Honor Mary by Asking for Her Help

In his article, Prayer takes Practice, Fr. Ed Broom lays out five ways to improve your prayer life.  For the TL;DR crowd, the summary is:

  1. Conviction — Have faith that prayer is actually important
  2. Confession — Mend your relationship with God whenever you sin
  3. Set a time and place to pray — Routine helps you pray consistently
  4. Mass and holy communion — Mass and the Eucharist are the greatest prayers in the world
  5. Seek our Lady of the RosaryPray the rosary to bring about peace

I want to focus on that last point — seeking out our Lady of the Rosary (naturally, this is a rosary prayer blog after all).  On Aug 22nd, we celebrate the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary which we pray in the Fifth Glorious Mystery of the rosary.  When we pray the rosary we are in essence “crowning” our Heavenly Queen.  Mary wants nothing more than for us for to have a close relationship with her son, Jesus Christ.  We honor and crown her whenever we show faith and conviction that our relationship with Jesus matters to us.

But having conviction and faith is not easy.  Think about it.  You may brood for days over a friend’s disagreeable Facebook post.  You can get into a funk at work or at home when it seems like nothing is going smoothly.  Many of us get tied up in knots over our finances.  But how much time and energy do we devote to thinking about the state of our relationship with Jesus?  Do we put more energy into worrying about Facebook posts than finding time to go to Confession?  Do we spend hours on our hobbies and minutes in prayer?

If you feel like you are falling short in improving your prayer life, I suggest starting with the fifth point on that list.  Pick up a rosary and earnestly tell Mary that you need her help.  Tell her you need the courage to go to Confession.  Tell her you need help to be more engaged at Mass.  Tell her you need help praying on a more regular schedule.  Tell her you need more faith and conviction that prayer actually means something.  Praying the rosary will make all the other items on that list easier to accomplish.

 

You crown Mary through the rosary when you earnestly say, “I need your help!”  Speaking as a parent, I feel honored when my kids need my help no matter how trivial the matter.  I’m lucky that my kids are young because it will feel odd when the day comes when they no longer need my help.  Mary isn’t satisfied with the title of a queen but with nothing to do.  She wants us to come to her with all our worries and problems so she can help us.

And let’s face it, we all need Mary’s help because having a perfect relationship with Jesus is nearly impossible because of the active attempts by Satan to derail us and our own weakness towards sin.  But God knows this challenge and doesn’t leave us in a hopeless situation.  He gave us a Heavenly Queen in Mary and the means for her to help us through the rosary.  Honor Jesus by honoring Mary by asking for her help through rosary prayer.

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How the Rosary Helps Us Overcome Obstacles

I don’t watch a lot of television.  However, when I find a few minutes and don’t feel like doing anything serious, I enjoy watching American Ninja Warrior.  It’s a show where athletes run through an obstacle course trying to complete increasingly more rigorous feats.  Most people fail to complete the entire course.  But those that do are ecstatic because they overcame the temptation to quit even when they were fatigued and were entertaining thoughts that they didn’t have the ability to complete the course.

The same conflict between completing a goal or giving up because the obstacles seem too great appears in many of our spiritual lives.  Many of us have a hard time mustering up enough energy to make it through an entire rosary chaplet or Bible reading.  We all want to do God’s will and form a deep relationship with Him through prayer.  And yet, despite all that we desire, we let trivial obstacles like a television show, website, or video game distract or derail us from doing what we know is good.

Saint Peter highlights what happens when we let obstacles overpower us and distract us from God’s will.  In the Gospel, St. Matthew wrote about Jesus walking on the water in a terrible storm.  Peter also tried walking on the water and was initially successful but then was overcome by fear and doubt and sank (Matthew 14:22-36).

Does Saint Peter’s story sound a lot like yours when it comes to prayer and doing God‘s Will?  I can’t count the number of times I’ve said, “This time I’m going to stick to a rigid prayer schedule.”  Or I read a book about the importance and benefits of prayer and get all excited initially only to be overcome by distractions.  Like Saint Peter walking on water, instead of staying focused on my relationship with Jesus Christ I get distracted by the world around me.

But when we make an effort to pray and act according to God’s will, we actually act in a way that is doubly pleasing to God.  Rev. P.J. Michel explains in his book, Temptations:

On this principle, when you observe the law of God and do His will in a way that is displeasing to nature, you acquire a double claim to reward: first, you have obeyed, and secondly, you have obeyed with difficulty and against resistance and combat. The sac­rifice you have made of the natural inclination that solicited and impelled you is rewarded here by new graces and hereafter by an increase of eternal glory and happiness.

Temptations

What does the rosary teach us about praying through distractions and temptations?  You can probably pick any of the Sorrowful Mysteries and see Jesus’ example of doing God’s will despite the pain and suffering.  But that’s too easy of an example for regular RosaryMeds readers!  I want to look at the First Joyful Mystery, the Annunciation.  Here we have Mary being asked to be the Mother of God.  At first, she focuses on all the earthly limitations of such a request.  “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” she asked (Luke 1:34).  But Mary didn’t let all those concerns distract her from accepting the burden and the honor God wanted to bestow on her.

Now jump to the Fifth Glorious Mystery, Mary’s Coronation in Heaven.  Going back to the passage from Temptations, when you do God’s will in the face of difficulty, you increase your eternal glory and happiness.  What better example is there than seeing Mary crowned Queen of Heaven?  She followed God’s will even when that meant seeing her son rejected and crucified.

When you don’t feel like you have the time or energy to pray the rosary, look to Mary’s example of the grace God gives you when you make the effort to pray and do God’s will despite the difficulty.  It may be hard, but the reward dwarfs the inconvenience.

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Honor Mary for What She Does, Not Just Who She Is

We just finished Mary’s month of May.  I hope it was a spiritually fruitful month for you.  I want to talk about the Catholic devotion to Mary and how that connects to rosary prayer.  This would have been a better article to publish at the start of May rather than in June so I apologize for the untimeliness.

Mary, Queen of Heaven
Mary, Queen of Heaven (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Catholic Exchange did a great job of distinguishing the devotion we give to God (latria), what we give to the saints (dulia), and what we give to Mary (hyperdulia).

Latria basically means adoration. Traditionally, it refers to the worship and homage that we give to God and God alone.

Now, Catholics believe that we should not only honor those who excel in the things of this world, but that we should also honor those who excel in the things of the spiritual world (for example, in their devotion to God, their obedience to his will, and their charity to others). That’s why we honor the saints — men and women who, during their earthly life, excelled in their pursuit of holiness. Honoring the saints does not detract from God any more than honoring athletes does. In fact, when we honor saints, we are honoring God, too, for it is by his gifts, and for his glory, that saints are able to excel in holiness in the first place.

And in recognition of Mary’s pre-eminent holiness, the special recognition we give to Mary is called hyperdulia: the greatest amount of honor we can give to any created person.

When we pray the Fifth Glorious Mystery of the Rosary, Mary Crowned Queen of Heaven, we acknowledge her deserving hyperdulia devotion.  She was not only exalted in her earthly life by being chosen as the Mother of God, but further exalted in Heaven by being crowned queen.  And this is only fitting given that her son is King of Heaven.

We shouldn’t get lost on the honor bestowed on Mary by both God and humanity.  We may think that God singling someone out, like he did Mary, would be like winning an award.  Some of us may picture it like receiving a certificate you can frame and hang on the wall to show off to your friends that you have God’s seal of approval.  But honoring Mary because God honors her misses an important fact.  We don’t honor Mary solely because something passively happened to her but we also honor her active response to God’s plan.

English: Diploma
If only we could have something so concrete to know if we’re in God’s Grace. Oh wait, there is! It’s called CONFESSION.

God singling out Mary for that very special role came at a price.  But because of her faith, it was a price Mary was more than willing to pay.  It’s not like Mary could lead a normal life after the Annunciation.  She led a life of perfect obedience to God’s plan even if that meant not understanding her son’s ways and eventually watching him die on the cross.

Mary lived a life of perpetual virtue which couldn’t have been easy.  While she was immaculately conceived and free from original sin, she was not divine like Jesus.  So living a life of perfect obedience and virtue had to have been challenging for Mary who possessed but overcame all the weaknesses inherent in being human.

When we pray the Fifth Glorious Mystery, we should ask our Queen Mother for the strength to imitate her and live in obedience to God’s will.  When we give her hyperdulia devotion we should stand in awe of what she was able to do with her life and what we can do with her help and an active effort from us.  Praise Mary, not just because of her status in Heaven, but also because of the effort she put forth in her earthly life as a model of what God asks of all us.

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10 Reasons to Pray the Rosary

This image was selected as a picture of the we...
This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Czech Wikipedia for th week, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As any regular reader of RosaryMeds can see, I like motivating people to pray the rosary.  All too often I go to other rosary websites that just list rosary commentary and meditations.  Don’t get me wrong, rosary meditation ideas are very important as I have written two books on them.  But we also need to find motivation and the will to pray the rosary.  Otherwise, the rosary will just collect dust like that exercise equipment everyone tends to have in the back of their closets.

I came across this article about ten reasons to pray the rosary.  For the tl;dr crowd (too long; didn’t read), they are:

  1. Mary asked us to pray the rosary at Fatima
  2. Mary’s title is Our Lady of the Rosary
  3. Pope St. John Paul II asked us to pray the rosary
  4. The rosary is a powerful prayer for family unity
  5. The rosary is a powerful prayer for world peace
  6. The rosary protects youth from the deluge of filth propagated by modern media
  7. The rosary orders our lives that have been disordered by sin
  8. The rosary gives us peace of mind and soul
  9. The rosary is a walk through the Gospel
  10. The rosary gives us strength to conquer seemingly impossible challenges

Now I’m going to talk to all of you who already pray the rosary regularly.  Look at those ten reasons to pray the rosary.  The rosary isn’t something we should keep to ourselves.  I’m sure all of us know someone who needs the receive the benefits of rosary prayer.  When you pray the Fifth Glorious Mystery of the rosary ask Mary, Queen of the Rosary, to motivate that specific person in your life to pick up and pray the rosary.  Even if you think the person you have in mind will never turn to the rosary, it never hurts to ask.  What do you have to lose?

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Is Pope Francis Really That Different?

I know I’m a little late to the party, but I want to comment on Pope Francis’ latest interview in American Magazine that raised a stir. It has more progressively minded Catholics giving the pope a big thumbs up while traditional Catholics are squirming in their seats. Some people think that Pope Francis is undoing decades of zealotry and adherence to dogma while others see him simply rephrasing long-held teachings of the faith. In a way, the pope’s comments are a spiritual Rorschach test. Otherwise known as an inkblot test, a subject sees pictures of generic shapes and says the first thing that comes to mind. It helps psychologists determine someone’s state of mind. Like the Rorschach test, Pope Francis’ comments almost reveal more about our perceptions of the Church than what the Church actually teaches.

the ninth blot of the Rorschach inkblot test
What Catholic Church do you see?

Pope Francis’ interview is about 12,000 words long (please read it). The mainstream media and blog outlets mostly fixated on a few statements about how the Church “cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods.” And that “the church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.” Just look at the headlines:

  • Huffington PostPope Francis: Gays, Abortion Too Much Of Catholic Church’s Obsession
  • New York Times — Pope Says Church Is ‘Obsessed’ With Gays, Abortion and Birth Control
  • The Daily BeastThe Pope Confesses Church’s ‘Obsession’ With Gays, Abortion (I was amused by the use of the word “confesses”)

Taken on its own, it sounds like Pope Francis is casting off all those stuffy, cold-hearted rules that previous popes enforced to the letter. But when viewed in the context of the whole interview, you see that he’s saying that our faith and evangelization isn’t primarily about beating people over the head with rules and guidelines. The pope does not want people to blindly obey because people will never embrace the true Catholic Church that way. Instead, he wants people to know that God loves them and the Church dogma and doctrines exist to bring people closer to God’s grace. Essentially, the pope hopes that people will want to follow the Church’s guidelines out of love, not offer blind allegiance. CatholicVote.com has a good article that summarizes the pope’s interview if you want more analysis.

To their credit, many of the mainstream media articles do say that Pope Francis didn’t change Church teaching. This is the same message previous popes, cardinals, bishops, and priests have taught (or should have taught) for years. But when I read the comments in these online articles, I do get the sense that people are projecting their desires on what they would like the Church to be and not actually hearing what the pope says the Church actually is. They only see the aspects of the pope or the Catholic Church that fit their worldview and filter out anything that does not fit. For example, did you know that Pope Francis recently excommunicated a priest for promoting gay marriage and women’s ordination? You probably did not because that doesn’t fit the narrative of the compassionate pope the media portrays and is more in line with Pope Benedict‘s image as “God’s pit bull.”

Same Church, different world, different strategies, different media.

A writer for one of my favorite Catholic blogs, Creative Minority Report, demonstrated how easy it is to sway people’s perceptions of the pope depending on how his words are reported and filtered. I urge you to read this article that has quotes by the pope on the importance of women in the Church, how the Church should focus on helping the poor, how She embraces other faiths, and how humble he is. That describes Pope Francis to a tee right? But the M. Night Shyamalan twist at the end is that those quotes all come from Pope Benedict. Yeah, that supposedly detached, rule-oriented pope according to many media outlets. So this is a word of warning that you should perceive the pope or the Catholic faith with caution. Are your views based on your own conscience or on the narrative someone is trying to push?

What RosaryMeds Do I Need?

I think we all need a healthy dose of the Fifth Glorious Mystery — Mary’s Coronation as Queen of Heaven. In the interview, Pope Francis said, “Mary, a woman, is more important than the bishops. I say this because we must not confuse the function with the dignity.” We should pray for help and guidance from Mary, Queen of Heaven. Remember, media outlets and blogs are in the business of selling products and advertisements and making profits. Mary is in the business of saving souls and making sure that as many people as possible will one day live in the peace of happiness of Heaven. When it comes to matters of faith, perhaps we should put down the New York Times, turn off Fox News, and pick up a rosary if we want to know the true Catholic Church.

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Our Lady’s Messages: March 2011

Message of March 02, 2011

Dear children; My motherly heart suffers tremendously as I look at my children who persistently put what is human before what is of God; at my children who, despite everything that surrounds them and despite all the signs that are sent to them, think that they can walk without my Son. They cannot! They are walking to eternal perdition. That is why I am gathering you, who are ready to open your heart to me, you who are ready to be apostles of my love, to help me; so that by living God’s love you may be an example to those who do not know it. May fasting and prayer give you strength in that and I bless you with motherly blessing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Thank you.

St.Michael parish church in Mondsee ( Upper Au...
Image via Wikipedia

Mary’s message fits right in with the March 27, 2011 Gospel reading.  I discussed how in that reading Jesus contrasts our worldly needs and wants against our spiritual needs.  And here Mary tells us how she suffers tremendously when she sees us put our human wants in front of God.  None of us want to upset our earthly mothers by behaving badly.  Similarly, we don’t want to disappoint our Heavenly mother, Mary, by not living for the kingdom of Heaven.  We should remember her words when we pray the Fourth Glorious Mystery of the rosary that Mary is our Heavenly mother who is there to help us find God’s grace.  We need to listen to our mother by praying and fasting like she asks.

The Annual Apparition of Our Lady to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo on March 18, 2011

Dear children! I am with you in the name of the greatest Love, in the name of dear God, who has come close to you through my Son and has shown you real love. I desire to lead you on the way of God. I desire to teach you real love so that others may see it in you, that you may see it in others, that you may be a brother to them and that others may see a merciful brother in you. My children, do not be afraid to open your hearts to me. With motherly love, I will show you what I expect of each of you, what I expect of my apostles. Set out with me. Thank you.

We do not make our faith journey alone.  In her message, Mary says that she is with us every step of the way.  She has the desire to lead us into God’s graces.  We not only have her help, but also the help of the Holy Spirit, angels, saints, and the entire Church.  We have a tremendous amount assistance in our corner.  But what they cannot give us is that desire to live in God’s love.  Each of us has to make that decision to want to have a relationship with God.  From that spark, Mary, the angels, and saints of Heaven can turn that spark into a fire of grace, joy, and happiness.  Let us remember Mary, Queen of Heaven, is there for us when we pray the Fifth Glorious Mystery of the rosary.

 

Message, 25. March 2011

Dear children! In a special way today I desire to call you to conversion. As of today, may new life begin in your heart. Children, I desire to see your ‘yes’, and may your life be a joyful living of God’s will at every moment of your life. In a special way today, I bless you with my motherly blessing of peace, love and unity in my heart and in the heart of my Son Jesus. Thank you for having responded to my call.

Rubens Annunciation 1628 Antwerp
Image via Wikipedia

What does Mary mean by having a desire to see our yes?  Remember, March 25 is the feast day of the Annunciation which we remember when we pray the First Joyful Mystery of the rosary.  That was when Mary said yes to God to being the mother of Jesus Christ.  The Annunciation marks the start of Jesus’ church on earth with a woman having the courage to say yes to God’s incredible request.  And so it is fitting that Mary asks us to commit to conversion.  She wants us to step out of our worldly comfort zone and take a chance living for Jesus’ heavenly kingdom.  As she says in her other messages, Mary will be there to guide us and comfort us when we do commit to living as God asks.  Mary received the ultimate blessing in the Annunciation when she said yes to God.  All she desires is to see us receive God’s grace by making the same decision.

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Rosary Meditation: The Fifth Glorious Mystery

Today’s rosary meditation is the Fifth Glorious Mystery — The Coronation of Mary. In this decade we see Mary awarded the honor of Queen of Heaven for having wholeheartedly accept God’s call. This is Her rightful place for having faith is God’s plan in The Annunciation, spreading the joy of God in The Visitation, giving birth to Jesus, and ultimately accepting the sorrow of His crucifixion and death. Mary is now in Heaven and amplifies and purifies our prayers and presents them to Her son, Jesus Christ. Mary’s coronation gives Her many titles — Queen of Peace, Queen of Angels, Queen of Saints, and Queen of the Rosary.

Coronación de la Virgen, óleo sobre lienzo. 17...
Image via Wikipedia

Today’s rosary meditation is the Fifth Glorious Mystery — The Coronation of Mary.  In this decade we see Mary awarded the honor of Queen of Heaven for having wholeheartedly accepted God‘s call.  This is Her rightful place for having faith in God’s plan in The Annunciation, spreading God’s joy in The Visitation, giving birth to Jesus, King of the World, and ultimately accepting the sorrow of His crucifixion and death.  Mary is now in Heaven and amplifies and purifies our prayers and presents our needs to Her son, Jesus Christ.  Mary’s coronation gives Her many titles such as the Queen of Peace, Queen of Angels, Queen of Saints, and Queen of the Rosary.

Mary is the Queen of Peace.  Like many people, when I think of peace I think of a world without war and conflict.  And while that is a lofty goal and something worth praying for, Mary and the saints want us to dig deeper.  We cannot have peace in this world with each other unless we have an inner peace with God.  She wants us to work towards this internal peace by reconciling our ways with God’s ways.  She calls us to align ourselves with the teachings of Jesus Christ as handed to us through the Church.  This means putting aside worldly desires of money, power, fame, popularity, and anything else that might distract us from doing God’s will.  Mary knows that we cannot have real peace as long as there is conflict in our hearts between our love for Jesus and our love for earthly desires.

Mary is the Queen of Angels.  We must remember the angels in our prayers, particularly our guardian angels who protect us.  While we may not be aware of it, angels fight against the forces of evil every day to protect our souls from Satan and his minions.  Mary understands the precious gift of being in God’s grace and desires all of us to be in communion with Jesus Christ.  She directs the angels to fight for us because She does not want anyone to lose the gift of grace, especially for the momentary and trivial pleasures of this world.

Mary is certainly the Queen of the Rosary.  The rosary is our way of communicating with God.  We pray it remembering all the sorrows, joys, and glories of Jesus Christ.  When we pray the Joyful Mysteries we pray for the strength to accept God’s plans for us as Mary did.  When we pray the Sorrowful Mysteries we pray for the strength to remain faithful in the face of great suffering.  In the Luminous Mysteries we pray for the strength to live according to Jesus’ teachings.  And in the Glorious Mysteries we pray for the strength to live for our eventual resurrection and judgment.  Mary gives us a great gift in the rosary because we can use it to reflect on all dimensions of our faith.  It reminds us to thank God for all He gives us, ask for forgiveness of our sins and shortcomings, and ask Him for strength to live according to His Truth.

Let us pray that we take full advantage of the rosary to reflect and meditate on our faith.  May we look to Mary to guide us and help bring us closer to Her son, Jesus Christ.

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