At the School of Mary's Heart: With a Rosary in Their Hands
Mother Adela, SCTJM
Reflection for the Year of the Priests
Article was published in the USCCB website.

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With a Rosary in Their Hands
A particular gift I have received in my different pilgrimages to Marian Shrines has been to sit close to the images of Our Lady and to contemplate the continual flow of people who come to the Blessed Mother seeking Her maternal mediation and presence, Her intercession and consolation. I keep in the memory of my heart a very special occasion. I was kneeling before the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in France, praying a Holy Rosary for priests, and suddenly all around me were about fifty priests kneeling with a rosary in their hands. Every one of them seemed to be in a heartfelt dialogue with the Blessed Mother, a dialogue that began with the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, a dialogue that had a rhythm, a communication of words in the passing of the beads. I could not stand up…I knew I was experiencing, in the simplicity of that moment, a deeper understanding of the need for priests to enter into the Home of the Heart of Mary and to sit at Her School to be formed into living images of the Priestly Heart of Christ – living images of Her Son, the High Priest.

The Marian Shrines are sacred places, chosen by the Father to be particular homes where the Maternity of Our Lady can be freely and fully communicated to our hearts. Each Marian shrine is a place of prayer and formation, a Home where our Lady is waiting to receive Her sons, the priests, to maternally nourish and care for them, and also a Home where She can guide and form them. Each Marian shrine is also a School where the Blessed Mother desires to help priestly hearts ponder and contemplate the mysteries of the life of Jesus, which are treasured and carefully “kept in her Heart” (Lk 2:19; cf. 2:51).

Remembering that event at the Grotto of Lourdes and the many priests with a rosary in their hands, I was reminded of the words of the Servant of God, John Paul II, in his Apostolic Exhortation on the Holy Rosary: “With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love” (RVM, 1). If this is true of all the Christian people, what a deep and living reality this is for priestly hearts! Was not Nazareth the Home and the School of the Priestly Heart of Jesus? Was not Nazareth the sacred place where Our Lady treasured the memories of all the events of Her Son’s life? Was not Nazareth the Home where all the words of the Word Incarnate were first listened to, were first kept and impressed upon the hearts of Our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph? Was not Nazareth the place where Our Lady and St. Joseph began to keep all the memories…memories that would become the “rosary which she recited uninterruptedly throughout her earthly life” (RVM, 11)…a rosary She made with the beads of all the things She kept and reflected upon in Her heart?

The Heart of Mary is the Home and the School of priestly hearts
It is in Her Heart, the living House of Nazareth, where priests can learn, with Her and through Her, to contemplate the mysteries of the Heart of Jesus, gazing “through the eyes of her who was closest to the Lord. In this way the unfathomable riches of these mysteries are disclosed” (RVM, 12).

John Paul II in this Apostolic Exhortation invited us “to learn Christ from Mary” (n.14). This is, I believe, a particular invitation to priests, who are called to experience, as essential to their priesthood and ministry, a deep communion with the Blessed Mother. One concrete path of entering into the Heart of Our Lady and learning Christ from Her is the prayer of the Rosary. In the Rosary, Our Lady will take the hearts of priests on a pilgrimage of love to “remember” with Her the moments, the words, the choices, the sufferings, the joys, and the profound meaning of the mysteries of the Priestly Heart of Jesus.

Dear Priests, the School of Mary is all the more effective, said John Paul II, because She will not only teach and lead your priestly hearts through the mysteries and memories of Jesus’ life, but also because She will indicate the areas of your hearts that need to be formed, elevated, healed, restored and matured to be more identified with the Heart of Her Son. She will obtain for you, dear priests, through Her maternal intercession and mediation, the graces that will allow you to be formed and shaped with the internal dispositions and virtues of the Priestly Heart of Christ.

The Rosary will mystically transport your hearts to Mary’s side, and She will watch over you just as She dedicated Herself to watching over the human growth of Christ in the home of Nazareth. This “entrustment” in prayer and contemplation, this Totus Tuus of your priestly hearts, enables Her to form and to mold you with Her maternal care and guidance until Christ is “fully formed” in you (RVM, 15).

In the School of Mary’s Heart, with a rosary in your hands, you can experience the beauty of a spiritual journey of love and communion, of contemplation and maturation. Every time, dear priests, you go to the Home and School of Mary’s Heart through the Rosary, you gaze at the mysteries that She so carefully kept in Her Heart and that St. Joseph so diligently guarded…You enter into the pilgrimage of their hearts just as Jesus did, and you “go back with them to Nazareth, to grow in grace, wisdom and stature before God and man” (cf. Lk 2:52).

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