Tag Archives: devotions

Taking Mary’s Hand

23 Oct

33 Days“Hold hands in the parking lot.”

If you spend any time with my family, you will inevitably hear my wife or me say these words to our daughter Maggie as we are coming out of the grocery store, restaurant, or even church. As her parents, we are well aware of the potential hazards that lie in wait as we make our way back to our van. Maggie’s temptation is to dart full speed ahead into the vast expansion of cars.

Could Maggie make it all the way to the van by herself in the midst of the busy parking lot? Perhaps, but we would rather not take the chance. Knowing our daughter, even if she did not get hit by a car, she would probably get lost. We don’t like either of those options. The safest, quickest, and surest path back home is for Maggie to take mom’s hand and allow mom to guide her back home.

That’s exactly what Marian consecration is all about. As children of God, we take the outstretched hand of Mary and let her guide us safely to our eternal home in heaven. In other words, we entrust the entirety of our life to Mary, the Mother of God. Our Blessed Mother promises to keep us safe from spiritual harm and prevent us from getting distracted and losing our way. Who wants to wonder around for hours trying to find the way?

Consecrating oneself and one’s family may sound like a difficult thing that requires a great level of already-attained holiness, but actually the opposite is true. It is a simple journey for the simple-hearted who simply want to be holy, not for those who already are holy. If it seems fancy and out of reach for you and the craziness of your busy life, then maybe it is exactly what the doctor ordered, or at least the physician of our souls. In the craziness of contemporary life, giving oneself to Mary is the way to go.

We love efficiency in America. We love a good deal. We love a guaranteed return on our investment.

Yes, Americans love efficiency. We place a high value on maximizing our effort. We have built some of the greatest factories that have mastered the way to bring about the standardization of quality products in the shortest amount of time.

With Marian consecration, Mary is the factory that turns all of her devoted children into “quality products.” What is the “quality product” that Mary produces? Mary turns her devoted children into “little Christs.” Mary accomplishes this much quicker than we can on our own because, simply put, she knows the end result much better than we do. The mother knows the Son, and knows how to help us be more like Him.

Yes, Americans love a good deal. With Mary, what is the great deal we receive, and what does it cost us to get it? We receive the promise of the sure guidance of the Queen of Heaven! In exchange, Mary simply asks us to place our trust in her. My little act of trust and commitment to the Mother of God gains me her prayers and maternal love. It would be crazy not to accept that deal!

Yes, Americans love a guaranteed return on their investment. With Mary, we have the guarantee from the Spouse of the Holy Spirit that she will honor the gift we make of ourselves and transform us into who God created us to be–and frankly, who we desire to be. Her track record is pretty good. To name a few, she multiplied the investment of four important saints in the recent history of the Church: St. Louis Marie de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, Bl. Teresa of Calcutta, and St. John Paul II.

I choose these four saints because they are the focus of Fr. Michael Gaitley’s book, 33 Days to Morning Glory. In his book, Fr. Gaitley takes the writings and insights of these saints and translates them into a common language for all of us to understand and implement into our daily lives.

On December 8, 2014, Archbishop Naumann is inviting and encouraging all Catholics of the Archdiocese to consecrate themselves and their families to Mary. The Archbishop is recommending this wonderful book by Fr. Gaitley as a means of preparation for the consecration day. If you get the book, which is only $2, you will see that the 33 days of preparation will change the trajectory of your life and family. If you have 10-15 minutes a day, you can do this! My wife, Libby, and I just used this book to renew our consecration to Mary this past August, and we found it refreshingly practical in its application to family life. It was like taking a breath of fresh air every day from the craziness of our schedules. It deepened our already good marriage, and it rooted us more deeply in our Catholic faith.

Think of it as a 33-day retreat that allows Mary to prepare you for a great awakening in your spiritual life and the life and a release of joy into your family.

Guest columnist Brad DuPont is a consultant for the Office of Marriage and Family Life for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

Holy Week Festivities

14 Apr

Yesterday was Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, or more simply “Palm Sunday.” Thus began the period of time known as “Holy Week,” which culminates this Sunday with the celebration of Easter. In between these two Sundays, however, the Church invites us to enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ’s suffering and death through various devotions and liturgical practices.

One major event during Holy Week is the Chrism Mass, where the bishop blesses the oils that will be used throughout the coming year. While it’s traditionally celebrated on Thursday, there is some flexibility when it comes to the date, and most dioceses hold the Chrism Mass in the cathedral on the Monday or Tuesday of Holy Week. Archbishop Naumann will celebrate the Chrism Mass for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas on Tuesday, April 15th, at 11:00 a.m. at the Savior Pastoral Center chapel.

The chrism and the oil of catechumens blessed at the Chrism Mass will then be used in the celebration of the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil.

Wednesday is known as Spy Wednesday because on this day Judas made a bargain with the high priests to betray Jesus for 30 silver pieces (Mt. 26:14-16; Mk. 14:10-11; Lk. 22:1-6).

On Thursday evening, known as Holy Thursday, the Church celebrates the anniversary of the Last Supper, when Christ instituted the Eucharist, the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the sacrament of the priesthood. It’s also known as Maundy Thursday, because at the Last Supper Christ instituted the new commandment (Latin, mandatum) to love one another (cf. Jn. 13:34). The call to serve others in imitation of Christ is brought out in the foot-washing ritual during Mass.

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Pope’s Intentions for December

1 Dec

AdventFollowing are the Intentions of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for the month of December, courtesy of the Apostleship of Prayer:

  • Migrants.  That migrants throughout the world may be welcomed with generosity and authentic love, especially by Christian communities.
  • Christ, light for all humanity.  That Christ may reveal himself to all humanity with the light that shines forth from Bethlehem and is reflected in the face of his Church

Of course, the beginning of December marks the beginning of Advent, the beautiful four-week season of preparation for Christmas. Check out this link for a list of some time-honored Catholic traditions for Advent and Christmas. Maybe you would like to make one or more these part of your own celebration of this holy season!

Pope’s Intentions for September

4 Sep

Following are the Intentions of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for the month of September, courtesy of the Apostleship of Prayer:

  • Politicians.  That politicians may always act with honesty, integrity, and love for the truth.
  • Help for the Poorest Churches.  That Christian communities may have a growing willingness to send missionaries, priests, and lay people, along with concrete resources, to the poorest Churches.

Since the 16th century, the month of September has  been set aside to honor Our Lady of Sorrows, whose feast will be celebrated on Saturday, September 15th. At the foot of the Cross, the Blessed Virgin Mary suffered a martyrdom of the heart because of Our Lord’s torments and the greatness of her love for Him. As Vatican II teaches,

“[Mary] advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the Cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, grieving exceedingly with her only begotten Son, uniting herself with a maternal heart with His sacrifice, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this Victim which she herself had brought forth.”

The Church has traditionally recognized seven sorrows of Mary:

(1) The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:33-35)

(2) The Flight into Egypt (Matthew 3:13-15)

(3) The Loss of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52)

(4) The Meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross (John 19:17)

(5) The Crucifixion (John 19:25-30)

(6) The Taking Down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross (John 19:31-37)

(7) Jesus Laid in the Tomb (John 19:38-42)

Click here for some traditional devotions to Our Lady of Sorrows.

Pope’s Intentions for July 2012

2 Jul

Following are the Intentions of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for the month of July, courtesy of the Apostleship of Prayer:

  • Work Security.  That everyone may have work in safe and secure conditions.
  • Christian Volunteers.  That Christian volunteers in mission territories may witness to the love of Christ.

July is also the month traditionally dedicated to the Precious Blood of Our Lord. Father Faber describes why we honor the Blood of Christ in The Precious Blood: The Price of our Salvation.

The Precious Blood of Jesus deserves special honor because of its close relation to Our Lord’s Passion. From the beginning the Apostles praised its redeeming power. Some biblical examples:

  • Romans 5:9 “we are justified by His blood”
  • Hebrews 13:12 “and so Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people by His blood, suffered outside the gate”
  • 1 John 1:7 “and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin”

Pope’s Intentions

1 Jun

Following are the Intentions of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for the month of June, courtesy of the Apostleship of Prayer:

  • Christ, Present in the Eucharist.  That believers may recognize in the Eucharist the living presence of the Risen One who accompanies them in daily life.
  • European Christians.  That Christians in Europe may rediscover their true identity and participate with greater enthusiasm in the proclamation of the Gospel.

The Church traditionally dedicates the month of June to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This year the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart falls on June 15th, the Friday following the second Sunday after Pentecost. In addition to the liturgical celebration, many devotional exercises are connected with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and, in recent years, the Divine Mercy. The devotion to the Sacred Heart remains one of the most widespread and popular devotions in the Church.

 

Are You My Mother?

11 May

One of my young son’s favorite books is the P.D. Eastman classic Are You My Mother? In this story, baby bird becomes separated from his mother and frantically goes in search of her. Along the way, he asks many creatures and even inanimate objects if they’re his mother, but none of them are. Finally, when hope is just about lost, baby bird is reunited with his mother, who was out catching worms for their breakfast.

Sometimes this children’s book gets me to reflect on all the “mothers” in my life. I think primarily of my own mother, as well as my deceased godmother and grandmothers. I also think of my wife Maureen, who in our house is affectionately known as “Mommy.” And in recent years, my oldest daughter has joined the ranks of motherhood. I also call to mind the heroic birth mothers of my adopted children, and the faithful godmothers whose prayers and goodness help our children to grow in the love of Christ.

As I consider the matter further, I have to include the Grandmammy of them all: Eve, whom Scripture describes as “the mother of all the living” (Gen. 3:20). And despite contemporary confusion regarding the family and gender roles, it’s true that all women are maternal at the heart of their being. I have been the recipient of the maternal love and nurture of women since my earliest school days, including in a special way the tender care shown me through the years by religious sisters.

The above list is formidable, and I’m profoundly grateful for all the “mothers” in my life. But there’s another mother who stands above them all, the masterpiece of God’s creation: the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Just as Christ is the New Adam, the source of new life for all those who were dead in sin, so from apostolic times Mary has been called the New Eve, the mother of all those who are alive in Christ. She truly is our spiritual mother, our mother in the order of grace (see Catechism, no. 968).

Here we must strenuously avoid the temptation to equate “spiritual” with “abstract” or “less than real.” Mary’s motherhood is more real than flesh-and-blood motherhood, not less. And by its nature it’s relational, calling us to a filial love of our Blessed Mother.

This truth was not lost on the first generation of Protestant reformers, who maintained some devotion to Mary. For example, Martin Luther once wrote that “the veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart.” Only over time did this devotion subside as the Reformers further distanced themselves–and the Bible–from the living tradition of the Church, especially the sacred liturgy.

Thus Marian apologetics is very important today as we strive to demonstrate with clarity and reverence the biblical and traditional bases for our Marian beliefs. But ultimately, mothers are to be loved and honored, not merely proven and recognized.

I remember many years ago hearing a story about Gerry Faust, a devout Catholic man who coached the Notre Dame football team in the early 80s. He was visiting the home of a top recruit. Everything seemed to be going well, but then when the recruit’s mother entered the room, he treated her disrespectfully. That was all Coach Faust needed to see. He refused to offer the young man a scholarship. Despite the recruit’s obvious athletic ability, he had a significant character flaw. Coach Faust was wise enough to know that how we treat our mother speaks volumes as to what kind of person we are.

When it comes to the Blessed Virgin Mary, we communicate what we really believe through our loving mother-son, mother-daughter relationships with her. It’s one thing to talk a good game and trot out Scripture verses and conciliar decrees. It’s quite another to live the Fourth Commandment’s injunction to honor our spiritual mother.

This Mother’s Day–and every day–let’s lovingly remember Mary our mother, whom all generations call “blessed” (Lk. 1:48).