September 2012 Print

Mother of a Priest

Seven Secrets to Obtain a Vocation in your Family

Fr. Hervé de la Tour, SSPX

For a Catholic mother to have one of her sons elevated to the holy priesthood is a great honor. Father Lharde put these words on the lips of a mother who one day happens to catch a glimpse of the possible vocation of her child:

“My little boy would become so great... 
Almighty God would be present in his 
Troubled souls would come to him in order to 
 find peace... 
God would borrow something of my own 
 flesh in order to continue the mystery of 
 His Incarna­tion!”


The joys of the priest’s mother are immense: To attend the Holy Sacrifice celebrated by her own child and to receive Holy Communion from his hands... To realize that her priest son loves her with a special tenderness which he is drawing from the Sacred Heart Himself, since a priest is “another Christ”... To know that he is praying and offering Masses for her so that she may safely reach Heaven where God is waiting for her. Yes, indeed, mothers of priests are some of the happiest amongst all mothers.

What can you do as mothers in order to foster a priestly vocation in your own family? In this article we would like to give some practical ideas which have worked very well for other moth­ers. We also call on those of our readers who already have the joy of having a priest among their children. Let them write to The Angelus and give us, for the benefit of all, the “little secrets” which have, by the grace of God, been successful for their own family.

Pray Often

Vocations are a gift from God’s mercy. They will be obtained only through very many fervent prayers. Eliza Vaughan’s daily prayer before the Blessed Sacrament was for God to take not just one but all her children as priests or nuns. In the event, even the two boys who kept this grand old Catholic family from dying out, tried their vocations in seminaries before getting married. They had several vocations among their own children. Of Eliza’s thirteen children, six out of the boys became priests. All five girls entered the convent.

This wonderful result was due to a mother’s persevering prayers for all the years of her married life. We would like to recommend to our readers the practice of the “Night Adoration in the Home,” promoted by Father Mateo, the great apostle of the Enthronement to the Sacred Heart. Many families are faithfully doing their monthly holy Hour, and we are certain that many graces will be obtained through their prayers. If you have not yet joined the little company of “Night Adorers,” would you consider doing it now?

Sacrifice Yourself

Prayer is not enough. You must join penance. Mrs. Stepinac had a consuming desire to see one of her eleven children ordained to the priesthood. She was prepared to win this grace from God by personal sacrifice. Early in her married life she had begun the practice of fasting three times a week. This she continued for 35 years. She persevered in spite of the discouraging fact that none of her son manifested a sign of a vocation.

Finally, however, her youngest son, Aloysius, expressed a desire to study for the priesthood. World War I broke out and the young man was drafted. Alas, after the war, all desire of enter­ing the seminary was gone. A period of five years passed, and his mother continued to fast. Aloysius was on the point of getting married when he suddenly announced to his mother that he had decided to become a priest. He became the Archbishop Primate of Croatia who suffered much at the hands of the Communists after World War II.

This success was due to the noble heart of his mother who was willing to fast for 35 years to win the grace of a vocation. Mothers, make effort to find little sacrifices which can be offered up to God for vocations.

Be a Source of Inspiration

In a very interesting study published in an American periodical for priests in the fifties, we find the results of a questionnaire given to 2,000 students in 8 seminaries. These young men were asked to state what influenced them in making the decision to enter the seminary. Believe it or not, in 1,593 cases out of the 2,000 (more than 3 out of 4) they admitted that their mother was one of the determining factors in the shaping of their vocation. The nursery of vocations is the Catholic home. If ears are not attuned to the whispers of God, vocations will never be answered. And ears are attuned by mothers who tell their little ones about God and His Love, who make the supernatural natural to their children because it is natural to themselves.

Ah, the power of the example of a saintly woman, like Margherita Sarto, the mother of St. Pius X! What a great influence on the heart of her boy! Catholic mothers who are reading this arti­cle, understand that “God’s will is your sanctification” (St. Paul). Strive to perfection without getting discouraged by your own weakness. Your children will become familiar with God and talk with Him as easily and as intimately as they do to one another, if they first see you acting in this way.

Live the Mass

Our Catholic Faith tells us that during the Holy Sacrifice, Our Lord offers Himself to His Father just as He did on the Cross, though there is no longer a physical immolation but only a sacra­mental one. Jesus is the perfectly obedient Victim whose will is completely conformed to the will of His Father.

We are Christ’s members and so we, too, have to offer ourselves in union with Him. It is only when we unite all our work, sufferings, disappointments, etc., to the Pas­sion of Jesus renewed on the altar that we are truly living the Mass. A mother has so many op­portunities of practicing this spirit of generosity during the day. All the little unpleasant events of your life can become precious in the eyes of God if united with the immolation of the Most Holy Victim of Mass. A mother will also strive to communicate her love for the Mass to her own children. We need to help children to attend Mass.

We remind you that there exist many books designed to help us to appreciate the Mass. We cannot love what we do not understand, and we will not understand the Mass unless we study it, its ceremonies, its history, the vestments, the sacred vessels and linens, etc. In the question­naire referred to earlier, the young men who listed as their main reason for entering the semi­nary “I wanted to say Mass” were the largest group (1,326 out of 2,000). I am certain that these boys had a mother who truly lived the Mass.

Reverence the Priesthood

Mrs. Olier, the mother of the saintly founder of the Sulpician Fathers, always strove to instill in the hearts of her children a great esteem for the priesthood. Her son declared that from the age of seven, in his simple childish mind, he believed them no longer human. When asked the source of this great esteem he indicated that it was his mother.

During the French Revolution, another mother did not hesitate to bring her son to the prison to visit the courageous priests who were interred there before their martyrdom. Later, the young man became a priest and a bishop.

Yes, dear mothers, you should always have feelings of reverence for your priests. They are “other Christs.” “O exalted dignity of priests,” exclaims St. Augustine, “in whose hands, as in the womb of the Virgin, the son of God is made flesh.” Without the priesthood you would have nei­ther consecration nor absolution. Our gratitude towards priests must be very great indeed be­cause of the many graces they obtain from Heaven for us. They are the bridge (pontifex = pon­tum faciens) upon which we must walk in order to reach Heaven.

A truly Catholic family should never forget to pray for priests in their daily Rosary. Some families have joined the Apostolate of Prayer for Priests. This is to be greatly encouraged and will be a source of vo­cations.

If you are able to invite the priest to your home (Enthronement, Blessing, sick child) make the most of his visit. Help your children to hold Father in great esteem. Never criticize him in front of them. If you can get your children to confide in him, to go to him for spiritual direction, then you can be certain that God’s call will be heard when the time will come.

Love the Poor

This may seem out of place in giving advice on how to foster vocations. Yet it is a striking fea­ture of the story of mothers who obtained vocations among their children that charity to the poor was always one of their favorite virtues. Anne McNabb was the mother of the great Do­minican theologian Fr. Vincent McNabb. This mother of eleven had a difficult life since her husband was a sea captain. But God always came first in her home and, because of this, the poor were always welcome. Anne’s charity was boundless. “When the door bell rang,” wrote her son, “and we heard: ‘There’s a poor man at the door,’ we felt that it was the poor babe of Bethlehem at the door.” This charity she instilled into her children can be seen in the love for the poor which was a prominent feature of Father Vincent’s character.

You can also read how Eliza Vaughan trained her children to give some of their best toys to less well-off little ones. Mothers living in 2012 can certainly teach their children to give alms, for instance, to the missions in India (and Gabon) during Lent. Maybe some visits of poor old peo­ple could be arranged through the Legion of Mary so that children learn to practice Christian charity. In the American questionnaire quoted earlier, 1,306 boys out of 2,000 gave “I wanted to help others” as their main reason to be attracted to the priesthood. I am certain that, for most of these boys, it was in their own homes that they acquired this desire to offer themselves up for the salvation of souls, which is the greatest service we can render our neighbor.

Accept the Will of God

Mrs. Martin’s great desire was to give the Church a priest who could become a missionary and thus save many souls. A few days after the birth of her first son she was saying what a splendid figure he would present as he celebrated Mass, and she even began to think about making him an alb for his ordination. But little Louis lived for less than six months. The second boy, Jean Baptiste, died when he was nine months old. So the dearest wish of Mrs. Martin could not be realized.

Yet she fully accepted God’s will. Divine Providence had other plans for this exemplary Catho­lic mother. She became the mother of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. Through her child, she was able to help thousands of priests who learned from the humble Carmelite of Lisieux how to love God and to suffer for him.

So, dear mothers who are reading these lines, if in spite of your prayers God does not seem to grant your desire for a priest in your family, do not become discouraged. Trust His Infinite Goodness. Almighty God may have other plans for you. It may be that some of your children will have priests in their families. Or God may use your prayers to give a vocation to a young man whose mother is not praying for this grace. God’s ways are very mysterious indeed, and we should never question the wisdom of His decisions. In Heaven we will perfectly understand how all the events of our life were ruled by Providence. “To them that love God, all things work together unto good.”

Fr. Hervé de la Tour was ordained in 1981 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. He has been a seminary professor and was rector of St. Mary’s Academy and College from 1983 to 1989. He is now stationed in St. Mary’s where he consults the US District on educational matters