Mary’s ‘Yes’ to God and the Priest’s ‘Yes’ to God
How the Joyful Mystery of the Annunciation relates to our priesthood
Father Edward Broom 0
Not through our own merits but due to the will of God, in his loving and divine providence, we have been called to a most lofty and sublime vocation — that of the holy priesthood. As we pray in the psalm: “You are a priest forever in the manner of Melchizedek” (Ps 110:4).
If God has called us to the holy priesthood, then God will never be lacking in bestowing on us sufficient, efficacious and even abundant graces to carry out such a sublime mission. The key to living out our priesthood is that of corresponding generously to the graces that God so willingly showers on his beloved priests who are docile, humble, open and responsive to his divine will.
One of the most prevalent and pernicious traps that a priest can be prey to and succumb to, especially today, is that of activism, also termed by Pope St. John Paul II as horizontalism.
When Jesus visited Mary and Martha in Bethany, Mary received Jesus and sat at his feet. She is a model for contemplation. Mary sat at his feet, listened to him, spoke to him, contemplated Jesus’ holy face and loved him. Martha, worried about the many concerns of hospitality, was gently rebuked by Jesus: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her” (Lk 10:41-42).
To truly bless, enrich and sanctify our priesthood, let us turn and lift our gaze to another Mary — the Mother of God, the mother of the Church, and our heavenly mother.
In 2017 I published my second book, “Total Consecration through the Mysteries of the Rosary — Meditations to Prepare for Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary” (Sophia Press, $14.95). Having consecrated myself to Jesus through Mary through the path designed by St. Louis de Montfort in “True Devotion to Mary,” which has been, is and always will be a Marian classic and model for consecration, I felt inspired to write a different version.
Why not take the classical mysteries of the most holy Rosary (the Luminous Mysteries included) and offer another means by which we can give ourselves totally to Jesus through his beloved mother? Behold, my book was written on how we can consecrate our lives to Jesus through Mary by taking a mystery at a time and meditating upon it, and then choosing a Marian feast day to make the formal consecration.
As a missionary, I have gone from parish to parish preaching and teaching on this consecration program with incredible blessings and success. As St. Louis de Montfort clearly stated: “The quickest, easiest and most efficacious path to Jesus is through Mary, most holy.” Why not take this spiritual shortcut to happiness, holiness and heaven?
Therefore, as priests — beloved sons of the Father, of holy mother Church, and beloved sons of the Blessed Virgin Mary — let us spend a few minutes upon the starting point in our journey through the lives of Jesus and Mary. Many graces will flow through this short meditation/contemplation. My humble and sincere prayer will be that through the powerful presence of Mary in your lives, as priest-sons of Mary, her prayers will ignite in your souls a fiery love for God, love for the salvation of immortal souls, and an ardent desire for your own personal sanctification.
At the end of the life of the holy Curé of Ars, St. John Vianney, the devil appeared complaining that if there were another five priests like this priest, his kingdom would be destroyed. How many souls can be converted, sanctified and saved by the holiness of a priest? This being said, no doubt a priest who has a sincere, loving and dynamic devotion to Mary will arrive at the true holiness of life, and this holiness will spread like a deluge on the many souls placed in our path.
Therefore, let us take the first Joyful Mystery, the Annunciation, also known as the Incarnation of the Son of God, and delve into this infinite gold mine of graces, gold nuggets ready for our taking. Please carefully read and prayerfully meditate upon the Gospel of Luke 1:26-38. You might even strive to find an appealing painting, picture or statue of Our Lady in the Annunciation to foster your depth into this world-changing event, the “Yes” of Mary that changed all of humanity!
The following will be several points to lead us into a prayerful meditation on how devotion to Mary, starting with the Annunciation, can be a most powerful means, a jumping-off point into the vast ocean of holiness that every priest should pursue all his life, with every fiber of his being.
The Silence of Mary
Classical contemplations depict Mary in the silence of prayer in her humble home in Nazareth. Priests, today more than ever before, are being bombarded by so much noise; we might even term it noise pollution. Silence is indispensable for the priest, a man of God, so that he can hear the gentle but insistent voice of the Lord who so ardently wants to speak to his heart.
When Pope Benedict XVI made a visit to the United States, to Dunwoodie Seminary in New York in 2008, one of the most poignant messages the pope enunciated was that today it is extremely difficult for young men to hear the voice of God because they are bombarded by so many different noises, so many different voices. May Our Lady in the Annunciation teach us to truly appreciate the indispensable value of silence. Along with the young Samuel in the Temple, may we listen to God’s voice in prayer and respond, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Sm 3:10).
Of course, silence is not an end in itself but a means or a bridge to arrive at a greater good: union with God through deep prayer. Mary had a deep prayer life, a deep union with God, as every priest should strive for on a daily basis!
God chose to communicate his message through an angel, the Archangel Gabriel. Mary listened attentively, reflected and responded positively to the word of God and the will of God. God invited Mary to say “yes” to the Incarnation, to become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God. After pondering in the depths of her immaculate heart, Mary gave her consent, her total “yes” to God with the words: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). With Mary’s generous consent, the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and she conceived in her most pure womb the Son of the living God.
Mary teaches us, as priests, the critical importance of finding time on a daily basis to enter into a deep and personal dialogue with God. In a word, the more profound our relationship with God through constant and dynamic prayer, the more holy we will become as priests, the more joy we will experience in the depths of our souls, and the more power that will flow from our very beings to sanctify the flock, the sheep that God has assigned to our loving care.
The well-known television and radio evangelist, and worldwide missionary and prolific writer, Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, whom millions of people viewed on television, attributed his success not to himself but to his Holy Hour. In more than 50 years as a priest, Sheen never missed a daily Holy Hour of prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. He called it his famous “Hour of Power.”
The secret of the success of the Curé of Ars, like that of Sheen, was a deep union with God through prayer. Our Lady in the Mystery of the Annunciation teaches us to listen attentively by pondering the word of God in the depths of our hearts and responding generously to God’s will — whatever he may ask of us!
Mary’s ‘Yes’ and the Holy Eucharist
When Our Lady gave her total and unreserved consent to the will of God in the words, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word,” Jesus descended from heaven to earth into the most pure womb of Mary. Mary can help us in many ways to live out our priesthood to the full. The very heart of our lives must be the holy Eucharist in the holy sacrifice of the Mass, and, as the Second Vatican Council describes it, “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, No. 11).
In a very real sense, as priests, we imitate Mary on a daily basis every time we celebrate the holy sacrifice of the Mass. In this sense, Mary’s “yes” brought Jesus, the Son of God, from heaven to earth, descending into her womb. In a parallel but very real sense, the same happens in the sacramental reality every time we celebrate Mass.
How sublime, astounding, august, but true! By the words we pronounce in the moment of consecration — Take and eat, this is my body … take and drink, this is my blood … do this in memory of me — Jesus descends from heaven to earth in the hands of the priest.
Then, as true sons of the Church, sons of God, and sons of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we consume the body and blood of Jesus, which Mary gave us through the Incarnation and his birth in Bethlehem. Then, like Mary in the Visitation and the Presentation in the Temple, as priests, we give Jesus in the Eucharist to the people that God has placed in our care to bring safely to heaven.
In a word, one of the most positive fruits of cultivating a tender, deep, loving and filial devotion to Mary will result in us priests coming to a deeper awareness of the infinite value of every holy Mass we celebrate. One Mass has greater value than the whole created universe! Our Lady of the Annunciation and Our Lady of the Eucharist, through her most powerful intercession, will help us to plumb the depths on a daily basis of the sublime mystery of holy Mass.
On the day of our ordination, the bishop exhorted us to imitate the one whom we handle daily — that is to say, to imitate Jesus Christ, our model as priest victim, as well as our dear and faithful friend.
Therefore, friends of Jesus and Mary, and friends in the holy priesthood of Christ, let us renew our commitment to pursue a life of true holiness. Let us daily recharge our spiritual batteries through daily prayer. Let us renew our promise and commitment to God, ourselves and the many souls that God has placed in our hands. Many of these souls and their eternal salvation depends upon our holiness of life and apostolic zeal. May Our Lady of the Annunciation through her immaculate presence, her most powerful prayers, and her loving maternal presence inspire us to become the holy priests that God has called us to be from the dawn of eternity.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us priests, poor sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
FATHER EDWARD BROOM, OMV, is a priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary and is a speaker, author, radio talk-show host and retreat master. He serves as associate pastor at St. Peter Chanel Church in Hawaiian Gardens, California.
Father Ed Broom wrote “Total Consecration Through the Mysteries of the Rosary” (Sophia Institute Press, $14.95) as a do-it-yourself retreat that culminates in the total consecration to Jesus through Mary by focusing on the Mysteries of the Rosary and the Seven Sorrows of Mary. The book will bring readers closer to Our Lady and Jesus with Scripture readings keyed to each decade of the Rosary, a meditation on each Mystery of the Rosary and daily prayer leading to total consecration to Jesus through Mary.