Tag Archives: rosary

In Fighting Virus of Evil, Men Wield Combat Rosary

Father Richard Heilman believes in the reality of a spiritual war, one in which the rosary is a powerful weapon. To get men to wield that weapon, however, he knew he needed one that looked like it belonged to a warrior. When he found a 1916 metal rosary manufactured by the U.S. government for the military and sometimes called the “service rosary,” he said, “this is it.”


Using it as a model, Father Heilman, a priest in the Diocese of Madison, WI, set about producing what he now calls the “Combat Rosary,” a string of beads that looks like a metal pull-chain, but with the addition of a special crucifix and two medals.

“I wanted it to be a powerful supernatural weapon, so I picked the Miraculous Medal and added the St. Benedict Medal as well and then . . . the Pardon Crucifix. It’s the only one that if you carry or kiss it, you receive an indulgence.”

Father Heilman was able to get a prototype made in a matter of weeks and then arranged to have enough rosaries produced for the Knights of Divine Mercy, a men’s apostolate he started. After that modest start in 2007, he said, “It kind of took off from there. People would see [the rosaries] and want one.”

Demand eventually grew to the point that Father Heilman approached his sister, Judy Balistreri, a benefits-administration executive, about taking over production and sales. With the help of her husband, another brother and niece, Balistreri now owns and runs Roman Catholic Gear, the online store that sells the “Combat Rosary” and other related religious articles. Most of the proceeds from sales are donated to parishes, pro-life and military organizations, and other charitable groups.

Father Heilman, who also is co-host of the U.S. Grace Force podcast, developed the “Combat Rosary” after noticing that many rosaries looked more like women’s jewelry or even children’s toys. If he was going to get men to pray the rosary and inspire them to be the providers and protectors of their families, he knew they would be more likely to pick up something that looked like it belonged to a guy engaged in battle.

“I am a strong proponent of us restoring a sense of the supernatural, that there is a battle, and there is such a thing as a devil.” Drawing from Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted’s 2015 apostolic exhortation, which calls on Catholic men to “step into the breach,” Father Heilman said men can protect their families from evil and call down supernatural grace and blessings from God. “We’ve known for centuries now that God has given us this amazing weapon of the rosary as a way to call upon Mary, who was said to crush the head of the serpent . . . I wanted to frame it that the rosary truly is a weapon that men are given. As Pope Pius IX said, ‘Give me an army saying the rosary and I will conquer the world.’”


Father Heilman said many men have always known it is beneficial to pray to the Blessed Mother, but to see the rosary as a weapon for warfare has resonated with many of them. “I think we all have a sense, especially in the era we’re living in now, that evil is being very aggressive so a lot of people, particularly men, are saying, ‘What can we do?’ Seeing this onslaught of evil and having that in their bones – this desire to be the providers and protectors of the family – once they understand the power of the rosary, it becomes something they feel very called to take on in their life.”

Dave Yanke, a father of nine from the Madison diocese and a Knights of Divine Mercy member, said he thinks saying the rosary on his “combat” beads has made him think about praying in a more manly way. Interestingly, he said, it was around the time he got his first “Combat Rosary” from Father Heilman that he began to take more seriously his faith as well as his role as spiritual leader of his family. “I went from going to Mass because my wife thought that was what we should do, to kind of taking that role over and leading the family to Mass, leading the rosary, leading prayers, and suggesting we do things.”

Yanke said his first impression of the “Combat Rosary” was, “Boy, this is cool.” He especially liked that the beads were metal. “My gut reaction was this is something that a man would like to carry around. It’s masculine.”

Initially, he said, he hung his “Combat Rosary” on his bed and used it at night if he awoke and couldn’t go back to sleep. But now that his family says the rosary together before Sunday Mass, he keeps it in his suit coat. “I save it for Sundays. It’s my prize rosary.”


The “Combat Rosary” also is the official rosary of the Pontifical Swiss Guard. After Father Heilman donated 150 of the rosaries to the Guard in 2016, Col. Christoph Graf, the Guard commander, held up one before a group of new recruits and told them that they were receiving “the most powerful weapon that exists on the market . . . Literally, the rosary for the fight.”

To enhance their appeal to men, the “Combat Rosary” comes with a leather pocket-sized combat pouch and a “Concealed Carry Card.” Roman Catholic Gear also sells “spiritual ammo tins” to hold the rosaries.

Balistreri said although the “Combat Rosary” was designed to inspire men to pray the rosary, women love it as well. She uses one herself and, when it comes to sales, has found that there is no typical customer. “Honestly, it’s a rosary for all spiritual warriors, regardless of age or gender.” Likewise, the rosaries have been shipped all over the world. 


As the impact of the coronavirus was felt globally, many who use the “Combat Rosary” joined in a 54-day “Three Hearts Novena for Protection and Provision,” announced by Father Heilman on his RomanCatholicMan. com website. The novena, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Chaste Heart of St. Joseph, began March 9 and was to conclude May 1. 

“We are praying against the coronavirus with 60,000 people right now,” Father Heilman said in March. “Most carry the ‘Combat Rosary’ and see it as an effective weapon against this evil.” The band of prayer warriors included a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who emailed Father Heilman to say he has a “Combat Rosary” and was praying the novena.


 In developing the “Combat Rosary” and other spiritual articles, Father Heilman has drawn on his priestly knowledge as well as a business and marketing background passed on to him by his grandfather and father. His grandfather was a founding executive of Oscar Mayer and his father, who also worked for the company, started his own merchandising business for chain grocery stores. Father Heilman said he and his six siblings grew up working in the company warehouse.

 “It was a way for the family to be together. I have extremely fond memories of that family business so that was a big part of this. It’s almost like reliving those days now.”

JUDY ROBERTS is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Entrust the cause of life to Mary – the Mother of Life

At the close of Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), he begins his prayer to the Mother of God by saying, “O Mary, bright dawn of the new world, Mother of the living, to you do we entrust the cause of life.”

Dr. Donald Demarco

We can assist in the cause of life by saying the rosary and meditating on three consecutive decades of the Joyful Mysteries. The culture of death has taken direct aim against new life in three ways: through contraception, which negates the inception of new life; abortion, which destroys life already formed; and infanticide (euphemistically called “wrongful birth”), which destroys newborn life. Against these evils, the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity provide a strong remedy.

The Annunciation means saying “yes” to life that has yet to commence. Mary’s “yes” overturned Eve’s “no” and welcomed Christ into the world. It was a momentous event. As St. Irenaeus stated, “Being obedient, she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.”

The Visitation, when Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, occurs while Mary is pregnant with Jesus. It is a time of exultation for both women. Luke tells us that Elizabeth spoke out in a loud voice, saying, “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” (Luke 1: 42-45). As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, her own child, John the Baptist, “leaped in my womb with joy.”

The Nativity is the time when Mary delivers her child into the world. It is the first Christmas, an occasion that has been celebrated throughout the world for 2,000 years with great jubilation. It is the third “yes” to life following the acceptance of life and the joy of carrying it to term.

These three decades of the rosary represent not only Mary’s affirmation of life, but offer an instruction for all of us to follow. Mary invites us to hear, cultivate, and express the Word of God.

Saying “yes” to the Word of God imitates the Annunciation. Here, we agree to accept God. Our Visitation period is to carrying the Word of God in our hearts while at the same time cultivating it. Our Nativity is to bring the Word of God into the world, expressing it with love and an affirmation of life. When we recite these three decades of the rosary, we pledge to imitate Mary in our own way by accepting, developing, and expressing our love of life.

Mary, along with our relationship to her, takes on a special significance in today’s world where life is routinely despised and destroyed. As the Mother of God, she is also the Mother of Life. Our relationship with her is a powerful means of counteracting the evils that are transpiring in today’s culture of death.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, who had great affection for the Catholic Church, once wrote about Mary’s special importance: “I have always envied Catholics their faith in that sweet, sacred, Virgin Mother who stands between them and the deity, intercepting somewhat His awful splendor, but permitting His love to stream on the worshipper more intelligibly to human comprehension through the medium of a woman’s tenderness.” These beautiful words suggest that it should be easy to pray to Mary. Hawthorne’s own daughter, Rose, entered the Church and, as Mother Alphonsa, established a new order within the Dominican community.

We can re-enact the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity in our own way. In so doing, we help to advance the culture of life. Prayer is a prelude to a powerful remedy in the war against life that is currently transpiring.

Dr. DONALD DEMARCO is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University and adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. He is a regular columnist for the St. Austin Review. His latest two books, How to Navigate through Life and Apostles of the Culture of Life, are available on Amazon.com.

The rosary – food for life of the soul

Praying the rosary is a staple for Catholic family spirituality. The late Fr. Patrick Peyton (aka “The Rosary Priest”) said “the family that prays together, stays together.” Unfortunately, we’ve replaced family prayer with soccer, dance, and every form of technology that doesn’t bring us closer to God, or to each other.

As a priest, I should know the power of praying the rosary. I have an advanced degree in Mariology from the Pontifical Marianum Institute in Rome. My family prayed the rosary regularly, and I remember getting quizzed on knowing the mysteries in the proper order — each child tasked to lead a decade. As a seminarian and priest, the rosary has filled my travels, my personal time, and especially my difficult days with an assurance of God our Father and loving heavenly Mother.

But somedays it’s tough to pray the rosary, especially when you’re tired.

Regular meditation of the rosary isn’t a “law,” but an act of devotion to help me through challenging and tiring days.

One day, as a young priest, I had such a tough day I consciously chose NOT to pray my rosary before going to sleep. I was awakened by an emergency call to anoint a man who was “dying.” The caller was a defensive-sounding woman, dramatically telling me that she was a fallen-away Catholic, but calling for her dying dad, who’d been sick for a while. In my mind, I asked, “Why couldn’t she have called earlier?!?” I went dutifully, but begrudgingly

Since it was a 20-minute drive, I could have prayed the rosary. But now I was irritated. I thought, Mary wouldn’t want to listen to me while I’m in a sour mood. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

When I arrived, I discovered the man wasn’t actually dying. The daughter confused a coughing fit with dying. In fact, the elderly father went to the bathroom — on his own — when I arrived. He was far from dying, but I felt like I was.

I put on my best pastoral face and proceeded to offer the prayers of anointing. I politely asked this man’s name. He said, “My name is Rosario, just like my favorite prayer,” as he held out his rosary.

What a wake-up call! I realized that I was called out of sleep to pray that rosary — not just for myself, but for the dying, the dramatic daughter, and for myself when I’m weary and tired.

On the way home, I prayed my rosary. I went to sleep peacefully, knowing that Mary’s prayers always help.

LEO E. PATALINGHUG IVDEI, priest, author, speaker, TV and radio host, founder of Plating Grace and The Table Foundation. Learn more at FatherLeoFeeds.com


Smoked Salmon Wrap • yields 4 tortillas

Here’s a simple recipe to help us remember our Blessed Mother’s prayers and our pro-life mission as Catholics. While it’s Lent-friendly, this dish (and especially the sauce) is a crowd pleaser all year long. You can also watch my video as I prepare this meal with a message.

Smoked Salmon
(2 sliced per tortilla)
4 Tortillas
Bib Lettuce, 4 leaves
1 Roma Tomato, diced
1 jalapeño, de-seeded, minced
1/4 Red Onion, 2 Tbs, minced
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Cumin
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1 Lime, juiced
1 Avocado, seed removed, and sliced (yielding 8 slices)
Cilantro, 4-8 small stems
1/2 tsp Salt and 1/2 tsp Pepper


Make sauce/cream by adding the tomato, jalapeño, onion, garlic powder, cumin, mayo, sour cream, and lime juice in a bowl and stir all together.

Open 1 avocado and fan out.

Separate the smoked salmon slices.

To assemble the tortilla wrap, lay flat one tortilla and add and spread sauce/cream over the tortilla, place one bib lettuce leaf, add sliced avocado, add 1-2 slices of the smoked salmon, then a few sprigs of cilantro. Roll tortilla closed and serve with a side of the cream.

Tres Magna

As we begin this new year, the theme of the magazine is Renewed Purpose. I am asking you to resist the temptation of simply chalking this up as another New Year’s resolution topic that is convenient because it is that time of year. Indeed, I believe the topic of this column, Tres Magna, is extremely important to each member of Legatus.

Tom Monaghan

We are all aware of our mission as an organization to study, live, and spread the Catholic faith. However, as we go beneath the surface and engage what this really means, it is about growing in personal sanctity, which is no surprise to any of us because that is the goal of every Catholic.

So what is Tres Magna? This is Latin for Big Three. Some of you will remember in March 2017 my column was entitled The Big 3 of the Spiritual Life, and I challenged you at that time to attend daily Mass, pray the rosary every day, and go to Confession monthly!

My conviction of the importance of each of these has only continued to grow! About a year and a half ago, when the International Board of Governors met in Los Angeles, our ecclesiastical advisor, Archbishop Gomez, said (and I am paraphrasing here), I see Legatus being like a lay religious order. That statement really resonated with me and put into words the sense of purpose, focus, and vocation to which I, too, believe Legatus is being drawn. This call is not complicated nor is it anything new to the church And for me Tres Magna helps to make this call, this practice very specific.

We are all aware that the Mass is the highest form of prayer (or member of Legatus. worship), and while daily Mass certainly is not mandatory, as Vatican II says, it is the source and summit of our faith…In terms of the rosary, not only have popes throughout the ages called us to this devotional practice, but in Church-approved apparitions from Lourdes to Fatima, Our Lady consistently exhorts (dare I say, begs) the faithful to pray the rosary daily. And finally, monthly Confession. This is a part of the First Saturday devotion that I wrote about in my last column, and which has been built into every monthly chapter meeting.

Each of us is keenly aware of the current crisis in the Church and the challenges that loom before us. If we ever had a doubt as to why we exist as an organization, I believe it is for such a time as this. So, I encourage you in the strongest way I know to COMMIT to Tres Magna! Do not let it be something you just try, but resolve to do it and encourage your fellow members.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman, and CEO.

The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila

Dan Burke and Connie Rossini
EWTN Publishing, 138 pages 

With his 2002 apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, St. John Paul II wished to revitalize rosary devotion for our generation and proposed the new Mysteries of Light; St. Teresa of Avila, the 16th- century mystic, taught much about how to pray the rosary effectively and to avoid distraction. This book draws from both saints to guide readers in praying the rosary contemplatively, where we “place every moment of our lives before the throne of God” and recognize “the mystery of the Incarnation at work within us.” Scriptural meditations and reflections for each mystery and a guide to using both vocal and mental prayer will further renew the reader’s experience of praying the rosary. St. John Paul II would be pleased.

Order: Amazon

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.

The song that God loves to hear

In 1983, there began a series of apparitions in Argentina to a simple, uneducated woman named Gladys Quiroga de Motta. As in so many other apparitions in this century, the rosary would be the central theme. From the start of the apparitions, Mary appeared to Gladys holding Baby Jesus in one arm and displaying a large rosary that stretched across both her hands. In the apparition of November 26, 1983, Mary expressed the desire to be known as “Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolás.” On the following day, Gladys visited the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Rosario (a town near San Nicolás) and saw a statue of Our Lady that she claimed was an exact representation of what Mary looked like during the previous day’s apparition. Upon inquiring, Gladys was informed that this particular statue of Our Lady of the Rosary had been given to Argentina in 1884 by Pope Leo XIII for use in the cathedral of Rosario. At some point during construction of the cathedral, it had been placed in the bell tower and forgotten. Below is the account that Gladys gave regarding this episode:

For the first time, I saw a statue of the Virgin that is the same as what I see. It had been stored away at the cathedral. This image of Our Lady of the Rosary, that had been brought from Rome to San Nicolas 100 years ago, for the inauguration of the cathedral, [and was] blessed for that intention by Pope Leo XIII. Our Lady said to me: “They had me in oblivion, but I have reappeared; place me there [where Mary requested a shrine to be constructed] because you see me such as I am.”

In 1990, the local bishop gave his approval for the publication and distribution of the messages given to Gladys by Our Lady. There were no less than 1,800 messages! Even after the local bishop gave his approval for the spread of the messages, Gladys continued to have almost daily apparitions. …[She] requested the rosary be prayed every day, especially among families and in groups, and specifically asked that a perpetual novena of the rosary be undertaken by the local people…These apparitions were officially approved by the diocesan bishop on May 22, 2016.

… Mary described the rosary as a song that God loves to hear and a tie that binds us to our spiritual mother. Our Lady stressed that the rosary is so powerful that it can change the heart of anyone for the better [and] has the greatest influence in overcoming evil; every danger can be faced with the rosary…One of the most powerful messages Mary gave was on April 10, 1986 when she said: “The holy rosary is the weapon which the enemy fears. It is also the refuge of those who look for relief for their sufferings, and it is the door to enter into my heart.”

Excerpt from Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon, by Donald H. Calloway, MIC (Stockbridge: Marian Press, 2016), pp. 150-51, “San Nicolás, Argentina (1983-1990).” www.frcalloway.com. Used with permission.

Modern-day prodigal son, FR. DONALD CALLOWAY, MIC, is a convert to Catholicism and a member of the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. Prior to his conversion he was a school dropout and involved in crime. A prolific author on Mary and other faith topics, he is a popular speaker on the Divine Mercy, and has written seven books.


“My impression is that the rosary is of greatest value not only according to the words of Our Lady at Fatima, but according to the effects of the rosary one sees throughout history. My impression is that Our Lady wanted to give ordinary people, who might not know how to pray, this simple method of getting closer to God.” Sister Lúcia of Fatima

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.

The big three of the spiritual life

As business executives, we all have to set priorities for our companies or organizations. A part of this process is recognizing what is core to our success. If this is the case for our businesses, how much more should we practice this principle in our spiritual lives!

Tom Monaghan

We all know that our ultimate goal is to get to heaven and to bring as many people with us as possible; this is the living and spreading of our faith that we talk about in the mission of Legatus.

There are obviously many facets to living our faith, but let me share with you what I call “the big three of the spiritual life.” I have talked about these over the years and have even used them as a challenge at commencement addresses.

The first time I did so was when I was scheduled to speak after Mary Beth Bonacci. If you have ever heard Mary Beth speak with all of her style and energy — and I had — you know what an unenviable task it is. I thought, “What can I say to these young men and women that will keep their attention and make an impact?”

And then it came to me. I threw out the notes I had prepared and decided to issue them a challenge to attend daily Mass, to pray the rosary every day, and to get to Confession at least once a month.

I asked those graduates to commit themselves to these three things for the rest of their lives. Well, the message was so well received that day that I have used it several times since. I pray that those young people have kept their commitment. It’s not complicated, but it is a challenge. In the context of Legatus, I don’t think it’s coincidental that we find all three of these elements present at our monthly chapter meetings — rosary, Reconciliation and Mass. Over the years, these three things have become the foundation for my spiritual life, and for this, I am grateful.

So as we begin this Lent, instead of giving something up (or in addition to your fasting), let me issue this challenge to you: Try daily Mass, praying the rosary every day, and monthly Confession and see how it goes. I guarantee you will not regret it.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder and chairman.

Taking Legatus higher

I’ve been contemplating all the intangible graces and benefits of Legatus, which we receive through the sacrament of Reconciliation, the recitation of the rosary and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass — the very heart of the Legatus experience. Remembering all of our members across the country participating in these same sacraments and devotions, I was struck by the sheer volume of grace which God is bestowing on his people by means of Legatus.

Stephen Henley

It reminded me of St. Louis de Montfort’s words: “When we pray in common, the prayer of each belongs to all… One who says his rosary alone only gains the merit of that one rosary. But if he says it together with others, he gains the merit of each rosary.”

We have 5,125 members. With 70% average attendance, multiplied by our combined prayers, we go from 36,000 Masses and rosaries per year to 36,000 times 36,000, totaling 1.296 billion.

De Montfort went on to say, “When people say the rosary together, it’s far more formidable to the devil than one said privately, because in this public prayer it is an army that is attacking. It is very easy to break a single stick, but if you join it to others to make a bundle, it cannot be broken. In union, there is strength.” De Montfort speaks to exactly why Tom Monaghan founded Legatus — to join forces with those who have more responsibility than they know, to carry out the New Evangelization.

As we begin a new year, let us look back at the progress of 2016. Year-end membership grew to 2,665 (5,125 with spouses). We chartered chapters in Lake Charles, La.; Vancouver, B.C.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Fairfield County, Conn.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Madison, Wis. We moved our headquarters from Florida back to Michigan, hired four new headquarters staff, two new regional directors, and four new chapter development officers. Many thanks to the membership for your continued patience and support during this transition.

We are nearing the 30th anniversary of our founding. To memorialize our anniversary, our international chaplain, Bishop Sam Jacobs, has written a prayer that we sent to all chapters as a concluding prayer for each chapter’s meetings. Lastly, you will be receiving Legatus@30, a small book that captures where Legatus came from, who we are, and where we are going: Semper Altius — always higher!

STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.