Are you curious, like I was? What is this about? I am a baptized Christian, born again at the age of nineteen, and later reconciled to the Roman Catholic Church at age 33. Wow, symbolic right?
St. Louis De Montfort 1673-1716 — Confessor, Marian devotee, and founder of the Sisters of Divine Wisdom, Louis went to Rome, where Pope Clement XI appointed him as a missionary apostolic. Louis is famous for fostering devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Rosary. In 1715, he also founded the Missionaries of the Company of Mary. His True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin remains popular. Louis died at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre. He was canonized in 1947.
According to this famous French saint, we cannot truly know and love Jesus if we do not love his mother Mary. Had I not already cultivated a devotion to Mary when five little ones all under the age of eight clamored for my attention? God knows with my son being autistic and three running around in diapers, I was drowning in motherhood. I hung on to Mary’s last bead for dear life. It was what sustained me as I waited to receive the Lord at my first Holy Communion and Confirmation. It was at the Easter vigil that my husband and I reconciled to the Church and our five children were also baptized. Later we had one more baby. As life thickened, my need for grace increased.
Long before I embarked on this personal pilgrimage, I came to agree with St. Louis.
Why attempt a 33 day retreat? Isn’t that almost like Lent? Well yeah, it is; and that’s exactly why I did it.
With the sensationalized current events exploding through the internet and personal challenges, it was time to withdraw, get basic, and pray. I needed to quiet down and simplify.
St. Louis breaks it down in palatable segments, beginning with renouncing our ties to the world. Then once that is intended with a spirit of good will, the soul is ready to be filled with the spirit of Jesus Christ. Once you clean the house, you gotta furnish it up with good things.
Following are three weeks of prayerful intentions:
Week 1- Knowledge of Self
Week 2- Knowledge of Mary
Week 3- Knowledge of Jesus Christ
I have yet to complete the pilgrimage because my 33 days is fulfilled on my favorite Marian feast day, August 15th, The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It will be on this day that I’ll be ready to commit to the Act of Total Consecration which marks the beginning of hopefully deeper sacramental living.
This interior retreat is like a good book. It’s going to be sad when it ends. In next month’s entry, I’d like to share with you some finer points, some epiphanies, some nitty gritty daily stuff.
I will say that I have grown to believe that ignorance of the role the Blessed Mother plays in our salvation and the contempt for her that Christians harbor is the most dangerous and insidious ploy of Satan there is.
As Eve’s prideful disobedience pulled the lever on original sin, so the humble obedience of Mary turned the evil intent on its head, under her foot. God the Father delegated to Mary, the new Eve, with a new ‘Ave’, the authority to crush the head of the serpent.
She thus sanctified motherhood.
I need her to be my mother. I need her prayers to be purified in the blood of Jesus. I need her intercession for the protection of my adult children.
I visit the holy water font in our living room that resides under our family crucifix making the sign of the cross for my children who live far away. I sleep with my rosary, the cross clutched in my palm. I attend daily Mass, when I can and try to be observant to receiving frequent Confession and Holy Communion.
And in order to come with boldness or confidence to the throne of grace in my time of need, I ponder the real meaning of boldness. I wonder if boldness is actually humility. To approach the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, I do so with the penitence of the Roman centurion. “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
I have no pride. I am happy to admit that because of my sinful nature, I need the prayers of Mary, the one who said yes via the messenger Gabriel, and saw it through to the end as she stood at the foot of the cross, whereupon her Son proclaimed her from that hour, the Mother of all who call themselves friends of Jesus.
About Susan Anderson
Wife and mother of three strapping sons and three lovely daughters. She writes to share the small sanctified wonders of a Catholic Christian life.