondent in Scranton PA for alerting me to the "Opus Bono" site today. It is in English despite its title and seems to have as a priority the care and love of all our priests who are distressed or in difficulty of any kind. To reach this new item in the sidebar here, please follow the link found between "Opus Sanctorum Angelorum" and "Pray for Priests".

Friday, 25 September 2009

"All good shepherds are in the One Shepherd."

With yesterday's Office of Readings we came to the end of a series of thirteen extracts from the Sermon on the Shepherds by St. Augustine of Hippo. He was not talking about the shepherds who went to Bethlehem to adore the Christ Child, but about Church leaders, notably bishops. As a bishop himself, over past days, he has trembled in his shoes at his responsibility and he has castigated bad shepherds who are concerned with their own good, their own power, their own opinion and their own voice. They, he says, are the ones who kill the sheep, even the ones who are trying to be good. The extracts have not been comfortable reading. With every year that passes they become more uncomfortable.

"Surely if there are good sheep, there are good shepherds too, for good shepherds are made from good sheep. But all good shepherds are in the one, are all one reality. Let them feed the sheep - it is Christ who feeds them. The friends of the bridegroom do not speak with their own voice, but greatly rejoice because of the bridegroom's voice. So he is feeding the sheep when they feed them; and he says, 'I feed' since in them is his voice, his love. When he entrusted his sheep to Peter, as one to another, he wished to make him one with himself, and so to entrust the sheep to him as to be himself the head, while Peter assumed the figure of the body, that is of the Church, that like bridegroom and bride they might be two in one flesh.

"What, then, does he first say to Peter, in order to entrust the sheep to him yet avoid entrusting them as if to another? 'Peter, do you love me?' And he answered, 'I do love you.' And again, 'Do you love me?' And he answered, 'I do love you.' And a third time, 'Do you love me?' And he answered 'I do love you.' He makes sure of love so as firmly to establish unity. So he, the one shepherd, feeds his sheep in these shepherds, and they in the one.

"So let them all be in the one shepherd, and speak with the one shepherd's voice, for the sheep to hear, and to follow their shepherd, not any at random, but the one. All should in him speak with the one voice, and not with different voices. 'I beseech you brethren, that you all say the same thing, and there be no divisions among you.' Let the sheep hear this voice, cleared of all division and cleansed of all heresy, and let them follow their shepherd as he says, 'Those who are my sheep hear my voice and follow me.' " Saint Augustine of Hippo

Pope Benedict to bishops who have been ordained during the last year. Castel Gandolfo Monday Sept. 21, 2009.
"The imitation of Jesus the Good Shepherd is, for every priest, the obligatory path for their own santification and the essential condition for exercising the pastoral ministry responsibly. If this is true for priests, it is even more so for us, dear brother bishops....What is more of the essential tasks of the bishop is precisely to help priests, by example and with fraternal support, to follow their vocation faithf ully, and to work with enthusiasm and love in the Lord's vineyard......................A particular mission for bishops is to feed the spiritual life of priests, to foster in them harmony between prayer and the apostolate, looking at the example of Jesus and of the Apostles, whom He called first of all 'to be with Him'.

"A lot of work tends to absorb them (priests and bishops) continually and totally. Nevertheless, attention to the problems of every day and the initiatives directed to leading men on the way of God, must never distract us from our profound personal union with Christ. To be available to people should not diminish or obfuscate our availability to the Lord. The time that the priest and bishop dedicate to God in prayer is always the best employed, because prayer is the soul of pastoral activity."

Before concluding, His Holiness again encouraged a profound Eucharistic life, devotion to the Divine Office, Lectio Divina, and the Rosary. Referring to the Year of the Priest and its patron he said, that it was through the Word and the Sacraments that St. Jean Vianney edified his people and was able to sow the love of God in Ars.

The Holy Father's words came in the middle of the thirteen day period of readings from St. Augustine. They fed this sheep with hope, and renewed her conviction that our chief shepherd Benedict is indeed 'in the One Shepherd'.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Birmingham Archdiocese UK, St. John Fisher Parish: A new group of Spiritual Mothers is formed..

Some months ago I dedicated posts on my other 'Oasis' blog to my three 'spiritual sisters' in the Birmingham Archdiocese. Only one of them has a computer, but through the one who has, all three are kept up to date with what I'm up to! They have welcomed this 'Spiritual Mothers of Priests' blog. Here is the story of what my 'sister' with the computer has achieved.

As soon as she returned from holiday she made an appointment to see her parish priest, Fr George Grynowski. At the subsequent meeting on September 3, she discovered that while Father knew about the initiative for Spiritual Motherhood, he was not aware of any particular activity. They discussed some of the ways it was being handled in other places. The upshot was that Father suggested a Holy Hour every Saturday morning for the duration of the Year of the Priest, at which those who gathered would pray for all priests, but particularly those of the Birmingham Archdiocese. Saturday 19th September was set for the first meeting and my 'sister' went home 'elevated by Father's positive response' and had 'a real sense of his support and enthusiasm'. During the days that followed she printed off some leaflets telling women in the parish about the initiative and inviting them to come along to the first meeting. These she handed out at Mass and was encouraged by positive interest that was shown. She also read Clare's article and expressed her appreciation of it.

At this point my sister and I agreed at how blessed they are in having a Priest who sees the connection between Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Spiritual Motherhood of Priests.

On September 19 eleven other women besides my sister attended the Holy Hour. During Adoration they prayed The Chaplet and meditated on the readings from St. Luke's Gospel. They then prayed together for the Birmingham 'Priest of the Day'*. This was followed by silent adoration. And the hour concluded with Father giving Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Afterwads several of the women went to St. Chad's Cathedral where they were able to implore the help of St. Therese for their priests, whilst venerating her relics which were visiting the Cathedral that day. My sister had told Fr. George that the Spiritual Motherhood initiative is dedicated to Our Lady and to St. Therese, and she feels sure that he was inspired to choose that day for the inaugural meeting of 'St. John Fisher's' spiritual mothers of priests.

Writing to me afterwards she descibed the event as 'truly spiritual'. 'They were all there because they truly wished to embrace the idea of becoming a spititual mother for our priests.....I feel so blessed.' Naturally we have been rejoicing together ever since!

*'Priest for the Day'

This is something that Archbishop Nichols had set up before he left Birmingham for Westminster in May. He had decreed that every day throughout the year of the Priest, a particular Birmingham priest should be prayed for. He made the list available with dates, I think on the Diocesan Website. In any case there was no difficulty in matching the date with the name at the first meeting at St. John Fisher Parish.

Thank you Archbishop Nichols, Father George, and of course all my dear sisters in Christ, and in Spiritual Motherhood of His beloved priests and seminarians. May He keep us all in the love of His Sacred Heart and may Our Lady keep us safe under her protection.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Priests and Bishops in my prayers

Augustian Bishop Nicholas Shi Jin Xian died in China at the age of 88 September 16. He began his mission before Communism Zenit

Italian missionary priest Fr Ruggero Ruvoletto shot dead in Brazil September 19
Catholic Culture

Fr Thomas Rosica (Salt and Light Television) and Fr Thomas Euteneuer (LifeSite News) who have been at public loggerheads about reaction to the recent funeral of Senator Edward Kennedy

Fr Shekelton: They hold off Death for the Sacraments
English Priest ministers to Amazon villages here

Italian Bishops Pursue 'Cultural Project' Despite Internal Divisions
This link will lead you to an article by the excellent Sandro Magister 'Make or Break. The Italian Bishops at the Final Tally' (Click English in left sidebar language menu)

Bishop Gilmore of Dodge City begins alcohol treatment in Minnesota Georgia Bulletin

41 Italian priests who signed a public statement endorsing the removal of food and water from comatose patients. On September 10 the CDF called for disciplinary action against them. (Sorry the link won't work but the item was on Catholic Culture September 10.

This is just a small selection. Hope to share more with you tomorrow.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

'Do You Appreciate your Priest? Spanish Bishop Composes Test.

Zenit today reports as follows:

"The Year for Priests isn't just an internal celebration among the clergy, but rather an opportunity for all the faithful to assess their appreciation for the priesthood, says Bishop Jose Ignacio Munilla of Palencia.

'Do we appreciate the priesthood and love our priests?' the bishop asked in a posting on the website of his diocese.

To answer this question, the bishop composed ..."with a bit of humour" ... the following test titled "Priestly Appreciation". The test is complete with instructions to evaluate your answers and your level of appreciation for the priesthood."

Please do click the Zenit link in sidebar and take the test. Yes, there is humour but it is not frivolous and 'Many a true word is spoken in jest.'

Thank you Bishop Munilla.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Philip Gerard Johnson, (for the Diocese of Raleigh NC) at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, PA

It's probable that most of my readers have been praying for Philip for a long time, but in case there are some who don't know about him, I felt it essential to post about his situation and vocation. Philip has an inoperable brain tumour and is now in the early stages of seminary training. In the recent past he has spent at least two stints in Lourdes helping to care for the sick. Please go to his blog 'In Caritate Non Ficta' (link in sidebar) if you do not already read him. His blog has wonnderful photos of the Seminary and of the Seminarians. Also of Cardinal Rigali's recent visit on August 31st. Philip reported on the visit Septembe 6th and quotes the Cardinal's stirring declaration of St. Jean Marie Vianney as secondary Patron of the Seminary.

There is however, an earlier story, and to save your having to search for it, I'll briefly tell it here. Some months ago a priest friend of Philip's contacted Rome about him. Within hours the Father had a telephone call from Mgr Georg Ganswein, assuring him that from then on Philip would be in the daily prayers of Pope Benedict. Spiritual Mothers throughout the world join in our Holy Father's intention for Philip and for all seminarians and priests who are suffering life threatening illness..

N.B. The original title of this post indicated that Raleigh diocese is in PA. Emailing me to say thanks for the post, Philip pointed out that Raleigh is in North Carolina. Raleigh doesn't have its own seminary so its seminarians attend St. Charles Borromeo.

Thanks Philip and God bless!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Father Edward Houghton RIP, priest of Westminster UK

Please pray for the soul of Father Edward who was fatally injured in a car crash in North Yorkshire on August 21st. Details reached me because a friend sent me the relevant Westminster Cathedral nesws bulletin which arrived in this morning's post. Father had formerly been a Deacon at Westminster Cathedral and latterly Assistant Priest at Chiswick, West London. He was forty years of age and had been a priest for just over one year. His remains were received into the Church of Our Lady of Grace and St. Edward on September 2nd, after which Mass was celebrated with retired Cardinal Murphy O'Connor as main celebrant. The funeral Mass the next day was at 12 noon with Archbishop Nichols of Westminster as main celebrant. Father was interred in Preston, Lancashire the next day, September 4th.

We offer our prayers for the repose of Father's soul, and for his family who mourn.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Exaltation of the Holy Cross: pt. 2

Two further lovely posts for today's feast, one at Vultus Christi and the other at Clerical Reform (see sidebar links). The loveliest thing about them is that they are written by two of Our Lord's beloved priests.

In France, as the sun has set on this beautiful feast for yet another year, Our Lord clearly continues to strengthen them. I beg His blessing on all here.

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Fr Mark Kirby (Vultus Christi) has posted a beautiful meditation for today's feast (Amor Meus Crucifixus Est) and Fr Ray Blake (Saint Mary Magdalen) has written challengingly about 'Avoiding the Cross'. (links in sidebar). At WDTPRS Fr Z has a fascinating post (originally also from Vultus Christ) about legends of the True Cross and the Basil plant. (link to Oasis blog in sidebar where you'll find a link to Fr Z's blog towards the bottom of the bloglist)

Yesterday, during his mini-homily before the Angelus at Castel Gandolfo, the Holy Father said that on the eve of the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and Our Lady of Sorrows, "We learn from the Virgin Mary, who believed in the Lord's Word, (and) did not lose her faith in God when she saw her Son rejected, offended and put on a cross. Rather she stayed with Jesus, suffering and praying, to the end. And she saw the radiant sunrise of His resurrection ." He urged us to "learn from her to bear witness to our faith with a life of humble service, ready to suffer personally to remain faithful to the Gospel of charity and truth, and certain that nothing of what we do will be lost."

On Saturday at a Mass of Episcopal Ordination he had, in an impassioned homily, expounded on this aspect of service in the calling of Bishops and all priests. Zenit has an excellent resume of his exhortation. (link in siebar to item 'Pope ordanis 5 Bishops')

Responsories and Versicles from today's Office of Readings:
cf Gal 6:4; Heb 2:9

R. We ought to boast about the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we have our salvation, life and resurrection; through him we have been redeemed and saved.

V. He is crowned now in glory and honour because he suffered death; through him we have been redeemed and saved.

R. O wonderful cross, upon whose branches hung the treasure and redemption of captive men, through you the world is redeemed by the blood of the Lord.

V. Hail, O cross, consecrated by the body of Christ, whose limbs, like precious jewels, adorn your wooden timbers; through you the world is redeemed by the blood of the Lord.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Spiritual Bouquet sent to Bishop Martino, Emeritus of Scranton PA by the spiritual mothers represented on this blog; and the death of a priest

Before detailing the Spiritual Bouquet for Bishop Martino, I must draw your attention to Fr Rocheford (60) who threw himself off a Rhode Island bridge a couple of days ago. 'One Grateful Heart' has let me know this news. We all need to ask ourselves why and how one of Our Lord's ordained and beloved priests could have been driven to this. I know all Spititual Mothers will be praying for his soul now they know what happened.

Spiritual Bouquet for Bishop Martino sent Thursday last:

Holy Mass and Communion 2
Holy Hour and Spiritual Communion 2
Holy Hour 2
Holy Rosary 35 decades
Seven Sorrows Rosary 1
Angelus 2
Office of Readings 2
Vespers 1
Compline 1
Way of the Cross 1
Way of the Cross for priests and Divine Mercy Chaplet, daily since the Bouquet started and continuing
Prayer with the Pope as he visited the Blessed Sacrament and venerated the relic of St Bonaventure at Bagnoregio on Sunday last.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Bishops and Priests in the news: I know you will pray for them all.

Some current and recent Zenit items (link in sidebar and then scroll to appropriate date):

Colombian Fr. Gustavo Velez Vasquez (79) whose disappearance was reported earlier has been found dead in dense forest. May he rest in peace. (10th September 09)

Italian Priest uncovers 100 Pedophile Networks.
Meter Association gathered evidence for US and Italy. (4th September 09)

Pope to Brazilians: Priotity is Vocations.
Says Post Vatican II generation needs authenticity. (8th September 09)

Carmelites Renew Promise to Pray for Priests
Haifa, Israel, (10th September, 2009)

Super-Priests and 21st Century Challenges (Pt I 3rd September & Pt 2 4th September)
Interview with Official from Apostolic Signature.

Cardinal: It's time to reach out to ex-priests.
(Cardinal Bertone) says Priest-Saints are supporting Pope's plans for renewal. (31st August 09)

Seal of Confession Goes on Trial
Oregon USA, Church and State Face Off in Court. (26th August 09)

Priest, Who are You?
Photo exhibition explores Vocation, (Mexico) (August 27 09)

Pope: Church needs a Few (?) Good Confessors.
Sends message to Italy's National Liturgical Week (August 25th 09).
An unusually bad headline for Zenit. Actually the Pope said that the Church "needs wise and holy spiritual teachers" who are able not only to hear confessions, but also to educate consciences. I don't think the word 'few' would have entered his head!!

More news items tomorrow and details of the Spiritual Bouquet I sent on our behalf to Bishop Martino, emeritus of Scranton diocese, PA.

Father George Byers: "Papist Jackass"

There's a new link in the sidebar to Fr George's re-named blog. He was a Lourdes chaplain for two years until early this summer. Whilst he was there his blog was titled bloggingLourdes. Now he is working at the only Pontifical seminary in the Americas. A couple of days ago Father very kindly posted links to both my blogs and that of the Benedictines of Mary. I looked for this post just now but can't find it. Never mind. I hope plenty of people saw it!

Fr. George has two very good recent posts and I really recommend you visit them. At the time of writing his current post is "Is the Pope a Jackass too?............" It includes the homily preached by Archbishop Burke at a special Mass on the eve of Pope Benedict's inauguration .
Marvellous stuff. So is the previous post "Renaissance Priests: Spiritual Fathers for the New Evangelisation". To reach it click 'previous' to be found underneath the blank combox.

Thanks Father, with the assurance of our prayers,

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Clare, our new contributor, reflects on Spiritual Motherhood

We are posting this feature to help those who may happen by this site and know little about the vocation of Spiritual Motherhood. In her sections "Spiritual Mothers and the Priesthood" and "The Spirituality of a Spiritual Mother", she offers insights which will be of interest to all our readers, and at the same time answers several frequently asked questions.

What is Spiritual Motherhood?

The idea of Spiritual Motherhood is not new to the Church. The very first spiritual mother was Our Lady, whom the early Christians called ‘mother Mary’. Her care has always gone far beyond the realm of physically caring for people. Jesus’ entrustment of St John to his own mother, made from the Cross, is perhaps where the first spiritual mother began her mission. It appears that her little home in Ephesus where she lived with St John (‘the disciple Jesus loved’) was regularly visited by the followers of Jesus who regarded her as their mother in the Lord. Since then, Mary’s maternal care has reached to all Christians (indeed all people who call on her) and as a result the role of motherhood has always had an honoured place in the Church.

Any woman of any age can be a spiritual mother, it is not necessary to be married and a physical mother oneself. Women have always been immersed in prayer for souls, whether those of their own children, like St Monica, or for others, like Our Lady. St John Bosco had a remarkable mother, Mamma Margaret, who nurtured first him, and then, as he developed his ministry, the urchin children who came to him for help. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, though a lifelong celibate, had the spiritual and physical care of many thousands of people as well as her own nuns.

In our time, when women assume new responsibilities and achieve prominent positions in society, the question is often asked: why can they not enter the priesthood? Two thousand years of tradition, based on the all-male attendance at the Last Supper, the first Eucharist, is not going to be changed and for some this seems unfair. Nevertheless, Christ was male, and each priest as ‘another Christ’ must reflect this, which women cannot do. When was the last time we saw an Icon of Christ as a female?

However, motherhood is integral to the feminine genius and unique to women.* To be a spiritual mother it is not necessary to have a strong natural maternal instinct or a love of domesticity. One does not have to be interested in bootees, sewing or the right way of making cup cakes – admirable though these things are. All that is needed is a deep love of God and the things of God, and a longing to bring other to him. In days gone by, people would call this a ‘thirst for souls’. The spiritual mother may know the identity of her spiritual child or children, or she may not. Either way, she prays and sacrifices with the same intention: the spiritual well-being and ultimate salvation of particular souls.

There is no special way of praying or making sacrifice. One can recite the rosary,visit the Blessed Sacrament, light a candle, give alms, and offer up various sufferings – there are many ways of practising Spiritual Motherhood, but the focus is ‘maternal’ in that it incorporates the moral, spiritual and physical well-being of the one being prayed for. This is akin to a mother’s three-fold duty: to care for her children’s physical needs, to instil in them a sense of right and wrong, discerning wisely the things of the world and finally, to teach them about God, prayer and our faith.


In anticipation of the Year of the Priest, which started in June 2009, the Congregation of the Clergy issued a 40-page booklet asking women, lay and religious, to consider becoming spiritual mothers of priests. The priesthood has been in a well-documented crisis since the Second Vatican Council – and some would say before that – and many have left the active ministry to pursue a different way of life. Vocations in the West are in free fall, although there are encouraging signs of an upturn in America and Ireland for instance, particulary according to various reports to the more traditional orders. The relatively few who have disgraced their calling by abusive behaviour of minors have tainted the image of the priesthood in the secular mind and made life much more difficult for the holy priests who are in the majority. No doubt about it; priests find their calling frequently undermined by a society that is increasingly alienated from the things of God. Priests have always needed the fervent prayers of women but the need is perhaps greatest in our own time. The initiative from the Congregation of the Clergy is a heart-felt plea to women believers to be generous in their prayers.

As reported extensively on Fr Mark Kirby's 'Vultus Christi' blog and on both of Jane's, the diocese of Tulsa responded by instigating a formal programme for Spiritual Mothers of Priests, assigning one priest of the diocese to each ‘mother’. Neither would know the identity of the other; all the priest knows is that he has a woman in the diocese praying for him, and all she has is a brief description of him, his ministry and its challenges . The bishop inaugurated the programme by personally enrolling all the Spiritual Mothers at a special Mass, presenting them with a certificate and a medal.

A slightly different lay initiative has taken place in the English diocese of Arundel and Brighton, whereby volunteers can choose to pray for a specific priest of the diocesethroughout the Year of the Priest. This has been outstandingly successful and each priest of A & B diocese now has someone especially praying for him. Not all of the volunteers are spiritual mothers in the fullest sense of the term, but we pray that many of them may come to embrace the vocation permanently in the course of the year. Whatever happens, the A&B initiative is a genuine example of ‘collaborative ministry’ where separate charisms in the church work together for the wellbeing of the whole.

IS THERE A PARTICULAR SPIRITUALITY CONNECTED WITH SPIRITUAL MOTHERHOOD? Surely praying for people one does not know isn’t anything out of the ordinary? Why give this a title at all, and not just consider it part of intercession?

The booklet issued by the Congregation for the Clergy and signed by Cardinal Hummes has as its title “Eucharistic Adoration and Reparation for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Maternity”. This title hints at an answer to this. Firstly, prayer is centred on the Eucharist with the hope that enough women will respond to form a perpetual adoration for the priesthood and for new vocations. Our priests need this support to renew them in spirit and sustain them in their calling.

Finally, there is also a need to make reparation for the sins of priests and the scandal that this has caused.“We intend in a very particular way to entrust all priests to Mary, the Mother of the High and Eternal Priest, bringing about in the Church a movement of prayer, placing 24 hour continuous Eucharistic adoration at the centre, so that a prayer of adoration, thanksgiving, praise, petition and reparation, will be offered to God, incessantly and from every corner of the earth with the primary intention of holy vocations to the priestly state and, at the same time, spiritually uniting with a certain spiritual maternity – at the level of the Mystical Body – all those who have already been called to the ministerial priesthood…

The second aspect of the spirituality is its Marian dimension. Interestingly, one of the visions of St John Bosco showed that the Church would survive turbulent times of heresy and apostacy through the twin pillars of Our Lady and the Eucharist. The booklet entrusts all priests to Mary. Needless to say, each spiritual mother should also seek Mary’s intercession.

Otherwise, there is no hard and fast way of being a Spiritual Mother – each response is personal and made from a heart attentive to the Holy Spirit. There can be no genuine motherhood without compassion, fidelity and generosity; like everyone else, priests are human with human failings, each spiritual mother understands that, but with her loving and silent support, they will be given strength and grace. It’s said that for every demon who attacks a lay person, a thousand attack a priest – the Spiritual Mother is locked in spiritual combat against the lord of this world, and her work is urgent and vital. The phrase ‘spiritual motherhood’ may conjure up a rather gooey feeling of cosiness and warmth, but this image does a disservice to the truth; the spiritual mother is a prayer warrior, and to take an image from the animal kingdom, you don’t mess with the mother of cubs!

There are no bright lights or fanfares associated with this way of praying, but this is nothing new. Scripture and the history of the Church are full of examples of humble women at prayer. For example, the prophetess Anna, who waited for years to see the infant Messiah, thought nothing of praying for hours at a time in the temple and it’s likely that most people going about their business there simply ignored her. Spiritual motherhood isn’t something you take up for a brief season, as St Monica, or Anna understood, it is a longterm commitment and as such lends itself well to the contemplative spirit, which is why enclosed nuns as well as housewives embrace this devotion. From the earliest days of the church, women were praying and becoming contemplative, such as Mary the sister of Martha, and Our Lady herself who ‘pondered these things in her heart’. The order of widows in the early church was principally dedicated to prayer and it was understood that the more active missionary efforts depended on such prayer.

This way of praying, especially if for an unknown person (or several), is essentially hidden. Most of the time we will not know the effects of our prayer until the next life. It is indeed an ‘investment for the future’ with results we can only hope for. It relies on a spirit of complete trust in God so that the wording on the Divine Mercy icon is made real for us too – Jesus I trust in You.

Submitted by Clare

Jane adds: Next week we propose to address the question of Consecration to the vocation of a spiritual mother within the Church. Cardinal Hummes mentions it but there do not seem to be any rules in place and we feel the matter is in need of clarification.

*There is of course another way of looking at the gender issue in spiritual motherhood and this will be looked at in the future. For the time being we are concentrating on what we think Cardinal Hummes meant by 'consecrated feminine souls'.

Sunday's EWTN programme: "Vocations to the Priesthood and the Consecrated Life"

This was the subject of Fr Benedict Groeschel's "Sunday Night Live" on Sept 6th.
Mary is our spiritual mother correspondent in Wellington, Somerset. This is in the UK diocese of Clifton. Mary has sent me the following remarks about the programme.

"Fr Benedict's guest was Fr David Toups, a young American priest who really knew about guidance towards vocations. He told us about the acronym PEAK which I thought would be particularly useful to Spiritual Mothers of Priests.
P= Prayer. Praying ourselves for vocations and teaching young people how to adopt a prayer regime.
E= Encouragement. This we need to give to young people of any age.
A = Affirmation. Telling our own parish priest when he has preached a particularly memorable homily, for example.
K = Knowledge. Growing in knowledge and love of the scriptures and of Church teaching ourselves and making sure that young people do the same.

Father Toups did say that if a young boy of about seven years states that he wants to be a priest, he should be encouraged, but not too much. Perhaps he should be encouraged to be the best possible Christian and then think again about the priesthood in a few years. He also mentioned that it's often the eldest son in a family who enters the priesthood, but it is also often the youngest.

The Ratzinger brothers were not mentioned, but my thoughts flew at once to them. Joseph Ratzinger as the youngest child of three, was definitely very special. His mother was 43 years old when he was born, so he was a very special gift from God. He has written that from an early age, probably when he was an altar server in Aschau Am Inn, he knew he was going to be a priest. Of course, his older brother had already made the same decision. However, the first child, Maria Theologia, did not enter the religious life, but, perhaps more importantly, she resolved that, if Joseph became a priest, she would dedicate her life to looking after him. This she did: she was his secretary, typing up his lecture notes and his books, and also his loving and devoted housekeeper wherever he went as a professor. She went to Rome with him in 1981, although she never really settled there and longed for Bavaria."

Jane's comment:

Thanks for this Mary. I like the PEAK idea because it focuses on the generation not yet grown, and on which the Church relies for the priests of the future beyond our lifetimes. We have a responsibility to form that generation in the faith and to foster in them a strong sense of their Catholic identity. As for Affirmation, I trust we have all made a point of wishing our own PPs a happy and holy Year of the Priest!

Mary and I have often discussed the Ratzinger family and their 'specialness', particularly that of Joseph Ratzinger. It is no surprise to my husband and myself, or to Mary, that we have so many friends, who suspect as we do, that God may have chosen him to be a priest at the very point of his conception. Maria was very special to her brothers and is also special to us as a model of a particular type of Spiritual Mother, supporting the younger one domestically, intellectually as well as spiritually. I often think of her and pray that in heaven she continues her prayers for him now he is our dear Pope Benedict. Not only that, but she will not be neglecting Georg.

This idea of Pope Benedict's being chosen from his conception, reminded me of one of our spiritual mother telling me that she prays for boys still in their mothers' wombs, whom God has already chosen, or whom He will call to the priesthood later on in their lives. I will dig out the correspondence so that I can acknowledge that mother and her idea in a later post.

Thank you again Mary.

Next up: Thanks to Fr George Byers
And coming soon a special on Bishops and Priests in the news who need our prayers.d

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

News from Clifton Diocese UK

One of my dearest friends, Mary, a spiritual mother in Wellington, Clifton Diocese UK, has sent me news from there, and an article about vocations to the priesthood, which I will publish tomorrow.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

A Hymn for our Blessed Mother in celebration of her Birthday: "Mary Immaculate, Star of the Morning".


Mary immaculate, star of the morning,
Chosen before the creation began,
Chosen to bring, for thy bridal adorning,
Woe to the serpent and rescue to man.

Here, in an orbit of shadow and sadness,
Veiling thy splendour, thy course thou has run;
Now that art throned in all glory and gladness,
Crowned by the hand of thy Saviour and Son.

Sinners, we worship thy sinless perfection;
Fallen and weak, for thy pity we plead;
Grant us the shield of thy sovereign protection,
Measure thine aid by the depth of our need.

Frail is our nature, and strict our probation,
Watchful the foe that would lure us to wrong;
Succour our souls in the hour of temptation,
Mary immaculate, tender and strong.

See how the wiles of the serpent assail us,
See how we waver and flinch in the fight;
Let thine immaculate merit avail us,
Make of our weakness a proof of thy might.

Bend from thy throne at the voice of our crying,
Bend to this earth which thy footsteps have trod;
Stretch out thine arms to us living and dying,
Mary immaculate, Mother of God.


A happy and holy evening of the Feast to all here.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Two useful sites for Spiritual Mothers of Priests, new links on sidebar

Helen in Scranton has drawn my attention to these sites. One belongs to some traditional Benedictine nuns who used to be in Scranton but relocated to Kansas City. It is a beautiful site and a beautifully presented description of traditional Benedoctome monasticism. Please go and enjoy it at link in sidebar to 'Benedictines of Mary'.

The other new link is to 'Catholic Tradition'. Their site is an absolute and densely packed wealth of information of specific interest to Adorers of the Blesssed Sacrament and to Spiritual Mothers. I really had to tear myself away from it!!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Spiritual Bouquet for Bishop Martino

I'm about to send the Bouquet this coming Tuesday. Very many thanks to the mothers who have contributed so far. PLEASE CONSIDER CONTRIBUTING IN THE COMBOX HEREIF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY DONE SO, OR IF YOU HAVE MORE TO ADD.

My own offering today will be prayers during the Holy Father's visit to the shrine of Our Lady of the Oak and his veneration of the relics of St. Bonaventure during his Viterbo pilgrimage later today.

In the meantime you can email your concern and support to Bishop Martino's secretary at

It maybe uncertain how long this address will remain in effect though.

Domestic matters prevented me from announcing last night that I wouldn't be posting much today because I'd be 'going to Viterbo' all morning courtesty of French kto tv. It was wonderful to be 'present' at the Holy Father's Mass again. I've so missed it since he's been on holiday. As indicated above I'll be back there again at 5.30pm. Hope to renew 'normal service' here tomorrow morning.

In union of prayer

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Spiritual Mothers' National reports: Spain; Italy; Australia

Our blog has only one direct contact in Spain and she is a 'hidden' mother of priests. However, without disturbance to her own interior life, she has been working quietly and steadily behind the scenes and trying to find out what response there has been in Spain to Cardinal Hummes' pleas for 'feminine souls' to offer themselves to the Church as 'consecrated' spiritual mothers of priests.

The general picture seems to be that there are many women both lay and religious who have been privately living out their spiritual motherhood for years. They are often actual mothers of priests, or their sisters; or they live their spiritual motherhood as part of their professed lives as cloistered nuns. (Some Orders that she mentions are: Poor Clares, Slaves of the Most Blessed Sacrament and of the Immacualte, and Capuchin Franciscans.) It is a joy for us to know that these hidden mothers are there in Spain, but so far, it does not seem that Cardinal Hummes' document has resulted in widespread knowledge of the call expressed within it.

On the other hand, she has found one actual group of 'mothers' and its members have agreed to see if they can find out more about what may be going on in other dioceses of Spain.

As our friend points out, August is not a good month because many bishops and priests are away. Anyway, she has assured me that she will not give up, and I'm sure you'll all want to join me in thanking her for the information she has already provided, and to send her the assurance of our prayers for her, and for the success of future enquiries.

Another country where we have only one contact. She is fluent in English so is going to be a great help to us. At the moment she is out of Internet connection and in the meantime is going to try and connect from her parish.

She tells me: "Our initiative of spiritual motherhood is tied to the fraternity 'Two Hearts' to which I belong. Our image of spiritual motherhood is to Bethany and has the faces of Mary and Martha. On the one hand, it seeks to take care of priests by offering them materially the warmth of a family.....on the other hand there is a listening to what priens want to say and share about their lives. Furthermore, we pray for the healing of the priests wounded in body and spirit. We are praying for some seminarians and boys in vocational discernment to the religious life."

We will all look forward to hearing more about the Fraternity, and perhaps some detail as to how widespread it is in Italy.

That reminds me. I have a priest friend in Rome and have been meaning to contact him for days. He may be able to tell us what's going on there.

Spiritual Mothers here are in New South Wales and Queensland. They have reported as knowing of some very good initiatives in these States, not many but a few worth mentioning. I am promised more detail soon. In the meantime our main contact has seven children of her own as well as being a spiritual mother of priests. We will be patient!!

Thank you again to all these Sisters in Christ who have made this report possible.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Something to be treasured from Ireland

This snippet has not come direct from a spiritual mother of priests in Ireland but from our English Philothea, who drew my attention to a site called 'Intercession for Priests'. The link is now in the sidebar and you might miss it because there is another link with the same title. When you link to Philothea's discovery you will see that it is Vincentian in origin and there's a picture of Fr Scallon, the founder, with a religious sister in brown habit. The site is run by a group that has existed since 1976 as a response to the effect on the priesthood of some of the wilder modernism since Vatican II. There is also a CD of a Rosary for Priests, which is produced by Dana (formerly an Irish mainstream popular singer) and Fr Scallon. The CD can only be ordered from Ireland or the USA. Philothea heard a little of it on line: Her comment: 'The musical content might be a little syrupy for some tastes but the priest's voice sounded 'anointed' and this might be nice for the car."

Philothea ordered a copy and we agreed that often this sort of thing depends on one's mood, and on the setting or occasion, rather than on one's usual musical preferences.

On August 27, P. received the CD. Here are her comments after she and her daughter had listened to some of it in the car on the way to the supermarket:

"One thing which Fr Scallon said which struck me forcibly is that Christ's death on the Cross was the ultimate act of His High Priesthood. ... The identity of the "'priest and victim isn't new...... in terms of what every priest must do - sacrifice everything.......this of course is what spiritual motherhood intercedes for, and offers itself for.....I haven't heard it all but it seems to take the form of a 5 decade rosary with different meditations on the priesthood at the beginning of each decade............ The CD is restful and does induce a spirit of calm and peace........"

Go look at the site, it's a good one, whether you like the CD or not. It has been working quietly for the Church and Our Lord's beloved priests all these years and deserves to be more widely known.

Dear Spititual Mothers throughout the world, I know you will pray for the embattled, innocent and holy priests of Ireland, and for their ordained brothers who have gone astray.

St. Patrick and all Saints of Ireland pray for us.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

The feast of St. Gregory the Great, 2009

Unusually, we celebrate Gregory's feast, not on the day he died, but on the anniversary of the day he became Pope in the year AD 590. Every time his feast comes round, I am struck by two things in the second Office reading for his day. It is from his homilies and is entitled 'For the love of Christ I do not spare myself in preaching him.' The reading though, reveals a great deal about the pitfalls, dangers and difficulties of being Pope, particularly as he experienced them as a man who had been a monk. And the two things? His humility and the realisation as to how difficult it must be to be Pope in any age.

Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church, pray for our present Pope Benedict XVI.

Responsory from today's Office:

R. Gregory's teaching on morals and on the mystical life sprang from the source of holy scripture; through him the living water of the gospel flowed out to all nations, and he who is now dead, still speaks to us.

v. As an eagle's glance encompasses the earth beneath it, Gregory's boundless charity encompassed all men, both great and small, and he who is now dead, still speaks to us.

Concluding prayer:

God, our Father,
your rule is a rule of love,
your providence is full of mercy for your people.
Through the intercession of Saint Gregory grant the spirit of wisdom
to those you have placed in authority,
so that the spiritual growth of the people
may bring eternal joy to their pastors.
We make our prayer through Our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever, world without end


Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Some changes made to the blog with help from Scotland; Regional round-up: Part 1: England

Well, you can see the changes. They are temporary and being worked on by Mark, the newly agreed design administrator of this blog. But the improvement is already vast. Mark, I can't thank you enough. See his profile under Contributors in the sidebar. He is a Scot and lives in Edinburgh.

Explanatory note as to my own location and nationality:

Several of you have asked whether I'm American, and others have assumed that I'm based in the United States. This is probably because the major response to this blog came from the USA, and it has until now claimed the most attention here. Furthermore, the news from Scranton has recently taken essential priority. However, I hope this post will restore some balance to the picture by giving details of developments in the UK and Ireland. (Reports on Spain, Italy and Australia will follow, before catching up with our American dioceses.)

I'm actually English and for the last three years have lived permanently in rural France. (More about efforts for Spiritual Motherhood in France further down the line.) That said, I have a strong UK network on which to call and I'm still working through that behind the scenes.

As a result, I can report that we now have a hidden contact for the blog in PORTSMOUTH diocese (UK); like our contacts in the ARCHDIOCESE OF BIRMINGHAM, she is investigating the 'lie of the land'. Another of our hidden spiritual mothers in BIRNINGHAM is meeting her PP tomorrow evening. She is praying for the Holy Spirit to be with them and I'm sure you will all support her in that. I have also had a first contact from the ARCHDIOCESE OF WESTMINSTER, so things are looking up. 'Great oaks from little acorns ................!'

And in ARUNDEL AND BRIGHTON a very dear friend is backing the blog to the hilt with prayer and practical help. Under the pseudonym 'Philothea' she has agreed to become a contributor to this SMP blog and I'm absolutely delighted and thankful to Our Lord that we welcome her in that capacity. Already she has written an article on Spiritual Motherhood, and we hope to publish it within the next week. More news of this soon.

Also in ARUNDEL AND BRIGHTON news has come in from one of the parishes there about their prayer group, and Holy Hour. Strangely the latter has happened since the parish was amalgamated with two others under one priest, but there is no daily Mass in any of the three combined parishes. Please pray for the priest and his parishioners for a way to be found to restore daily Mass.

More tomorrrow.

In union of prayer,


Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Scranton: Bishop Martino is receiving compassionate, loving prayers from Spiritual Mothers represented on this blog

The bishop himself, probably doesn't realise this but we have faith that our prayers are helping to console and sustain him.

All the Scranton news links and details I have learned from during the last four days have come to me from 'Helen in Philadelphia', our blog contact resident in that diocese, and I am most grateful to her. I've studied it all in a spirit of prayer and have come to a much better understanding of what has been going on in Scranton than would have been possible without her help. The Press Conference, which thanks to Helen, I was able to view live, whilst informative in many ways, concealed a great deal. Only the Catholic Press were allowed to attend.

The story, in most of its aspects is now readily available on various websites, including Zenit (see sidebar) so I do not intend to give more links. Spiritual Mothers in their compassionate concern will have already found them, and if not, will do so, and probably come to the same conclusions as I have reached, in the sense of what the story tells about Church politics in the Diocese of Scranton.

However, politics is not the business of this blog. Prayer is - and for ALL priests and bishops, particularly those in any kind of distress.. We would pray for the bishop whatever kind of bishop he had been in Scranton. That is part of our calling. However, I believe that Joseph Martino is a good Bishop and a good priest, loyal to the Pope and to the Magisterium, and who has struggled, with far more than the financial problems of his diocese.

The reason I think that, is partly because of the FACTS which have (and have not) been given to us in the media, but mainly because of the contrast between Helen's compassionate response as a spiritual mother of priests, privately expressed to me, and that of the vitriol which characterises the reaction of the bishop's detractors and opponents on com boxes such as the (This is not the London UK Times, but a US news organ..)

I will quote the detractors if you wish, but I prefer that a spiritual mother should be heard here:

Here is 'Helen of Philadelphia', with her permission:

"Bishop Martino has faced emormous's affecting his health. He is giving up. I found out yesterday and cried. ...........I truly do feel like Mary at the foot of the Cross crying for her son........since I know in my heart the Blessed Mother is concerned, I feel she would like us to pray for Bishop Martino. His health is being affected by all the stress."
August 29. 2009

On Monday's Press Conference: "I think Bishop Martino was very good at hiding his broken heart. People that know him will tell me he is good at that......"
August 31, 2009

(The latter remark reminded me of our Holy Father's mien during the early months of this year.)

Helen thinks that through her contacts we may be able to get our spiritual bouquet through to Bishop Martino when the dust has settled. In the meantime we know that our prayers for him are effective to his welfare, whether he knows about them or not. Nevertheless please contribute to the Bouquet in the combox here. I've collated the offerings from the earlier post.

Now, in the meantime there is more positive news from St. Pauls-Minnesota; Australia; Italy; Spain and several other British and USA dioceses. Will post as much as I can about these tomorrrow.

God bless

In union of prayer,