Pope Benedict XVI- General Audiences
On Mary, Mother of Priests
"The Perfect Model for Their Existence"
H.H. Benedict XVI
August 12, 2009
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The celebration of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin
Mary, next Saturday, is at hand and we are in the context of the Year
for Priests. I therefore wish to speak of the link between Our Lady and
the priesthood. This connection is deeply rooted in the Mystery of the
When God decided to become man in his Son, he needed the freely-spoken
"yes" of one of his creatures. God does not act against our freedom. And
something truly extraordinary happens: God makes himself dependent on
the free decision, the "yes" of one of his creatures; he waits for this
St Bernard of Clairvaux explained dramatically in one of his homilies
this crucial moment in universal history when Heaven, earth and God
himself wait for what this creature will say.
Mary's "yes" is therefore the door through which God was able to enter
the world, to become man. So it is that Mary is truly and profoundly
involved in the Mystery of the Incarnation, of our salvation. And the
Incarnation, the Son's becoming man, was the beginning that prepared the
ground for the gift of himself; for giving himself with great love on
the Cross to become Bread for the life of the world. Hence sacrifice,
priesthood and Incarnation go together and Mary is at the heart of this
Let us now go to the Cross. Before dying, Jesus sees his Mother beneath
the Cross and he sees the beloved son. This beloved son is certainly a
person, a very important individual, but he is more; he is an example, a
prefiguration of all beloved disciples, of all the people called by the
Lord to be the "beloved disciple" and thus also particularly of priests.
Jesus says to Mary: "Woman, behold, your son!" (Jn 19: 26). It is a sort
of testament: he entrusts his Mother to the care of the son, of the
disciple. But he also says to the disciple: "Behold, your mother!" (Jn
The Gospel tells us that from that hour St John, the beloved son, took
his mother Mary "to his own home".
This is what it says in the [English] translation; but the Greek text is
far deeper, far richer. We could translate it: he took Mary into his
inner life, his inner being, "eis tà ìdia", into the depths of his
To take Mary with one means to introduce her into the dynamism of one's
own entire existence it is not something external and into all that
constitutes the horizon of one's own apostolate.
It seems to me that one can, therefore, understand how the special
relationship of motherhood that exists between Mary and priests may
constitute the primary source, the fundamental reason for her special
love for each one of them.
In fact, Mary loves them with predilection for two reasons: because they
are more like Jesus, the supreme love of her heart, and because, like
her, they are committed to the mission of proclaiming, bearing witness
to and giving Christ to the world.
Because of his identification with and sacramental conformation to
Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, every priest can and must feel that
he really is a specially beloved son of this loftiest and humblest of
The Second Vatican Council invites priests to look to Mary as to the
perfect model for their existence, invoking her as "Mother of the
supreme and eternal Priest, as Queen of Apostles, and as Protectress of
their ministry". The Council continues, "priests should always venerate
and love her, with a filial devotion and worship" (cf. Presbyterorum
Ordinis, n. 18).
The Holy Curé d'Ars, whom we are remembering in particular in this Year,
used to like to say: "Jesus Christ, after giving us all that he could
give us, wanted further to make us heirs to his most precious
possession, that is, his Holy Mother (B. Nodet, Il pensiero e l'anima
del Curato d'Ars, Turin 1967, p. 305).
This applies for every Christian, for all of us, but in a special way
for priests. Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray that Mary will make
all priests, in all the problems of today's world, conform with the
image of her Son Jesus, as stewards of the precious treasure of his love
as the Good Shepherd. Mary, Mother of priests, pray for us!
[The Holy Father then greeted the people in various languages. In
English, he said:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors present at
today's Audience, including the Sisters of St Anne, the altar servers
from Malta, and the pilgrims from Australia and the United States of
America. As the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin draws near
in this Year of the Priest, my Catechesis today is centred on Mary the
Mother of priests. She looks upon them with special affection as her
sons. Indeed, their mission is similar to hers; priests are called to
bring forth Christ's saving love into the world. On the Cross, Jesus
invites all believers, especially his closest disciples, to love and
venerate Mary as their Mother. Let us pray that all priests will make a
special place for the Blessed Virgin in their lives, and seek her
assistance daily as they bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus. Upon you
and your families I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!
I now address the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. Yesterday we
celebrated the Memorial of St Clare of Assisi, who was able to live her
adherence to Christ with courage and generosity. Imitate her example,
particularly you, dear young people, so that like her you may respond
faithfully to the Lord's call. I encourage you, dear sick people, to be
united with the suffering Jesus as you carry your cross with faith. And
may you, dear newlyweds, be apostles of the Gospel of love in your
After his Catechesis, the Pope appealed for solidarity and prayer for
the peoples of Eastern Asia hit by the typhoon "Morakot" and, in Japan,
also by an earthquake. In order to recall the earthquake last April in
Italy, in Abruzzo, the Pope lit "the torch of hope" which will be
carried in procession for the 29th "Tendopoli San Gabriele", from
L'Aquila to the Passionist Shrine at Isola Gran Sasso.
Lastly, my thoughts turn to the numerous peoples who have been hit by a
violent typhoon in the past few days in the Philippines, in Taiwan, in
certain south-Eastern Provinces of the People's Republic of China and in
Japan, which latter country has also been sorely tried by a strong
I wish to express my spiritual closeness to all who are in conditions of
serious hardship, and I ask everyone to pray for them and for all those
who have lost their life. I hope they will not be left without the
comfort of solidarity and material assistance.
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