- Marian Consecration –Give everything to Jesus through Mary (at end of e-weekly)
- "Fighting for Life," Lila Rose's Mission to Save the Unborn (Diocesan News AND BEYOND)
- CHEAPEST Gas Price in Your Zip Code or City, State ("Helpful Hints of Life")
Receiving the Gospel, Serving God and Neighbor
Month of Mary—Marian Consecration
"A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars." Revelation 12:1
At the beginning of May in countless churches, Mary is honored at the beginning of her month by being crowned. If Jesus is the King of heaven, then He needs a queen. As in the Old Testament, the mother of the King, not the wife, was the queen (1Kings 15:1; 2Chron 15:16; Psalms 45:10; Daniel 5:10; Jeremiah 13:18; 2Kings 10:13; Jeremiah 29:2)
The Virgin Mary is the Mother of the Son of God, who is the messianic King. Mary is the Mother of Christ, the Word incarnate. ... "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end." [Luke 1:32-33] ... Elizabeth greeted the Blessed Virgin, pregnant with Jesus, as "the Mother of my Lord." [Luke 1:41-43].
She is the perfect follower of Christ. The maid of Nazareth consented to God's plan; she journeyed on the pilgrimage of faith; she listened to God's word and kept it in her heart; she remained steadfastly in close union with her Son, all the way to the foot of the cross; she persevered in prayer with the Church. Thus, in an eminent way she won the "crown of righteousness," [See 2 Timothy 4:8] the "crown of life," [See James 1:12; Revelation 2:10] the "crown of glory" [See 1 Peter 5:4] that is promised to those who follow Christ.
Since the Council of Nicea in 787, the Church has often asserted that it is lawful to venerate images of Christ, Mary and the saints. And the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops since 1981 have given us guidelines that speak of a simple, yet beautiful crowning of a image or statue of Mary to which the faithful devoutly come. It is right and proper for you and I to participate in this Month of Mary of honoring, loving, and imitating the Blessed Virgin Mary by May Crowning, May Devotion, and Marian Consecration!
Peace and prayers in Jesus through Mary, loved by Saint Joseph,
P.S. This coming Sunday is Fourth Sunday of Easter. The readings can be found at: Fourth Sunday of Easter | USCCB
P.S.S. For Sunday Readings with reflection please see end of e-mail
Song of Songs 4:7
CHEAPEST Gas Price in Your Zip Code or City, State
"You are glorified in the assembly of your Holy Ones, for in crowning their merits you are crowning your own gifts.--The term "merit" refers in general to the recompense owed by a community or a society for the action of one of its members, experienced either as beneficial or harmful, deserving reward or punishment. Merit is relative to the virtue of justice, in conformity with the principle of equality which governs it.
"-Catechism of the Catholic Church #2006
Out In Deep Water
"Out in Deep Water", A Gathering of Catholic Men. Pittsburgh, PA.
Father Larry Richard's Confession Speech. BE CAREFUL! This covers heavy topics.
Rose speaks internationally on family and cultural issues and has addressed members of the European Parliament and the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, she lives in California with her husband and young son. In an interview with the Register, Rose shared insights from her life and book.
The title of your book is Fighting for Life: Becoming a Force for Change in a Wounded World. That pretty much reflects your life, right?
That has been my goal since I was given that inspiration as a young teen. I’m a work in progress, and a lot of the book is about being a work in progress and how the change that we want to make in the world around us as activists and educators, whatever our calling is, how a lot of the change has to do with how much we are willing to change inside and the healing that we discover through, ultimately, Christ and by growing in virtue and in the relationships that we are given. So the book is both about the change we are making externally to the world around us and the change that is acquired from within.
How were you first inspired to become an advocate for the unborn?
It was really heartbreak at a young age that was my first inspiration to discover the pro-life cause. And I was 9 years old, and from a big family, so there were lots of kids in the house — I’m the third oldest; lots of babies — and that was such a blessing growing up. But I didn’t really know about abortion. My parents weren’t necessarily activists, but they certainly were very pro-life. And when I was 9, I did find this book in my parents’ home, because I loved to read, and it was called A Handbook on Abortion, by Dr. and Mrs. Willke, an older classic in the pro-life movement. I ended up opening that book and being confronted in the insert — there was an insert with images of abortion victims. And I saw for the first time what abortion does to a baby, and it’s undeniable. In the first trimester, in the humanity of that baby, I saw this beautiful little child, with arms and legs. You could see faces. I saw what a first-trimester abortion does to destroy that developing child. My heart was really touched by that — and grieved. I felt that I wanted to learn more; I wanted to understand why this was happening, and, ultimately, I wanted to do something about it. And that inspired me as I got older to research it, to try to learn more, to study the issue of abortion. And also, I got involved in and cared about other causes, but I share in the book how I have heroes and how heroes are so important in discovering our calling and our cause. And, for me, I came across the writings of Mother Teresa at a retreat as a teen. And she really crystalized the primacy of the fight for life because she said that “the greatest destroyer of peace in the world is abortion.” And she said, “In a nation where a mother can kill her own child, what is left but for you and I to kill one another?”
When I read those words for the first time, I remembered that baby I had seen; I remembered the death toll at that time — 3,000 abortions daily in America — that I had learned about, and I thought, “This is it. This is the cause of the day, the greatest human-rights cause, and I can’t just pretend like it’s not happening. I have to get involved.” So that inspired me, through my own heartache, through my own study, and then through having heroes that inspired me, that inspired me, convicted me, to start Live Action.
You said that that “deep grief is often the starting point for writing an injustice.” And I think a lot of us are too afraid to get too emotionally torn apart. But you tell people to let their hearts ache and burn because it is going to be the fuel and the passion that we need to fight injustices, right?
Exactly. I mean, it hurts to hurt, and I think there’s already a lot of hurt in the world. But allowing ourselves to be heartbroken over injustice, to be heartbroken over the suffering of others, we don’t end with the heartbreak. And the book starts with heartbreak, but it doesn’t end with heartbreak. It ends with healing. But we have to allow that initial grief to sit with us, to allow ourselves to grieve, because it will teach us a deeper compassion and I think ultimately a motivation for the causes that need us. …
How did you start Live Action at the age of 15?
Starting Live Action, I just did the first thing I needed to do. … I got involved with the local pregnancy center. I got involved with their peers-encouraging-abstinence teams, but, ultimately, I realized we needed to educate teens — my peers — on abortion, and there was nothing like that that existed in my area. So after educating myself and learning as much as I could, I eventually found somebody, outside of San Jose, but in central California, who was willing to drive … to sit down with me and some friends and to begin to train us on how to give pro-life presentations that we could eventually give in churches and schools, and that was the beginning of Live Action.
… There is a lot in the book about overcoming obstacles, because I think anybody who’s seeking their calling, who is getting involved in a cause: You face obstacles. You face unknowns. You face barriers that you have to push through. So, for me, I was a 15-year-old girl learning how to give a pro-life presentation. … It was one church at a time, one pastor at a time, one student leader at a time, to persuade them to hear this message. As we built up our reputation and credibility, we began to get invitations … and still do tons of presentations at Live Action, but we’ve evolved from a youth organization doing presentations to an investigative and global education organization, after I graduated high school. We are a small, full-time team — about 25 full time. We work with dozens of contractors; but our volunteer base of activists is over 500,000 strong … and more than 5 million followers online, people who are engaged with our content who then share it with other people and educate other people in their communities.
You’ve experienced censorship on social media, such as having abortionists serve as fact-checkers on your content and being completely banned on Pinterest. How do you navigate the censorship culture?
… We’ve fought each battle. … Thankfully, despite the resistance that we have faced over the last 10 years, we’ve built an army. We have the largest following for the global pro-life movement: over 5 million people strong. … What is more powerful than the obstacles is the passion and determination of many pro-life Americans who want to stand up for what’s right, who see the crisis.
That’s why I wrote the book. I want to encourage and inspire and support the amazing activists. This movement is millions of pro-life Americans who are of all ages — many of them young people; all different backgrounds — who see the destruction of human life and cannot stay silent because they are standing up. That’s the beauty and strength of our movement, no matter the obstacles we face.
How have you gotten access so often to the big-name secular media?
… Years and years of repeated investigative work where we kept finding new angles to expose the abortion industry to tell newsworthy stories about what was happening inside these facilities at Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion chain. And we continued to hammer those messages home and report really incredible findings, both from undercover reporting and data analysis and collecting the stories of survivors — [such as] sexual-abuse survivors who had been taken to Planned Parenthood under duress and given secret abortions instead of their abuse being reported by Planned Parenthood. So we ultimately continue that drumbeat and built a loud enough platform through our social media, through our independent media, and that ultimately tipped the scales so we were able to secure coverage from otherwise-hostile outlets. Now, should there have been a lot more coverage? Yes. Should there be more coverage to this day? Yes. … But we are still making headway, and that is what counts in keeping that momentum going.
I assume you’re pray for your opponents, that you’re opening hearts and minds.
Absolutely. And I think that’s part of the message of the book, too: to embrace the pain of the people that we are trying to reach because a lot of them are hurting, especially people who have been involved in abortion in the past or are working in the abortion industry — and to love our enemies. We are told by Jesus Christ multiple times to “love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute” us. …
With abortion, it’s important to understand that we are not the victim. … We take flak for it and face obstacles, but we’re not in danger of dying the way a preborn child is. …
How do you address contraception in the book?
All hormonal contraception, if you read the fine print, you find that it’s designed not just to prevent fertilization but to weaken the lining of the mother’s uterus to make it hostile to a newly conceived embryo so that the embryo cannot implant and instead starves to death. …
I talk about in the book about the larger picture of the pro-life battle, in terms of sex and love. That’s the landscape of our culture, where we have divorced sex from marriage and divorced children from marriage; so now, not only is sex no longer about marriage, but it is also no longer about children. So now we have severed the two basic elements of the beautiful thing of sex that God created … that now when you get pregnant, it’s an accident instead of: Oh, hey, sex is actually designed to bring life into the world. And sex is no longer seen as one flesh, bonding two people together for life, but instead as a sort of casual pastime that is just about consent and pleasure.
… The mainstream culture … sees having sex before marriage as a virtue or something very normalized, but getting pregnant after having sex is seen as this terrible thing. That is so unfair and misleading for young people — instead of saying, no, sex is beautiful and good in a lifelong, sacred relationship — a marriage — and it’s good to bring life into the world. …
What do you recommend as the first step for embarking on a cause?
If we are going to fight for a cause, if we are going to discover our calling, it is essential that we know who we are before God and that we allow God to inspire us. … For all the causes in the world and for all the callings that we might feel we have to do, if we are not ultimately focused on eternity with God and seeking to serve him and his children first, it’s all going to be for naught, and that the ultimate cause is to love him and to be loved by him.
What is your biggest challenge amid the everyday culture?
… Our culture calls evil good and often good evil. It’s totally upside down. … This confusion that we are swimming in costs us dearly; it’s the reason we have a death toll of nearly a million abortions a year. … If you don’t know the truth, if you believe the lies, you are going to make the wrong choices, the wrong decisions, and those bring serious hurt to yourself and others. So [our job is]: Exposing the evil, speaking the truth, rehumanizing the child, reminding people of their dignity, reminding people of morality and God and who God is — I think these are essential things.
What have been your greatest successes?
… Some of the greatest celebrations are the lives saved. I share some of those stories. ... When you heard about a life that has been saved in part because of your work, there really is no greater joy.
… Another victory that was really significant for Live Action was the first bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives to defund Planned Parenthood of taxpayer dollars. … The abortion industry is being propped up by the government, and they are so powerful politically and they are so entrenched in our communities. To see a bipartisan majority vote … and I was told it was impossible … that was a huge thing to celebrate. …
We continue investigative reporting today, but we focus even more broadly on educating exactly on what abortion is and the dignity of the person, and using media and storytelling and images to do that … to persuade people to become pro-life.
… It’s about building something beautiful.
This interview was edited for length.
Captain Mark E. Mayor and Captain Matthew N. Mayor are identical twins. Both have served for a decade in the U.S. Army. While the two have been stationed together in the past, they now live a continent apart. Mark is stationed at USAG Wiesbaden, in Germany. Matthew is stationed at Ft. Jackson, SC, but is a student at Northwestern University through the Army Advanced Civil Schooling program.
Last year, Mark and his wife, Malori, were both pilgrims on the Warriors to Lourdes trip. Malori, a registered nurse, volunteered on the medical team, assisted with helping wounded pilgrims, and played the violin at Mass throughout the weekend. This year, all three of the Mayors made the journey to Lourdes.
Mark and Malori told CNA that they are taking a different approach towards this year’s pilgrimage. Last year, they said they both came with a “spiritual agenda,” and were praying for a specific intention. This year, they said they are instead coming to Lourdes with an attitude of gratitude, and will be more relaxed about the experience.
"Coming with an agenda, though, was something that I think was a mistake, last year,” said Mark. This year, he intends to seek wisdom, something that he thinks he and his wife were inadvertently granted last year as well.
During the 2018 pilgrimage, Malori and Mark were praying they would conceive a child. This did not immediately happen, but Malori thinks that she received the gift of courage to break down the stigma and taboo of infertility. She used her blog to share stories about infertility and to inform her readers about holistic, natural, Church-approved methods of tackling fertility.
“I think that's what we needed, that was our miracle for last year, even though we came with an agenda, God gave us the wisdom to seek out the right resources,” said Mark. “I think that's the key takeaway with this pilgrimage."
Malori is now expecting their first child, who is due in January 2020.
“Even before I became pregnant, though, I was kind of reflecting on last year's experience at Lourdes, and realizing that I need to come here with a different posture, a different attitude; not 'give me what I want, right now, on my timeline,' but to just come with gratitude,” she explained.
This gratitude is “not necessarily for infertility--that would be very, very hard to be grateful for that cross itself,” but rather for how she and her husband have grown through this experience together.
Matthew told CNA that he had first learned of the Warriors to Lourdes pilgrimage through his brother and sister-in-law, and was inspired to apply for this year. He said that he came into Lourdes with an open mind, and that he is seeking healing for both physical and mental wounds.
“My only expectation is to come here with an attitude of gratitude, to be thankful for the blessings that I have in my life right now," said Matthew. Matthew also explained that he is looking forward to fellowship with members of the military, as the transition from living on a base to living in the civilian world can be jarring and lonely. The chance to interact with others is “a huge deal for me, to have that fellowship” he said.
Both Mark and Matthew have suffered from their time in the military, and both have been diagnosed with having post-traumatic stress. Mark also experienced a traumatic brain injury. They both spoke about the importance of civilian interaction with members of the military after they have returned home, as they both believe this is key to preventing and treating mental illnesses that many troops experience.
When a member of the military returns home, Mark explained, they are “separated from the tribe,” which can trigger depression and other mental wounds. The International Military Pilgrimage is a way for people to “get the tribe back together,” and is a therapeutic experience for the pilgrims. And while the pilgrims are from different nations and from different branches of the military, Mark is comforted by the fact that they are all in Lourdes to worship God.
“We all celebrate one universal Catholic faith,” said Mark. “It's just something that I find it really humbling."
Lourdes is famous for its baths, which have produced 70 confirmed miraculous healings, and hundreds of other cures. The Mayors say they have all been deeply touched by their experiences taking a dip in the ice-cold water.
Malori called her trip to the baths “life-changing,” and said that it came with a sense of peace. Matthew agreed, saying it was an “eclectic and powerful experience.”
"My intentions were for continued healing in body, mind, and spirit, and for the grace of continued wisdom to fulfill and refill my well of fortitude," said Matthew. He said he was grateful and thanked God for being present for him in that moment.
All agreed that Lourdes is a special place, and that the addition of the pilgrims attending the International Military Pilgrimage only increases the town’s unique sense of holiness.
"Minus all the people coming here with illnesses and wheelchairs, maybe this is a little bit of what like Heaven is,” said Malori. “Everyone's so peaceful and all these different countries coming together at the military pilgrimage--maybe this is like a taste of that."
Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 30, 2017 / 03:02 am (CNA).- Esmeralda Solís Gonzáles is a young Mexican woman who was crowned last year as a beauty queen in her native town – and now she's joined the Poor Clare Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament.
Twenty-year old Gonzáles has watched her story go viral over the last week on social media over a post on the Miss Mexico Facebook page.
Esmeralda was born April 12, 1997 in Valle de Guadalupe, Jalisco State, to a Catholic family. She currently resides at the convent of the Poor Clare Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament of Cuernavaca in Morelos State, after leaving her career as a nutritionist.
“You really don't know what religious life is until you're within it. So far I have been able to see from another perspective what the world is and what it offers you,” Esmeralda told CNA.
“I was very happy with everything I had, but it does not compare with the happiness that God now places in my heart.”
The young postulant met the Poor Clare Missionaries some five years ago at 14, when her concern for a religious vocation “was awakening” through “vocational days, missions and camps.”In addition, she pointed out how it was hardly a month after this process of discernment concluded when on March 2017 she gave her first yes to her vocation on the Feast of the Annunciation.
“God's timing is perfect. During this time (of discernment) he allowed me to have some experiences such as being a beauty queen, and other experiences, which forever left their mark and which allowed me to learn a lot for what was to come later.”
The discovery of the vocation to which she had been called was always present in her life like a “little thorn,” Esmeralda said.
“I realized that I had to make room in my life to know what it was that God had planned for me. In the process of discerning my vocation there was also fear and doubts, but the love that Our Lord was showing every day made me overcome any feeling of discouragement,” she said.
Esmeralda said she had discovered that God was calling her “to serve him in a radical way,” that is, changing her “life to embrace the cross of Christ and live it more closely.”
“I have been in religious life very little time, but I truly have been very happy,” she said.
In order to discover her vocation, Esmeralda spent a lot of time in prayer and charity, “knowing from the outside or from the world” what this change would involve.
“Change is hard for the family because it involves detachment, but I have always had the the support of my parents, siblings and true friends. Even though I could have developed myself in some other setting, I feel that if the Lord needs me then I can bear fruit in a different way,” she told CNA.
Esmeralda had a few words for young people and said that in any vocation they will find difficulties, “but if you go and take God's hand, you'll always be able to take the next step.”
“In religious life every new day is a new beginning and a new opportunity to extend the kingdom of God. This involves making a lot of sacrifices but they are always rewarded with happiness,” she said.
The young novice also said that it is true that “the reality and the supposed happiness that the world sells is very attractive” but “it is necessary to fix your eyes on what lasts.”
“You mustn't be afraid. If God is calling you, he'll take care of everything. All you need to do is receive him with a lot of peace, joy and confidence. I believe fear is a big excuse that is responsible for truncating the true happiness that only God can offer,” she said.
The Poor Clare Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament are a Religious Institute of Pontifical Right founded by Blessed María Inés Teresa Arias in 1945 in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
The spirit of the Institute is Eucharistic, Marian, priestly, missionary, and is centered on Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
The missionaries work in clinics, youth groups, preschools and schools, university dorms, centers for the spiritual exercises, missions, among others. They are present in Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, the United States, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Russia, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Vietnam and India.
Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves. God himself said: "It is not good that man should be alone," and "from the beginning [he] made them male and female"; wishing to associate them in a special way in his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: "Be fruitful and multiply." Hence, true married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it, without diminishment of the other ends of marriage, are directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich his family from day to day." -Catechism of the Catholic Church #1652
The Importance of Walking and Exercise
My grandpa started walking five miles a day when he was 60. Now he's 97 years old and we don't know where he is.
I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.
I have to walk early in the morning, before my brain figures out what I'm doing..
I joined a health club last year, spent about 400 bucks. Haven't lost a pound. Apparently you have to go there.
Every time I hear the dirty word 'exercise', I wash my mouth out with chocolate.
If you are going to try cross-country skiing, start with a small country.
I know I got a lot of exercise the last few years,......just getting over the hill.
We all get heavier as we get older, because there's a lot more information in our heads. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Eternal, Holy God, I come to you burdened with worries, fears, doubts, and troubles.
Calm and quiet me with peace of mind.
Empty me of the anxiety that disturbs me, of the concerns that weary my spirit, and weigh heavy on my heart.
Loosen my grip on the disappointments and grievances I hold on to so tightly.
Release me from the pain of past hurts, of present anger and tension, of future fears.
Sometimes it's too much for me Lord -
too many demands and problems -
too much sadness, suffering, and stress.
Renew me spiritually and emotionally.
Give me new strength, hope, and confidence.
Prepare me to meet the constant struggles of daily life with a deeper faith and trust in You.
Let your love set me free . . . . for peace, for joy, for grace, for life, for others . . . .forever. Amen.
"We bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this day he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus." The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community; handed on as fundamental by Tradition; established by the documents of the New Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with the cross:
Christ is risen from the dead!
Dying, he conquered death;
To the dead, he has given life.."
-Catechism of the Catholic Church #638
SUNDAY MASS READINGS AND QUESTIONS
for Self-Reflection, Couples or Family Discussion
Fourth Sunday of Easter – Sunday, April 25th, 2021
The First Reading- Acts 4:8-12
Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said: "Leaders of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed. He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved."
In the readings for this Sunday, the Apostles are beginning to have some trouble with the authorities. They’ve moved from just preaching to healing in the name of Jesus, and it’s making the religious leaders uncomfortable. They had hoped to wipe out the memory of Jesus by having him killed, and the Apostles just picked up where Jesus left off. Since the leaders didn’t recognize Jesus for who he was, they can’t recognize or comprehend what the Apostles are able to do with the power of God. The Apostles healed a crippled person by using Jesus’ power. Jesus has the power to save all people and he gave us the command to continue that work. His death and resurrection are God’s perfect expression of love for us, and model the sacrificial love that we need to echo into the world.
Adults - Do you listen for the Holy Spirit to guide you when people challenge your faith?
Teens - How do you react when people question you about what you believe? Do you study the faith in order to be able to defend it?
Kids - Peter showed his great faith when talking to the Jewish leaders. How do you show your faith?
Responsorial- Psalm 118: 1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my savior.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD;
we bless you from the house of the LORD.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my savior.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his kindness endures forever.
-Each day this week, pick something concrete you are thankful for and offer your day in thanksgiving for it.
The Second Reading- 1 John 3:1-2
Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
What is God like? We can look for clues in our human nature—John tells us that we’re made in God’s image, and that we are his children. He also tells us that when we go to heaven, we’ll see the fullness of God and know more perfectly who we are as well. For a most perfect picture of God on earth, we look to Jesus. Jesus is the “fullness of revelation” of the Father.
-Do your actions show that you are a child of God?
The Holy Gospel according to John 10: 11-18
Jesus said: "I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father."
What does a Good Shepherd do? He lays down his life for his sheep. He gathers sheep to safety, bringing strays in, bringing the lost in, bringing the ones who know they belong in. A sign of Christ’s presence is unity. Jesus says that his sheep hear his voice and become part of the one flock. Catechesis, catechism, catechumen, catechist; the root of these words means “echo.” What we do when we come to know God is learn to hear his voice in our world and to echo it forward. Jesus calls to his flock by using us as his voice. Jesus gathers the lost and straying in by sending us out to echo his love to them. We reflect that image of God that was placed in each of us when we echo Jesus’ love.
Adults - How do you echo God’s love to others? How have you experienced Jesus as the Good Shepherd? What does Jesus’ discussion about the “one flock” tell us about our call to unity as Christians?
Teens - Do you think of Jesus as a shepherd? What does that mean to you?
Kids - Sheep look to the their shepherd for everything they need. Do you look to Jesus the way a sheep looks to his shepherd?
LIVING THE WORD OF GOD THIS WEEK! – “With After good example, prayer will be his most potent weapon. Day in, day out the devout Christian must pray for the conversion of his fellowmen who are wandering aimlessly in the barren desert of this life far from God. He must also learn all he can about the truths of his faith in order to be able to help honest enquirers. He must also cooperate with any parochial or diocesan societies for the propagation of the faith, insofar as his family and financial state allow him.
The sermon preached by our Savior nearly two thousand years ago is still echoing and re-echoing around the world, calling on his faithful flock to do all in their power to help those other children of God who are still outside the fold. Do not shut your ears to this call of Christ today. Give him a helping hand by helping your fellowman to see the light of the true faith. -Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.
"All those who are likely to read this book (True Devotion to Mary) love God and lament that they do not love Him more. All desire something for His glory-the spread of some good work, the success of some devotion, the coming of some good time. One man has been striving for years to overcome a particular fault, but has not succeeded. Another mourns that so few of his relations and friends have been converted to the Faith. One grieves that he has not enough devotion; another grieves that he has a cross to carry, which seems to be an impossible cross to him, Another has domestic troubles and family unhappiness, which seem incompatible with his salvation. Yet for all these things, prayer appears to bring so little remedy.
But what is the remedy that is wanted? What is the remedy indicated by God Himself? If we may rely on the disclosures of the saints, then it is an immense increase in devotion to Our Blessed Lady, but remember, NOTHING SHORT OF AN IMMENSE ONE. Mary is not half enough preached. Devotion to her is low and thin and poor...HENCE it is that Jesus is not loved. Jesus is obscured, because Mary is kept in the background. THOUSANDS OF SOULS PERISH, BECAUSE MARY IS WITHHELD FROM THEM. It is the miserable, unworthy shadow which we call our devotion to the Blessed Virgin, that is the cause of all these wants and blights, these evils and omissions and declines.
Yet, if we are to believe the revelations of the saints, God is pressing for a greater, a wider, a stronger, quite another devotion to His Blessed Mother. I cannot think of a higher work or a broader vocation for anyone than the simple spreading of this peculiar devotion of St. Louis de Montfort. Let a man but try it for himself, and his surprise at the graces it brings with it and the transformation it causes in his soul, will soon convince him of its incredible efficacy as a means of salvation for men and for the coming of the kingdom of Christ!" (Fr. Faber´s preface to the True Devotion to Mary)."
Now this is a powerful quote and it is absolutely true! But the same truth that it speaks about Mary is also true for Jesus Present among us in the Most Blessed Sacrament! These two cannot be separated. So I am asking and praying that this be the truth that motivates our very lives moment to moment.
" O sinners, be not discouraged but have recourse to Mary in all your necessities. Call her to your assistance, for you will always find her ready to help. It is God's will that she should help in every need. " - Saint Basil the Great (329 - 379) +++
What is Consecration?
Consecration means setting yourself aside for service to God. The Church has always advocated consecrating yourself to Jesus Christ through the Blessed Virgin, the perfect model of discipleship.
Perhaps the best known advocate of Marian consecration is St. Louis de Montfort (d. 1716). Modern day promoters include Pope John Paul II, who recommends an "act of entrustment" to Mary (the Holy Father's papal motto is an enthusiastic Totus Tuus, "Totally Yours.") You become a member of an international movement dedicated to the conversion and sanctification of the world and share in the maternal mission of Mary.
Am I Ready to Consecrate Myself Totally to Mary?
Marian Consecration is the spirit of continual conversion. Not everyone who performs Marian Consecration understands perfectly in the beginning the power of this consecration. But when lived in the spirit of willingness and humility, the Immaculata (Mary) will elevate our natural gifts and inspire us to holiness and fruitful service within the Church.
As Jesus said to those who would stand up and follow him: "Even greater things than these will you do (John 14:12)."
Consecrate yourself fully to Mary!
Consecrating yourself to Mary will be one of the most important days of your life. You will be placing yourself under the mantle of Mary's protective care as the Immaculate Conception, Mother of the Church and Mediatrix of All Graces.
Through total consecration you cooperate with Mary in the work of building up and renewing the Church of the third millennium. She will enlighten your mind, guide your will, empower your efforts and intercede for you in a special way before the throne of the Father.
" May the life of Mary, who gave birth to God, be for all of you as instructive as if it were written down. Come to know yourselves in her and carry out the good works that you have neglected in the past." - Saint Athanasius (293/297 - 373) +++
Start to read these two works:
The Secret of Mary by St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort
True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort
[Both of the above will be given below in their entirety in the next 5 weeks.]
The Secret of Mary
1. Here is a secret, chosen soul, which the most High God taught me and which I have not found in any book, ancient or modern. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, I am confiding it to you, with these conditions:
(1) That you share it only with people who deserve to know it because they are prayerful, give alms to the poor, do penance, suffer persecution, are unworldly, and work seriously for the salvation of souls.
(2) That you use this secret to become holy and worthy of heaven, for the more you make use of it the more benefit you will derive from it. Under no circumstances must you let this secret make you idle and inactive. It would then become harmful and lead to your ruin.
(3) That you thank God every day of your life for the grace he has given you in letting you into a secret that you do not deserve to know. As you go on using this secret in the ordinary actions of your life, you will come to understand its value and its excellent quality. At the beginning, however, your understanding of it will be clouded because of the seriousness and number of your sins, and your unconscious love of self.
2. Before you read any further, in an understandable impatience to learn this truth, kneel down and say devoutly the Ave Maris Stella ("Hail, thou star of ocean"), and the "Come, Holy Spirit", to ask God to help you understand and appreciate this secret given by him. As I have not much time for writing and you have little time for reading, I will be brief in what I have to say.
1. NECESSITY OF HAVING A TRUE DEVOTION TO MARY
A. THE GRACE OF GOD IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY
3. Chosen soul, living image of God and redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, God wants you to become holy like him in this life, and glorious like him in the next . It is certain that growth in the holiness of God is your vocation. All your thoughts, words, actions, everything you suffer or undertake must lead you towards that end. Otherwise you are resisting God in not doing the work for which he created you and for which he is even now keeping you in being. What a marvelous transformation is possible! Dust into light, uncleanness into purity, sinfulness into holiness, creature into Creator, man into God! A marvelous work, I repeat, so difficult in itself, and even impossible for a mere creature to bring about, for only God can accomplish it by giving his grace abundantly and in an extraordinary manner. The very creation of the universe is not as great an achievement as this.
4. Chosen soul, how will you bring this about? What steps will you take to reach the high level to which God is calling you? The means of holiness and salvation are known to everybody, since they are found in the gospel; the masters of the spiritual life have explained them; the saints have practised them and shown how essential they are for those who wish to be saved and attain perfection. These means are: sincere humility, unceasing prayer, complete self-denial, abandonment to divine Providence, and obedience to the will of God.
5. The grace and help of God are absolutely necessary for us to practise all these, but we are sure that grace will be given to all, though not in the same measure. I say "not in the same measure", because God does not give his graces in equal measure to everyone , although in his infinite goodness he always gives sufficient grace to each. A person who corresponds to great graces performs great works, and one who corresponds to lesser graces performs lesser works. The value and high standard of our actions corresponds to the value and perfection of the grace given by God and responded to by the faithful soul. No one can contest these principles.
B. TO FIND THE GRACE OF GOD, WE MUST DISCOVER MARY
6. It all comes to this, then. We must discover a simple means to obtain from God the grace needed to become holy. It is precisely this I wish to teach you. My contention is that you must first discover Mary if you would obtain this grace from God.
7. Let me explain:
(1) Mary alone found grace with God for herself and for every individual person. No patriarch or prophet or any other holy person of the Old Law could manage to find this grace.
8. (2) It was Mary who gave existence and life to the author of all grace, and because of this she is called the "Mother of Grace".
9. (3) God the Father, from whom, as from its essential source, every perfect gift and every grace come down to us , gave her every grace when he gave her his Son. Thus, as St Bernard says, the will of God is manifested to her in Jesus and with Jesus.
10. (4) God chose her to be the treasurer, the administrator and the dispenser of all his graces, so that all his graces and gifts pass through her hands. Such is the power that she has received from him that, according to St Bernardine, she gives the graces of the eternal Father, the virtues of Jesus Christ, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit to whom she wills, as and when she wills, and as much as she wills.
11. (5) As in the natural life a child must have a father and a mother, so in the supernatural life of grace a true child of the Church must have God for his Father and Mary for his mother. If he prides himself on having God for his Father but does not give to Mary the tender affection of a true child, he is an impostor and his father is the devil.
12. (6) Since Mary produced the head of the elect, Jesus Christ, she must also produce the members of that head, that is, all true Christians. A mother does not conceive a head without members, nor members without a head. If anyone, then, wishes to become a member of Jesus Christ, and consequently be filled with grace and truth , he must be formed in Mary through the grace of Jesus Christ, which she possesses with a fullness enabling her to communicate it abundantly to true members of Jesus Christ, her true children.
13. (7) The Holy Spirit espoused Mary and produced his greatest work, the incarnate Word, in her, by her and through her. He has never disowned her and so he continues to produce every day, in a mysterious but very real manner, the souls of the elect in her and through her.
14. (8) Mary received from God a unique dominion over souls enabling her to nourish them and make them more and more godlike. St Augustine went so far as to say that even in this world all the elect are enclosed in the womb of Mary, and that their real birthday is when this good mother brings them forth to eternal life. Consequently, just as an infant draws all its nourishment from its mother, who gives according to its needs, so the elect draw their spiritual nourishment and all their strength from Mary.
15. (9) It was to Mary that God the Father said, "Dwell in Jacob", that is, dwell in my elect who are typified by Jacob. It was to Mary that God the Son said, "My dear Mother, your inheritance is in Israel", that is, in the elect. It was to Mary that the Holy Spirit said, "Place your roots in my elect". Whoever, then, is of the chosen and predestinate will have the Blessed Virgin living within him, and he will let her plant in his very soul the roots of every virtue, but especially deep humility and ardent charity.
16. (10) Mary is called by St Augustine, and is indeed, the "living mould of God" . In her alone the God-man was formed in his human nature without losing any feature of the Godhead. In her alone, by the grace of Jesus Christ, man is made godlike as far as human nature is capable of it. A sculptor can make a statue or a life-like model in two ways:
(i) By using his skill, strength, experience and good tools to produce a statue out of hard, shapeless matter;
(ii) By making a cast of it in a mould. The first way is long and involved and open to all sorts of accidents. It only needs a faulty stroke of the chisel or hammer to ruin the whole work. The second is quick, easy, straightforward, almost effortless and inexpensive, but the mould must be perfect and true to life and the material must be easy to handle and offer no resistance.
17. Mary is the great mould of God, fashioned by the Holy Spirit to give human nature to a Man who is God by the hypostatic union, and to fashion through grace men who are like to God. No godly feature is missing from this mould. Everyone who casts himself into it and allows himself to be moulded will acquire every feature of Jesus Christ, true God, with little pain or effort, as befits his weak human condition. He will take on a faithful likeness to Jesus with no possibility of distortion, for the devil has never had and never will have any access to Mary, the holy and immaculate Virgin, in whom there is not the least suspicion of a stain of sin.
18. Dear friend, what a difference there is between a soul brought up in the ordinary way to resemble Jesus Christ by people who, like sculptors, rely on their own skill and industry, and a soul thoroughly tractable, entirely detached, most ready to be moulded in her by the working of the Holy Spirit. What blemishes and defects, what shadows and distortions, what natural and human imperfections are found in the first soul, and what a faithful and divine likeness to Jesus is found in the second!
19. There is not and there will never be, either in God's creation or in his mind, a creature in whom he is so honoured as in the most Blessed Virgin Mary, not excepting even the saints, the cherubim or the highest seraphim in heaven. Mary is God's garden of Paradise, his own unspeakable world, into which his Son entered to do wonderful things, to tend it and to take his delight in it. He created a world for the wayfarer, that is, the one we are living in. He created a second world - Paradise - for the Blessed. He created a third for himself, which he named Mary. She is a world unknown to most mortals here on earth. Even the angels and saints in heaven find her incomprehensible, and are lost in admiration of a God who is so exalted and so far above them, so distant from them, and so enclosed in Mary, his chosen world, that they exclaim: "Holy, holy, holy" unceasingly.
20. Happy, indeed sublimely happy, is the person to whom the Holy Spirit reveals the secret of Mary, thus imparting to him true knowledge of her. Happy the person to whom the Holy Spirit opens this enclosed garden for him to enter, and to whom the Holy Spirit gives access to this sealed fountain where he can draw water and drink deep draughts of the living waters of grace. That person will find only grace and no creature in the most lovable Virgin Mary. But he will find that the infinitely holy and exalted God is at the same time infinitely solicitous for him and understands his weaknesses. Since God is everywhere, he can be found everywhere, even in hell. But there is no place where God can be more present to his creature and more sympathetic to human weakness than in Mary. It was indeed for this very purpose that he came down from heaven. Everywhere else he is the Bread of the strong and the Bread of angels, but living in Mary he is the Bread of children.
21. Let us not imagine, then, as some misguided teachers do, that Mary being simply a creature would be a hindrance to union with the Creator. Far from it, for it is no longer Mary who lives but Jesus Christ himself, God alone, who lives in her. Her transformation into God far surpasses that experienced by St Paul and other saints, more than heaven surpasses the earth. Mary was created only for God, and it is unthinkable that she should reserve even one soul for herself. On the contrary she leads every soul to God and to union with him. Mary is the wonderful echo of God. The more a person joins himself to her, the more effectively she unites him to God. When we say "Mary", she re-echoes "God". When, like St Elizabeth, we call her blessed, she gives the honour to God. If those misguided ones who were so sadly led astray by the devil, even in their prayer-life, had known how to discover Mary, and Jesus through her, and God through Jesus, they would not have had such terrible falls. The saints tell us that when we have once found Mary, and through Mary Jesus, and through Jesus God the Father, then we have discovered every good. When we say "every good", we except nothing. "Every good" includes every grace, continuous friendship with God, every protection against the enemies of God, possession of truth to counter every falsehood, endless benefits and unfailing headway against the hazards we meet on the way to salvation, and finally every consolation and joy amid the bitter afflictions of life.
22. This does not mean that one who has discovered Mary through a genuine devotion is exempt from crosses and sufferings. Far from it! One is tried even more than others, because Mary, as Mother of the living, gives to all her children splinters of the tree of life, which is the Cross of Jesus. But while meting out crosses to them she gives the grace to bear them with patience, and even with joy. In this way, the crosses she sends to those who trust themselves to her are rather like sweetmeats, i.e. "sweetened" crosses rather than "bitter" ones. If from time to time they do taste the bitterness of the chalice from which we must drink to become proven friends of God, the consolation and joy which their Mother sends in the wake of their sorrows creates in them a strong desire to carry even heavier and still more bitter crosses.
C. A TRUE DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN IS INDISPENSABLE
23. The difficulty, then, is how to arrive at the true knowledge of the most holy Virgin and so find grace in abundance through her. God, as the absolute Master, can give directly what he ordinarily dispenses only through Mary, and it would be rash to deny that he sometimes does so. However, St Thomas assures us that, following the order established by his divine Wisdom, God ordinarily imparts his graces to men through Mary. Therefore, if we wish to go to him, seeking union with him, we must use the same means which he used in coming down from heaven to assume our human nature and to impart his graces to us. That means was a complete dependence on Mary his Mother, which is true devotion to her.
Below you will find some more explanation and a Q&A on Marian Consecration. Following this you will find daily prayers to say for the one who wishes to perform this Consecration as well as more readings to continue to prepare you for the Consecration on Saturday, June 16, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The preparation for the Consecration of a person to Jesus through Mary may take different forms. The most important part is that you make the effort to prepare yourself to become a child, and yes, a holy slave of love for the Blessed Mother Mary. Again this is not a half commitment reality. This is an all or nothing ritual. Each candidate for the consecration should recognize that there has been a growth in love for Mary and in knowledge of what it means to be her child and her slave. This preparation is designed not just to have the candidate pray more. What is more important is that each candidate prays better, or, to put it another way- that each candidate prays as Jesus and Mary want him to pray. -Father Robert
" The Mother of God contained the infinite God under her Heart, the God Whom no space can contain. Through her, the Trinity is adored, demons are vanquished, Satan is cast out of heaven, and our fallen nature is assumed into heaven." - Saint Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) +++
What is the goal of this Marian consecration?
The goal of this Consecration to Mary is to live the greatest commandment given to us by Jesus: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, strength' (Mk 12:30). The means to achieve this goal is to become a holy slave to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
What does 'consecration' mean?
To consecrate something means to set it apart from other things in order to fulfill some holy purpose. In this case, when we consecrate ourselves to the Blessed Virgin, we become her holy slaves.
What do I have to do to prepare?
To become a holy slave of Mary, we suggest that a candidate follows certain spiritual exercises and prayers. These prayers should move your heart toward wanting to do all things through, with, in, and for Jesus and Mary.
How long will it take?
Five weeks and we are already a week in. There are mainly four different sections: two week for the candidate to renounce the spirit of the world, one week to grow in knowledge of Self, one week for Mary, and one week for Jesus. The consecration will then last for a life-time, as long as the holy slave wants to continue to be the property of Mary.
How long will it take to pray each day?
The candidate should distribute the prayers through out the day. But if the prayers are prayed together at one time, especially in a small group, the time necessary may be about 15 minutes.
Who can answer my questions?
Ask any priest of Jesus in Mary.
What if I want to stop this preparation?
Of course, no one can be forced to continue this preparation if they do not want to complete it. Furthermore, the suggestions to go to confession and prayer the prayers are not commands but rather counsels. These suggestions should be followed eagerly by someone wishing to fulfill this preparation well.
When is the consecration day?
The Consecration Day is Saturday, June 16, 2007. Try to attend the Holy Mass and say the Consecration Prayer there. You may want to dress your best for the consecration. Of course, the Consecration Prayer may be said anywhere even in private.
What do I have to give to Mary on the day of the consecration?
A candidate should offer the Blessed Mother Mary some gift on that day. St Louis says, “It would be very becoming if on that day they offered some tribute to Jesus and his Mother, either as a penance for past unfaithfulness to the promises made in baptism or as a sign of their submission to the sovereignty of Jesus and Mary. Such a tribute would be in accordance with each one's ability and fervour and may take the form of fasting, an act of self-denial, the gift of an alms or the offering of a votive candle. If they gave only a pin as a token of their homage, provided it were given with a good heart, it would satisfy Jesus who considers only the good intention” (True Devotion 232).
What are the commitments of this consecration?
Each candidate for the consecration to Mary should anticipate what being a holy slave entails. The holy slave should follow the exterior and interior practices of this devotion. A guide for continuing to be a slave of Mary is to remain in the state of grace and to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation frequently (at least once a month). Each holy slave should also make the commitment to spread this devotion to the Blessed Mother in some way. Even if a holy slave just helps one person at a time to know more about the Blessed Mother, that holy slave may be fulfilling their commitment. Overall, the holy slave makes the commitment of doing the will of God in his or her life.
What do I have to do after the consecration?
We suggest that each candidate for the consecration decide how to renew this consecration daily. One suggestion might be to say "I am all yours and all I have is yours, O dear Jesus, through Mary, your holy Mother."
The Consecration is both interior and exterior. Each “holy slave” of the Blessed Mother Mary should be able to notice interior and exterior differences. These practices and effects are discussed by St. Louis:
One concrete way to make sure that a holy slave is living this consecration and preserving the commitment is to have a spiritual director. This director is usually a priest, sister, or a wise person. They guide you in your life and help you to live your commitments of Baptism and Marian consecration.
Daily Prayers in Preparation for Marian Consecration
The Act of Contrition
“O my God, I repent with my whole heart of all my sins, and I detest them, because I have deserved the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because I have offended you, infinite Goodness. I firmly purpose with the help of your grace, which I pray you to grant me now and always, to do penance and rather to die than offend you again. I purpose also to receive the holy Sacraments during my life and at my death”
To be prayed at the beginning of each prayer below:
Leader: Let us commend ourselves and all people to the love and protection of the Mother of God.
All: Holy Mother of God, Mary ever Virgin, intercede for us with the Lord our God.
Leader: God who is mighty has done great things for us.
All: And holy is God's name.
Leader: Let us pray:
Mary, on this, the Lord's Day, We celebrate with joy the fulfillment of the miracle God began in your womb. He became what we are So that we might become what he is. He is Risen, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. He reigns as Lord and God forever. In your marveling at the great things the Mighty One worked in you, We find our own awe at being chosen sons (and daughters) of God, Of being empowered to become a nation of saints, Of being commissioned to bear Christ to the world. With you as our companion and model, May God bring this good work to completion And may our dedication to you of all that we have and are Bring us to share in your blessedness. Amen.
Mary, God has worked a great wonder: Jesus is risen! No longer are we caught in the cords of death, for he has loosened our bonds. No longer need we walk in fear, for he has become our strong hope. No longer are we alone and estranged, for he has called us friends. May your faith in the face of death-even death on the cross, May your hope-almost buried with him in the tomb, May your love-nearly staunched by the fear of his disciples, May your joy in the Resurrected Savior be ours this day, As we, in your name for your honor, live out our Easter mission To go forth and teach all peoples. Amen.
Mary, We, your sons (and daughters) Look to you as we treasure and ponder The Rising of Jesus-your Son and our brother. Teach us how that marvelous moment can topple the proud, elevate the lowly, feed the hungry, and mission the rich-even today. Confident in God's power and love, trusting in the Risen Lord, Relying on the Promised Advocate, The Spirit of Life and of Truth, We dedicate our lives, in your name and for your honor to the transforming power of Easter. Amen.
Mary, In the brilliant light of Easter, Teach us, too, that nothing is impossible with God. All our struggles with self and others, all our disappointments and shames, all our failures and sinfulness are as nothing in this healing, life-giving light. Accept, then, our all. May God look upon it, as once did the Mighty One upon our lowliness, So that we might be gifted with that blessedness Promised to all sons and daughters of the Resurrection. Amen.
Mary, we sing our Alleluias today, for Jesus is risen. Our souls proclaim the greatness of God, Our spirits rejoice in our Risen Savior. May your song be sung in our lives at every moment of this day so that God's power, which can do far more than we can ask or imagine, May continue to call life from death and light from darkness, Transforming our meager efforts into your Son's victory over death. Amen.
Mary, The cross of death has become the Tree of Life, and we rejoice. God has sent forth the Spirit, and the world quickens to life anew. Jesus is risen! Teach us no more to fear the sword of division and death; teach us to welcome Jesus, the sign of contradiction, And to lay bare the thoughts of our hearts to the healing light of Easter. Then, in your name and for your honor, we will live in the Paschal Mystery Today and, with you, see it fulfilled on the day of Resurrection. Amen.
Mary, we ask for your powerful presence this day, just as you shared it with the frightened disciples in the Upper Room. Teach us, as you did them, to rely upon God's promises, upon our brother and Lord, Jesus, and Upon the Advocate and Comforter, The Spirit of Life and Love and Truth. May we live as you did, in strong hope and invicible confidence. And be transformed by the power of the Resurrection Into true hearers and doers of God's will. Amen.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee and for all who do not have recourse to thee, especially the enemies of the Church.
If you have the time, offer the Holy Rosary.
"The devil is always looking for someone to devour. In the same way, Mary is always looking for someone she can help in any way."- Pope Saint Leo I " the Great ", ( Reigned 440 - 461 ) +++
Start to read these two works:
The Secret of Mary by St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort
True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort
[Both of the above will be given below in their entirety in the next 5 weeks.]
Rest of The Secret of Mary
2. WHAT PERFECT DEVOTION TO MARY CONSISTS IN
A. SOME TRUE DEVOTIONS TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
24. There are indeed several true devotions to our Lady. I do not intend treating of those which are false.
25. The first consists in fulfilling the duties of our Christian state, avoiding all mortal sin, performing our actions for God more through love than through fear, praying to our Lady occasionally, and honouring her as the Mother of God, but without our devotion to her being exceptional.
26. The second consists in entertaining for our Lady deeper feelings of esteem and love, of confidence and veneration. This devotion inspires us to join the confraternities of the Holy Rosary and the Scapular, to say the five or fifteen decades of the Rosary, to venerate our Lady's pictures and shrines, to make her known to others, and to enroll in her sodalities. This devotion, in keeping us from sin, is good, holy and praiseworthy, but it is not as perfect as the third, nor as effective in detaching us from creatures, or in practising that self-denial necessary for union with Jesus Christ.
27. The third devotion to our Lady is one which is unknown to many and practised by very few. This is the one I am about to present to you.
B. THE PERFECT PRACTICE OF DEVOTION TO MARY
[1. What it consists in]
28. Chosen soul, this devotion consists in surrendering oneself in the manner of a slave to Mary, and to Jesus through her, and then performing all our actions with Mary, in Mary, through Mary, and for Mary. Let me explain this statement further.
29. We should choose a special feast-day on which to give ourselves. Then, willingly and lovingly and under no constraint, we consecrate and sacrifice to her unreservedly our body and soul. We give to her our material possessions, such as house, family, income, and even the inner possessions of our soul, namely, our merits, graces, virtues and atonements. Notice that in this devotion we sacrifice to Jesus through Mary all that is most dear to us, that is, the right to dispose of ourselves, of the value of our prayers and alms, of our acts of self- denial and atonements. This is a sacrifice which no religious order would require of its members. We leave everything to the free disposal of our Lady, for her to use as she wills for the greater glory of God, of which she alone is perfectly aware.
30. We leave to her the right to dispose of all the satisfactory and prayer value of our good deeds, so that, after having done so and without going so far as making a vow, we cease to be master over any good we do. Our Lady may use our good deeds either to bring relief or deliverance to a soul in purgatory, or perhaps to bring a change of heart to a poor sinner.
31. By this devotion we place our merits in the hands of our Lady, but only that she may preserve, increase and embellish them, since merit for increase of grace and glory cannot be handed over to any other person. But we give to her all our prayers and good works, inasmuch as they have intercessory and atonement value, for her to distribute and apply to whom she pleases. If, after having thus consecrated ourselves to our Lady, we wish to help a soul in purgatory, rescue a sinner, or assist a friend by a prayer, an alms, an act of self-denial or an act of self-sacrifice, we must humbly request it of our Lady, abiding always by her decision, which of course remains unknown to us. We can be fully convinced that the value of our actions, being dispensed by that same hand which God himself uses to distribute his gifts and graces to us, cannot fail to be applied for his greatest glory.
32. I have said that this devotion consists in adopting the status of a slave with regard to Mary. We must remember that there are three kinds of slavery. There is, first, a slavery based on nature. All men, good and bad alike, are slaves of God in this sense. The second is a slavery of compulsion. The devils and the damned are slaves of God in this second sense. The third is a slavery of love and free choice. This is the kind chosen by one who consecrates himself to God through Mary, and this is the most perfect way for us human beings to give ourselves to God, our Creator.
33. Note that there is a vast difference between a servant and a slave. A servant claims wages for his services, but a slave can claim no reward. A servant is free to leave his employer when he likes and serves him only for a time, but a slave belongs to his master for life and has no right to leave him. A servant does not give his employer a right of life and death over him, but a slave is so totally committed that his master can put him to death without fearing any action by the law. It is easy to see, then, that no dependence is so absolute as that of a person who is a slave by compulsion. Strictly speaking, no man should be dependent to this extent on anyone except his Creator. We therefore do not find this kind of slavery among Christians, but only among Muslims and pagans.
34. But happy, very happy indeed, will the generous person be who, prompted by love, consecrates himself entirely to Jesus through Mary as their slave, after having shaken off by baptism the tyrannical slavery of the devil.
[2. The excellence of this practice of devotion]
35. I would need much more enlightenment from heaven to describe adequately the surpassing merit of this devotional practice. I shall limit myself to these few remarks: 1. In giving ourselves to Jesus through Mary's hands, we imitate God the Father, who gave us his only Son through Mary, and who imparts his graces to us only through Mary. Likewise we imitate God the Son, who by giving us his example for us to follow, inspires us to go to him using the same means he used in coming to us, that is, through Mary. Again, we imitate the Holy Spirit, who bestows his graces and gifts upon us through Mary. "Is it not fitting," remarks St Bernard, "that grace should return to its author by the same channel that conveyed it to us?"
36. 2. In going to Jesus through Mary, we are really paying honour to our Lord, for we are showing that, because of our sins, we are unworthy to approach his infinite holiness directly on our own. We are showing that we need Mary, his holy Mother, to be our advocate and mediatrix with him who is our Mediator. We are going to Jesus as Mediator and Brother, and at the same time humbling ourselves before him who is our God and our Judge. In short, we are practising humility, something which always gladdens the heart of God.
37. 3. Consecrating ourselves in this way to Jesus through Mary implies placing our good deeds in Mary's hands. Now, although these deeds may appear good to us, they are often defective, and not worthy to be considered and accepted by God, before whom even the stars lack brightness. Let us pray, then, to our dear Mother and Queen that having accepted our poor present, she may purify it, sanctify it, beautify it, and so make it worthy of God. Any good our soul could produce is of less value to God our Father, in winning his friendship and favour, than a worm-eaten apple would be in the sight of a king, when presented by a poor peasant to his royal master as payment for the rent of his farm. But what would the peasant do if he were wise and if he enjoyed the esteem of the queen? Would he not present his apple first to her, and would she not, out of kindness to the poor man and out of respect for the king, remove from the apple all that was maggoty and spoilt, place it on a golden dish, and surround it with flowers? Could the king then refuse the apple? Would he not accept it most willingly from the hands of his queen who showed such loving concern for that poor man? "If you wish to present something to God, no matter how small it may be," says St Bernard, "place it in the hands of Mary to ensure its certain acceptance."
38. Dear God, how everything we do comes to so very little! But let us adopt this devotion and place everything in Mary's hands. When we have given her all we possibly can, emptying ourselves completely to do her honour, she far surpasses our generosity and gives us very much for very little. She enriches us with her own merits and virtues. She places our gift on the golden dish of her charity and clothes us, as Rebecca clothed Jacob, in the beautiful garments of her first-born and only Son, Jesus Christ, which are his merits, and which are at her disposal. Thus, as her servants and slaves, stripping ourselves of everything to do her honour, we are clad by her in double garments - namely, the garments, adornments, perfumes, merits and virtues of Jesus and Mary. These are imparted to the soul of the slave who has emptied himself and is resolved to remain in that state.
39. 4. Giving ourselves in this way to our Lady is a practice of charity towards our neighbour of the highest possible degree, because in making ourselves over to Mary, we give her all that we hold most dear and we let her dispose of it as she wishes in favour of the living and the dead.
40. 5. In adopting this devotion, we put our graces, merits and virtues into safe keeping by making Mary the depositary of them. It is as if we said to her, "See, my dear Mother, here is the good that I have done through the grace of your dear Son. I am not capable of keeping it, because of my weakness and inconstancy, and also because so many wicked enemies are assailing me day and night. Alas, every day we see cedars of Lebanon fall into the mire, and eagles which had soared towards the sun become birds of darkness, a thousand of the just falling to the left and ten thousand to the right. But, most powerful Queen, hold me fast lest I fall. Keep a guard on all my possessions lest I be robbed of them. I entrust all I have to you, for I know well who you are, and that is why I confide myself entirely to you. You are faithful to God and man, and you will not suffer anything I entrust to you to perish. You are powerful, and nothing can harm you or rob you of anything you hold." "When you follow Mary you will not go astray; when you pray to her, you will not despair; when your mind is on her, you will not wander; when she holds you up, you will not fall; when she protects you, you will have no fear; when she guides you, you will feel no fatigue; when she is on your side, you will arrive safely home" (Saint Bernard). And again, "She keeps her Son from striking us; she prevents the devil from harming us; she preserves virtue in us; she prevents our merits from being lost and our graces from receding." These words of St Bernard explain in substance all that I have said. Had I but this one motive to impel me to choose this devotion, namely, that of keeping me in the grace of God and increasing that grace in me, my heart would burn with longing for it.
41. This devotion makes the soul truly free by imbuing it with the liberty of the children of God. Since we lower ourselves willingly to a state of slavery out of love for Mary, our dear Mother, she out of gratitude opens wide our hearts enabling us to walk with giant strides in the way of God's commandments. She delivers our souls from weariness, sadness and scruples. It was this devotion that our Lord taught to Mother Agnes de Langeac, a religious who died in the odour of sanctity, as a sure way of being freed from the severe suffering and confusion of mind which afflicted her. "Make yourself," she said, "my Mother's slave and wear her little chain." She did so, and from that time onwards her troubles ceased.
42. To prove that this devotion is authoritatively sanctioned, we need only recall the bulls of the popes and the pastoral letters of bishops recommending it, as well as the indulgences accorded to it, the confraternities founded to promote it, and the examples of many saints and illustrious people who have practised it. But I do not see any necessity to record them here.
[3. The interior constituents of this consecration and its spirit]
43. I have already said that this devotion consists in performing all our actions with Mary, in Mary, through Mary, and for Mary.
44. It is not enough to give ourselves just once as a slave to Jesus through Mary; nor is it enough to renew that consecration once a month or once a week. That alone would make it just a passing devotion and would not raise the soul to the level of holiness which it is capable of reaching. It is easy to enroll in a confraternity; easy to undertake this devotion, and say every day the few vocal prayers prescribed. The chief difficulty is to enter into its spirit, which requires an interior dependence on Mary, and effectively becoming her slave and the slave of Jesus through her. I have met many people who with admirable zeal have set about practising exteriorly this holy slavery of Jesus and Mary, but I have met only a few who have caught its interior spirit, and fewer still who have persevered in it.
Act with Mary
45. 1. The essential practice of this devotion is to perform all our actions with Mary. This means that we must take her as the accomplished model for all we have to do.
46. Before undertaking anything, we must forget self and abandon our own views. We must consider ourselves as a mere nothing before God, as being personally incapable of doing anything supernaturally worthwhile or anything conducive to our salvation. We must have habitual recourse to our Lady, becoming one with her and adopting her intentions, even though they are unknown to us. Through Mary we must adopt the intentions of Jesus. In other words, we must become an instrument in Mary's hands for her to act in us and do with us what she pleases, for the greater glory of her Son; and through Jesus for the greater glory of the Father. In this way , we pursue our interior life and make spiritual progress only in dependence on Mary.
Act in Mary
47. 2. We must always act in Mary, that is to say, we must gradually acquire the habit of recollecting ourselves interiorly and so form within us an idea or a spiritual image of Mary. She must become, as it were, an Oratory for the soul where we offer up our prayers to God without fear of being ignored. She will be as a Tower of David for us where we can seek safety from all our enemies. She will be a burning lamp lighting up our inmost soul and inflaming us with love for God. She will be a sacred place of repose where we can contemplate God in her company. Finally Mary will be the only means we will use in going to God, and she will become our intercessor for everything we need. When we pray we will pray in Mary. When we receive Jesus in Holy Communion we will place him in Mary for him to take his delight in her. If we do anything at all, it will be in Mary, and in this way Mary will help us to forget self everywhere and in all things.
Act through Mary
48. 3. We must never go to our Lord except through Mary, using her intercession and good standing with him. We must never be without her when praying to Jesus.
Act for Mary
49. 4. We must perform all our actions for Mary, which means that as slaves of this noble Queen we will work only for her, promoting her interests and her high renown, and making this the first aim in all our acts, while the glory of God will always be our final end. In everything we must renounce self- love because more often than not, without our being aware of it, selfishness sets itself up as the end of all we work for. We should often repeat from the depths of our heart: "Dear Mother, it is to please you that I go here or there, that I do this or that, that I suffer this pain or this injury."
50. Beware, chosen soul, of thinking that it is more perfect to direct your work and intention straight to Jesus or straight to God. Without Mary, your work and your intention will be of little value. But if you go to God through Mary, your work will become Mary's work, and consequently will be most noble and most worthy of God.
51. Again, beware of doing violence to yourself, endeavouring to experience pleasure in your prayers and good deeds. Pray and act always with something of that pure faith which Mary showed when on earth, and which she will share with you as time goes on. Poor little slave, let your sovereign Queen enjoy the clear sight of God, the raptures, delights, satisfactions and riches of heaven. Content yourself with a pure faith, which is accompanied by repugnance, distractions, weariness and dryness. Let your prayer be: "To whatever Mary my Queen does in heaven, I say Amen, so be it." We cannot do better than this for the time being.
52. Should you not savour immediately the sweet presence of the Blessed Virgin within you, take great care not to torment yourself. For this is a grace not given to everyone, and even when God in his great mercy favours a soul with this grace, it remains none the less very easy to lose it, except when the soul has become permanently aware of it through the habit of recollection. But should this misfortune happen to you, go back calmly to your sovereign Queen and make amends to her.
[4. The effects that this devotion produces in a faithful soul]
53 Experience will teach you much more about this devotion than I can tell you, but, if you remain faithful to the little I have taught you, you will acquire a great richness of grace that will surprise you and fill you with delight.
54. Let us set to work, then, dear soul, through perseverance in the living of this devotion, in order that Mary's soul may glorify the Lord in us and her spirit be within us to rejoice in God her Saviour. Let us not think that there was more glory and happiness in dwelling in Abraham's bosom - which is another name for Paradise - than in dwelling in the bosom of Mary where God has set up his throne.
55. This devotion faithfully practised produces countless happy effects in the soul. The most important of them is that it establishes, even here on earth, Mary's life in the soul, so that it is no longer the soul that lives, but Mary who lives in it. In a manner of speaking, Mary's soul becomes identified with the soul of her servant. Indeed when by an unspeakable but real grace Mary most holy becomes Queen of a soul, she works untold wonders in it. She is a great wonder-worker especially in the interior of souls. She works there in secret, unsuspected by the soul, as knowledge of it might destroy the beauty of her work.
56. As Mary is everywhere the fruitful Virgin, she produces in the depths of the soul where she dwells a purity of heart and body, a singleness of intention and purpose, and a fruitfulness in good works. Do not think, dear soul, that Mary, the most faithful of all God's creatures, who went as far as to give birth to a God-man, remains idle in a docile soul. She causes Jesus to live continuously in that soul and that soul to live in continuous union with Jesus. If Jesus is equally the fruit of Mary for each individual soul as for all souls in general, he is even more especially her fruit and her masterpiece in the soul where she is present.
57. To sum up, Mary becomes all things for the soul that wishes to serve Jesus Christ. She enlightens his mind with her pure faith. She deepens his heart with her humility. She enlarges and inflames his heart with her charity, makes it pure with her purity, makes it noble and great through her motherly care. But why dwell any longer on this? Experience alone will teach us the wonders wrought by Mary in the soul, wonders so great that the wise and the proud, and even a great number of devout people find it hard to credit them.
58. As it was through Mary that God came into the world the first time in a state of self-abasement and privation, may we not say that it will be again through Mary that he will come the second time? For does not the whole Church expect him to come and reign over all the earth and to judge the living and the dead? No one knows how and when this will come to pass, but we do know that God, whose thoughts are further from ours than heaven is from earth, will come at a time and in a manner least expected, even by the most scholarly of men and those most versed in Holy Scripture, which gives no clear guidance on this subject.
59. We are given reason to believe that, towards the end of time and perhaps sooner than we expect, God will raise up great men filled with the Holy Spirit and imbued with the spirit of Mary. Through them Mary, Queen most powerful, will work great wonders in the world, destroying sin and setting up the kingdom of Jesus her Son upon the ruins of the corrupt kingdom of the world. These holy men will accomplish this by means of the devotion of which I only trace the main outlines and which suffers from my incompetence.
[5. Exterior practices]
60. Besides interior practices, which we have just mentioned, this devotion has certain exterior practices which must not be omitted or neglected.
[Consecration and its renewal]
61. The first is to choose a special feast-day to consecrate ourselves through Mary to Jesus, whose slaves we are making ourselves. This is an occasion for receiving Holy Communion and spending the day in prayer. At least once a year on the same day, we should renew the act of consecration.
[Offering of a tribute in submission to the Blessed Virgin]
62. The second is to give our Lady every year on that same day some little tribute as a token of our servitude and dependence. This has always been the customary homage paid by slaves to their master. This tribute could consist of an act of self-denial or an alms, or a pilgrimage, or a few prayers. St Peter Damian tells us that his brother, Blessed Marino, used to give himself the discipline in public on the same day every year before the altar of our Lady. This kind of zeal is not required, nor would we counsel it. But what little we give to our Lady we should at least offer with a heart that is humble and grateful.
[A Special Celebration of the Feast of the Annunciation]
63. The third practice is to celebrate every year with special fervour the feast of the Annunciation of our Lord. This is the distinctive feast of this devotion and was chosen so that we might honour and imitate that dependence which the eternal Word accepted on this day out of love for us.
[The Saying of the Little Crown and the Magnificat]
64. The fourth practice is to say every day, without the obligation of sin, the prayer entitled "The Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin", which comprises three Our Fathers and twelve Hail Marys, and to say frequently the Magnificat, which is the only hymn composed by our Lady. In the Magnificat we thank God for favouring us in the past, and we beg further blessings from him in the future. One special time when we should not fail to say it is during thanksgiving after Holy Communion. A person so scholarly as Gerson informs us that our Lady herself used to recite it in thanksgiving after Holy Communion.
[The wearing of a little chain]
65. The fifth is the wearing of a small blessed chain either around the neck, on the arm, on the foot, or about the body. Strictly speaking, this practice can be omitted without affecting the essential nature of the devotion , but just the same it would be wrong to despise or condemn it, and foolhardy to neglect it. Here are the reasons for wearing this external sign:
(1) It signifies that we are free from the baneful chains of original and actual sin which held us in bondage.
(2) By it we show our esteem for the cords and bonds of love with which our Lord let himself be bound that we might be truly free.
(3) As these bonds are bonds of love, they remind us that we should do nothing except under the influence of love.
(4) Finally, wearing this chain recalls to us once more that we are dependent on Jesus and Mary as their slaves. Eminent people who had become slaves of Jesus and Mary valued these little chains so much that they were unhappy at not being allowed to trail them publicly like the slaves of the Muslims. These chains of love are more valuable and more glorious than the necklaces of gold and precious stones worn by emperors, because they are the illustrious insignia of Jesus and Mary, and signify the bonds uniting us to them. It should be noted that if the chains are not of silver, they should for convenience' sake at least be made of iron. They should never be laid aside at any time, so that they may be with us even to the day of judgment. Great will be the joy , glory and triumph of the faithful slave on that day when, at the sound of the trumpet, his bones rise from the earth still bound by the chain of holy bondage, which to all appearance has not decayed. This thought alone should convince a devout slave never to take off his chain, however inconvenient it may be.
A. PRAYER TO JESUS
66. Most loving Jesus, permit me to express my heartfelt gratitude to you for your kindness in giving me to your holy Mother through the devotion of holy bondage, and so making her my advocate to plead with your Majesty on my behalf, and make up for all that I lack through my inadequacy. Alas, O Lord, I am so wretched that without my dear Mother I would certainly be lost. Yes, I always need Mary when I am approaching you. I need her to calm your indignation at the many offences I have committed every day. I need her to save me from the just sentence of eternal punishment I have deservedly incurred. I need her to turn to you, speak to you, pray to you, approach you and please you. I need her to help me save my soul and the souls of others. In a word, I need her so that I may always do your holy will and seek your greater glory in everything I do. Would that I could publish throughout the whole world the mercy which you have shown to me! Would that the whole world could know that without Mary I would now be doomed! If only I could offer adequate thanks for such a great benefit as Mary! She is within me. What a precious possession and what a consolation for me! Should I not in return be all hers? If I were not , how ungrateful would I be! My dear Saviour, send me death rather than I should be guilty of such a lapse, for I would rather die than not belong to Mary. Like St. John the Evangelist at the foot of the Cross, I have taken her times without number as my total good and as often have I given myself to her. But if I have not done so as perfectly as you, dear Jesus, would wish, I now do so according to your desire. If you still see in my soul or body anything that does not belong to this noble Queen, please pluck it out and cast it far from me, because anything of mine which does not belong to Mary is unworthy of you.
67. Holy Spirit, grant me all these graces. Implant in my soul the tree of true life, which is Mary. Foster it and cultivate it so that it grows and blossoms and brings forth the fruit of life in abundance. Holy Spirit, give me a great love and longing for Mary, your exalted spouse. Give me a great trust in her maternal heart and a continuous access to her compassion, so that with her you may truly form Jesus, great and powerful, in me until I attain the fullness of his perfect age. Amen.
B. PRAYER TO MARY
[FOR HER FAITHFUL SLAVES]
68. Hail, Mary, most beloved daughter of the eternal Father; hail, Mary, most admirable mother of the Son; hail, Mary, most faithful spouse of the Holy Spirit; hail, Mary, Mother most dear, Lady most lovable, Queen most powerful! Hail, Mary, my joy, my glory, my heart and soul. You are all mine through God's mercy, but I am all yours in justice. Yet I do not belong sufficiently to you, and so once again, as a slave who always belongs to his master, I give myself wholly to you, reserving nothing for myself or for others. If you still see anything in me which is not given to you, please take it now. Make yourself completely owner of all my capabilities. Destroy in me everything that is displeasing to God. Uproot it and bring it to nothing. Implant in me all that you deem to be good; improve it and make it increase in me. May the light of your faith dispel the darkness of my mind. May your deep humility take the place of my pride. May your heavenly contemplation put an end to the distractions of my wandering imagination. May your continuous vision of God fill my memory with his presence. May the burning love of your heart inflame the coldness of mine. May your virtues take the place of my sins. May your merits be my adornment and make up for my unworthiness before God. Finally, most dearly beloved Mother, grant, if it be possible, that I may have no other spirit but yours to know Jesus and his divine will. May I have no soul but yours to praise and glorify the Lord. May I have no heart but yours to love God purely and ardently as you love him.
69. I do not ask for visions or revelations, for sensible devotion or even spiritual pleasures. It is your privilege to see God clearly in perpetual light. It is your privilege to savour the delights of heaven where nothing is without sweetness. It is your privilege to triumph gloriously in heaven at the right hand of your Son without further humiliation, and to command angels, men, and demons, without resistance on their part. It is your privilege to dispose at your own choice of all the good gifts of God without any exception. Such, most holy Mary, is the excellent portion which the Lord has given you, and which will never be taken from you, and which gives me great joy. As for my portion here on earth, I wish only to have a share in yours, that is, to have simple faith without seeing or tasting, to suffer joyfully without the consolation of men, to die daily to myself without flinching, to work gallantly for you even until death without any self-interest, as the most worthless of your slaves. The only grace I beg you in your kindness to obtain for me is that every day and moment of my life I may say this threefold Amen: Amen, so be it, to all you did upon earth; Amen, so be it, to all you are doing now in heaven; Amen, so be it, to all you are doing in my soul. In that way, you and you alone will fully glorify Jesus in me during all my life and throughout eternity. Amen.
4. THE CARE AND GROWTH OF THE TREE OF LIFE
or, in other words, HOW BEST TO CAUSE MARY TO LIVE AND REIGN IN OUR SOULS
[A. The holy slavery of love. The Tree of life.]
70. Have you understood with the help of the Holy Spirit what I have tried to explain in the preceding pages? If so, be thankful to God. It is a secret of which very few people are aware. If you have discovered this treasure in the field of Mary, this pearl of great price, you should sell all you have to purchase it. You must offer yourself to Mary, happily lose yourself in her, only to find God in her. If the Holy Spirit has planted in your soul the true Tree of Life, which is the devotion that I have just explained, you should see carefully to its cultivation, so that it will yield its fruit in due season. This devotion is like the mustard seed of the Gospel, which is indeed the smallest of all seeds, but nevertheless it grows into a big plant, shooting up so high that the birds of the air, that is, the elect, come and make their nest in its branches. They repose there, shaded from the heat of the sun, and safely hidden from beasts of prey.
[B. How to cultivate it]
Here is the best way, chosen soul, to cultivate it:
71. (1) This tree, once planted in a docile heart, requires fresh air and no human support. Being of heavenly origin, it must be uninfluenced by any creature, since a creature might hinder it from rising up towards God who created it. Hence you must not rely on your own endeavours or your natural talents or your personal standing or the guidance of men. You must resort to Mary, relying solely on her help.
72. (2) The person in whose soul this tree has taken root must, like a good gardener, watch over it and protect it. For this tree, having life and capable of producing the fruit of life, should be raised and tended with enduring care and attention of soul. A soul that desires to be holy will make this its chief aim and occupation.
73. Whatever is likely to choke the tree or in the course of time prevent its yielding fruit, such as thorns and thistles, must be cut away and rooted out. This means that by self-denial and self- discipline you must sedulously cut short and even give up all empty pleasures and useless dealings with other creatures. In other words, you must crucify the flesh, keep a guard over the tongue, and mortify the bodily senses.
74. (3) You must guard against grubs doing harm to the tree. These parasites are love of self and love of comfort, and they eat away the green foliage of the Tree and frustrate the fair hope it offered of yielding good fruit; for love of self is incompatible with love of Mary.
75. (4) You must not allow this tree to be damaged by destructive animals, that is, by sins, for they may cause its death simply by their contact. They must not be allowed even to breathe upon the Tree, because their mere breath, that is, venial sins, which are most dangerous when we do not trouble ourselves about them.
76. (5) It is also necessary to water this Tree regularly with your Communions, Masses and other public and private prayers. Otherwise it will not continue bearing fruit.
77. (6) Yet you need not be alarmed when the winds blow and shake this tree, for it must happen that the storm-winds of temptation will threaten to bring it down, and snow and frost tend to smother it. By this we mean that this devotion to our Blessed Lady will surely be called into question and attacked. But as long as we continue steadfastly in tending it, we have nothing to fear.
[C. Its lasting fruit: Jesus Christ]
78. Chosen soul, provided you thus carefully cultivate the Tree of Life, which has been freshly planted in your soul by the Holy Spirit, I can assure you that in a short time it will grow so tall that the birds of the air will make their home in it. It will become such a good tree that it will yield in due season the sweet and adorable Fruit of honour and grace, which is Jesus, who has always been and will always be the only fruit of Mary. Happy is that soul in which Mary, the Tree of Life, is planted. Happier still is the soul in which she has been able to grow and blossom. Happier again is the soul in which she brings forth her fruit. But happiest of all is the soul which savours the sweetness of Mary's fruit and preserves it up till death and then beyond to all eternity. Amen. "Let him who possesses it, hold fast to it."
“The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that "with God nothing will be impossible" and so giving her assent: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word."Elizabeth greeted her: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." It is for this faith that all generations have called Mary blessed."-Catechism of the Catholic Church #148