Ash Wednesday: Entering Into the Penitential Season of Lent

Today, Wednesday, February 13, marks the beginning of the Lenten Season of 2013, a Lenten Season that shall be etched into the memories of countless Catholic and non-Catholic men and women throughout the world, and which shall take its place in the history books as the Lenten Season during which Pope Benedict XVI made one of the most profound acts of humility ever to have been made by a pope: “stepping down” from his post as the validly elected successor of St. Peter, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ on earth, Roman Pontiff, Occupant of the See of Peter, and Spiritual Father to the world’s approximately one billion Catholic Christians.

Pope Benedict’s resignation, in the eyes of this author, sets before us a tremendous example of selflessness and humility, as we begin our forty-day penance, the purpose of which is to deepen our awareness of our radical dependence on the Divine Mercy of God, merited by Christ, through which God has so freely, knowingly and lovingly brought us into existence, forgiven us our sins (both the original sin and our personal sins), created us in His own image as “persons,” and has bestowed upon us the tremendous and utterly incomprehensible vocation to an eternal participation in His own Divine Life, through, with and in Christ Jesus, as members of His Mystical Body.

It is my earnest prayer for you, reading this entry, that you might take full advantage of the tremendous grace and mercy which is gushing forth from the pierced Heart of Christ, and which is being made available to you in an extraordinary fashion this Lenten Season through the most holy sacraments of Christ’s Church, particularly in the sacraments of penance and holy Eucharist.

Reclaim your Catholic identity and your baptismal inheritance by washing at the fount of Christ’s mercy, made available to you today, Ash Wednesday, in the wonderous sacrament of penance.  Do not allow yourself to be deterred on account of having to humble yourself by acknowledging, confessing, and begging pardon for your sins to Christ, Who, on account of the sacrament of Holy Orders, truly acts in the person of the priest.  I assure you, your sins, regardless of how numerous, how frequent, or how grave, will not shock the priest…. He’s heard, and likely performed, them all – hopefully, he’s not still performing them!

After having made a thorough confession of your sins and having been absolved by Christ Himself, acting in the person of his validly ordained minister, you will experience a lightness, a freedom – a palpable experience of having had a tremendous weight lifted from you.  You will be so happy and grateful that you made the decision (actually, it will not have been you who chose Him, but rather He Who chose you) to avail yourself of the sacrament of God’s Divine Mercy.  Then, with a clear, clean conscience, you can deeply participate in the most sacred Liturgy through, with and in the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and receive our Lord, truly present in the holy Eucharist. Through this sacrament of His infinite Love, he shall feed and deeply nourish your soul with His own divine life, that you might be ever more perfectly united to Him and to each of your brothers and sisters in Him, both on earth and in eternity, as a member of the glorious communion of saints!

Marian Apostolate Ministries would like to wish you and yours a most blessed, penitential and grace-filled Lenten Season.

Ave Maria!

Celebrating the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

St. Anne, St. Joachim, and Mary (Public Domain)

On this day in the Liturgical Calender, the Church celebrates the great Marian Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Those who have consecrated everything they are and everything they have to Her, as well as those who have yet to make a solemn act of consecration to Jesus through Mary, must know that celebrating and reflecting upon this Feast of Mary’s Nativity is integral to a better understanding of that profound littleness and poverty of spirit which authentic Marian devotion ultimately leads us to.  For, it is precisely on this feast, which celebrates the “littleness” of our infant Mother Mary, that we learn from her the necessary virtues of littleness, humility,docility, meekness, obedience and silence – that constellation of virtues which the Lord finds so very pleasing, and which laid the foundation for the exalted role that Mary, as the New Eve, would play with her son, the New Adam, in the economy of salvation.  For, it is precisely through poverty of spirit, littleness, weakness, and the recognition of our radical dependence on God, a God Who not only loved us into existence, but, additionally, redeemed us from sin while we were still mired in sin, that the Spirit, the Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is capable of working in those souls who, totally consecrated to Mary, are truly childlike.  For, as Christ states, “Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3). It is through the gift of our total consecration, or entrustment, to Mary that the Immaculate Mother of God, through whom the Holy Spirit has freely chosen to work, forms within our souls the image of the silent, obedient, meek, humble and crucified Christ.  Let us, for a moment, revisit the great Canticle of Mary, or the Magnificat (recited each day toward the end of Evening Prayer, by all bishops,  priests, deacons and religious of the Catholic Church, in the Liturgy of the Hours), in order to better comprehend not only Mary’s own reaction to the knowledge of the exalted role that she had been chosen by God to play in the economy of salvation, but additionally to understand that true poverty of spirit which she necessarily leads all of her clients and consecrated children to, provided they adhere to the dictates of her Motherly Heart and the solemn promises made to her via their total consecration: Continue reading

Litany of Humility: The Way of Christian Perfection

"Ecce Homo" - Antonio Ciseri [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Ecce Homo” – Antonio Ciseri [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Written for private devotional use

by His Eminence Cardinal Merry del Val,

Secretary of State to Pope Pius X:

____________

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed; Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved; Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being extolled; Deliver me, Jesus

From the desire of being honored; Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being praised; Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred; Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted; Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being approved; Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated; Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being despised; Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of suffering rebukes; Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being calumniated; Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten; Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being ridiculed; Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being wronged; Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being suspected; Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I; Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I; Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease; Jesus, Grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be chosen and I set aside; Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be praised and I unnoticed; Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be preferred to me in everything; Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should; Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.