Adoration, Reparation, Intercession for Priests

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Sp Mother Rosary.jpeg

Our diocesan webpage published a news article about the evening of recollection I gave in the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Tulsa on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. In the photo, Sheila Michie, at center, joins in praying the Rosary with other women who are discerning whether to become spiritual mothers to the priests of the Diocese of Tulsa

10/10/2008 - EOC Staff Nearly three dozen women of all ages will spend the next three months discerning whether God might be calling them to the vocation of spiritual motherhood to the priests of the Diocese of Tulsa. If they believe He has given them this vocation, they will spend the month of January in spiritual formation, deepening their prayer lives in preparation for their blessing by Bishop Edward J. Slattery on Sunday, Feb. 1.


Dear Fr. Mark,

A thought on terminology. The idea of ladies committing themselves to show maternal care to priests and seminarians through intercession on their behalf is wonderful, but I do think that the use of the term 'spiritual mother' is, while understandable, an unfortunate choice due to the pre-existing use of the term in the Eastern Church to designate a woman who is exercising an office of spiritual direction toward an other in an analogous sense to that of a spiritual father, as male spiritual directors are usually called in the East.

peace and good,
Fr. Joseph Bittle
Eastern Orthodox priest

I'm wondering how they would Not be "spiritual mothers" in the sense of spiritual direction automatically. If they sacrifice their lives for a priest, then wouldn't they be a "spiritual mother" in the sense of giving advice as well? Wouldn't a priest seek direction from someone such as that on some level?

Reverend and dear Father, and Juan, You may find it helpful to read the Holy See's presentation of the project here at the website of the Congregation for the Clergy.

Dear Father Mark,

Thank you for this news. Good to know things are happening and the dates of future events. Will be praying for you and the ladies who were at the initial meeting, and that more come along.

By the way, I can't find anything on net about Margaret Mary Mather. Missed the link you had and now it seems to have disappeared. Quickly checked the C FOR C document again. She doesn't seem to be included there. Please let us have more details when you've time.

Thanks again,
With assurance of prayers

In Christo pro Papa

Fr. Mark: Please know that I was in no way questioning the goodness or intent of the initiative, but simply pointing to an issue of cross-cultural (mis)understanding.

peace and good,
Fr. Joseph Bittle

St. Mary of Egypt wouldn't have found any misunderstanding in it. A rose by any other name is still a rose, especially if that rose prays with tears and sufferings and even fear for a priest.

I thought Fr. Joseph's observation was pretty reasonable. (Translation: I had the same idea. :-) )

The term "spiritual motherhood" isn't so self-explanatory here, so it's good to make clear that this effort is about a role of voluntary intercession, rather than any sort of spiritual direction. Any of the faithful can become an intercessor for others, but not everyone is qualified to give advice on spiritual life.

Oh, yes, I thank Father Joseph for his kind observation. It is quite reasonable. The soup thickens when one considers that the term "spiritual mother" is also used in the West to designate women who guide and counsel others. I am thinking of Saint Catherine of Siena, and of Saint Teresa of Avila among countless others. I will be writing more on this subject, so do stay tuned!

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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