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Detail from Saint Casimir, Baltimore MD

For the Priest there is a strong link between the office to which he is consecrated and the person of Our Lady. At the foot of the Cross, as we heard in today’s gospel, Our Lady was given by Christ to Saint John so that mankind might be afforded an intercessor of inestimable efficacy. In a particular way the Priest, who stands at the Cross with a foot on either side of the divide between heaven and earth, rejoices in the motherhood of the Blessed Mother. He knows that as much as he shares in the priestly office of Christ, even acting in his very person, he shares also in the maternal care of the Lord’s mother.

This spirituality is beautifully articulated in the consecration of the Priest to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, entrusting him “never to fall short of this sublime vocation, nor to give way to our selfishness, to the allurements of the world and to wiles of the Evil One.” If the life of the Mother of God is “the most authentic form of perfect imitation of Christ,” so that life is also the model for the Priest, who is called not simply to the imitation of Christ but to stand in his place, most chiefly in the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

Such a profound model is not reserved, of course, for those who share in the ministerial priesthood. Through baptism all the faithful share in the priestly office of Christ, albeit in a manner that is essentially different. We are each offered the Immaculate Heart of Mary as a catalyst and object for our devotion. As Saint Louis de Montfort wrote: “We never give more honour to [Christ] than when we honour his Mother.” As we commemorate this First Saturday, then, let us resolve to be drawn ever closer into that love, the love of Christ, that flows from the Immaculate Heart. And as we do so, let us pray for our priests, that they too may have “a heart completely renewed” with love for God and man, and so be ever more fitting servants of his Church.