Mary Undoer of Knots

Christ came to bring JOY;

Joy to children, joy to parents,

Joy to families and friends,

Joy to the sick and elderly,

Joy to all humanity.

In a true sense, JOY is the keynote message of Christianity,

And the recurring motif of the Gospels.

Go, therefore, and become Messengers of Joy!

~ Pope John Paul II

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Conversion of St. Paul and Me

Thirteen years ago today, on the feast day of the Conversion of Saint Paul and Super Bowl Sunday, a man broke into my home and brutally assaulted me in my bed at a few minutes after 3:00 a.m..  I was lucky to be alive, and a judge I knew at the time told me, "God must have something very special planned for you."

The truth is that God does have something special planned for me.  But I am not unique, as the reality is that He has something special planned for each and every person on our planet.  The question is, are we able to accept His special and unique plans for us?  Are we able to love His will more than we love our own will?

I suffered in seeming darkness for a number of years after I was attacked by this still unknown stranger.  But when I ultimately gave up trying to heal my own mind, I finally relented, and gave my mind and my whole self, to God.  It is a long story of great grace and great love and miraculous healing, but the happy ending is that instead of living my life in darkness, seeing no need for God, He used this attack to bring about a greater goodHE ALWAYS DOES THAT IF WE LET HIM.  He used the attack to knock me off my horse, in much the same way He did to Paul.  Of course Paul had a real horse, God spoke out loud to Him and he became blind for awhile, but my horse was just as real to me.  It was the pride and the arrogance of believing that I was in control of everything and did not need anyone but myself.  I had no need for God until I fell on my butt and needed help to get up. 

Now let there be no confusion:  GOD DID NOT CAUSE THIS MAN TO ATTACK ME.  He does not cause drunk people to kill people in car accidents, nor does He cause people to be mugged, or raped or murdered or husbands to beat their wives or anything at all that is evil.  He may permit these things as a consequence of the Fall and our own free will, but He will always use them to bring about a greater good---ALWAYS.

I hate when well-meaning people say that 'bad things always happen for a reason.'  That is simply not true, not helpful, and waaaayyy too new-agey for me.  The only reason evil things happen is because people make bad decisions that bring about bad actions and bad consequences.  So while things do not happen for a good reason,  God uses those bad things to bring about a good result if we let Him.  There is a big difference in this.  Maybe I am not explaining this well, but it is like saying that God wants or makes these bad things to happen so He can use them for a greater good.  NOT TRUE.  God does not want these bad things to happen, nor does He make them happen.  He is pure good and perfection and incapable of evil.  He may not always stop them from happenning, but He always gives us the grace to handle them and bring about a greater conversion or greater love or greater forgiveness or whatever it is that is lacking in our own spiritual (and sometimes physical) well-being.  A good can never be diminshed by an evil.  Case in point:  The greatest evil in history---DEICIDE--The murder of Jesus, our GOD.  And yet this seemingly abject failure of a mission, brought about the redemption and salvation of countless souls, past, present and future.  There can be no greater gift than this.  God permitted the worst evil known to mankind to be committed against Himself, and He used it to bring about the greatest good of all time--Eternal life for us, with Him, in paradise.

God, our Father, is calling each of us to Himself through Jesus, His only begotten Son.  No one should ever believe that they can not 'get over' this or that traumatic event.  With Christ, all things are possible, and all evil can be made good by Him who is all good, all knowing, all powerul and all loving.

Let it be done according to Your Will, Lord.  Fiat.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mysteries of the Virgin Mary, Living Our Lady's Graces - by Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P.

In Father Cameron's own words, his mission in writing the book, Mysteries of the Virgin Mary, Living Our Lady’s Graces, "is to present the real life of the Blessed Virgin Mary as it is commemorated in the Marian liturgical feasts of the Church," pointing out the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, where it states, "the Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship." But really, this description only touches the surface. The fullness to which he captures the depth of Mary, Mother of God and Our Mother, and the depth to which my heart is moved by his words, goes beyond any other book on Mary that I have read thus far.

I love St. Louis de Monfort. His love for the Blessed Mother and his True Devotion and 33-Day Preparation for Consecration are classics which should be read by everyone. I personally renew my 33-day consecration annually, and every year, I find myself growing closer to Jesus, through Mary, through the 33-day preparation written by St Louis. I must admit, however, that to this day, after having begun this annual tradition about 5 or 6 years ago, I am still mystified by some of it. Oh, I know that the Holy Spirit reveals these things to us, sometimes over a lifetime and rarely all at once, but I have longed for something that would explain, in depth, the mysteries of Mary, and why she is so important to our faith. Don’t get me wrong---I feel it. But I want to be able to verbalize share it. Father Cameron has done just that.

Father Cameron begins by asking the question, Why Pray to Mary? He gives seven compelling answers, including quote after quote from numerous saints, as to why God gives us graces through Mary. Father Cameron gives an explanation that does not rely on mere pronouncement, but is backed up with insight that can only come from the Holy Spirit Himself. Father writes beautifully and clearly, without debate, and gives the reader a hunger to know our Lady and her Beloved Son all the better.

After taking the time to answer some of the basic questions, Father Cameron devotes the remaining chapters of his book to specific events and titles of our Blessed Mother, offering compelling quotes that literally brought me to my knees. For instance, I have never heard of St Amadeus of Lausanne before, but this quote of his struck me in a special way, given the context in the chapter, and the place I am in my own life right now:

        Mary suffers delay that she may advance, she advances through her perseverance. Perseverance, joined to love and work, creates fullness, brings forth perfection.

Mary suffered separation from her Divine Son when He died for our salvation. The delay of years before she could see Him again must have seemed like an eternity for her maternal and immaculate heart. But we can be assured that her remaining earthly life was of great value to the early Church and to us. In this separation and delay, is great mercy for all the world. Read this book and you will be inspired to love more, and to know the Lord in the fullness of His Mother’s own memory.

I will treasure this book and read it over and over and over again.


P.S.  As many of you know, I enjoy reviewing books for The Catholic Company in exchange for free books.  They have asked me to share with you that Catholic Company is also a great source for serenity prayer and baptism gifts.  If you are interested in signing up for the reviewer program, let me know, and I will give you the information.