Tag Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

Greatest ‘meal’ comes from Our Blessed Mother

For many of us, memories of our mother are mixed with the aroma and tastes of favorite foods. Thinking of mom recalls the nurturing moments of childhood as she cooked for and fed us when we were hungry or ill. The smell of her sauce, the way she roasted a lamb or even baked our favorite dessert, if experienced as adults, can transport us back in time to that comforting place. Of course, no one can make our favorites like mom — she is by far the best.

I wonder if this was true also for Jesus? Did Mary make Him a favorite meal? Did He think of her when He smelled the dishes of His childhood years later? Did He look for the comfort of His mother’s cooking when traveling from town to town preaching, or delight in it on holy days and celebrations?

Much of what we know about the relationship between Jesus and His mother comes from the Gospel accounts, in addition to our rich tradition. In John’s Gospel (2:1-12) there is an instance where we get the impression that for Mary, all elements of a proper meal were important. At the wedding feast in Cana, she implores her Son to save the wedding celebration by providing more wine which had run out. My own mother was always concerned that guests to my childhood apartment in Long Island City would have enough to eat and were well hosted.

Yes, Jesus’ first public miracle was done at Mary’s request, so a wedding feast would be complete for all guests. This shows her concern for all, wanting her son to help everyone. Hers is the heart of a mother concerned for the well being of her children. In my parish in Brooklyn, the Blessed Mother is truly mother to us all. Here, there are numerous ethnic communities with many differences. Each week we celebrate Mass in four different languages, our people eat different foods, appreciate different music styles, and even dress differently.

But no matter the differences, what unites them is love of Christ and devotion to our Blessed Mother. The passion they have for Mary as their mother transcends language and culture, and unites them in faith to her Son whether they call her Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Vilnius, or Mary. How blessed are we who are nourished by the greatest meal, the Eucharist, which Mary made possible when she said, “May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). 

MONSIGNOR JAMIE GIGANTIELLO is the vicar for development of the Diocese of Brooklyn and host of NET TV cooking show Breaking Bread Netny.tv/shows/breaking-bread/ and Pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel – Annunciation Parish, Brooklyn

Yiasou Halibut Speciotiko

10 oz. Halibut fillet
Fresh Dill (Chopped)
Fresh Parsley (Chopped)
Fresh Thyme (Chopped)
6-7 Cherry Tomatoes (Cut)
¼ Cup Grilled Red Bell Pepper
¼ Cup Sliced Green Olives
1 Cup Scampi Sauce
1/8 Cup Capers
¼ Cup Chicken Stock
¼ Cup White Wine
2 Cloves of Garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ Fresh Lemon
Salt & Pepper

Directions:

Take the halibut, cut it in half, sprinkle a little salt and pepper on it.

Cover both pieces of halibut in flour, removing extra flour so it does not burn.

Place the halibut skin side up in the pan.

In another pan, add garlic and cherry tomatoes and cook on medium heat until the garlic becomes slightly transparent.

When the garlic is ready, add the olives, capers, white wine, red bell pepper, chicken stock, dill parsley, thyme, and scampi sauce

Set it to simmer and reduce.

Turn fish over to cook on all sides.

Place the halibut on a dish; squeeze the lemon juice on top.

Add the contents of the other pan next to it and enjoy!

Growing up with La Madonna

As we watched on TV the 13th-century Christian masterpiece of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burn in surreal fashion on Holy Monday of Holy Week, it begged many questions. Was it a modern-day metaphor for the widespread wreckage of the faith? Or a burning parallel to contemporary trashing of Mary’s holy integrity through defacing her truths and images – or in so-called entertainment? Did it mimic the apparent collapse of longtime teachings and traditions of the Church, and of the Mass and sacraments?

Christine Valentine-Owsik

This charred iconic church, where faithful gathered under Mary’s patronage since the great Christian Renaissance, involved the toil of workers for centuries. Among priceless items saved were The Blessed Sacrament, Christ’s crown of thorns, the altar, Holy Cross, and others.

I would guess that what made many of those devoted workers in the 12th and 13th centuries give their lives to building and beautifying that great cathedral was not unlike the allegiance to Mary that many of us absorbed from our own devout lineage — especially parents and grandparents.

My first impression of Mary didn’t come through any formal instruction. It came from my Italian grandmother, whose name was Mary, an immigrant working as a Philadelphia garment-factory seamstress. A beautiful Madonna picture hung beside her basement sewing machine. As a child, I often walked with her several blocks to the parish church in West Philadelphia, still under construction as it had been for years (for lack of funds which begun during the Great Depression). She pointed out the precious Jesus, Mary, and Joseph statues, mosaics, and carvings – reminding me who they were, and telling me of the Italian towns and artists who produced them. The parish had an Italian priest, and she didn’t hesitate to gabble with him – hands waving, laughing, making requests, and blessing herself when we left. She did the sewing and repairing of their altar cloths, priests’ vestments, and nuns’ habits. Father usually had a huge bagful waiting for her. At the Italian butcher on the way home, he always greeted her as Bella Maria.

On warm nights after cooking and cleanup were done, she’d sit outside her cozy rowhouse, in her porch chair near the rose bush planted for Mary, and recite prayers in Italian – the rosary, prayers to the Holy Family, and to Mother Cabrini (of whom she was eminently proud as America’s first immigrant-saint). Her prayers were typically interrupted with “hellos” from neighbors walking by, and from the much-awaited street vendor, Tony’s huckster truck. We’d hear him coming almost a mile away, announcing his ‘specials’ via megaphone … baccala (salted codfish), tomatoes, and cucuzza (Italian summer squash, which we called “ca-GOOTZ”). She’d send me to the truck to get what she wanted, and I could see a Scotch-taped picture of La Madonna on the inside wall. At the time, I resented chasing Tony’s raucous food truck up the street for Italian stuff I thought no one else ate.

But those inspiring days – with so many infused lessons – live on as a great treasure.

La Madonna really lived among us.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.

Imploring Our Mother’s healing touch – and mediation

Nancy Foytik of Reedsville, WI, was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer, and it had metastasized into both lungs. Doctors gave her a grim prognosis. After one round of chemotherapy, Foytik and her family decided to visit the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in the town of Champion, not far from Green Bay, in 2012.

“We didn’t have any hope. We went there for guidance,” she wept while telling her story on NBC’s Today last year. Yet after praying to the Virgin Mary there, “We just knew when I walked out of the chapel that day I was going to be cured… I can’t explain it other than that. I didn’t hear the words, but I felt them, that said ‘you’re going to be okay.’”

Surgeons removed a softball-sized tumor from her colon and smaller tumors from her right lung. When they performed a third surgery, they found the tumors in her left lung had disappeared. Foytik has been cancer-free ever since.

“I was an active Catholic,” she said. “I prayed, but I never prayed to Mary as much as I did to God. Mary was just the one I needed to go to at that time.”

What makes a miracle?

Foytik said she and her family never used the word “miracle” to describe her experience. Many Catholics, however, claim that their healings — whether physical, emotional, or spiritual — occurred through Mary’s intercession.

Often these healings are associated with Marian pilgrimage sites such as Our Lady of Good Help, the only Church-approved apparition site in the United States. Healings and conversions have been reported from there dating nearly to the time the Virgin Mary first appeared to young Adele Brise in 1859.

Perhaps the best-known of these shrines is Our Lady of Lourdes in France, where Mary appeared to St. Bernadette in 1858, one year prior to the Wisconsin apparition. Although more than 7,000 healings have been claimed at Lourdes, the Church has officially recognized just 70 of them. That’s largely because such miracles, like the miraculous healings investigated in causes for canonization, undergo painstaking scrutiny to ensure there is no natural explanation.

“For a cure to be considered a true miracle at Lourdes or at the Consulta Romana in the Vatican’s examination of intercessory miracles to be used for sainthood causes, it must pass the very old and strict ‘Lambertini criteria’ named for Prospero Lambertini, an Italian cardinal who later became Pope Benedict XIV, who was born in 1675,” explained Michael O’Neill, author of the 2015 book Exploring the Miraculous and host of “The Miracle Hunter” program on Relevant Radio. “The healing must be of a serious condition not liable to go away on its own, instantaneous, complete, and lasting — normally at least 10 years.

“Most difficult of all in our modern age,” he added, “there can be no medical treatment that relates to the cure.”

In 2018, the Church officially recognized the 70th miracle of healing to have taken place at Lourdes. It involved Sister Bernadette Moriau, a French nun who visited there in 2008. For 28 years she had suffered spinal complications that caused disabilities requiring use of a wheelchair. She regularly took prescription morphine to ease her pain.

After receiving a blessing for the sick at the shrine, Sister Moriau felt a warm, relaxing surge of well-being throughout her body. “I returned to my room and there, a voice told me to ‘take off your braces,’” she later recalled.

Not only could she move, but she immediately was able to walk away from her wheelchair, leg braces, and painkillers — and felt so good she took a three-mile walk the next day

As with many credible healing claims at the shrine, Sister Moriau’s case was referred to the International Medical Committee of Lourdes. Their painstaking research found no scientific explanation. After approval from the bishop of Sister Moriau’s home diocese, the healing received official recognition. It was the first miracle declared there since 2013.

 To Jesus through Mary

Healings are also commonly reported at sites of alleged apparitions that lack official sanction, including Medjugorje, in Bosnia-Herezegovina, where Mary is said to been appearing to visionaries since 1981.

In 1999, Artie Boyle of Hingham, MA, was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma. Not long after undergoing surgery to remove his diseased kidney, Boyle was told the cancer had metastasized aggressively to his lungs. “Renal cell carcinoma was definitely going to kill me,” he writes in his book, Six Months to Live.

The following year, Boyle traveled to Medjugorje with two close friends. There on Cross Mountain, rosary in hand, he felt an intense pain in his lung. Convinced he had been healed, he called his wife and asked her to make an appointment for a CT scan before his scheduled surgery to remove one of his diseased lungs. Upon returning home, the scan revealed his cancer was gone. Not only that, he and his friends had each experienced profound spiritual healings in Medjugorje.

 “The graces received, the prayers answered, and the miracles witnessed are vivid proof to us of [Mary’s] intervention and of the generous response of her Son,” writes Boyle, now a development officer for the Archdiocese of Boston.

Sometimes the apparent healings do not happen by way of pilgrimage, but when Mary answers prayers of intercessions — or simply touches someone’s spirit out of the blue.

Leo de Bondt was raised a Protestant in the Netherlands. At 25, he married into the Catholic Church, but he lost all faith in God after his three-year-old daughter died of leukemia in 1972.

Fifteen years later, he saw a photo depicting Our Lady of the Miracle, a painting in the Basilica of St. Andrea delle Fratte in Rome. It depicts a 19th-century apparition of Mary to a virulently anti- Catholic Jewish man which brought about his immediate conversion. De Bondt was deeply moved by the image and the story behind it.

“It was from that moment that my life changed completely,” he remembered. The Virgin Mary “brought me back to Christ. It was she who called this man who had lived as an atheist for 15 years. I became Catholic again, but this time as I had never been, while discovering the wonder of the Catholic faith.”

De Bondt, who has founded a website dedicated to spreading devotion to the Blessed Mother, says of his reversion to Catholicism: “I hated the Church until Mary called me.”

Power of the Rosary

Catholic evangelist and author Kathleen Beckman tells of how Mary’s intercession turned her son’s life around.

The younger of her two boys was going through a rough time. “I could see the spirit of the world trying to pull him away from our family and take him into a dark world,” Beckman related in a blog post. She began to pray the rosary daily “for our son to be delivered away from all the bad influences and temptations that were pulling him down. I prayed the Glorious Mysteries because I was interceding for my son’s resurrection.”

She continued for a year with no visible results. When her older son returned home from study in Europe, however, things changed unexpectedly. The big brother assessed the situation, wrote his troubled sibling a long and affirming letter, and read it to him. The transformation in the younger son was dramatic and immediate.

“At the end of that day, our son was healed and delivered,” said Beckman. “It was the power of a brother’s love that overcame the power of evil that had a grip on our son…. [But] I have no doubt my son’s healing and deliverance was the fruit of the one-year novena of the Holy Rosary.”

Mark Miravalle, the Saint John Paul II Chair of Mariology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, believes Mary always stands ready to strengthen and heal us.

“Where there is suffering and sickness, there is the Mother, hovering in wait to mediate graces of consolation, healing, and courage, all in conformity to the perfect and generous will of the Heavenly Father,” Miravalle said. “She waits only for our fiat in faith, to be freely welcomed into our homes, into our hearts … to bring to each one of us extraordinary healing graces of the Crucified Christ.”

GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Pro-family message of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Last month, Legatus members and their families traveled to Mexico City for our annual Guadalupe pilgrimage. I have been to Mexico City on this pilgrimage three times now, and each pilgrimage leaves something with me. The Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe, which is the home of the tilma of Juan Diego, is a very unique pilgrimage site. It is the most visited Marian pilgrimage locale in the world and as is sometimes pointed out, the only place we can still see the physical evidence of an apparition of our Blessed Mother.

Stephen Henley

One of the most unique aspects of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the ribbon at her waist. In ancient times, this attire for an Aztec woman would signify that she was pregnant. This would mean that this, then, is the only apparition where Mary appears pregnant with Jesus. During the pilgrimage, I spent time reflecting on this aspect of Mary as the mother of God, and on Our Lady of Guadalupe as the patroness of the unborn.

I tie this image of Mary with child to that of the Holy Family. Among other characteristics, being pro-life means being pro-family. When visiting the Shrine, aside from seeing thousands of pilgrims, there are many Mexican families traveling together to make this pilgrimage. Not only parents with their kids, but several generations, great-grandparents, grandparents, extended family. There are fewer images in our world that can speak more to real pro-life belief, than that of a family praying together.

Children, regardless of circumstance, are a real, tangible gift of God’s powerful love. Mother Teresa once said, “we must remember that life begins at home and we must also remember that the future of humanity passes through the family.” The family is the first Church, and an example for the world of God’s presence and love. In the historical moment of tolerance in which we find ourselves, it was a relief and a reassurance to see so many families come together united in Christ.

Our Lady of Guadalupe sends us a powerful message, an example of love and sacrifice for family to nations and cultures that have great need of her. Let us take this time to focus on family as a symbol of God’s love in our world.

STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.

New ambassadors for Christ at home in Tulsa

On the balmy evening of May 10 at Tulsa’s historic Holy Family Cathedral, the newest Legatus chapter joined for rosary, Confession and Mass, officiated by their new chapter chaplain, Monsignor Dennis Dorney. Immediately following was the investiture of its first 21 members, each of whom was personally greeted and congratulated by Legatus executive director, Stephen Henley. A celebratory reception and dinner commenced at the elegant Agora Event Center, with its breathtaking panoramic views of the Tulsa skyline.

Spring cocktails and hors d’oeuvres of tantalizing salmon, coconut chicken, and crab cakes with chutney, followed by entrée creations of cardamomcrusted beef filet, tomato-pesto stuffed chicken, and seared salmon, greeted the new chapter-guests. The dessert finale showcased a choice of triple chocolate crème and vanilla Bavarian crème cakes.

Featured speaker for the evening was Pete Burak, director of i.d.9:16, the young adult outreach of Renewal Ministries. The group delighted in his captivating presentation on how to reach out effectively to millennials.

The spectacular celebration was well deserved indeed.

About two years ago, when Tulsa’s Bishop David Konderla was newly installed, Legatus Central Region director, Ken Darnell, along with Stephen Henley and Central Region chapter development officer, Carmen Tate, reached out to him in efforts to embed a fresh chapter there – in a part of the country where Catholics make up only three percent of the population. The bishop warmly welcomed them and affirmed their objective straightaway – and in December 2016, formally approved the chapter’s intent to launch.

In spring 2017, Legatus hosted the initial cocktail reception at the Bishop’s residence for interested Tulsa-area prospects . And the rest is history. Bishop Konderla not only extended unmistakable support, he attended most precharter events during the crucial development year. The chapter attained its 21-member threshold in April.

“It makes a huge difference to have strong patronage from the bishop,” says Darnell. “Bishop Konderla — who also attended the evening’s dinner celebration — provided invaluable support and credibility to our new chapter.”

His Excellency then named Monsignor Dennis Dorney, pastor emeritus of St. Mary’s Parish in Tulsa and a longstanding priest in the diocese for over 40 years, as the chapter’s premier chaplain.

“The Tulsa members are a hearty group of people,” says Darnell. “They’re serious about their faith, and a close-knit and active bunch.” He is honored to have worked so closely with them over the pivotal months preceding chartering, particularly those who have generously partnered on the board, meeting monthly to stay abreast of developments and propel the chapter toward official status.

President and CEO of Tulsa’s Littlefield Agency – a thriving advertising and marketing agency – David Littlefield will serve as the chapter’s first president. One of Littlefield’s clients in Oklahoma City had recommended him to Darnell. The two have since developed a special camaraderie.

“I had never heard of Legatus until last May,” Littlefield says. As empty-nesters, he and his wife Marellie had been looking for an opportunity to grow spiritually as a Catholic couple. “So we went to the kickoff event at the bishop’s residence last year, and we joined right then.”

He sees unusual advantages to Legatus that he can get nowhere else.

“We truly look forward to that monthly meeting with rosary, Confession, Mass, dinner, and a great Catholic speaker,” explains Littlefield. “This to me is part of the ‘magic’ of Legatus – a monthly retreat where we spend time with like-minded Catholics and business people. It affirms and teaches us.“

But Legatus’ impact goes well beyond the get-togethers, he adds. “It’s an amazing tool that helps me do business effectively in a secular world, and helps keep me grounded.” In his Tulsa ad agency business – in a region where Catholics are few and far between – 13 of 24 employees are Catholic. “I like to think that says something.”

And Littlefield has great plans for the new Tulsa chapter.

“Once we’re up and running, I hope to expand into the Legatus Forums realm, to give our members opportunity for muchneeded peer-confidentiality in whatever they’re encountering professionally or personally. And as a chapter, we’ll offer consistently engaging monthly events – of which the ‘secret sauce’ is great Catholic speakers,” he says.

But this is by no means ‘the David Littlefield show,’ he says. “I may be president of the chapter, but Marellie and I are every bit doing this as a couple.”

Further, he says the new chapter wouldn’t exist without the priceless efforts of its initial officer team: vice president, Joe Moran – a retired manufacturing executive who is very active in the Diocese of Tulsa; treasurer Blake Atkins – a convert to Catholicism and well-respected CPA and attorney; membership director Kathy Craft – an active Catholic involved in the diocese as well as local and national organizations and colleges; and of course the chapter’s chaplain, Monsignor Dennis Dorney – who is also active in Catholic Charities and a Catholic hospice home.

“And most especially,” he says, “without the leadership and direction of Ken Darnell and Carmen Tate, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.”

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.

Late bloom in Mary’s garden

For many of us, life can take on a faded pallor in the absence of our moms. But there’s one lesson Mom imbued well – never forget the rosary. Pray it, no matter what. There’s no protection, intercession, and advocating like Mary’s.

Did we take it to heart? Not so much. We saw Mom as a zealot without the social calendar we had. She insisted we say the rosary as a family before dinner. My brother and I would glare at each other, eying the chilling meat and vegetables, like they were slow-torturing us. We’d bark the repetitions, stare at the ceiling, and sigh obnoxiously when it was finished. In hindsight, I realize that we hurt our mother, and we hurt Our Lady. But like the best Mother, she would patiently await our maturity… even if it might take decades.

Thankfully, those seeds ran deep and have re-germinated after Mom and Dad have gone.

Now to be fair, we were immersed in the ‘70s lifeis-good attitude in the Church, where devotions like the rosary were often shelved. They didn’t fit our demeanor, Motown cars, and bell bottoms. We went to Doobie Brothers concerts and the guitar Mass on Sundays. No rosaries there.

And we didn’t get strong foundational teaching on the rosary, even in Catholic school – like why the rosary exists, where it came from, and why it is so supernaturally remarkable. We just thought Mom and Dad were like cultish European streetprocessors, trying to turn us into fanatics. When friends knocked at the door, we’d grab the ministatues, prayer books, and rosaries, ram them into a drawer, and run straight out.

We escaped all right … not yet seeing the abyss.

Lesson time. We enrolled our eldest in the parish school, and in first grade he came home with a reminder. “Look, Mommy; we made rosaries,” he said, pulling the blue-crystal strand from his pencil case. “Would you say it with me?” It had been 15 years since I’d said a rosary, and had forgotten entirely. “Don’t worry, Mommy,” he continued, “we have rosary booklets, too.”

I thumbed through, struck by the meditations and gorgeous art-renderings of Christ’s face, Mary as mother, and the Holy Family. I was heartsick … it came flooding back, those evenings praying as a family. He watched me with his wide brown eyes, waiting.

God lets our children rework our heart when it needs some reconstruction. And so I began again.

I read St. Louis de Montfort’s The Secret of the Rosary and other books, and realized my parents were right-on – there are amazing promises from Our Mother on her rosary. I researched her 13th-century apparitions to St. Dominic, why she introduced him to the rosary, and her promises for each person, the Church, and the world. So incredible was this protective Mother whom Christ has gifted to us.

The rosary has reordered my daily life. It’s the greatest anti-stress treatment, and my appeals are often answered before I put them into words. ‘Bring flowers of the rarest’ to our sweet Heavenly Mother. And a rosary in gratitude for our incredible mom.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK  is Legatus magazine’s Editor.

Mary’s heart nurtures hungry generation

Modern society has been run ragged with so-called ‘smart’ solutions to the long-held traditions of prayer and devotion to Jesus and Mary. Many young adults don’t practice any faith at all — and they’re finding the price gets ever steeper in attempting to resolve on their own everything that life tosses at them.

Suicides have spiked, as have all types of substance abuse, corrosive habits, and decadent lifestyles.

An encouraging trend among young Catholics, however, has been to invite the Blessed Mother into their lives – during formative years, throughout college, and in burgeoning professional and married years. Despite societal ‘flattening’ of all things religious, many of the younger Catholic generation have experienced the benefits of devotion to Mary, of saying the rosary daily, of keeping close to the Mother of Christ as Heavenly Protectress.

Pure mother for orphan culture

Indeed, in a culture that tells mothers it is acceptable to abort their babies, the motherhood of Mary holds increasing appeal. Northeast Wisconsin Legates Bill and Natalie Raaths saw this recently when students at Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay, WI prayed to Mary for a classmate who was critically injured and lost his eyesight in an accident. The students, Natalie said, went to Our Lady of Good Help Shrine in Champion, WI, the only approved Marian apparition site in the U.S., and had a prayer service for the injured youth. “They prayed, they cried. The boy didn’t really know if he was going to make it, but he did regain his health.” Although it is still uncertain whether his vision will be restored, he is now home and doing well, Natalie said. “The kids got involved in going to the shrine because they said, ‘Our Lady will help us.’”

Fr. Edward Looney, a priest of the Diocese of Green Bay and author of five books on the shrine, added that in a broken world filled with broken families, Mary can make up for the love many young people didn’t feel from their parents.

In his own life, he said, “I looked to Mary for whatever was lacking in affection from my earthly mother. St. Bernard of Clairvaux says all graces come through Mary. If you didn’t have a good relationship with your earthly mother, then Mary can mediate the grace to fill up what is lacking.”

‘Youth must know faith for salvation’

Indeed, Mary’s messages in 1859 to a young Belgian-born woman, Adele Brise, at what is now Our Lady of Good Help Shrine, reflected a special concern for young people. During the third and final apparition, Brise reportedly asked, “What more can I do, dear Lady?” Mary replied, “Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation.” When Brise asked how she could do this given she knew so little herself, Mary answered, “Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing. I will help you.” Brise responded first by teaching the children in their homes and later by starting a school.

Although there is no longer a school associated with the Our Lady of Good Help apparition site, children continue to be a part of the life of the shrine. “It’s surprising how many young families go there and how the whole atmosphere is vibrant,” Bill Raaths said. In a video on the shrine’s website, a mother of five talks about the impact visiting the place where Mary appeared to Brice had on her children. She had not told them about the apparitions ahead of time, but they knelt down when they reached the site and later one of them said, “Mary’s there.”

Help in hard times

St. Frances de Sales, the 16thcentury bishop of Geneva and Doctor of the Church who had a great devotion to Mary, has said it was his prayers to Our Lady that helped him through difficult times in his youth. His closeness with Mary ultimately led to his decision to consecrate himself to her and become a priest.

To help augment the journey of today’s youth, Young Catholic Professionals will hold a conference in Cleveland on September 7-9, which is themed for Mary. YCP founder and national executive director, Jennifer Baugh, says, “I think a lot of young people pray the Hail Mary occasionally and see the Blessed Mother featured in churches and mentioned, but I don’t think they really know themselves how to have a devotion to her.

There’s sort of a desire there, but they don’t really know how to begin. This conference will be an incredible way for them to learn about her and to grow in devotion to her.”

Legate Tim Needles, who serves on YCP’s Cleveland and national boards, said he has been pleased to see Marian devotion growing among the organization’s leaders. “Part of our mission is to accelerate and deepen that interest in the Blessed Mother and to make it more a daily part of all our lives.”

Added Eileen Mathews, another legate who is chairman of Cleveland YCP’s board of directors: “We try to emphasize the fact that devotion to Mary will always lead us closer to her Son. She is the ark of God’s New Covenant who carried Jesus in her womb and is our spiritual mother.”

Needles said he grew up in a family with a strong devotion to Mary and that his brother, Fr. Brian Needles, has dedicated his priesthood to the Blessed Mother. Recently, he said, his brother told him about speaking to a group of Catholic high school students about praying the rosary daily. “He could see that a lot of their eyes really lit up when he talked about that, and there were some questions. He could see that some of these young people have that formation and love for our Mother. It really buoyed my feelings about this young generation and where they’re going.”

Best anti-anxiety med – Mary’s protection

During the YCP conference, participants will have the opportunity to learn more about the rosary and other Marian prayers; the apparitions of Mary at Lourdes, Guadalupe, and Fatima, and such devotions as the scapular, miraculous medal and consecration to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. The conference also will look at Mary’s roles as mother, intercessor, teacher, and queen. Baugh said the book, Mary: Help in Hard Times by Sister Marriane Lorraine Trouve, will be used as a framework for the weekend.

Among the conference speakers will be Cleveland Bishop Nelson Perez, who was asked recently at a YCP meeting what he does for anxiety. “He reached into his pocket,” Needles said, “and pulled out the rosary and said, ‘This helps calm me down.’”

The theme of the conference, which falls on Mary’s “birthday weekend,” is “Celebrating the Feast of the Birth of Mary,” and a gala for attendees, donors, and supporters is planned for Saturday in downtown Cleveland in observance of the Sept. 8 feast. “I’m just overjoyed thinking about this,” Baugh said. “[Mary] is a powerful intercessor for us. Especially in our daily life being bold witnesses and ambassadors for the faith, we need to call on her for guidance and assistance.”

JUDY ROBERTS is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

‘Blessed Mother’ priest sees resurgence in Marian devotion

Father Edward Looney likes to tell people that he came out of the womb loving Mary, the mother of Jesus

A priest of the Diocese of Green Bay, WI since 2015, Fr. Looney said he can’t recall a moment when he didn’t have some fond recollection of the Blessed Mother. Although he didn’t grow up in a religious home, he said his grandmother and a woman in his home parish helped plant the seeds of Marian devotion in him early in his childhood.

That devotion today is threefold, encompassing praying a daily rosary, making regular pilgrimages to Marian shrines, and wearing the scapular and the miraculous medal. For pilgrimages, Fr. Looney travels yearly to Lourdes, France, where Mary appeared to St. Bernadette, but his location in the Diocese of Green Bay allows him to regularly visit Our Lady of Good Help Shrine, the only Church-approved Marian apparition site in the U.S. He has written five books about the shrine and has given presentations on it to Legatus groups.

Designated a national shrine by the U.S. bishops in 2016, Our Lady of Good Help recently was in the national spotlight when NBC’s Megyn Kelly TODAY featured it as part of a “Faith in America” series. Included in the report was the story of a Reedsville, WI woman whose family had prayed for her healing at the shrine after she was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. According to the Green Bay Press Gazette, NBC learned about Our Lady of Good Help from Michael O’Neill, known as “The Miracle Hunter,” who had been working on the show, Miracles of Champions, which premiered in April on EWTN.

Father Looney made his first pilgrimage to Our Lady of Good Help as an 8th-grader and, although he didn’t return until he was in high school, the rural shrine eventually became an oasis for him.

“I always thought I would study Mary more in depth – and I have – so it was a natural place to focus my energy and intellectual thought.” Fr. Looney has no official role at the shrine, though some people call him the shrine historian. “But I don’t consider myself that,” he said. “I’m just an author.” Besides his books about the shrine, Fr. Looney has written the children’s book Breakfast in Bethlehem, A Rosary Litany and A Heart Like Mary’s. He also is working on another book, How They Loved Mary.

As he practices his own devotion to Mary and shares it with others through his writing and priesthood, Fr. Looney said he has observed a resurgence of interest in the Blessed Mother. After the Second Vatican Council, he said, some Catholics abandoned Marian piety, but devotion to her never disappeared. Now, he said, along with other practices such as Eucharistic adoration and the sacrament of reconciliation, Marian devotion is being discovered by a new generation of Catholics.

Stay close to your Mother

I was born in the month of May, and I’ve been working in the Catholic Church for nearly 25 years, so you’d think I’d be somewhat of an expert on the Blessed Mother. Not so, I’m afraid. I still have much to learn.

novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

My family and I started watching a video series on Our Lady a couple of weeks ago, and I was amazed at how much I didn’t know. (See my review here.) It’s not that I didn’t appreciate Mary’s role in salvation history; I simply didn’t understand her role in my life and in the life of the Church today.

Just as the queen mother in ancient Israel played a significant role in the establishment of her son upon the throne, so too does Our Lady play an important role in her Son’s rule as King of the Universe. Her whole being is invested in the spread of Jesus’ kingdom — the salvation of souls.

In her role as Queen of Heaven and Earth, Mary’s primary role is to intercede for us. We can draw a great analogy from Bathsheba — King Solomon’s mother — in the book of Kings. She sat on a throne as Queen Mother and interceded mightily on behalf of Solomon’s subjects. She was their most powerful, and therefore preferred, advocate.

So why not bypass Our Lady and go straight to Jesus himself? We certainly can, but think of it this way: If you want to gain favor with your boss or someone of influence for whatever reason, your chances of success are far greater if you also make friends with those closest to him. If you’re on a first-name basis with your boss’ assistant and his wife, your chances of being heard are far greater than if you only approach him directly.

Similarly, if we want to grow closer to Jesus — which we all should strive for — it makes perfect sense to grow closer to His mother. The Church teaches that Jesus has assigned Our Lady a special place in the time before his second coming. She is the one who ultimately crushes the head of Satan (Gen 3:15 and Rev 12:1).

Ultimately, we should love Our Lady because Jesus does. He has always honored his mother. The sinless Virgin Mary, assumed into heaven body and soul, is the first and most perfect disciple. She is our model for faithful discipleship. Begging her intercession and following her lead is certainly the surest way to holiness and to heaven.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

May is the month of Mary

FATHER CHRISTOPHER LIGUORI writes that Catholics rightly honor Mary during May . . .

Fr. Christopher Liguori

Fr. Christopher Liguori

by Fr. Christopher Liguori

Isn’t it beautiful that we have a Mother in heaven who loves us, intercedes for us, treats each one of us as a cherished child, and always leads us to her Son?

Holy Church sets aside the entire month of May as Mary’s month. Traditionally during this month, statues of Mary are crowned with flowers. The new blooms on the trees, the evolving spring flowers, the song of birds, and the great surge of life within nature all speak to us of Mary, whose beauty is reflected deeply within it.

There are many beautiful Catholic traditions, such as building May altars, having May processions in honor of Our Lady, and crowning Our Lady as our queen. For some, these may just be memories from childhood, but they are practices which can bear rich fruit.

Perhaps you are blessed to belong to a parish where such celebrations still take place! In my parish school, children are delighted to participate in the crowning ceremony. The children who made their First Communion that year are also asked to wear their white clothes from that special day. All the children are encouraged to bring flowers and present them to Our Lady.

The heart of every Catholic should turn instinctively toward our heavenly Mother — especially during the month of May. It’s certainly a great comfort to meet the gentle presence of a mother on our spiritual journey, which for many is exhausting and fraught with difficulties, daily disturbances and unexpected trials.

Isn’t it true that with Mary, everything becomes easier? The weary, discouraged heart, disturbed by storms, finds new hope and strength, and continues the journey with fresh courage. Saint Josemaría Escrivá said, “Holy Mary is the Queen of peace. So when your soul or your family are troubled, or things go wrong at work, in society or between nations, cry out to her without ceasing.”

“If the winds of temptation arise,” sings St. Bernard, “if you run into the reefs of trials, look to the star; call upon Mary. In danger, sorrow, or perplexity, think of Mary, call upon Mary.” There are so many times, more than ever in today’s world, that we need her help, the help of Our Mother.

It’s only natural then that we begin our monthly Legatus chapter meetings by praying the rosary. It sets the tone for the spiritual aspect of our meetings and prepares us for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

There are many benefits of praying the rosary: It gradually gives us a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ; it purifies our souls, washing away sin; it gives us victory over all our enemies; it makes it easy for us to practice virtue; it sets us on fire with love of Our Lord; it enriches us with graces and merits; it supplies us with what is needed to pay all our debts to God and to our fellow men; and finally, it obtains all kinds of graces for us from Almighty God.

During the month of May, why not make a resolution to put an image of Our Lady close by — perhaps on your desk at work. Then, throughout the day, glance at the image with a short aspiration such as, “Mary, guide me through the rest of the day,” to sanctify that very moment. Or why not begin a task that may seem tedious by first saying a “Hail Mary”? Then, instead of a burden, it becomes an offering.

Every morning, as I put on my crucifix and Miraculous Medal, I always say this prayer: “O Mary, my mother, I offer myself entirely to you. And to prove my filial affection, this day I consecrate to you my eyes, my ears, my tongue, my heart; in short, my whole being. And now, my good mother, as I am entirely yours, look after me and protect me as someone who belongs to you. Amen.”

Priests, by their very priesthood in Christ, have a unique relationship to Mary. From our vocational call to our ongoing ministry, Mary has a special role in our lives. May our Blessed Mother intercede with her son for all priests, but also that we may have more holy priests.

Mary comes to meet us during this month of May, to take us by the hand, to wrap us under her mantle, to initiate us into the secret of her interior life, which must become the model and norm of our own — especially as Legates striving to help meet the challenges of balancing the responsibilities of faith, family, business and community.

FR. CHRISTOPHER LIGUORI is pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Jacksonville, Fla., and co-chaplain of Legatus’ Jacksonville Chapter.

Why do Catholics call Mary ‘co-redemptrix’?

AL KRESTA says that the title Co-Redemptrix doesn’t make Mary equal to Jesus . . .

Al Kresta

Al Kresta

by Al Kresta

Just to be clear, Jesus is the redeemer of humanity; Mary is not. While “Mary, co-redemptrix” has been part of Catholic thought and devotion, it’s not yet clear whether this title will receive dogmatic definition.

This designation of Mary has long been part of the devotional life of the Church and further developed during the pontificates of Popes Pius X, Pius XI, and John Paul II. The Church usually considers co-redemptrix in connection with two other titles: mediatrix and advocate.

The first reference to Mary as co-redemptrix dates back to the 14th century. The concept, however, is already present in the writings of Irenaeus and Justin Martyr in the idea of the “Second Eve.” Just as Adam and Eve killed the life of God dwelling within them by disobedience, so too do the New Adam and the New Eve restore that life by obedience to the will of God. Eve hands the instrument of death to Adam in the Garden: Mary hands Jesus the instrument, a body, which brings eternal life.

Unfortunately, in English co-redemptrix sounds like co-chair or co-captain, implying that Jesus needed to split the office of Redeemer with someone else because the task of dying for the sins of the world was just a little too much for him. Rather, the “co” in co-redemptrix refers to a “cooperator” or “collaborator” with the Redeemer.

The Word of God never places Mary on a level of equality with Jesus Christ. Mary is everything that she is through Christ. She needed a savior, and her savior was Jesus. But her divine maternity is an unparalleled sharing in the mysterious work of the divine Redeemer. To say that she plays a singular role in salvation history is not to claim that she is equal to Jesus.

Redemption is first prophesied immediately after the original sin (Gen 3:15). In this protoevangelium or “first gospel,” we hear the ground bass motif that will recur throughout salvation’s song: “the Woman” is “with the Redeemer.” This pattern is heard repeatedly in scripture.

Mary’s “yes” at the Annunciation and her motherhood at the Nativity begin her union with her son in his work of salvation. Jesus’ mission of redemptive suffering causes profound suffering for her as well.

The title “co-redemptrix” is not a claim to equality with Christ, but an obedient and free cooperation with him in suffering for the sake of the gospel. While a hot brick warms, it receives its warmth from something other than itself — a heat source like a furnace. While the furnace is the “warmer,” the brick warmed by the furnace mediates the furnace’s heat to others. In this sense, the brick can be called a “co-warmer.”

Mary is “co-redemptrix” because of her unique maternity. She holds the title for all of us since she is the Mother of all Christians. Under her feet, the God of peace will crush Satan.

AL KRESTA is CEO of Ave Maria Communications and host of Kresta in the Afternoon. Reprinted with permission from his book “Why Are Catholic So Concerned About Sin?” Servant Books, 2005.

Catechism 101

This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation…. Taken up to heaven, she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. Therefore, the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.

By pronouncing her “fiat” at the Annunciation and giving her consent to the Incarnation, Mary was already collaborating with the whole work her Son was to accomplish.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, #969, 973