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Worldly Priests: Learning to Love the Leper in My Life

There is a beautiful story from the life of St. Francis of Assisi that is instructive for all of us. The saint carried a deep fear and repugnance of lepers. One day as he was making his way on horseback near Assisi and he stumbled upon a leper. He decided by God’s grace to lean into his fear and to walk up to the leper and kiss him. The leper reached out his hand in need of money, so St. Francis gave him some money. When St. Francis went to mount his horse, he turned, and saw the leper was gone. He knew then it was Jesus whom he had encountered.

This story is a powerful witness to what we are called to when we encounter the “lepers” in our lives. We all have them. We may not think so, but deep down there is someone or a group of people that we are repulsed or scared by in some way, unless we are far along the path to holiness. It may be a physical disorder like leprosy that we do not handle well, much like the sight of blood for some. It may be our mother, father, siblings, other family member, co-worker, former friends, political opponents, races, cultures, or specific sins and weaknesses in others. It may even be certain strains within the clergy. The latter is my current leper.

During the clergy sex abuse scandals in 2018, the Lord gave me a new mission through His Mother to be a spiritual mother to priests. He asked me to pray, sacrifice, and suffer for them. I was filled with fervor and a profound motherly love of priests that was clearly a grace from the Lord alone. One day my heart, vision, and understanding changed and I saw before me sons in the same manner that I see my daughter. It was powerful, and at first a bit odd, but spiritual maternity—like spiritual paternity—has a long tradition in the Church. There are countless souls in need of the spiritual love of mothers and fathers.

As is the case with any vocation—primary or secondary—first fervor was beautiful, rich, and joy-filled. It was a new and exciting path that I had never expected or asked for. It was pure gift from God through His Mother. A profound gift for a mother who lost five babies and has never been able to have more after the birth of my daughter. The Lord was still asking me to be a fruitful mother, but on a spiritual plane. It was the answer to my prayer for more children, but in a way that could only come from the Lord.

Read more at Catholic Exchange 

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