Categories
Addie Ink Slingers Mary

Mary, My Mother

 

Sobbing in my car, I heard myself scream, “I can’t do this!  I don’t know how to be a mother!” I was in my late twenties and expecting our first son.  At that time, I was working about twelve hours a day at a job I loved, and I couldn’t stop worrying about how my life would change after I gave birth.  I had never thought of myself as “maternal,” at least not in the stereotypical way; I never babysat as a teenager, I didn’t gush over babies the way my friends did.  For that matter, I had never even changed a diaper! My wonderful husband and I had been married for four years, and had decided it was time to start our family. But now I doubted myself…would I be a good mother?  

I felt deeply ashamed, and I was afraid to talk to any of my girlfriends about my worries.  Out of desperation, I called my trusted friend, Father Jim, who had been my pastor at a previous parish.  After listening to my concerns, he asked, “Have you talked to our Blessed Mother about this?”

Well, um…no.  I was raised “Batholic” – half Catholic and half Baptist.  I had embraced Catholicism as a teenager, but I never quite got on the Mary bandwagon.  While I connected with so many of the traditions of the Church, Marian devotion was not one of them.  It seemed a little weird to me, and perhaps even idolatrous; why should we put that much emphasis on Mary, when we could just go straight to Jesus, right?   

Later that week, I received a letter from Father Jim.  In it, he enclosed a prayer card with an image of the Visitation, an obviously pregnant Mary with her cousin Elizabeth, who was also expecting John the Baptist.  Father Jim encouraged me and asked me to consider praying the Rosary regularly.

Dutifully, I found my Rosary and started praying it every day on my half hour drive to work.  It was somewhat awkward at first, as I struggled to remember which mysteries were which, and had to read the Hail Holy Queen from a prayer card.  Within a couple of weeks, though, I settled into a routine, and prayed daily with intention and ease. I started to feel like I had a real friend in the Blessed Mother.  I began to feel her presence with me as we prayed together to her Son. I grew comfortable asking her to intercede for me to the Father. And several months later, I turned to her when I was in labor.  During those seemingly endless twenty-three hours, I frequently meditated on the mysteries of the Rosary. I knew my Heavenly Mother had been by my side during my pregnancy, and I could feel her presence during those wee hours, too.

St. John Paul the Great implored us, “Turn to Mary most holy, your heavenly Mother; pray to her with fervor, especially by means of the rosary; invoke her daily, in order to be authentic imitators of Christ in our day.”*  We further learn from the Catechism, “‘The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship…From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs…This very special devotion…differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.'”**  Rather that detracting from Christ, true devotion to Mary always draws us closer to her Son. Our Blessed Mother was our Lord’s first and most faithful disciple; of course it would only please her to serve as a lens through which we see her Son more clearly.

If you haven’t yet embraced Marian devotion, may I gently encourage you to do so?  During this month of the Rosary, start small with just one decade, reflecting with Mary on one Gospel mystery, and gradually add in more decades.  I am not always faithful in praying the Rosary regularly, but when I do, I always find myself more at peace, and closer to Christ.

 

* “Mondays with Mary” (Tom Perna)

https://tomperna.org/2014/10/06/mondays-with-mary-pope-st-john-paul-ii-on-our-lady-of-the-rosary/

** Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 971 http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a9p6.htm

Categories
Anni Ink Slingers Mary Prayer Rosary

The Obstacle… the Desire… the Rosary

 

The Obstacle...The Desire...The Rosary

Devotions are amazing, personal, and prayerful ways of deepening each individual’s relationship with God. There are more devotions promoted by the Catholic Church than I would care to sit and count, and I previously explored some in a prior post. This month is considered the Month of the Holy Rosary, and as such, the Rosary is something discussed in many Catholic circles.

I love the Rosary. Many a Catholic saint has praised the Rosary, explaining how it is not only beneficial for building our holiness, but will also aid us in vanquishing sin and evil around us. With victories attributed to the recitation of the Holy Rosary, such as the Battle of Lepanto on 7 October 1571, it’s hard to negate the amazing attention the Rosary elicits from God. As the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen is credited with saying, “The power of the Rosary is beyond description.”

But, if I am perfectly honest, I stink at reciting the Rosary. I know how to pray the Rosary, and I know why to pray the Rosary. I just stink at reciting the Rosary. I find myself putting the recitation off until the end of the day, deluding myself into thinking I will pay special attention to the recitation when the kids are asleep. Yet, all too often, life gets in the way. The kids don’t go to bed on time, or when they do fall asleep at the precise moment, I then also fall asleep – sometimes with the Hail Mary prayers on my lips, but too often, without even attempting the Rosary.

As I contemplated the Month of the Holy Rosary, I began trying to dig deeper. What is it about the Rosary that makes me love it so ardently and passionately? And, perhaps more perplexing, what is it about the Rosary that makes me put off the prayers?

Growing up, I didn’t learn much about the Rosary, aside from when we pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and the Glory Be prayers. It wasn’t until I was returning to the Faith as an adult, that I found the beauty in the recitation of the Rosary. Learning to contemplate the activities and scenarios of Jesus’ life has made the Rosary come to life. Meditating on Christ’s experiences, and the depth of His love for us has made me more appreciative of Jesus’ sacrifice. Considering the particular instances of Mary’s motherhood, as it pertained to watching her Son live, learn, and love throughout His life, has given the Rosary a depth I can’t describe as I parent my own children.

Simply put, I love the Rosary. I love everything about the Rosary. I am passionate about the Rosary, not just advocating for it, but expressing the beauty and calming nature of the meditative aspects. I have been inspired by videos of more articulate speakers and writers about this devotion. And, I have personally seen the spiritually growth that matures when I devoutly recite the Rosary.

Yet, as I sat to write this particular post on this beautiful devotion, the words would not come. I have spent over a month contemplating writing about the Rosary, and the words are stuck. The words are stuck on the internal voice I hear, telling me I should not encourage the Rosary, simply because I am a hypocrite. 

How can I passionately discuss this devotion, when I can’t even pray it on a daily basis myself? How can I lead others to this devotion, and emphasize the importance of the Rosary, when I don’t make the seemingly small shift in my life to ensure I have prayed it devoutly every day? How can I describe the beauty of the Mysteries of the Rosary, when I fail to recite and contemplate them daily, weekly, or sometimes even monthly?

And, the more I struggled with the words for this piece, and the answers to my questions, I began to realize there is something greater at play.

Satan does not want me to write about the Rosary. He doesn’t want me to promote it in any way, shape, or form. In fact, he doesn’t want me to pray the Rosary. He doesn’t want any of us to do anything of the kind.

And, in this piece, as I allow the words to freely fall to the page, I am declaring war on, “Satan and all the evil spirits, who prowl around this world, seeking the ruin of souls.” You see, I firmly believe the words of St. Padre Pio, “Satan always tries to destroy this prayer [the Rosary], but he will never succeed. It is the prayer of her who triumphs over everything and everyone.” St. Padre Pio would routinely refer to his Rosary as his weapon – the weapon which would defeat Satan. 

 

The Obstacle...The Desire...The RosaryBecause of its power, the devil does not want anyone to write about the Rosary. He wants me to feel inferior about my own path toward holiness, by reminding me of my failures to recite this beautiful devotion. He wants me to get stuck in feeling like a lesser Catholic when the day has gone, the night has come, and I am sleepily nodding off, remembering I have “yet again” failed to recite the Rosary. He wants me bleed green with envy, as I read about those who not only have the desire like mine, but actually have the ability to do more than desire to pray the Rosary. The devil wants me to second guess my devotion – not just to the Rosary, but to the Faith which draws me closer to Christ. 

The Rosary has an awe-some, and amazing power to radically change people. When we live as authentic Catholics, we are charged with changing the world around us in a positive manner. And, Satan doesn’t want the world to change for the better; he would rather we get stuck on the failings of others, and in times where we don’t do that, he would rather we dwell on our personal failings.

The Month of the Holy Rosary is an entire month devoted to praying, contemplating, meditating, and loving the Rosary. As I sit here, struggling to get these words out onto the screen, a week past my deadline, I am deciding I have had enough of listening to the internal voice trying to further discourage me.

I am not going to give in to the discouragement. Rather, I am going to reach out for encouragement.

I am going to spend this month asking God to, at a minimum, grant me the desire to pick up my beads and pray the Rosary daily. I am going to spend more time soaking in the zeal of those who have promoted, and still promote, the Rosary. I am going to spend October asking my Guardian Angel to protect my love of the Rosary. I am going to pray this beautiful devotion, with full focus on the life of Christ, the fruits of the Mysteries, and watching the world I can change, transform from my own personal journey with the Rosary.

And, I am going to submit this piece for publication.

The Rosary devotion is powerful. It has the power to change the world… it has the power to change each of us. Ultimately, it has the power to lead us into a more intimate union with God. And, I can’t argue with those desires of the heart – to change the world, and to be brought into a closer relationship with God.

So, I am asking – will you join me? Will you pick your Rosary up this month and pray it along with me? Will you join me in contemplating the life of Christ, as it is revealed in the deep prayers of the Rosary?

I will be praying for you, dear reader, and simply ask that you also pray for me.

Categories
Feast Days Ink Slingers Liturgical Year Ordinary Time Resources Rita Saints Your Handy-Dandy List

Monthly Dedication Resources: July, The Precious Blood of Our Lord

Monthly Dedication Resources: July, The Precious Blood of Our Lord

Every month of the year in the Catholic Church is dedicated to a particular devotion of the Catholic faith. July is dedicated to The Precious Blood of Our Lord. These dedications are the same every year and are based on historical events or particular aspects of the liturgical calendar (or a combination of the two). They do not always line up exactly with their liturgically celebrated feast day, since they’re fixed calendar days (and the liturgical calendar changes slightly each year). Here we’ve gathered some of our favorite resources for you to read and use throughout the month.

Special Devotions for the Months
January Devotion- Holy Name of Jesus
February Devotion- Holy Family
March Devotion- St. Joseph
April Devotion- The Eucharist and The Holy Spirit
May Devotion- Mary
June Devotion- The Sacred Heart
July Devotion- The Precious Blood of Our Lord
August Devotion- The Blessed Sacrament
September Devotion- The Seven Sorrows of Mary
October Devotion- The Rosary
November Devotion- The Poor Souls in Purgatory
December Devotion- Advent & The Coming of Christ


RESOURCES for THE DEVOTION TO THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF OUR LORD

JULY: DEVOTION TO THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF OUR LORD

FEAST.JULY board on Pinterest

July saint feast days

Printable Saints for the whole year

July saints word find

Month of the Precious Blood // Catholic Culture

July: Month of Devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus // Catholic Company

The Precious Blood by Rev. Fr. Frederick William Faber

Activities to do with the family for the month of July

Litany Prayer of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus (with an audio option)

Consecration Prayer to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

Novena to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

Chaplet of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

Prayers for the month of July: Precious Blood of Our Lord

Prayers in Honor of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Precious Blood of Christ bracelet

Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ 2

True Presence by Monica Welch of Dovetail Ink

WHAT WOULD YOU ADD TO THIS LIST?
SHARE IN THE COMMENTS!

Categories
Faith Formation Ink Slingers Mary Maurisa Prayer Rosary

The World Needs the Rosary Now More Than Ever

The World Needs the Rosary Now More Than Ever

Saint Dominic and the Rosary

Early in the 13th century in a church in Prouilhe, France, Saint Dominic poured out in prayer his grief and frustrations to the Blessed Mother.  His attempts to combat the heresy of the Albigenses were less than successful and Dominic had turned to prayer, weeping, and harsh penances on the behalf of sinners.  Our Lady appeared to him in his distress and encouraged him to pray her Psalter:

I want you to know that in this kind of warfare, the principal weapon has always been the Angelic Psalter, which is the foundation stone of the New Testament. Therefore, if you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Psalter.” Our Lady’s message to Saint Dominic

Instructed by Our Lady to spread her Psalter of 150 Angelic Salutations and 15 Our Fathers, Dominic further distinguished the mysteries of salvation into three categories—the Incarnation, the Redemption, and Eternal Life.  Saint Dominic promulgated this new devotion with great success and it is due to the faithful teaching and praying of the Rosary the Albigensian heresy was eventually driven out of Europe.

Pilgrimage

This past October, our family had the privilege of traveling on a pilgrimage to Europe, visiting several Marian Shrines including Fatima, Lourdes, La Salette, and Loretto. We discovered that the church in which Dominic received the Rosary was along our route between Lourdes and La Salette.  What better way to observe the month devoted to the Holy Rosary and honor Our Blessed Mother’s gift than to pray a Rosary on the very spot it was given to us?

We had no difficulty locating the Basilica of Sainte-Marie de Prouilhe and drove with anticipation down the gravel drive to the church on the grounds of a monastery still occupied by Dominican nuns.  We approached the entry of the church but the doors were unfortunately locked.  A flyer on a bulletin board at a side entrance promised the convent bookstore would open shortly.  Hoping we might eventually gain entrance to the church from the shopkeeper we explored the grounds and waited.  Unfortunately, the shop never opened and we began to sense our pilgrimage was futile. We then decided we could at least pray a Rosary on the steps of the basilica.  As we prayed an elderly sister walked down the drive toward the convent and stopped to speak with us.  She spoke almost no English and we spoke very little French.  She was quite surprised to find pilgrims interested in seeing the church. We came to understand we would not be granted a tour.

The once beautiful and thriving basilica is neglected and has fallen into disrepair.  It broke my heart to even think this historical treasure of the Church has been forgotten.  If only it could be saved.  We read on the monastery website that the community had appealed for donation to save and restore the basilica – 2.600.000 euros is needed to complete phase one of the restoration.  The project has only been able to raise 750.000 euros.  Masses and community prayer are still said in the church daily, otherwise, the apparition site is mostly forgotten.

What the World Needs Now

We live in troubling times. It’s an almost daily ritual to read the news and see stories of powerful men exposed. As frightening predators, natural disasters and the devastation they wreak on helpless people, attacks on innocent tourists and pilgrims, division and turmoil in the Church. Sin, misery, and heresy seemingly increase in our day, and I can’t help but think of the work of Saint Dominic. We need the Rosary more than ever.  We need Our Lady from Sainte-Marie de Prouilhe’s message preached from every corner of the globe. 

The Rosary is the weapon for these times.

Saint Padre Pio

Let us recommit ourselves to frequent, fervent prayer.  Let us wield the powerful Psalter of Our Lady and beseech her intercession in our time of need.  Let us not allow the Rosary to fall into neglect and disrepair as has the lovely church in Prouihle.

Categories
Domestic Church Ink Slingers Kathleen Marriage Mary Prayer Rosary Vocations

Talk to Your Mother

Talk to Your Mother

On a beautiful crisp morning, my family and I were heading to the Marian shrine to Our Lady of Good Help in northern Wisconsin. It was Saturday, there was a wide-open expressway in front of us, and we had about an hour and a half to go. Both kids were strapped in their car seats (read: contained and not able to destroy our plans quite as easily.)

“Hey! Let’s say a rosary on our way up! That’s a good way to prepare for the shrine,” I suggested cheerily, turning down the music.

My husband looked at me like I had suggested he pull over and take a few shots of whiskey. “No! I can’t do that! I’m DRIVING!”

Uh yeah, I know. I did not suggest doing a short Lectio Divina in which you lie on the floor to be more prayerful. It’s a rosary. You SAY the words.

See, my husband and I say the rosary in completely different ways, and they are all equally valid. My husband must contemplate the mysteries as he prays the rosary. He goes through the gospel, many times with his eyes closed, and can even be moved to tears by considering Christ’s journey through Mary’s loving eyes.

That is beautiful. He gets to do this because he prays the rosary on his own or with me, either after the kids are asleep and we are sitting quietly in our living room, or in his office with a closed door and a chair.

(I am not suggesting he does not work hard for us. Just that he literally gets to go to the bathroom by himself and that really annoys me sometimes.)

(But I digress.)

I love saying the rosary. It is my favorite prayer.  I love contemplating the mysteries, too. I love reading reflections after every decade. That is great, but it rarely happens to me. Rosaries for me usually happen while I am folding laundry, or cleaning the house, driving to the grocery store, or even lying in bed at night awake with anxiety-induced insomnia. When I feel that familiar panic creep up my chest and my breathing start to quicken and my thoughts start to race I know that the only thing that will help is starting a rosary. 17 minutes later, I have mostly calmed down and often fall asleep, calmed by my Heavenly Mother and thankful to my earthly parents that they gave me this gift.

In none of those situations do I spend serious time contemplating the mysteries of the rosary. In most of them, I don’t even use the beads. God gave us ten fingers for a reason!

How I talk to the Blessed Mother

I am simply calling out to Mary, talking to my mother. I’m telling her I’m here and want to be connected. I want to do something better than folding the laundry, to sanctify whatever humdrum household thing I’m doing. I strive to model to my children that one’s whole life can be a prayer.

As I wash the dishes and speak the words that the Angel Gabriel said, sometimes I’ll say it in Latin to practice my skills and shock my children’s ears into understanding that something is different and they should pay attention. Other times, I’ll say it quickly on our way to lessons or the store, to remind myself and them that God is present in every aspect of our lives, even the ones that aren’t at home or Church. There are times when I will say it with my whole family; in between admonishments and getting crayons for my son and showing my daughter where to find the words to the Creed and anything else that comes up. At night, I will pray it with my husband, barely even hearing the words because I’m so tired from the day of tasks and errands and just constant neediness from someone, always someone but knowing that I am so lucky to have a faithful man as a husband and wanting to be close to him in a way that nothing other than prayer can bring us. And in bed at night I’ll just mouth the words silently to myself, allowing my husband to sleep next to me.

In many of these situations, the prayers become almost a sacred incantation. Even if I am not contemplating the mystery, I am acknowledging the mystery of the Incarnation and the Mother of God, and my dependence on Him and through her intercession.

Someday I’ll be able to contemplate. Someday I will read and reflect and hopefully discuss the mysteries with my children and grandchildren.

For now, I’m just talking to my mother.