On the Catholic Priesthood
The Mother of a priest
Letter of a mother to a friend of her childhood the day following the ordination of her son:
“Dear friend, bless, bless the good God with me; I am the mother of a priest!
It was to you that I wrote, twenty-five years ago, when this child was given to me. I can remember, I was beside myself with happiness! I felt he was really alive near me; I stretched forth my hand to him, I fondled him in his cradle to make quite sure that he was mine own. Oh! What a distance lies between those joys and the ones of today, which raise up my heart and fill it with new sentiments!
I am today the mother of a priest!
These hands which, when little, I kissed so tenderly, 25 years ago, these hands are consecrated, these fingers have touched God!
This intelligence, which has received the light and to which I showed the meaning of life, it has grown, it has been imbued with truth, it has surpassed mine by study and by grace, and behold now, it is consecrated!
This body, that I cared for, and protected, that made me pass many nights in tears, when sickness came upon it, this body has become great, robust, and behold it is consecrated!
Servant of the soul of the priest, it will grow tired in raising up the sinner, instructing the ignorant, giving the Lord to every thinking creature that seeks and asks for it.
This heart. Ah! This pure heart that never touched any other heart but that of his mother, that trembled before all earthly contact, behold it is consecrated! The love that it pours out is called charity. Oh! My son! I know him well; I know what treasures are contained in this concentrated nature. This concentration will be to him as a strong rampart against life, against himself; but in the secrecy of his priesthood, when God will put in his way a weak soul, troubled or lost, how he will find words to raise it up and make it trust in the Divine Goodness.
Yes, yes, he will do good, my child; he will be according to the Heart of God, he will be all charity.
Yes, yes, I am the mother of a priest, of a true priest! How shall I describe yesterday’s ceremony? I was there, but saw no one but him; but him kneeling down, standing up, prostrating, rising up, leaving, full of recollection after the hands of the Bishop had been imposed upon his head, now a priest!
And this morning, he said his second Mass in the little chapel of the humble convent, in silence and between two candles – with a child for his server – his mother and a few intimate friends for the audience!
Ah! When we desire to describe the happiness of Heaven, may we not liken it to the happiness of a mother in beholding God descending at the voice of her son, and being absorbed in such deep adoration as to forget the world, life, the past, and resting only on these two words, God and her son!
There he was, his tall figure, his black hair, his grave bearing, all made him appear noble. I was quite close to the altar, without motion and sensibility. The sound of a body kneeling before the Sacred Host fell upon my eats – my lips moved, I was in an ecstasy – I whispered: Thanks, my God, thanks!
This priest was once mine: I formed him, his soul learned the truth from mine! He is no long mine , but Yours alone! Keep him from every taint of evil; he is the salt of the earth, prevent him from being corrupted! My God, I love You, and I love him! I respect and venerate him, he is your priest!
At the Communion, the server, at my approach, said the Confiteor; the celebrant turned round and raised his right hand; the words of absolution were pronounced over his mother.
My son! With a sigh he took the ciborium, came to me, carrying with him my God! What a moment! What union! God, his priest, and me!…. Was I praying? Really, I do not know. A deep peace filled my soul; I burst into tears; with love and gratitude, I said quietly: “My God! My son!” Yes, for us mothers, prayer is our hope. I never complain. There have been many beautiful days in my life: this one is the sweetest of all, because the thoughts of earth had no place in it.
Farewell, then; I can write no more; my tears moisten the sheet on which I write, they are tears of happiness."
Source: Truth Vol. XVL No.8 August 1912