Writing on the occasion of the solemnity of Mary Mother of God (January 1), Prefect for the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, addressed a letter to mothers of priests and seminarians.
"In welcoming the Eternal Word into her immaculate womb," he wrote, "Mary Most Holy gave birth to the Eternal High Priest, Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world… By adhering to God's Will, Mary participated in a unique and unrepeatable way in the mystery of our redemption, thereby becoming the Mother of God, the Gate of Heaven and the Cause of our Joy."
Cardinal Piacenza continued: "In a similar way, the entire Church looks with admiration and deep gratitude upon all mothers of priests and of those who, having received this lofty vocation, have embarked upon the path of formation."
Cardinal Piacenza noted the role of the family in helping young men to be receptive to the call of the priesthood. In particular, he continued, "the participation given to mothers of priests is quite unique and special. For unique and special are the spiritual consolations which they derive from having carried in the womb one who has become Christ's minister. Indeed, every mother cannot but rejoice in seeing the life of her son not only fulfilled but also clothed with a most exceptional divine favor which embraces and transforms it for all eternity."
Even though the separation between a mother and her son is more "radical than any other separation," he continued, "the Church's two thousand years of experience teaches us that when a man is ordained a priest, his mother 'receives' him an a completely new and unexpected way; so much so that she is called to see in the fruit of her own womb a "father" who by God's will is called to generate and accompany a multitude of brothers and sisters to eternal life. Every mother of a priest mysteriously becomes a 'daughter of her son.' Towards him, she may therefore also exercise a new motherhood through the discreet yet extremely efficacious and inestimably precious closeness of prayer, and by offering of her own life for the ministry of her son."
"This new 'fatherhood' - for which the Seminarian is prepared, which the priest has been given, and which benefits all God's People - needs to be accompanied by assiduous prayer and personal sacrifice, in order that a priest's free adherence to the divine will may continually be renewed and strengthened, that he may never tire in the battle of faith, and that he may unite his own life ever more completely to the Sacrifice of Christ the Lord."
Cardinal Piacenza concludes: "Mothers of priests and seminarians thus represent a true and veritable 'army,' which from earth offers prayers and sacrifice to heaven, and from heaven intercedes in even greater number so that every grace and blessing may be poured out upon the lives of the Church's sacred ministers."