Why Was This Priest Known As “Our Lady’s Dolphin”?

by Books | Our Favorite Catholic Books To Read, Faith & Life, Mary - The Blessed Mother

I once received a message from a brother priest I had never met but who followed me on social media. He told me that he was in- interested in incorporating Mary more into his priestly ministry and asked for a recommendation. I recommended Fr. Emile Neubert’s Mary and the Priestly Ministry. It just so happened that I met this priest a few months later when I was on a pilgrimage within his diocese, and he shared with me how he picked up the book and it was tremendously helpful in his spiritual life and priestly ministry.

Johnnette Benkovic Williams, host of Women of Grace on EWTN, also found Fr. Neubert to be inspirational. I’ve been a guest on her show a few times, and during a break she asked me if I knew anything about Fr. Neubert. I told her that I really liked his writings and recommended them to others. A few months went by, and I received an invitation from her to lead a retreat for her Women of Grace leaders based on the writings and spirituality of Fr. Neubert. She had read his Queen of Militants, a handbook on Christian life and living as a disciple of Jesus and Mary, and was blown away.

The Life Of Fr. Emile Neubert

Emile Neubert was born during Mary’s month on May 8, 1878. He joined a religious community dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, the Marianists, founded by Bl. William Chaminade in 1892. He was ordained a priest in 1906. Before delving deeper into the writings of Fr. Neubert, it is important to understand the influences on his spiritual life. He was profoundly impacted by the French School of Spirituality, a movement inspired by writers like Cardinal Bérulle, St. John Eudes, Jean-Jacques Olier, and St. Louis de Montfort. One of the emphases of the French School was the Incarnation, that God became like us and took flesh from Mary. Other aspects of the movement focused on the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the spiritual life of Jesus and Mary, and consecration to Jesus — first promoted by Bérulle and developed by de Montfort.

Biographers of Fr. Emile gave him the nickname “Our Lady’s Dolphin.” Just as other animals have significance in Christianity (like the pelican, who pecks her breast to feed her babies, just as Christ feeds us in the Eucharist), the dolphin symbolizes diligence, love, and swiftness. Fr. Emile was a dolphin for Mary. If you have watched a dolphin eat, they can be voracious; Fr. Emile was voracious in his zeal for souls.

Fr. Emile went to great ends to preach the faith. A dolphin can render its prey immobile; Fr. Emile did this with his arguments for Christianity. A dolphin has a built-in smile; Fr. Emile was a joyful man. He was a very learned man, especially when it came to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He could rightly be considered one of the greatest Mariologists of the twentieth century.

Though an accomplished scholar, he had a childlike love for the Blessed Mother as well. He came to the United States and upon arrival commented: “I landed in New York and as I walked about, I thought to myself, what a wonderful land, look how they have numbered their streets in honor of the Blessed Mother’s rosary: First Avenue, Second Avenue, Third Avenue.” His academic career and ministry led him to become the rector of the seminary in Fribourg. He died in 1967.

In his preaching and writing, he wanted to communicate love for Mary in imitation of Jesus. Perhaps his best-known work is My Ideal: Jesus, Son of Mary. In it, Fr. Emile says that we should give ourselves to her without reserve, that we should love, obey, honor, and resemble her, have confidence in her, be united with her, and listen to her. Not only does he present that we should imitate Jesus in our love of Mary, but he instructs us with the voice of Mary, who wants us to become like Jesus. His book Life of Union with Mary provides an in-depth look at how we live united with Mary.

For instance, he recommends that we seek to love Mary with the heart of Jesus and to love Jesus with the heart of Mary. It is in a union with these two hearts that we love the other. The union we strive after is union of thought, will, sentiments, general activity, spiritual exercises, spiritual work, and practice of the virtues. We can be united with Mary as we reflect on the life of Jesus or receive it in Holy Communion. When we suffer, we can be united with Mary as she stood at the foot of the Cross. We can be united with Mary in our daily activity. When I wash my clothes or cook a meal, I can think of Mary, who did these very things in her own life. If we strive to live a life in union with Mary, we will do our best to please God.

Fr. Emile’s book Mary’s Apostolic Mission and Ours had a pro- found impact on me. When I read it, I had already done a lot of writing and research about the Marian apparition in Champion, Wisconsin, where Mary asked us to pray for the conversion of sinners. The main premise behind this book is the need to cooperate with Mary in obtaining the salvation of souls. In it, Fr. Emile says: “Mary’s mission is to snatch souls from Satan so that she might make of God’s enemies who are ready to fall into hell, his friends, his well-beloved children, who will praise him eternally in Heaven…. But since he has need of us, Mary cannot achieve these results without our help.”

Fr. Emile sought to form Christian men and women according to their station in life. He wrote to priests in Mary and the Priestly Ministry, showing how Mary aids them in their priestly life giving them an example and model, knowing of their prayers, and explain- ing how they can exercise their ministry in union with Mary. He wrote to families in his book Mary and the Christian Family and to educators in Mary and the Christian Educator.

The most comprehensive formation manual that Fr. Emile wrote was Queen of Militants, which shows how Mary is raising up the next generation of saints. He explains how she will keep you in the friendship of Christ and teach you true love for men. She will give you the soul of the apostolate. She will teach you courage, perseverance, and self-forgetfulness. She will console you. She will transform you into another Christ.

Fr. Emile also gave the following advice to those struggling with impurity, advice that has become popular with confessors around the world: “Each morning upon rising say the Hail Mary three times, with the invocation, ‘O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee,’ asking our Blessed Mother to keep us pure throughout the day. Do the same in the evening when you retire so that she will preserve us from all sin during the night.”65 He encourages us to carry a miraculous medal and a rosary on our person at all times. He also encourages Marian consecration, but even more than the act of consecration, he urges us to live our consecration intentionally each day.66 He also believed in efficacious invocations: short little prayers addressed to Mary, which he modeled in writings.

Fr. Emile loved Our Lady. He wanted all people to grow in their love for her as a means of imitating Jesus. And Jesus wants us to be aware of her apostolic mission and make it ours. He taught me to live my life in union with Mary—and how, by doing so, I can assist her in snatching souls from the devil.

How to Love Mary Like Fr. Emile Neubert

Ask yourself what are ways you can become aware of living your life in union with Mary right now?

How can Mary ·encourage you in your state of life?

Begin and end your day with three Hail Marys.

Formulate a short prayer that you can pray throughout the day. It could be as simple as “Mary, help me.”

Learn More About Mary

Could your love and reverence for the Mother of God use a boost? Here’s a powerful 30-day devotional to help you invigorate your love for Our Lady by exploring the many ways in which holy men and women have venerated Mary throughout time. From St. Damian of Molokai to Padre Pio, from St. Francis of Assisi to St. Thomas Aquinas, you’ll learn new ways of honoring Mary that you hadn’t considered previously, and you’ll be heartened toward a holiness and love of God that only these illustrious spiritual teachers can inspire.

Here’s a book that will be of particular value to those who are either beginning their devotion to Our Lady or whose devotion has become stagnant over time.

You’ll learn how St. Kateri Tekakwitha imitated Mary’s life as a consecrated virgin and offered Marian prayers that bore fruit. You’ll explore St. Faustina’s mystical experiences of Mary and how St. Francis de Sales’s depression was healed through Our Lady’s intercession. You’ll also learn how Bishop Fulton Sheen relied on Mary to remain celibate, how St. Thérèse of Lisieux was healed by her smile, and how Mother Angelica would pray the Rosary.

Author Fr. Looney also includes excerpts from The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary as well as a host of exquisite prayers and litanies to Our Lady.

64  Fr. Emile Neubert, Mary’s Apostolic Mission and Ours (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2011), 288–289.
65  Fr. Emile Neubert, Queen of Militants (St. Meinrad, IN: Grail Pub- lications, 1947), 55.

66 Neubert, Queen of Militants, 47–50; Fr. Emile Neubert, Life of Union with Mary (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1959), 14–18.

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