Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Deepen Your Relationship with Mary

 

Fr. Edward Looney has a great love for Mary. He even hosts a podcast in her honor, How They Love Mary, which I had the pleasure of being a guest on a couple of years ago (I discussed Our Lady of La Salette). That love shines through in his new book, Behold the Handmaid of the Lord: A 10-Day Personal Retreat with St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary.

St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary is designed to lead one in thirty-three days of preparation for total consecration to Mary. In doing so, our goal is to love Mary the way Jesus loves Mary. In turn, Mary leads us in a special way to her Son. However, St. Louis de Montfort wrote in the 1700s and his book, while a classic, can be intimidating and hard to understand in our modern world. In Behold the Handmaid of the Lord, Fr. Looney, attempts to “break open the relics of de Montfort’s writings and discover the beauty of total devotion to Our Lady.” It is designed as an intermediary step between having a basic interest and devotion to Mary and going all in, as one does with a full Marian consecration.

It is designed as a ten-day retreat, with each day bearing a title of Mary. Those titles are Queen of All Saints, Our Lady of the Holy Trinity, The New Eve, Mother of the Interior Life, Mother of Disciples, Star of the Sea, Queen of All Hearts, Mediatrix of Grace, The Mold of God, and My Mother and My Queen. Each day (chapter) includes a few-page reflection, prayer, and a traditional Marian hymn or prayer. Through the ten days, one is invited to make “a journey to Jesus through the heart of Mary, with St. Louis de Montfort as our guide.”

While the purpose of this book is to lead people to want to make the full Marian consecration in which “we do everything by Mary, with Mary, in Mary, and for Mary,” Fr. Looney is quick to encourage people to live Marian devotion to whatever degree they feel comfortable with at the moment. Mary continues to reach out to us, to call us into a deeper relationship with her and her Son.

As a personal aside, I’ve had a deep devotion to Mary for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t feel comfortable with making a Marian consecration until I was in my forties. Also, Fr. Looney maintains (and I have seen others testify to this as well) that making a Marian consecration will lead to a huge shift in your life. As Fr. Looney states that “God is going to rock your world.” Perhaps that is true for many people, but for me, that wasn’t the case. There was no huge transformation. It was simply the next step in my relationship with Mary and Jesus. However, I do encourage anyone who is even remotely interested to pursue making a Marian consecration. I personally found Fr. Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory to better a more user-friendly way to make this consecration than St. Louis de Montfort’s original.

Behold the Handmaid of the Lord offers a meaningful exploration of Marian devotion. It is ideal for anyone looking to make an at-home retreat or who is interested in learning more about Marian consecration.

 

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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A Visual Exploration of St. Therese's Life and World

 


St. Thérèse's Feast Day is on October 1st.

Much has been written about St. Thérèse over the years and with good reason. She is a much-loved saint whose “Little Way” of making small sacrifices and trusting in God’s love the way a child trusts in a parent is a spiritual roadmap to heaven that both young and old can follow. For this reason, she was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II on October 19, 1997. If you’ve never read her autobiography, Story of a Soul, I encourage you to get a copy as soon as possible. After you have read that, or if you already have a devotion to St. Thérèse, you will greatly appreciate a new work by Fr. Didier-Marie Golay, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: Living on Love


 

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: Living on Love is a coffee-table style book, filled with information and beautiful photographs of St. Thérèse’s family (many taken by her sister Celine), the sisters she was in the Carmelite monastery with, artwork she created, and places she lived and visited. Fr. Golay discusses various chapters of St. Thérèse’s life, from her childhood in Alençon, growing up under the care of her saintly parents Louis and Zélie Martin and with her four older sisters; to their move to Lisieux after her mother’s death when St. Thérèse was only four years old; her healing from the smile of the Virgin; her desire to enter the Carmelite monastery at a young age and her pilgrimage to ask the pope for permission; her time in Carmel; her final illness; as well as the miracles wrought after her death and the story of how she became known around the world as a model of holiness. There are also many sidebars featuring interesting information about places she lived and visited, important people in her life, poetry she wrote, and items that were important to her. There is also a helpful Chronological Table at the back of the book providing a timeline for what was happening in the world, the Church, Thérèse’s family, and the culture from 1829 – 1997.


 

While the text is interesting and informative, the true beauty and value of this book lies in the images and photos. It is a delight to get this intimate glimpse into St. Thérèse’s family, convent, and world. So often we think of saints, especially the great saints, apart from their humanity. We think of them in their heavenly glory, forgetting that they once walked the earth like us and experienced what we experience. In these pages, we see Thérèse as a young child with her parents and sisters, her First Communion notebook where she wrote down the resolutions she wished to keep, her community of sisters at Carmel, her joy at painting and writing poetry and plays, her suffering as she was dying, and her great faith that she would spend her heaven doing good on earth.

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: Living on Love is a pleasure to look through and learn more about this great saint and her world. It would be a valuable addition to any home library as well as a lovely gift for anyone who has a devotion to St. Thérèse. 

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Friday, September 17, 2021

Our Lady of La Salette - Feast Day on September 19th

 With Our Lady of La Salette's Feast Day coming up on September 19th, I decided to reprint a blog post from two years ago which features the introduction to my book, Our Lady of La Salette: A Mother Weeps for her Children


Introduction


Our Lady of La Salette was trying to get my attention.  It started in the days following the tragic fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in France. Someone posted on Facebook that there was a Marian apparition that had predicted this. Another person responded that it was Our Lady of La Salette. While I had heard of this title for the Blessed Mother, I knew nothing about it. Intrigued, I searched for her message and quickly found a terrifying apocalyptic prediction. I wondered why more wasn’t known about this approved apparition. Why wasn’t this common knowledge in Catholic circles the way Our Lady of Lourdes or Our Lady of Fatima are?
My parish library had three books on Our Lady of La Salette. I took out one that looked interesting and quickly read it. It offered information about the apparition that took place on September 19, 1846 but said nothing about the frightening secret I had read online. I was confused.
A few days letter, an article appeared in the National Catholic Register on Our Lady of La Salette and the site of the apparition in Corps, France.[i]  I went back to my parish library and took out the other two books as well as undertook a considerable amount of online research. While I had no hope of making a pilgrimage to France, I made plans to visit the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro, Massachusetts.
The more I learned, the more I realized that there was a story here – a message that our Blessed Mother wanted people to hear – a message that is just as relevant in our own day as it was in 1846. In this short book, I endeavor to weed out fact from fiction regarding this apparition and to share this important message from heaven. I trust that the Blessed Mother will help it get into the hands of those who need to hear it. 
Our Lady of La Salette, Pray for Us.


[i] Mary Hansen, “Weeping Mother: Our Lady of La Salette Calls for Prayer and Repentance in the Alps”, National Catholic Register, May 12, 2019.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Order the Ave Prayer Book for Catholic Moms and save $3.95 off the cover price!

 Enjoy this trailer for The Ave Prayer Book for Catholic Moms and don't forget to order your copy at: https://www.avemariapress.com/products/ave-prayer-book-for-catholic-mothers with code PATRICE to get your copy at the discounted price of $18 (regularly 21.95). You are sure to love this collection of prayers and prayer stories by over 70 Catholic writers.


Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Mary, Will You Help Me? - #PrayerStories #AveMomsPray

Heidi Hess Saxton shares this beautiful prayer story about Mary and the Miraculous Medal.

Heidi Saxton is the author of The Ave Prayer Book for Catholic Mothers. I am pleased to be a contributor to this book! Preorder Special! Use this code PATRICE and get your copy for $18 (Regularly $21.95!) plus free shipping!

 


 

Was there ever a time when you didn’t feel close to Mary? I used to feel that way. Let me share my #PrayerStory.

Like many mothers, Mary shows her love in the details of our lives. Think about the wedding at Cana. Amid all the laughing and celebrating, she was the one to notice that the wine supply was getting low, and took steps to rectify the situation, gently chiding Jesus to intervene: “They have no wine!” (Jn 2:3). 

When I became Catholic as a thirty-year-old single woman, it took some time for me to warm up to Jesus’s mother. I didn’t pray the Rosary, not at first. My confirmation sponsor tried to teach me about the communion of saints, and even gave me a little silver Miraculous Medal, but I didn’t see the point: When I had something to say to God, I just did what I’d done all my life: I went straight to Jesus. (Sorry, Mary.)

Then about a year after my confirmation, I relocated halfway across the country for work, and rebooted my life in Michigan. Week after week I went to church … and week after week I left without having spoken to a single soul. (Protestants are way better at circling the welcome wagons.) Finally, one wintery day I spotted that Miraculous Medal sitting on my car console, and picked it up.

“God, if I shouldn’t be doing this, please don’t let anything happen that I might mistake for an answer. But Mary-if-you-can-hear-me-send-someone-to-sit-with-me-in-mass-Amen.”

I went inside, took off my coat, piled it beside me, and got on the kneeler. A few minutes later, there was a tap on my shoulder and a strange woman standing beside me. “Hi. I just moved into town. Can I sit with you?”

Dumbly, I nodded and moved over. Coincidence, I told myself.

The next week, I picked up the medal again. “That wasn’t funny, God. I’m not kidding, I’ll keep doing this if it happens again. Mary-if-you-hear-me-send-me-someone-to-sit-with-me-Amen.

I went inside, took off my coat, piled it beside me, and got on the kneeler. A few minutes later, there was another lady standing there. Again, I slid over and let her sit with me.

The third week, I was a little ashamed to ask again, but … I had to be sure. “Okay, Mary. One more time. Just one more time. Amen.”

This time there was a new family in the parish, who sat in the pew in FRONT of me, displacing the four Hispanic sisters who usually sat there. So when they got to church a little late, the oldest one tapped me on the shoulder. “Can we sit with YOU this week, dear?” Umm… sure.

I could almost hear her velvet chuckle.

Fast-forward ten years. I had married Craig, moved into our new home, and gone through training to become new foster parents. A few weeks in to our first placement, I was rocking the little boy in the middle of the night – he wouldn’t let me touch him during the day, but at night he would let me rock him to keep away the monsters. And as I rocked and sang to him, a thought went through my head, as clear as if someone was sitting beside me.

This is what you’ve been like with me. The only time you come is when you’re scared and lonely.

It was a little embarrassing. She was right. But she got the last laugh – I was scared and lonely A LOT that year, as a new mother to three little kids (a sibling group), our first and only foster care placement. I learned to lean heavily on the communion of saints, putting little St. Michel statues near their beds and even picking up the Rosary in the wee hours.

I learned that Mary, like any mother, shows her love in the details. And almost always in the darkest hours of the night.

When was the last time you asked Mary to help you? How did she answer?

#PrayerStories   #AveMomsPray   #APB4CM

 

© 2021 Heidi Hess Saxton. Used with permission. All rights reserved. 


 

Heidi Saxton is the author of The Ave Prayer Book for Catholic Mothers. I am pleased to be a contributor to this book! Preorder Special! Use this code PATRICE and get your copy for $18 (Regularly $21.95!) plus free shipping! Plus, I earn a commission off of each sale, so you are helping to support me which I greatly appreciate! (Code is good Sept 1 - Oct 15)

Deepen Your Relationship with Mary

  Fr. Edward Looney has a great love for Mary. He even hosts a podcast in her honor, How They Love Mary , which I had the pleasure of bein...