Tag Archives: resources

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.

Just Do It!

30 Oct

praying the rosaryAs this month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary comes to a close, I thought I would take this occasion to call all of us to renew our desire to pray the Rosary frequently and with much fervor and devotion.

I’m not necessarily talking about a major overhaul of our spiritual life. Rather, let’s look at it from the standpoint of a dieter. This is a subject I know something about, as I have had to battle obesity ever since childhood. I’m sure that over the years through various diets I’ve lost hundreds of pounds. Most of them did not stay off. Rather, I only started to get a handle on my weight as I made sustainable, lasting changes in my lifestyle.

Similarly, sometimes we make spiritual resolutions–with much zeal and the best of intentions–which turn out to be fad diets for the soul. So, when I strongly encourage the daily recitation of the Holy Rosary, I’m encouraging all of us to look at our daily lives and see what small, long-term changes we can make so as to the make the Rosary an even greater part of our day.

I’ve heard it said that the Church, given her size and “conservative” nature, moves in centuries. I don’t think it’s too much for us to move in “decades”–finding moments throughout the day to meditate on the life of Christ with His beloved Mother.

Back in 2002, Blessed John Paul II issued an apostolic letter on the Rosary entitled Rosarium Virginis Mariae. In this letter, the Holy Father encouraged the faithful to embrace the Rosary in positive, evangelistic terms. He stressed the Rosary as a powerful prayer for peace and for the renewal of families. What I’d like to discuss here, however, is the way he anticipated and answered various objections to the Rosary in a winning way:

Objection #1: The Rosary detracts from the sacred liturgy. Pope John Paul II said that the liturgical renewal did not lessen the importance of popular devotions like the Rosary. In fact, he noted that that is a common misunderstanding of Vatican II. The fact is that it’s not an either/or proposition. The Rosary does not conflict with, but rather sustains the liturgy. Done right, the Rosary actually fosters a deeper participation in the liturgy.

Objection #2: The Rosary is “unecumenical.” In response, the Pope emphasized the Christ-centered nature of the prayer and the right understanding of the veneration to be given to the Mother of God. Quoting Vatican II, he noted that “when the Mother is honored, the Son is duly known, glorified, and loved.” Done right, the Rosary aids and surely does not hinder authentic ecumenism. Just ask experienced pro-lifers.

Objection #3: The Rosary is outdated and is no longer being learned by children. The Pope gently chided those who think this way and invited them to take a fresh look at the Rosary. He suggested that perhaps the problem has been that many youth have not been introduced to the Rosary and in the process we may be selling them short. As the World Youth Days attest, youth are indeed attracted to the faith and specifically are attracted to the Rosary. Done right, the Rosary surely appeals to today’s youth.

So, to those of you who may still be on the fence when it comes to praying the Rosary, I invite you to become Nike Rosary Warriors: Just do it!

For those of you looking for solid resources on the Rosary, I suggest Tim Gray’s book Luminous Mysteries: Biblical Reflections on the Life of Christ, which provides biblical teaching and profound meditations on each of the new “Mysteries of Light.” And for a broader introduction to Marian doctrine and devotion, I recommend a book I coedited with Scott Hahn entitled Catholic for a Reason II: Scripture and the Mystery of the Mother of God. Both titles are available through Emmaus Road Publishing.

According to Luke

15 Oct

Gospel of LukeThis week I’d like to focus some attention on St. Luke, author of the third Gospel and companion of St. Paul. We will celebrate his feast day this coming Friday. Meanwhile, we are working through his Gospel in our daily Mass readings.

I don’t know about you, but I grow weary of study Bibles and Bible studies that go to great lengths to explain to us that so and so didn’t actually write the book of the Bible that bears his name, and that the events described in the book didn’t really happen anyway. I want biblical materials that trust God’s inspired Word and our rich Catholic Tradition, not agnostic pseudo-scholarship.

That’s why I find the opening paragraphs of the introduction to the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible on The Gospel of Luke such a breath of fresh air:

“Early manuscripts of the third Gospel are titled “According to Luke” (Gk. Kata Loukan). This heading is not part of the original work but was added later as a signpost of apostolic tradition. Indeed, the earliest Christians unanimously ascribed the work to Luke, a Gentile physician and companion of the Apostle Paul (2 Tim. 4:11; Philem. 24). Several Church Fathers, such as Irenaeus (A.D. 180), Tertullian (A.D. 200), and Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 200), assert Luke’s authorship of the third Gospel, and an anonymous list of NT books, called the Muratorian Fragment (c. A.D. 170), also attaches his name to it. There is thus no reason to doubt Luke’s authorship of this Gospel, since the tradition is virtually uncontested in early Christianity.

“Luke himself is unique among the writers of the NT. First, he is the only Gentile author to compose a NT book–all others were of Israelite descent. Paul hints at his Gentile identity when he numbers “Luke the beloved physician” among his uncircumcised companions (Col. 4:14). Secondly, Luke is the only evangelist to write a sequel. In addition to his Gospel, he wrote the Acts of the Apostles as the second part of a two-volume work. The Book of Acts picks up where Luke’s Gospel narrative ends, showing how the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of Jesus now operates in the living community of Christ’s mystical body, the Church.”

A number of years ago I was privileged to help found Emmaus Road Publishing (which takes it name from chapter 24 of St. Luke’s Gospel), motivated by the famous words of St. Jerome: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Emmaus Road continues to make resources such as the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible available for those who hunger for God’s Word. Also on the Gospel of Luke, Emmaus has Tim Gray’s popular study entitled Mission of the Messiah, which has now gone through multiple printings. Check out Emmaus Road for more information on a wide range of biblical and catechetical resources.

More Halloween Resources

31 Oct

In addition to my post earlier this week on ghosts, I would like to recommend the following resources on Halloween, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day:

According to Luke

18 Oct

Today the universal Church celebrates the feast of St. Luke, author of the third Gospel and companion of St. Paul.

I don’t know about our readers, but I grow weary of study Bibles and Bible studies that go to great lengths to explain to us that so and so didn’t actually write the book of the Bible that bears his name, and that the events described in the book didn’t really happen. I want biblical materials that trust God’s inspired Word and our rich Catholic Tradition, not agnostic pseudo-scholarship.

That’s why I find the opening paragraphs of the introduction to the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible on The Gospel of Luke such a breath of fresh air: Continue reading

Maryvale Team at the Synod

12 Oct

We just received this update on the Synod on the New Evangelization in Rome regarding the work assigned to the contingent from the Maryvale Institute:

“First thing this morning members of Maryvale’s catechetical team attended Mass in the grottos of St Peter’s amidst the tombs of the Popes on the feast of Blessed John Henry Newman.  This was taken as a great blessing on the work of Maryvale at the Synod and into the future. The big news we have from the Synod is that the experts were allocated their areas of responsibility, in particular which paragraphs of the Synod’s documents for which they are responsible.

Dr. Caroline Farey is responsible for para. 111, Catechesis on the Family, the transmission of the faith in the family.  Dr. Petroc Willey is responsible for the paragraph dealing with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its use.

“In practice, this means that Drs. Petroc and Farey have to listen to the 45 or so interventions made by the Bishops each day and note any reference, comment, or suggestion that relates to their paragraphs.  At the end of each day, they have to write a one page summary of the most important points made about catechizing the family and on the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

For more information on Maryvale courses available here in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, click here.

Biblical Walk Through the Mass

3 Nov

The CUF Blog is publishing a weekly series by Dr. Edward Sri on the new translation of the Roman Missal as we lead up to its implementation this coming Advent. The most recent post is entitled,  “Your Moment in the Mass: ‘Through My Most Grievous Fault’ and ‘Only Begotten Son.’

Dr. Sri, a former professor of theology at Benedictine College in Atchison, now serves as professor and provost at the Augustine Institute in Denver.

In his clear, accessible style, Dr. Sri explains the change to “Only-Begotten Son” in the Gloria:

“The opening words of the Gloria echo the hymns of praise sung by the angels over the fields of Bethlehem on that first Christmas night: ‘Glory to God in the highest . . . ‘ So the Gloria is somewhat like a Christmas song. Why do we sing a Christmas song at Mass? Because the mystery of Christmas is, in a sense, made present at every Eucharist. Just as the Son of God was made manifest to the world some 2,000 years ago, so He is made present sacramentally on our altars at the consecration at every Mass. Thus, it is fitting to welcome Jesus with words of praise that echo how the angels heralded Christ’s coming in Bethlehem.

“One noticeable change in the new translation of the Gloria involves Jesus being addressed as the ‘Only-Begotten Son.’ We had been saying that Jesus was the ‘only Son of the Father,’ but the new translation more closely follows the theological language used in the early Church to highlight how Jesus is uniquely God’s Son, sharing in the same divine nature as the Father. This also reflects the biblical language in John’s gospel, which uses similar wording to describe Jesus’ singular relationship with the Father. While all believers are called to a special relationship with God as His sons and daughters through grace (see John 1: 12; 1 John 3:1), Jesus alone is the eternal, divine Son by nature. He is the ‘only-begotten Son’ of the Father (see John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18).”

Dr. Sri will be giving a presentation based on his best-selling book,  A Biblical Walk Through the Mass: Understanding What We Say and Do in the Liturgy, this coming Saturday across the state line at St. Therese parish in Kansas City, Missouri. For more information, click here.

What Does the Compendium Say About . . .

13 Oct

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church is to the Church’s social teaching what the Catechism of the Catholic Church is to Catholic teaching in general. It predictably touches upon topics such as economics, politics, the environment, and peace, but it also reaffirms Church teaching in other areas of social concern that might raise the eyebrows of those who view the Church in politicized (“liberal” vs. “conservative”) terms, with “social justice” reflecting a more “liberal” perspective. Here’s what the Compendium has to say concerning some hot-button issues today:

Human rights “Pope John Paul II has drawn up a list of [human rights] in the encyclical Centesimus Annus: the right to life, an integral part of which is the right of the child to develop in the mother’s womb from the moment of conception; the right to live in a united family and in a moral environment conducive to the growth of the child’s personality . . . The first right presented in this list is the right to life, from conception to its natural end, which is the condition for the exercise of all other rights and, in particular, implies the illicitness of every form of procured abortion and of euthanasia” (no. 155).

Contraception “Also to be rejected is recourse to contraceptive methods in their different forms: this rejection is based on a correct and integral understanding of the person and human sexuality and represents a moral call to defend the true development of peoples. . . . All programs of economic assistance aimed at financing campaigns of sterilization and contraception, as well as the subordination of economic assistance to such campaigns, are to be morally condemned . . .” (nos. 233-34).

Abortion and Direct Sterilization “Concerning the ‘methods’ for practicing responsible procreation, the first to be rejected as morally illicit are sterilization and abortion. The latter in particular is a horrendous crime and constitutes a particularly serious moral disorder; far from being a right, it is a sad phenomenon that contributes seriously to spreading a mentality against life, representing a dangerous threat to a just and democratic social coexistence” (no. 233).

Same-Sex Marriage “The family, in fact, is born of the intimate communion of life and love founded on the marriage between one man and one woman. . . . No power can abolish the natural right to marriage or modify its traits and purpose. Marriage in fact is endowed with its own proper, innate, and permanent characteristics. . .” (nos. 211, 216).

Subsidiarity and “Big Government” “Subsidiarity is among the most constant and characteristic directives of the Church’s social doctrine and has been present since the first great social encyclical. . . . The principle of subsidiarity protects people from abuses by higher-level social authority and calls on these same authorities to help individuals and intermediate groups to fulfill their duties. . . . Experience shows that the denial of subsidiarity, or its limitation in the name of an alleged democratization or equality of all members of society, limits and sometimes even destroys the spirit of freedom and initiative (nos. 185, 187).

Social Engineering and the Concept of Justice “Justice is particularly important in the present-day context, where the individual value of the person, his dignity, and his rights–despite proclaimed intentions–are seriously threatened by the widespread tendency to make exclusive use of criteria of utility and ownership. . . . Justice, in fact, is not merely a simple human convention, because what is ‘just’ is not first determined by the law but by the profound identity of the human being (no. 202).

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church may be viewed online, but hard copies are available at most Catholic bookstores.