The following is a portion of Bishop Robert C. Morlino's talk from the second annual Diocesan Family Picnic, held July 28 at the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center.
I have three great women in my life . . . the Blessed Mother of course, and then my mother and grandmother. I'll never forget when I told my mother that I was going to go to the seminary. My Dad had died just a year before when I was a junior in high school, and I have no brothers or sisters, so she knew that would mean that she would be alone.
She said, "I pray every day that the Lord's will be done and I would be so proud if you were a priest. And so from that point of view I want you to go, if you believe that's what God is calling you to do."
But she said, furthermore, that I have a very simple faith. If God really wants you to be a priest and I place any obstacle to that whatsoever, it would very be easy for Him to move me out of the way. She said by all means go and the Lord will work things out.
Healing power of prayer
There was a woman I will never forget . . . an African-American woman who was in a bus crash. She went over an embankment and her legs were crushed. And they brought her into the hospital and did a lot of surgery and it was months before she could even start any rehab.
When they brought her down for physical therapy, she told my mother that she couldn't move, her rehab would be hopeless and she would never walk again, so it would be best if we all just admitted that.
My mother said well we would admit that, if it were true. But I don't have any reason to believe that it's true at all. My mother asked if she prayed at all or if she went to church. She said, "Not particularly." My mother said, "Do you believe in God?" She said, "Well I believe in God." My mother said, " Do you know what the Sacred Heart of Jesus is?" She said, "I have no idea." So my mother gave her a pamphlet about devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She said you should read this and you should say these prayers every day. I believe that if you read this and if you understand and if you say these prayers, the Lord will get you walking again. It's going to take a long time, but I believe that the Lord will get you walking again.
Her name was Lottie. She took the pamphlet and she said the prayer every day.
A year to the day that she went down to physical therapy for the first time, they had a party for her at the hospital and she danced with my mother at the party. She danced.
'Spectacular women of faith'
I'm reminded of my grandmother every time we celebrate the Feast of St. Ann. Every Monday she not only went to the monastery when she was able, but she always had the statue of St. Ann out there and the candle lit and all of her prayer books to St. Ann and I saw that every blessed Monday.
And I still have all the novena prayers to St. Ann memorized. I had them memorized before I received first Holy Communion and I didn't even know what they meant. With a heart full of sincere and filial veneration, I prostrate myself before thee blessed St. Ann. I didn't even know what I was saying, but I had those sounds memorized.
So I grew up through the goodness of my grandmother with that devotion.
In my mother and in my grandmother I had two spectacular women of faith. My father and my grandfather were pretty good, too, but it was primarily the women who made the difference, just as it was the woman Mary who made the difference for Jesus, and who makes the difference for all of us.
Gift we have in Mary and all mothers
If we want to understand the life of God, we go to the one who is mother of all that life, Mary, who according to the flesh, according to human nature, gave Jesus his life.
We always have to remember when we go to Communion, when we receive the body and blood of Christ, he took his body and his blood from Mary. So as Pope John Paul the great used to say, the way to the Eucharist always passes by Mary . . . always passes through Mary, because we realize when we receive his body and his blood, that he took his body and his blood from hers.
Mary is so tightly connected to the mystery of our salvation, so tightly connected to the truth that God took on himself a human nature in order to save us. Mary is the mother of all the living . . . of life itself and every woman is called to be with Mary and to be like Mary in a way that only a mother can be.
We can take our cue from Mary and say that every follower of Jesus Christ, in that sense, is a feminist.
Today let's thank God for the great gift we have in our Blessed Mother and the great gift we have in all the mothers who are here. And let's pray together that all of the mothers here with Mary, like Mary, will continue to be mothers of all the living; mothers of life, mothers who welcome and protect life, mothers who realize that holiness is far more important than governance.
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
Offices and mailing address: Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Rd., Madison, WI 53719
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