"Lord Jesus, by the Precious Blood You did shed in the Garden of Olives, take pity on all aspirants to the priesthood who, through the temptations of the evil one, or dread of the responsibilities of the sacred ministry, are in danger of losing their vocation. Impart to these tortured souls sufficient courage to make the sacrifices by which the Eucharistic Chalice must be purchased; and in return for their generosity, inebriate them at the altar with the Blood which, in Heaven, shall be their eternal source of delight.
Our Lady of the Precious Blood, watch over the living chalices of the Blood of Jesus. Amen."
~from Prayers for Priests and Those Destined for the Priesthood recited daily by the Handmaids of the Precious Blood as a closing prayer after Vespers
(My son, John, adoring the Lord in Christ King Chapel at the Cousin's Center-photo courtesy of Kenny Urlakis)
My oldest son, John, was accepted as a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and God-willing he will begin the fall semester at St. Joseph's College Seminary at Loyola University in Chicago. I am as proud and happy as a mother could possibly be. But, I also feel a bit like the mother of St. James and St. John who begged the Lord to allow her sons to have a seat of honor in heaven. For years I have pleaded with God to draw all of my children close to His heart and when John first began to show an interest in the priesthood I prayed all the more. Now, my prayers must be even more fervent because although God has called my son to the priesthood and John has responded willingly, the life of a seminarian is not an easy one and it will take all that John has to give. He must drink from the chalice of suffering at every step and yet continue to joyfully carry on in his studies and preparation for the most sacred vocation of priesthood.
The emotions of a mother learning to let go of her son for service in the Church are many and varied. With this year's Diaconate Ordination scheduled for this coming Saturday, April 21st, where the Archdiocese of Milwaukee will witness five wonderful men (Patrick Joseph Burns, Philip James Schumaker, Arulananthan Ponnaiyan, Jorge Enrique Hernandez Castellanos and Paul Schneider-a Conventual Franciscan and Oblate of the Precious Blood) ordained to the transitional diaconate as their final step to priesthood, I recall last year's Diaconate Ordination and a story of a mother and son (who is set to be ordained to the priesthood this May) which had stirred my heart. Here is a repost of that story from April 16th, 2011:
The Fourth Station
(image of the fourth Station of the Cross at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral in Milwaukee)
Yesterday's beautiful Ordination Mass saw five fine young men take one step closer on their journey to the cross, the complete and total laying down of their lives for the Lord and His Church. At that Mass, hundreds of people welcomed Yamid Jose Blanco, Juan Manuel Comacho, Brad Alan Krawczyk, Ryan Joseph Preuss, and Hans Flondor of the Conventual Franciscan order, to the transitional diaconate and their final year of study and preparation for the priesthood.
Yamid is originally from Columbia, South America and his family traveled a great distance to be with him on this most special and important date. At the ordination Mass, the mothers of those receiving the Sacrament are asked to carry the gifts to the altar. After presenting the gifts, the mothers each had an opportunity to embrace their sons before once again taking their seats. From my vantage point far in the back of the church, I could sense that something was slightly amiss from the plan, things seemed to be taking longer than they should. As I strained to catch a better look I saw a touching moment of deep holiness that brought tears to my eyes and I'm sure to the eyes of many others who witnessed that scene. Long after all of the other mothers had taken their seats, one remained standing. Yamid's mother lingered, embracing her son while Archbishop Listecki patiently and lovingly looked on.
On Jesus' long and tortuous walk to his death, that same scene played out. Mary, after many years of only seeing her beloved son from a crowded and distant vantage point, who was often denied the close contact with her son to which she was so accustomed from His days of youth, was finally standing right in front of Him. Here at the Fourth Station, she could only embrace Him with her eyes, but oh, how her arms and heart must have ached to physically embrace him, to hold him up if only for a moment, to take some of his pain away. It was her moment of complete misery, to love Him so much but to have no choice other than to let Him go.
And here was Yamid's mother, at last after many years apart, able to reach out and hold her son. She knows that from now on, with each day that draws him closer to the priesthood, she will only see him from a crowded and distant vantage point. But at this moment when she met her son at the altar, her heart bursting with pride and joy and sorrow and love and every possible human emotion that a mother can have for her son, she held him long and close, knowing that beyond this Fourth Station he will be out of her hands and his life will no longer belong to her, but to God alone.