Sunday, November 16, 2008
To begin my talk let me say I am a convert, having been received into the fullness of Christianity at the Easter Vigil of 1985 at St Michael the Archangel Church. I have always had the understanding, even while a Methodist youth, that Mary or the Virgin Mary as I commonly referred to her, had a very special place in Christianity and in each of our lives. However; if you had asked me then, I would not have been able to verbalize just exactly what that meant.
As I look back on my life, I realize that Mary has taken my hand and led me most of my life even though quite frequently I went kicking and screaming….if at all. As an example, I recall sitting at my kitchen table in approximately 1975, with an old broken rosary in my hand, fumbling through a pamphlet on how to pray the rosary, that I probably picked up at St Michael’s, only to give up in frustration because I knew no one that could help me.
Another example, not quite so obvious, but still I feel the hand of Our Lady was at work…around the same time a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my door. After hearing them out, I said, “I’m sorry, I’m not interested, I’m Catholic”, thinking that would make them go away…but it didn’t, so I finally had to just shut the door in their face. They did however, say to me that I needed to know the truth; and while I knew they did not have the truth, I realized, I did need to know what the truth was. About the same time Pat Robertson of the 700 Club said basically the same thing, so I began to consume the New Testament. After about 5 times of reading through, only being able to understand bits and pieces of it and not being able to make any kind of cohesive sense out of any of it, the passage “you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the Hell shall not prevail against it” hit me up side the head like a 2x4 and I instantaneously knew the Catholic Church was truly the Church established by Jesus Christ.
You’d think I would have immediately gone to my local Catholic Church and inquired about becoming Catholic. Not so, it took another 8-10 years and 3 attempts at Instructions before finally entering the Church. I tell you these things because, I see in all of this the hands of the Blessed Virgin and the battle that rages around us both seen and unseen.
When thinking about what it means to me to be consecrated to Our Lady under the title of the Immaculate Conception as a Missionary Servant of the Gospel of Life, I consider three passages of scripture. The first is Gen 3:15, which says “Then the LORD God said to the serpent: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” The second passage is Rev 21:1 which tells us “A great sign appeared in the sky; a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” And finally Rev. 12:17 says, “Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus.”
From these passages it is very clear we are at war. We can see the spiritual and physical dimensions of this battle of the culture of life versus the culture of death from the beginning of creation.
As a consecrated daughter of “the woman” the Immaculate One, I put on her Mantle and in doing so take on a larger portion of the battle and share more intimately with Her and the Cross of Christ. While listening always to the Blessed Mother as she whispers to me “Do whatever he tells you,” I recognize the foundation of my consecration as a missionary is spiritual; which nourishes me to fulfill the demands of the physical aspect of the battle raging in our midst.
I listen to my Mother as she says “Do whatever He tells you” and I listen to Jesus as He says "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” It is only in an intimate loving relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ through prayer, frequent participation in the celebration of Mass, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, reception of the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Confession and all that our rich Catholic tradition contains—that we have a solid foundation upon which to defeat the evil of the culture of death.
Then nourished with the Sacraments and once again listening to my Mother say “Do whatever He tells you” I hear Jesus as He says “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” and the door opens for me to actively commit to a life of service…
Another aspect of this life of service is being ever vigilant in developing the missionary virtues that make me most effective in announcing the coming of the kingdom of God…especially through actions and when necessary through words. They also help me to confront the culture of death and the challenges it presents.
This means since Our Lady is the model par excellence of living a life of virtue, I must follow her example as she teaches me to practice SIMPLICITY. I must speak the truth in its fullness, but always with love to those around me who suffer from the very choices they make which contradict God’s law and will. I must do everything for the love of God alone letting no one or no thing come first. I must strive to be unattached to comforts and possessions, understanding they have no place in the kingdom of God and any attachment to such things will lead me away from God and His plan for my life and the love I am to give and the service I am to do for His people.
I must ask Our Lady to teach me to be HUMBLE and obedient; to understand that I am a mere speck and everything good that I have and everything good that I do or ever will do is from God. At the same time I need to understand as long as I remain in God’s grace and strive to know Him, love Him and serve Him daily, He will lead me where He wants me to be. I must also avoid the noise and distraction of this world and seek silence, because it is only in quiet meditation and reflection that God’s voice can be heard.
I must ask Our Lady to show me the way of MEEKNESS gentleness and serenity toward those who approach me. I must ask for a portion of the strength she showed during Our Lords Passion in suffering quietly with forgiveness, in all instances of persecution, rejection and mocking; offering it all to the Father.
In following Our Lady’s example of MORTIFICATION I must remember she did not understand everything that was going on in her life, things did not always look very good, but she remained faithful, humble and obedient to the will of God. In the same way I must ask Mary to help me when I am confused and disappointed with the way the things in this world seem to be going. I must ask for strength to stay on course, not to be discouraged, but to continue on in the good fight. To keep upper most in my mind “the offspring of Mary win the battle”.
I must also look to Our Lady to teach me how to be ZEALOUS for the things of God and the souls of His children. I must ask for the strength to be willing to go anywhere and do anything for Christ and His Church.
It is very clear to me, Mary is my Mother and she has been “raising” me so to speak in the spiritual life. Without Our Blessed Lady, I would never have come to know and love Jesus and desire to serve Him as I do. She has lifted me up out of the gutter and has led me to, and in many instances pulled me along, to all that is good and true. Without Our Lady I would never have known the many good, faithful and holy people that I know. And, without Our Lady, I would not be here today sharing these thoughts with you.
Finally I’d like to say, while my Catholic faith is the most precious gift God has given me, the fact He has chosen me to share in this privileged calling to serve Him in this very special way by being consecrated to His Mother under the title of the Immaculate Conception as a Missionary Servant of the Gospel of Life, is so indescribably awesome, I really cannot put to words. The only thing I can really say to describe my feelings for Our Lady is to say; I love Her, I honor Her and I venerate Her, She is my Mother and my Queen. She is the General of an army and is adorned in battle array. I have been called to join Her army, and thank God I have been given the grace to say “yes”.