The Church's greatest need? Your prayers

We may think that our prayers or sacrifices do not make much of a difference, but we would be in error. Jesus instructed St. Faustina that her prayers and sacrifices saved more souls than missionary priests through their preaching alone.

By Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC

Mary is not only the Mother of Christ, but also Mother of the Church. There is an intrinsic connection between our devotion to Mary and love for the Church. It is impossible to love Mary authentically without also devoting ourselves to the Church. 

This link is shown visibly by Blessed George Matulaitis, who renovated the Marians. Inspired by the Immaculate Conception — as was our Founder, St. Stanislaus Papczyński — he proposed the motto “Pro Christo et Ecclesia” for the Congregation. We are to live entirely "for Christ and for the Church."

In this month of June, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul on June 29. Both are patron saints of our Marian Congregation. They are remembered together because of their joint mission in evangelizing Rome, as well as both dying as martyrs in Rome under the persecution of Nero.

We may easily associate them with the Holy Father, who is the successor of St. Peter as the Bishop of Rome. Indeed, each pope has the duty both of edifying the household of the faith — the Church — in imitation of St. Peter as well as evangelizing the world in imitation of St. Paul.

Primary role
Now, sometimes we think that the most important mission in the Church is that of the pope or the bishops, since they have a visible role. However, it is important to remember that Our Lady, who herself did not go on an apostolic mission to evangelize, is the most important member of the Church. Undoubtedly, she supported the Apostles through her intercessory prayer and sacrifice, just as she supported her Son during His earthly ministry in Judea and Palestine.

Like her, we may have a hidden but important role to play. Recent popes have emphasized that the Marian dimension of the Church — growth in holiness, depth of union with Christ, and intercession — is primary. The Petrine dimension — epitomized in the hierarchy and clergy involved in pastoral ministry — is secondary.

That is not to say that it is unimportant or “secondary” in importance. However, it does highlight that we all — pope, cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and laity alike — are the People of God, in need of His grace. Those called to be conduits of His grace must first be filled with that grace to overflow with it and share it with others. 

We may think that our prayers or sacrifices do not make much of a difference, but we would be in error. Jesus instructed St. Faustina that her prayers and sacrifices saved more souls than missionary priests through their preaching alone. Similarly, the efficacy of the apostolic work of the clergy depends upon the sacrifice of so many. Saint Thérèse, for instance, stated that one of her principal reasons for entering Carmel was to pray, intercede, and suffer for priests.

Neither the Pope nor the bishops can fulfill their roles without our participation, nor can we fulfill our mission without their help. God so constructed the body that each member has need of the others, and no member can look down upon another as if it were unnecessary or unimportant.

Peter, Paul, and Mary
As we celebrate the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, let us imitate Our Lady, who herself loved the Church — not an abstract Church, but the Church composed of the Twelve Apostles, who had fled during the Passion, denied Jesus, or betrayed Him. If we desire to be devoted to Mary in truth, we need to imitate her example and intercede — through prayer, penance, and suffering — for the Church as she is today, with her leaders and her people.

Indeed, if we find ourselves being critical of the Church today, perhaps we can bite our tongue and, instead of offering criticism, speak a prayer of intercession, beseeching Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception; St. Peter; and St. Paul to bless those who guide us, and in a particular way, to bestow abundant graces upon the Holy Father.

One day, we hope that the whole Church will be immaculate, just as Our Lady is already immaculate. If she is the Mother of the Church, then the Church ought to follow her example.
To go deeper in your relationship with Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception.
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