Making the Best of May; the Catholic Way. 

After walking into January with the joy of Christmas still fresh in our hearts, to basking in the sun of February experiencing the spiritual growth which the Ordinary time brought; after our sobriety and quest to amend our broken and sinful ways in March to the manifestation of the purpose of our beliefs and salvation in our Lord’s death and resurrection, we step into a new month tomorrow, the joyful Month of May.

To the world, the new month might probably mean a need to review how far we’ve come in our goals, what to achieve this time and what to let go off. It might even be a reminder of how much little our time keeps becoming. But for we Catholics, it should be more than that. For us, the Month of May is a month someone special comes to our minds and heart: that special someone being Our Loving Mother Mary

The Catholic Church has dedicated this Month of Joy to Our Blessed Lady. This joy is self fulfilling since the fifty days of Easter corrseponds with the “Marian” month. What’s even more beautiful is the fact that according to Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Mense maio (the Month of May), “in this month, the benefits of God’s mercy comes down to us from her throne in greater abundance.” So how exactly can we as Catholics utilize this Month of May spiritually? Here are some suggestions all summed up in three major ways which could be of help. 

Pray to Her: The Month of our Lady calls us to take up a deep devotion to Mary. Many of us probably may have backslid in our prayers to her due to the stress and worries our minds have been preoccupied with from the start of the year up until now. But we are encouraged to rekindle in our hearts our devotion to her by:

  • Fervent prayer of one of the most powerful prayers of the Church: the Most Holy RosaryIn Fatima, Our Lady appeared to the shepherd children—Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco.  In these apparitions, Our Lady insisted upon the praying of the most Holy Rosary. St. John Paul II in his document on the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Rosary also pleaded that the whole world pray the Holy Rosary for the salvation of the family and for world peace. This is a call to obedience for us. Fifteen to thirty minutes of each day in prayer with the Holy Rosary isn’t really too small for Our Lady. The question is, isn’t she worth more than this amount of your time?
  • Saying the Regina Coeli at appropriate times, for in doing this we not only sanctify the morning, afternoon and evening hours through the holy and sweet presence of Mary, but we also call to mind Mary’s key presence in the Mysteries of our salvation.
  • Consecration of Ourselves through our LadyIt is always beautiful when we dedicate our whole essence to Jesus by a formal process of consecration through Mary. So if your parish organizes such consecration classes this May, it won’t be a bad idea to attend them if you haven’t done such consecration. This consecration could change dramatically one’s whole life. If one has already done it then one can renew the consecration every year and go deeper into the infinite reservoir of the love of God brought to us through the intercession of Our Mother Mary.

Know Her: A major issue our separated brethren have with us Catholics is the doctrine and truths about Our Mother Mary (Mariology as we call it). What’s even worse is the failure on our side in explaining and defending these truths when faced with the opposition and this is generally caused by the lack of indepth knowledge about Our Lady. Thus, we can make our Catholic faith firm this May by: 

  • Reading about Mary. For a well-formed and integral Mariology we should cultivate not just devotion but doctrine as well and this can be achieved by reading good Catholic books that fully explains the reasons for our devotions to Mary. Why not read the Apostolic Letter of Saint John Paul II “Blessed Virgin Mary and the Rosary” this May. This is a spiritual gem because it combines both solid Catholic doctrine (Mariology) with a tender love and devotion to Mary. We indeed need to know about Our Lady for she is the quickest, shortest, easiest and most efficacious path to Jesus.

Imitate Her. If we truly love somebody, we wouldn’t just want to get to know them better, but we would as well follow them more closely and finally imitate their good qualities that we call virtues. This is what we ought to do with regards to Our Lady this May. The saints did this every day of their lives and are now being honoured. St. Louis de Montfort in his classic “True Devotion to Mary” gives us a list of the ten principal virtues of Mary. Imitate them and you will be on the highway to holiness. They are her deep humility, lively faith, blind obedience, unceasing prayer, constant self-denial, surpassing purity, ardent love, heroic patience, angelic kindness, and heavenly wisdom (True Devotion to Mary, St. Louis de Montfort, #108). St. Louis teaches us: “The greatest saints, those richest in grace and virtue will be the most assiduous in praying to the most Blessed Virgin, looking up to her as the perfect model to imitate and as a powerful helper to assist them.”

Finally, although the month of May is a joyful one indeed, our life is a constant combat zone. But the good thing about it all is that we are never alone in our daily battle against the devil, the flesh and the world. Our Lady is always there to help us whenever we call on her in times of temptations and trials. She’s always on the lookout for the worried hearts as she did at the Wedding of Cana. And she is always ready to call her Son Our Lord Jesus Christ’s attention to us. Pope Paul VI also wrote that Mary is rightly to be regarded as the way by which people are led to Christ. Therefore, the person who encounters Mary cannot help but encounter Christ. So let us utilize this Month of May by truly devoting ourselves to Our Mother Mary, for then will the joy Easter brings be truly ours. 

    For Thirty Pieces of Silver…

    Wednesday of Holy Week, Year A; 12th April, 2017.

    At that time one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

    When it was evening, he sat at the table with the twelve; and as they were eating, he said, “Truly I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Is it I, Master?” He said to him, “You have said so.”

    Matthew 26:14-16, 20-25

    Betrayal. How bitter and hurtful it can be when you realize you are about to be betrayed by one you call ‘friend’. How worse off it gets when the person to betray you still claims an undying loyalty to you amidst such betrayal. Ceasar probably would have felt this towards Brutus. But then again, he was almost dead before it dawned on him what had really transpired. But our Lord Jesus Christ knew from the onset, and each time he talked about the betrayal that would lead to His death, we can only imagine the pain He felt when His traitor felt no remorse whatsoever and acted all innocent. “Thirty pieces of silver and then I can be rich,” Judas probably said to himself. But he failed to realize that he was selling the best riches he could ever have had for a few coins. Thirty pieces of silver over the salvation His Master was bringing him.

    We at times act like Judas Iscariot: selling ourselves short of the price Christ has bought us with. We claim to be Christians when our hearts and minds are far from the Christ-like living; we choose the world’s pleasures and possessions over the joy and salvation our Lord Jesus Christ offers us; we pretend to have this undying love for God when we await moments to seek our desires which only His love can fulfill

    But today, Christ looks at us lovingly, with hopes that we stop living in pretence and start living up to the price He shed his Precious Blood for us with, which even a million pieces of gold can’t buy. May we gain the graces to be loyal to our Saviour so that whenever we share in his Passover, whenever we partake in the Holy Eucharist, we may with clean conscience and pure hearts, dine with Him knowing it wouldn’t be us who will be guilty of betrayal

    Called In Righteousness 

    Monday of Holy Week, Year A; 10th April 2017.

    Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up His voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not quench; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not fail or be discouraged till He has established justice in the earth; and the islands wait for His laws.

    Isaiah 42:1-4

    Prophet Isaiah gives an amazing phophecy about Christ’s death and mission on earth, no wonder the Holy Mother Church takes verses from it for most of its reading during the Holy Week. Today Christ is portrayed as the servant who God delights in; the chosen one filled with the Holy Spirit to bring forth justice to the world. And what justice is it He brings, we might be compelled to ask; after all, injustice still lurks in our world this present age. We seek a justice that stops evil abruptly, a justice which shouts power and authority, one with dictates right from wrong immediately. But the justice Christ brings isn’t loud; for He came neither crying out justice nor lifting up his voice to instill it. He came in all humility and simplicity to establish justice on earth. And this He calls us to do: to be instruments of justice; a justice found in righteous living; a justice that doesn’t falter when faced with the world’s failure to adhere to it and discouragement from unjust happenings around us. We are called to be like Christ this Holy Week, to be the light to people around us so that they can see the joy Christ brings, to open their eyes to God’s infinite mercy and forgiveness, to bring out those who live in the chains of sin to the freedom the Sacrament of Penance gives. 

    God calls us to be just. God calls us into righteousness today.  Like Our Lord Jesus Christ, may we embrace humility and establish justice on earth through love

    Hosanna!! 

    Palm Sunday of The Lord’s Passion, Year A; 9th April 2017. 

    When they had come near Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their garments on them, and he sat on thereon. Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” And when he entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

    Matthew 21:1-11

    Today has got quite a twist in its readings. It begins with a joyful proclamation of “Hosanna” to Christ the Son of David on His entry to Jerusalem at the Blessings/Procession with Palms and ends with the shouts of “Crucify Him” during the Passion Narrative. It’s like the future being placed immediately the very beginning commences. Such gives us reasons to ponder on how we proclaim Christ’s goodness in our lives only to crucify Him when things seem to go bad; on how we proclaim His presence in us only to persecute Him when we become immersed in our sinful ways. This also goes to show how weak we humans are with praises and being true in our loyalty. The same ones who praise you today are the ones who are bound to persecute you tomorrow. More reason why Jesus draws us towards total surrender of our will to God as he did. He knew the shouts of Hosanna was only temporary till He suffered for our sins. He knew what laid ahead of Him was quite unbearable for a mere human, nevertheless He who, though in the form of God was made man, emptied Himself, remained humble unto death and steadfast to God the Almighty Father. How often have we claimed to love Christ but yet persecuted Him in our actions? How do we go about life when we feel betrayed by loved ones and close friends? How often do we turn to God so that He takes the cup of suffering from us if He wills? 

    Today, Christ enters Jerusalem with a donkey, a beast of “burden”. This is a significant reminder that He comes to bear our sins and take them on His journey to Calvary. This Holy Week, Christ beckons on us to go with Him all the way; to let go of those heavy bags of sin, hurt, tribulations and sufferings which weigh us down and turn us away from the glory and joy that awaits us during Easter. Jesus comes to save. Shout with joy that ‘Honassa’ as he enters through the door of your heart now.