I have been progressing through the 33 day preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary.
I am well over half way through it, and it has tested my faith every step of the way. I do not mean that it has made me question my belief in God. It has not put my belief in Jesus or the teachings of the Church to the test. Far from it.
What it has tested is the limits of my willingness to live my life based on that belief. Just how far will I go in following Jesus? A book I reviewed today, Fight, also tested those limits.
That seems to be the season I am in. On the one hand, the prayers and meditations of Total Consecration have pushed me to consider just what I will yield to another person, even the person of the Mother of God. How much can I trust anyone, even her? Specifically, how much of my relationship to God, to Jesus, will I yield to her rather than doing it all myself?
Fight challenged me with the question of how far I would follow Him, how completely would I do what He asks, even when I really don’t want to.
It’s really all one question and Jesus asked it best: Do you love me more than these?
His mother answered that question in the affirmative every time in every way. When the Archangel Gabriel asked her to assent to what was death-dealing anathema for girls of that era — unwed pregnancy — she said yes. When Simeon told her how it would end, she said yes. At the wedding at Cana, when she sent her child forward into His ministry which they both knew would culminate at Calvary, she said yes. When she prayed with the Apostles for the birth of the Church before Pentecost, she said yes.
Mary, like Jesus, had to be resurrected and taken into heaven as part of the divine plan. He gave her to us from the cross, and once again, she said yes.
She had to be lifted up because we need her there. The Immaculate Conception of Mary was the door opening on our salvation. She was then and she is now an outstretched arm, pointing to Him.
“Do whatever He tells you,” she instructed the wine stewards.
She says the same thing to us.
Because, as I am discovering and wrestling with, when she is your guide, there are no limits to following Him.
What kind of “men” kidnap young girls as a means of waging a “holy” war?
The video below is difficult to watch, but then the reality of what is happening to Christians in Egypt and elsewhere is far more difficult.
The practice of kidnapping Christian girls, raping them and forcing them to “convert” to Islam appears to be widespread throughout the Middle East. There’s not much to say about men who do cowardly things like this to women and young girls except that their “manhood” isn’t all that manly.
One of the more disgusting things about this is the silence from feminists. Where is the outrage about this outrage?
On a side note, I repeat Ravi Zacharias’ reaction when he heard Dr. Richard Dawkins’ incitement of his followers concerning people of faith to “mock them; ridicule them; in public; with contempt.” Dr Dawkins and his crowd should book flights to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc, and try this there.
They could also do similar experiments with the Hindus of India. I’ve got videos of what can happen. Or, they might try ridiculing the faux religion of statism that is practiced in the various atheist paradises.
In truth and in fact, the only societies in the world where they have the freedom to behave like this are those that are informed by Christian values. You know: The terrible, horrible Christian morality that says that all human beings matter, no matter their stage of life or level of health, and that every person has certain inherent rights that come from God.
God help us all if the Christian bashers of the world succeed in wiping that morality out of public discourse and civil society.
“God our Father, send us holy priests, all for the Sacred and Eucharistic Heart of Jesus all for the Immaculate Heart of Mary in union with St Joseph. Amen.”
Prayers don’t get much more Catholic than that one. With its talk of eucharistic and immaculate hearts, it’s enough to confuse the average protestant for days.
My rosary group prays this particular prayer every time we get together. We also pray by name for all the priests in our archdiocese. We know, as all Catholics do, that our Church is built around the sacrament of Holy Orders. The graces of God rain down on us Catholics in a free and easy way, like a gentle spring shower, when we partake of the sacraments such as the eucharist and confession.
Jesus instituted the priesthood as a mechanism of transmission of these graces. It is meant to be reliable and available. Freely given, freely received. Priests are conduits of God’s grace.
As such, they are an essential component to living the life in Christ in this difficult and challenging age with its destructive secularism and intolerance of genuine Christianity.
We need priests. We need holy priests who are called and empowered by the Holy Spirit to give their lives in the service of Christ’s Church.
This is the story of Father Jason Smith’s vocation. Fr Smith blogs at Biltrix. He has given me permission to reproduce his story in full.
My Vocation Story
Fr Jason Smith
If not for a hockey game, I wouldn’t be a Legionary priest today.As a good Minnesotan, I naturally considered hockey as divinely inspired, a sign of God’s love for us. But it’s what happened after the game that took me by surprise and lead me to know my priestly vocation.
During my first year at college, I often went to the rink at the University of Minnesota with my friends. After one such event —ending in a double overtime victory for the Golden Gophers, and a long celebration— I returned home in the wee hours of the morning, too tired to get out of bed until Sunday afternoon.
Stumbling upstairs for something to eat, I found my Dad sitting at the kitchen table, reading the paper. Opening the fridge, I heard from over my shoulder: “Jason, did you go to Mass this morning?” I swallowed hard. I hadn’t. Quickly I tried to think up the perfect excuse. None came. Trying to hide behind the refrigerator door, I quipped “No, I didn’t go”. Without looking up Dad replied solemnly, “Go tomorrow then.”
It was my first Monday morning Mass ever. I was struck by how quiet the Church was, and how empty. I sat about halfway up and waited. Little by little people began to filter in. Then an attractive girl sat down a few pews behind me. How is it I find a girl like this now and not last Saturday evening? It must be God’s providence! I decided the sign of peace was the perfect time to introduce myself. When the moment came I turned around and, to my surprise, she passed me a note. I put it in my pocket pretending it happened all the time.
When I got home I opened the note. It read something like this: “It’s good to see someone young attending daily Mass. You must really love your faith! I want to let you know about a group of young people who pray and study scripture Wednesday evenings. If you would like to come, here is my number.” I decided I could find time in my packed schedule to go.
That’s when it occurred to me I hadn’t seriously looked into my Catholic faith since Confirmation. What would I say? What would I pray? Where was my Rosary? I found it stuffed in the bottom dresser drawer along with a pamphlet of prayers. As to what I would say, I went to my Dad’s study and checked out his library. It had books on music, history, politics —but the largest section was religion. I found one book called, “True Devotion to Mary”. It seemed like a good place to start since it was short.
I never read beyond the introduction, but the book changed my life. It explained how St Louis de Montfort, a priest who tirelessly preached the Gospel and underwent extraordinary trials, spread devotion to Mary throughout France. It was my first encounter with the life of a saint. I marveled how someone could dedicate himself entirely to Christ, even to the point of heroism. It was precisely then that I renewed the resolution I had made a two years earlier to pray and sincerely live my faith.
A few months later I went on a retreat with the youth group. It was the first time the priesthood entered my mind. During the consecration, as I gazed at the elevated host, I thought to myself —in words that were my own, but which carried a resonance I will never forget— if there is one thing I should do it’s that. It was the defining moment of my calling. I was taken entirely by surprise. I knew I had to look into the priesthood, but I didn’t know how or where.
To make a long story short, the same girl who gave me the note in church then gave me a brochure on the Legionaries of Christ. It had testimonies of the young men who entered the year before. I read it and was convinced. I called and asked for an application. A Legionary came to visit. I went to candidacy. I joined. My younger brother followed the next year.
Since then the years have passed by like a whirlwind. There is much more I could write, but the essential is simple: Christ crossed my path, called, and by his grace —definitely not my own strength— I found the courage to drop everything and follow him. I have never looked back. Our Lord’s presence and the needs of the Church have captivated my attention ever since.
Now only a few days away from priestly ordination, in my conversations with Christ, I continually thank him for the many gifts he has given me: my faith, my wonderful parents and brother, my Legionary vocation, and above all, his presence and friendship throughout my life.
I can hardly believe I have arrived at the foot of the altar. It seems almost a dream; that I’ll wake up, finding myself back in Minnesota, late for a hockey game. But it’s true. God’s plans are far beyond, and far better, then my own.
Pope Francis will consecrate his petrine ministry to Our Lady of Fatima as part of the program of the International Pilgrimage of May 12/13.
Mary appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal 96 years ago this month. She prophesied the fall of Russia to communism and promised that the way to undo this was to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. Pope John Paul II did this. The results are history.
The shrine at Fatima is a beautiful place. You can feel the holiness of it when you are there. My visit to Fatima was a life-changing experience for me.
I don’t fully understand the implications of what the Holy Father is doing, but I do know that the Holy Spirit moves through Fatima. I’ve felt it myself. I have no reason except my own experiences there and a personal intuition to say this, but I think that the message of Fatima is both on-going and profound. It believe it is especially pertinent as it applies to our problems today.
Our Lady of Fatima chose to appear at a place whose name has both Catholic and Muslim history wrapped around it. I have read that the town is named after a young woman who converted from Islam to Christianity.
I don’t understand Islam enough to comprehend the ramifications of Our Lady’s place within it. But I know she is mentioned in the Koran and that she is respected, perhaps even revered in the Muslim world.
The Mother of God is mother to us all. Through her intervention may we find a way out of this valley of death and war that we are walking now.