Mark Mallett

CO-WORKERS IN CHRIST’S VINEYARD

Mark Mallett by the Sea of Galilee

 

Now is above all the hour of the lay faithful,
who, by their specific vocation to shape the secular world in accordance with the Gospel,
are called to carry forward the Church’s prophetic mission
by evangelizing the various spheres of family,
social, professional and cultural life.

—POPE JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Provinces of Indianapolis, Chicago
and Milwaukee
 on their “Ad Limina” visit, May 28th, 2004

 

I want to continue to reflect on the theme of evangelization as we move forward. But before I do, there is a practical message I need to repeat.

In The Now Word in 2019 written in January, I made the necessary appeal to my readership to support this full-time ministry. Of the thousands of readers around the world, about a hundred responded. I am so grateful, not only for your financial support, but the words of encouragement I received. For many, this ministry has become a life-line in the growing insanity of our times, and so I thank God for being so good to all of us through this little apostolate. However, upon my return from the Holy Land (which was paid for by a very kind priest!), faced with a pile of bills and taxes and nothing left in our bank account, I am reminded how I am very much dependent upon Divine Providence. That is, I am dependent upon your generosity in helping me to continue to reach thousands through this “prophetic mission.”

We are faced with some immediate costs this year such as our office printer, which is literally spewing ink; we have one production computer that can no longer keep up; and on a personal level, the sudden hearing loss I encountered last year now requires a hearing aid, which as I’ve discovered, is anything but cheap. And of course, there is our employee’s salary and the day to day operating and living expenses.

As you know, I do not charge a subscription to this apostolate for my writings or videos, even though I have written the equivalent of probably dozens of books by now. Moreover, I have been making more of my music freely available to you. For example, at the bottom, you will find a link to the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Rosary—high quality albums that cost over $80,000 for us to produce. They include not only the prayers and meditations that are perfect for this Lenten season, but some of my favourite songs on Christ’s love and mercy. They are free for you to download right now.

How can I do this? Well, I can’t, really—except by trusting in today’s Gospel:

Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you. (Luke 6:38)

And again:

Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. (Matt 10:8)

But St. Paul adds:

…the Lord ordered that those who preach the gospel should live by the gospel. (1 Cor 9:14)

And so in this season of Lent, as I extend my hand to beg so that I may continue to freely preach the Gospel, would you consider giving alms to my work? I continue to do so under the spiritual direction of a wise priest and in communion with my bishop, but practically speaking, by your generosity. Thank you so very much for helping me invest in souls. I will continue to pray for all of you every day.

You are loved. 

Mark

What readers are saying…

I do not remember how I stumbled upon your site, but am now convinced it was God’s plan. You helped bring me back to the Church after 40 years away. —E.E.

Your blogs continue to inspire and provide hope in this increasingly dark world.  I’ve been sharing them with many people and my mom has now signed up as well. —C.

You are a voice crying out in the dessert. You give me hope and encouragement. —K.M.

Thank you for all your inspiring writings.  Very uplifting, very encouraging, very informative, truly the work of the Holy Spirit, working and operating in and through you… It is God’s work. —Fr. Patrick

Thanks again for your inspiring words and ministry. —Fr. Anthony

In this culture in which we live, where God is being “thrown under the bus” at every turn it is so important to keep a voice like yours heard. —Deacon A.

Thank you Mark for your words of balance and reason! —K.W.

I am a ‘baby’ Catholic convert and really appreciate your carefully considered thought combined with the promptings of the Holy Spirit. —B.C

…you are a voice of wisdom and calming. —S.C.

Mark – thank you so much for being obedient and writing.  So many times the Lord has touched my heart through His words through you. —J.C.

 

 

Léa & Mark Mallett

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Mark Mallett

 

A GOSPEL FOR ALL

The Sea of Galilee at Dawn (photo by Mark Mallett)

 

THERE are no words that can adequately describe what it’s like to walk in the literal footsteps of Jesus. It’s as though my trip to the Holy Land was entering into a mythical realm that I’d read about all my life… and then, suddenly, there I was. Except, Jesus is no myth.

Several moments touched me deeply, such as rising before dawn and praying in quiet and solitude by the Sea of Galilee.

Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35)

Another was reading the Gospel of Luke in the very synagogue where Jesus first proclaimed it:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. (Luke 4:18-19)

That was a defining moment. I felt a tremendous sense of boldness welling up within. The now word that came to me is that the Church must rise up with courage (again) to preach the undiluted Gospel without fear or compromise, in season or out.

 

WHAT’S IT ALL FOR?

That brought me to another, much less edifying, but no less mobilizing moment. In his homily, a priest who resides in Jerusalem stated, “We don’t need to convert the Muslims, Jews, or others. Convert yourself and let God convert them.” I sat there a bit stunned at first. Then the words of St. Paul flooded my mind:

But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring [the] good news!” (Rom 10:14-15)

I thought to myself, If we don’t need to “convert” non-believers, then why did Jesus suffer and die? What did Jesus walk these lands for if not to call the lost to conversion? Why does the Church exist other than to continue the mission of Jesus: to bring glad tidings to the poor and proclaim liberty to captives? Yes, I found that moment incredibly mobilizing. “No Jesus, you did not die in vain! You did not come to placate us but save us from our sin! Lord, I won’t let your mission die in me. I won’t let a false peace supplant the true peace you came to bring!”

Scripture says it is “by grace you have been saved through faith.” [1] But…

…faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and all manner of non-believers need to hear the Gospel of Christ in order that they, too, may have the opportunity to receive the gift of faith. But there is growing a politically correct notion that we are simply called to “live in peace” and “tolerance,” and the idea that other religions are equally valid paths to the same God. But this is misleading at best. Jesus Christ revealed that He is “the way, and the truth, and the life” and that “no one comes to the Father except through” Him. [2] St. Paul wrote that we should indeed “Strive for peace with everyone,” but then he immediately adds: “See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God.” [3] Peace enables dialogue; but dialogue must lead to proclamation of the Good News.

The Church respects and esteems these non Christian religions because they are the living expression of the soul of vast groups of people. They carry within them the echo of thousands of years of searching for God, a quest which is incomplete but often made with great sincerity and righteousness of heart. They possess an impressive patrimony of deeply religious texts. They have taught generations of people how to pray. They are all impregnated with innumerable “seeds of the Word” and can constitute a true “preparation for the Gospel,”… [But] neither respect and esteem for these religions nor the complexity of the questions raised is an invitation to the Church to withhold from these non-Christians the proclamation of Jesus Christ. On the contrary the Church holds that these multitudes have the right to know the riches of the mystery of Christ—riches in which we believe that the whole of humanity can find, in unsuspected fullness, everything that it is gropingly searching for concerning God, man and his destiny, life and death, and truth. —POPE ST. PAUL VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 53;vatican.va

Or, dear friend, is ‘the peace of God that surpasses all understanding’ (Phil 4:7) reserved for us Christians alone? Is the tremendous healing that comes from knowing and hearing that one is forgiven in Confession meant for just a few? Is the comforting and spiritually nourishing Bread of Life, or the power of the Holy Spirit to liberate and transform, or the life-giving commandments and teachings of Christ something we keep to ourselves so as not to “offend”? Do you see how selfish this kind of thinking ultimately is? Others have a right to hear the Gospel since Christ “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” [4]

 

PROPOSE, NOT IMPOSE

One must carefully distinguish between imposing and proposing the Gospel of Jesus Christ—between “proselytism” versus “evangelism.” In its Doctrinal Note on Some Apsects of Evangelization, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith clarified that the term “proselytize” no longer simply refers to “missionary activity.”

More recently… the term has taken on a negative connotation, to mean the promotion of a religion by using means, and for motives, contrary to the spirit of the Gospel; that is, which do not safeguard the freedom and dignity of the human person. —cf. footnote n. 49

For example, proselytism would refer to the imperialism practiced by certain nations and even some churchmen that imposed the Gospel upon other cultures and peoples. But Jesus never coerced; He only invited.

The Lord does not proselytize; He gives love. And this love seeks you and waits for you, you who at this moment do not believe or are far away. —POPE FRANCIS, Angelus, St. Peter’s Square, January 6th, 2014; Independent Catholic News

The Church does not engage in proselytism. Instead, she grows by “attraction”… —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Homily for the Opening of the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops, May 13th, 2007;vatican.va

It would certainly be an error to impose something on the consciences of our brethren. But to propose to their consciences the truth of the Gospel and salvation in Jesus Christ, with complete clarity and with a total respect for the free options which it presents… far from being an attack on religious liberty is fully to respect that liberty… Why should only falsehood and error, debasement and pornography have the right to be put before people and often, unfortunately, imposed on them by the destructive propaganda of the mass media…? The respectful presentation of Christ and His kingdom is more than the evangelizer’s right; it is his duty. —POPE ST. PAUL VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 80; vatican.va

The reverse side of the coin is a kind of religious indifferentism that makes “peace” and “co-existence” ends unto themselves. While living in peace is helpful and desirable, it is not always possible for the Christian whose duty it is to make known the path to eternal salvation. As Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.” [5]

Otherwise, we owe a whole lot of martyrs an apology.

…it is not enough that the Christian people be present and be organized in a given nation, nor is it enough to carry out an apostolate by way of good example. They are organized for this purpose, they are present for this: to announce Christ to their non-Christian fellow-citizens by word and example, and to aid them toward the full reception of Christ. —Second Vatican Council, Ad Gentes, n. 15; vatican.va

 

THE WORD MUST BE SPOKEN

You’ve probably heard the catchy phrase attributed to St. Francis, “Preach the Gospel at all times and, if necessary, use words.” In fact, there is no documented proof that St. Francis ever said such a thing. However, there is plenty of evidence that these words have been used to excuse oneself from preaching the name and message of Jesus Christ. Sure, almost anyone will embrace our kindness and service, our volunteerism and social justice. These are necessary and, in fact, make us credible witnesses of the Gospel. But if we leave it at that, if we blush at sharing “the reason for our hope,”[6] then we deprive others of the life-changing message we possess—and place our own salvation at risk.

…the finest witness will prove ineffective in the long run if it is not explained, justified… and made explicit by a clear and unequivocal proclamation of the Lord Jesus. The Good News proclaimed by the witness of life sooner or later has to be proclaimed by the word of life. There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed. —POPE ST. PAUL VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 22; vatican.va

Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38)

My journey to the Holy Land made me realize more profoundly how Jesus did not come to this earth to pat us on the back, but to call us back. This was not only His mission but the directive given to us, His Church:

Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 15:15-16)

To the whole world! To all creation! Right to the ends of the earth! —POPE ST. PAUL VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 50; vatican.va

This is a commission for every single baptized Christian—not just clergy, religious, or a handful of lay ministers. It is “the essential mission of the Church.” [7] We are each responsible to bring the light and truth of Christ in whatever situation we find ourselves.  If this makes us uncomfortable or is a cause of fear and shame or we don’t know what to do… then we ought to implore the Holy Spirit whom St. Paul VI calls “the principal agent of evangelization”[8] to give us courage and wisdom. Without the Holy Spirit, even the Apostles were impotent and fearful. But after Pentecost, they not only went to the ends of the earth, but gave their very lives in the process.

Jesus didn’t take on our flesh and walk among us so as to give us a group hug, but to save us from the sorrow of sin and open new horizons of joy, peace, and eternal life. Will you be one of the few voices left in the world to share this Good News?

I would like that all of us, after these days of grace, might have the courage—the courage—to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord: to build the Church on the Blood of the Lord, which is shed on the Cross, and to profess the one glory, Christ Crucified. In this way, the Church will go forward. —POPE FRANCIS, First Homily, news.va

 

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Mark Mallett

ON HUMILITY

LENTEN RETREAT
Day 8

huymility_Fotor

 

IT is one thing to have self-knowledge; to see clearly the reality of one’s spiritual poverty, lack of virtue, or deficit in charity—in a word, to see the abyss of one’s misery. But self-knowledge alone is not enough. It must be wed to humility in order for grace to take effect. Compare again Peter and Judas: both came face to face with the truth of their inner corruption, but in the first case self-knowledge was wed with humility, while in the latter, it was wed to pride. And as the Proverbs say, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” [1]

God does not reveal the depths of your poverty to destroy you, but to liberate you from yourself, by His grace. His light is given to help you and me see that, apart from Him, we can do nothing. And for many people, it takes years of suffering, trials, and sorrows to finally yield to the truth that “God is God, and I am not.” But for the humble soul, progress in the interior life can be swift because there are fewer obstacles in the way. I want you, my dear brother and you my dear sister, to hasten in holiness. And here is how:

In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed… (Isaiah 40:3-5))

That is, in the desert of your soul, barren of virtue, make straight a highway for God: stop defending your sinfulness with crooked half-truths and twisted logic, and simply lay it out straight before God. Lift up every valley, that is, confess every sin that you keep in the darkness of denial. Make every mountain and hill low, that is, admit that any good you’ve done, any grace you have, any gifts you hold come from Him. And last,level the uneven ground, that is, expose the roughness of your character, the bumps of selfishness, the potholes of habitual defects.

Now, we are tempted to think that the revelation of the depths of our sinfulness would cause the All-Holy-God to run the other way. But to a soul who has humbled themselves in this way, Isaiah says, “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.” How? In essentially seven paths upon which the Lord travels to our heart. The first is the one we have been discussing yesterday and today: the recognition of one’s spiritual poverty, encapsulated in the beatitude:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:3)

If you recognize your need for God, then already the kingdom of heaven is being imparted to you in its first stages.

One day, after recounting to my spiritual director how miserable I was, he calmly responded, “This is very good. If God’s grace was not active in your life, you would not see your misery. So this is good.” From that day on, I have learned to thank God for confronting me with the painful truth of myself—whether it comes through my spiritual director, my wife, my kids, my Confessor… or in my daily prayer, when the Word of God pierces “even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and [is] able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” [2]

Finally, it is not the truth of your sinfulness that you need fear, rather, the pride that would hide or dismiss it. For St. James says that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” [3] Indeed,

He guides the humble to justice, he teaches the humble his way. (Psalm 25:9)

The more humble we are, the more grace we receive.

…because more favor is granted to a humble soul than the soul itself asks for… —Jesus to St. Faustina,Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1361

No sin, no matter how terrible, will cause Jesus to turn away from you if you humbly acknowledge it.

…a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not spurn. (Psalm 51:19)

So let these words encourage you, dear friends—encourage you, like Zacchaeus, [4] to come down from the tree of pride and walk humbly with your Lord who desires, this day, to dine with you.

The sinner who feels within himself a total deprivation of all that is holy, pure, and solemn because of sin, the sinner who in his own eyes is in utter darkness, severed from the hope of salvation, from the light of life, and from the communion of saints, is himself the friend whom Jesus invited to dinner, the one who was asked to come out from behind the hedges, the one asked to be a partner in His wedding and an heir to God… Whoever is poor, hungry, sinful, fallen or ignorant is the guest of Christ. —Matthew the Poor, The Communion of Love, p.93

 

SUMMARY AND SCRIPTURE

Self-knowledge must be wed with humility in order for grace to form Christ within you.

Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:10)

 

zacchaeus22

 

 

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SELF-KNOWLEDGE

LENTEN RETREAT
Day 7

sknowl_Fotor

MY brother and I used to share the same room growing up. There were some nights that we couldn’t stop giggling. Inevitably, we’d hear the footsteps of dad coming down the hallway, and we’d shrink beneath the covers pretending we were asleep. Then the door would open…

Two things happened. With the door opening, the hallway light would burst into the room, and there would be a sense of comfort as the light dispersed the darkness, which I was afraid of. But the second effect was that the light would expose the undeniable fact that two little boys were wide awake and not asleep as they should have been.

Jesus said “I am the light of the world.” [1] And when a soul encounters this Light, two things happen. First, the soul is moved in some way by His presence. There is a deep comfort and solace in the revelation of His love and mercy. At the same time, however, there is a sense of one’s own nothingness, of one’s sinfulness, weakness, and unholiness. The former effect of Christ’s light draws us toward Him, but the latter often causes us to recoil. And here is where the most difficult spiritual battle is fought in the beginning: in the arena of self-knowledge.

We see this painful illumination in the life of Simon Peter. Having worked hard all night, his fishing nets remained empty. So Jesus tells him to “put out into the deep.” And there—casting his net in obedience and faith—Peter’s net is filled to the point of breaking.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” (Luke 5:8)

Peter’s joy and exhilaration in the blessing of both the Lord’s presence and His consolations eventually gave way to the stark contrast between his heart and the Heart of his Master. The brilliance of truth was almost too much for Peter to take. But,

Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:10-11)

My dear brothers and sisters, this Lenten Retreat is calling you to “put out into the deep.” And as you answer the call, you are going to experience both the light of consolation as well as the light of truth. For if the truth sets us free, the very first truth is that of who I am, and who I am not. But Jesus says to you today in a loud voice, Do not be afraid! For He already knows you inside and out. He knows your weaknesses, faults, and hidden sins that you’re not even aware of yet. And still, He loves you, still He calls you. Remember, Jesus blessed Peter’s nets, and this before he “left everything and followed Him.” How much more will Jesus bless you since you have said “yes” to Him.

Simon Peter could have fallen into self-pity and depression. He could have lingered in his wretchedness saying, “I am hopeless, useless, and unworthy” and simply went off his own way. But instead, he courageously chooses to follow Jesus, despite everything. And when he falls most grievously, denying the Lord three times, Peter does not hang himself as Judas did. Rather, He perseveres in the abyss of darkness, the darkness of his wretchedness. He waits, despite the horror he sees in himself, for the Lord to save him. And what does Jesus do? He fills Peter’s nets again! And Peter, feeling perhaps worse than he did the first time (for the depths of his misery was now apparent to all), “jumped into the sea” and raced toward the Lord where he then affirms three times His love for his Savior. [2] Facing the self-knowledge of his utter poverty, he always turns back to Jesus, trusting in His mercy. He was commanded by Jesus to “feed My sheep” but was himself a most helpless lamb. But precisely in this self-knowledge, Peter humbled himself, therefore allowing room for Jesus to be formed within him.

The Most Blessed Virgin lived the attitude of the helpless sheep in a most perfect manner. It was she who knew best that without God, nothing is possible. She was, in her own “yes”, like an abyss of helplessness and poverty, and at the same time an abyss of trust in God. —Slawomir Biela, In the Arms of Mary, p. 75-76

We heard on Ash Wednesday the words, “You are dust and to dust you shall return.” Yes, apart from Christ, you and I are mere dust. But He came and died for us little dust particles, and so, now, we are a new creation in Him. The more you draw near to Jesus, the Light of the World, the more the flames of His Sacred Heart will illuminate your wretchedness. Do not be afraid of the abyss of poverty you see and will see in your soul! Thank God that you see the truth of who you really are and how much you need Him. Then “jump into the sea”, into the Abyss of Mercy.

Let the truth set you free.

SUMMARY AND SCRIPTURE

Self-knowledge is the beginning of growth in the interior life because the foundation is being built on truth.

My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor 12:9)

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THE BLESSED HELPERS

LENTEN RETREAT
Day 6

mary-mother-of-god-holding-sacred-heart-bible-rosary-2_FotorArtist Unknown

AND so, the spiritual or “interior” life consists in co-operating with grace in order that Jesus’s divine life may live in and through me. So if Christianity consists in Jesus being formed in me, how will God make this possible? Here is a question for you: how did God make it possible the first time for Jesus to be formed in the flesh? The answer is through the Holy Spirit and Mary.

That is the way Jesus is always conceived. That is the way He is reproduced in souls. He is always the fruit of heaven and earth. Two artisans must concur in the work that is at once God’s masterpiece and humanity’s supreme product: the Holy Spirit and the most holy Virgin Mary… for they are the only ones who can reproduce Christ. —Archbishop Luis M. Martinez, The Sanctifier, p. 6

Through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, in particular, we receive the Holy Spirit. As St. Paul wrote:

God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us. (Rom 5:5)

Secondly, Mary was given to each of us at the foot of the Cross by Jesus Himself:

“Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27)

Working together, these two artisans can reproduce Jesus in us to the degree to which we co-operate with them. And how do we co-operate? By entering into a personal relationship with both. Yes, we often speak of a personal relationship with Jesus—but what about the Third Person of the Holy Trinity? No, the Spirit is not a bird or some kind of “cosmic energy” or force, but a real divine person, someone who rejoices with us, [1] grieves with us, [2] teaches us, [3] helps us in our weakness, [4] and fills us with the very love of God. [5]

And then there is the Blessed Mother, given to each of us as a spiritual mother. Here too, it is a matter of doing exactly what St. John did: “from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” When Jesus gives us His Mother, He is sad when we leave her outside the door of our hearts. For her motherhood was good enough for Him, so surely—God knows—it is good enough for us. And so, simply, invite Mary into your home, into your heart, like St. John.

Rather than go into the theology of Mary’s role in the Church—something I have already done through numerous writings (see the category MARY in the sidebar), I want to simply share with you what has happened to me since I invited this Mother into my life.

The act of giving oneself over to Mary’s motherhood in order that she and the Holy Spirit may teach, refine, and form Jesus within, is called “consecration”. It simply means dedicating oneself to Jesus through Mary, just the way Jesus dedicated His humanity to the Father through this same Woman. There are many ways to do this—from a simple prayer… to entering into a 33 day personal “retreat” through the writings of St. Louis de Montfort, or more popular today, 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley (for a copy, go to myconsecration.org).

Several years ago, I did the prayers and preparation, which were powerful and moving. As the day of consecration approached, I could sense how special this giving of myself to my spiritual Mother would be. As a token of my love and gratitude, I decided to give Our Lady a bundle of flowers.

It was kind of a last minute thing… I was in a small town and had no where to go but the local drug store. They just happened to be selling some “ripe” flowers in a plastic wrapping. “Sorry Mom… it’s the best I can do.”

I went to the Church, and standing before a statue of Mary, I made my consecration to her. No fireworks. Just a simple prayer of commitment… perhaps like Mary’s simple commitment to do the daily chores in that little house in Nazareth. I placed my imperfect bundle of flowers at her feet, and went home.

I came back later that evening with my family for Mass. As we crowded into the pew, I glanced over to the statue to see my flowers. They were gone! I figured the janitor probably took one look at them and chucked ’em.

But when I looked over at the statue of Jesus… there were my flowers, perfectly arranged in a vase—at the feet of Christ. There was even baby’s breath from heaven-knows-where garnishing the bouquet! Immediately, I was infused with an understanding:

Mary takes us into her arms, as we are, poor, simple, and ragged… and presents us to Jesus clothed in her own mantle of holiness, saying, “This too is my child… receive him, Lord, for he is precious and beloved.”

She takes us to herself and makes us beautiful before God. Several years later, I read these words given by Our Lady to Sr. Lucia of Fatima:

[Jesus] wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. I promise salvation to those who embrace it, and those souls will be loved by God like flowers placed by me to adorn His throne.This last line re: “flowers” appears in earlier accounts of Lucia’s apparitions. Cf. Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: Sister Lucia’s Memoirs, Louis Kondor, S.V.D., p, 187, Footnote 14. 

Since then, the more I fall in love with this Mother, the more I love Jesus. The more I draw close to her, the closer I draw to God. The more I surrender to her gentle direction, the more Jesus begins to live in me. No one knows Jesus Christ the way Mary does, and so, no one knows how to form us in the image of her Divine Son better than her.

And so, to close today’s meditation, here is a simple prayer of consecration to Mary that you can make right now, inviting her into your life as your permanent Retreat Master.

I, (Name), a faithless sinner,

renew and ratify today in thy hands, O Immaculate Mother,

the vows of my Baptism;

I renounce forever Satan, his pomp and works;

and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom,

to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life,

and to be more faithful t o Him than I have ever been before.

In the presence of all the heavenly court,

I choose thee this day, for my Mother and Mistress

I deliver and consecrate to thee, as thy slave,

my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior,

and even the value of all my good actions,

past, present and future; leaving to thee the entire and full right

of disposing  of me, and all that belongs to me,

without exception, according to thy good pleasure

for the greater glory of God, in time and in eternity.  Amen.

SUMMARY AND SCRIPTURE

Jesus is reproduced in us through the motherhood of Mary and the power of the Holy Spirit. For Jesus promised:

The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything… (John 14:25)

spirit

 

 

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THE INNER SELF

LENTEN RETREAT
Day 5

contemplation1

 

ARE you still with me? It’s now Day 5 of our retreat, and I am certain many of you are struggling in these first days to stay committed. But take that, perhaps, as a sign that you might need this retreat more than you realize. I can say that this is the case for myself.

Today, we continue expanding the vision of what it means to be a Christian and who we are in Christ…

Two things happen when we are baptized. The first is that we are cleansed of all sin, particularly original sin. The second is that we become a new creation in Christ.

Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. (2 Cor 5:17)

In fact, the Catechism teaches that a believer is essentially “divinized” [1] by sanctifying grace through faith and Baptism.

Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1997

This free gift of grace, then, enables us to become “partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.” [2]

So it is clear that becoming a Christian is not a matter of joining a club, but becoming an entirely new person. But this is not automatic. It requires our collaboration. It requires that we co-operate with the Holy Spirit in order for grace to transform us more and more into the image of God in which we were created. As St. Paul taught:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son… (Rom 8:29)

What does this mean? It means that the Father wishes to transform our “inner man”, as St. Paul calls it, more and more into Jesus. It does not mean that God wishes to erase your unique personality and gifts, but rather, to embue them with the supernatural life of Jesus, who is love incarnate. As I often say to young people when I speak in schools: “Jesus did not come to take away your personality; He came to take away your sin that marrs who you really are!”

Thus, the goal of Baptism is not only your salvation, but to bring about within you the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” [3] Do not think of these virtues as high ideals or unachievable standards. Rather, see them as whom God intended you to be from the very start.

When you are standing there in a store to pick out a toaster, do you buy the floor model that is dented, missing buttons, and without a manual? Or do you pick up the new one in a box? Of course you do. You’re paying good money, and why should you settle for less. Or would you be happy with the broken one that when you get home, goes up in a fizzle of smoke?

Why is it then that we settle for less when it comes to our spiritual lives? Many of us remain broken because no one has given us the vision to be anymore than that. You see, Baptism is the gift that enables us, you could say, to choose which toaster we want—to become holy, or to simply stick with the broken floor model. But listen, God is not satisified with your heart being dented, your soul missing buttons, and your mind wandering without clear direction. Look at the Cross and see how radically God expressed His unhappiness with our brokeness! This is why St. Paul says,

…be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God. (Rom 12:2)

You see, it’s not automatic. Transformation comes when we begin to renew our minds by God’s word, by the teachings of our Catholic Faith, and conforming ourselves to the Gospel.

As I’ve said already in this retreat, it is as though this new interior man or woman is conceived within us at Baptism. It has yet to be nurtured by the Sacraments, formed by the Word of God, and strengthened through prayer so that we truly participate in God’s life, becoming holy, and “salt and light” to others in need of hope and salvation.

[May he] grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. (Eph 3:17)

Brothers and sisters, it is not enough to be a baptized cradle Catholic. It is not even enough to go to Mass every Sunday. We are not partakers in a country club, but in the divine nature!

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity. (Heb 6:1)

And we talked about the path of this maturity yesterday: by entering into the “The Good Death.” As the Catechism teaches:

The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle. Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes. —CCC, n. 2015 (“ascesis and mortification” meaning “self-denial”)

And so now it is time for us to go deeper in this retreat, to begin to examine the practical ways in which we can strengthen and foster the inner self, and begin to actualize “the peace and joy of the Beatitudes.” Let Our Blessed Mother, then, repeat to you what St. Paul said to his spiritual children:

My children, for whom I am again in labor until Christ be formed in you. (Gal 4:19)

SUMMARY AND SCRIPTURE

The Father not only intends to cleanse us of sin through Baptism, but to help us become a new creation, re-made in the image of His Son.

Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. (2 Cor 4:16)

BABY_FINAL_0001

 

Thanks for your support of this full-time apostolate.

 

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THE GOOD DEATH

LENTEN RETREAT
Day 4

deathtoself_Fotor

IT says in Proverbs,

Without a vision the people lose restraint. (Prov 29:18)

In the first days of this Lenten Retreat, then, it is imperative that we have a vision of what it means to be a Christian, the vision of the Gospel. Or, as the prophet Hosea says:

My people perish for want of knowledge! (Hosea 4:6)

Have you noticed how death has become a solution for our world’s problems? If you have an unwanted pregnancy, destroy it. If you are sick, too old, or depressed, commit suicide. If you suspect a neighbouring nation is a threat, make a pre-emptive strike… death has become the one-size-fits-all solution. But it’s not. It’s a lie from the “father of lies”, Satan, whom Jesus said was a “liar and a murderer from the beginning.” [1]

A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

So Jesus wants us to have life in abundance! But how do we square that with the fact that all of us still get sick, still grow old… still die? The answer is that the life Jesus came to bring is a spiritual life. For what separates us from eternity is a spiritual death.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:23)

This “life” is essentially Jesus. It is God. And It is conceived within our hearts through Baptism. But it has to grow, and that is what concerns us in this Lenten Retreat: bringing the life of Jesus within us to maturity. And this is how: by bringing to death all that is not of the Spirit of God, that is, all that is of the “flesh”, that which is carnal and disordered.

And thus, as Christians, we can speak of a “good death.” That is, a dying to self and all that keeps the life of Christ from growing within and possessing us. And that is what sin prevents, for “the wages of sin is death.”

By His words and by His life, Jesus showed us the way to eternal life.

…he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave… he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:7-8)

And He commanded us to follow along this Way:

Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. (Matt 16:24)

So death is a solution: but not the willful destruction of one’s body or another’s, rather, the death of one’s own will. “Not my will, but yours be done,” Jesus said in Gethsemane.

Now, all of this may sound dreary and depressing, a kind of morbid religion. But the truth is that sin is what makes life dreary and depressing and morbid. I love what John Paul II said,

Jesus is demanding, because He wishes our genuine happiness. —BLESSED JOHN PAUL II, World Youth Day Message for 2005, Vatican City, Aug. 27th, 2004, Zenit.org

While Buddhism ends with the emptying of self, Christianity does not. It continues with the infilling of God’s life. Jesus said,

Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. (John 12:24-26)

Do you hear what He is saying? The one who rejects sin, who seeks first the Kingdom of God rather than one’s own kingdom, will always be with Jesus: “where I am, there also will my servant be.” This is why the Saints were so infectiously filled with joy and peace: they possessed Jesus who possessed them. They did not shy away from the fact that Jesus was and is demanding. Christianity demands self-denial. You cannot have the Resurrection without the Cross. But the exchange is literally out of this world. And this, really, is what holiness is: the complete denial of self out of love for Christ.

…holiness is measured according to the ‘great mystery’ in which the Bride responds with the gift of love to the gift of the Bridegroom. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 773

Yes, you exchange your life for Christ’s, just as He has exchanged His life for yours. This is why He chose the imagery of the Bride and Bridegroom, because the happiness He intends for you is the blessedness of union with the Holy Trinity—a complete and total self-giving of one to the other.

Christianity is the path to joy, not sorrow, and certainly not death… but only when we accept and embrace the “good death.”

SUMMARY AND SCRIPTURE

We must deny the passions of the flesh and repent from sin in order to find the happiness God desires for us: His life living in us.

For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. (2 Cor 4:11)

resurr

 

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ON BEING FAITHFUL

LENTEN RETREAT
Day 3

Dear friends, this is not the meditation I had planned for today. However, I have been dealing with one little crisis after another for the past two weeks and, in truth, have been writing these meditations after midnight, averaging only four hours sleep a night the past week. I am exhausted. And so, after putting out several little fires today, I prayed about what to do—and this writing came immediately to mind. It is, for me, one of the most important “words” on my heart this past year, as it has helped me through so many trials by simply reminding myself to “be faithful.” To be certain, this message is an important part of this Lenten Retreat. Thanks for understanding.

I apologize that there is no podcast for today… I’m simply out of gas, as it’s almost 2am. I have an important “word” on Russia that I will publish shortly… something I’ve been praying about since last summer. Thanks for your prayers…

 

THERE is so much turmoil happening in our world, so quickly, that it can be overwhelming. There is so much suffering, adversity, and busyness in our lives that it can be discouraging. There is so much dysfunction, societal breakdown, and division that it can be numbing. In fact, the world’s rapid descent into darkness in these times has left many feeling fearful, in despair, paranoid… paralyzed.

But the answer to all this, brothers and sisters, is to simply be faithful.

In all your encounters today, in all your duties, in your rest, recreation, and interactions, the path forward is to be faithful. And this means, then, that you must have custody of your senses. It means that you need to pay attention to the will of God in each moment. It means that you need to make everything you do a deliberate act of love toward God and neighbour. Catherine Doherty once said,

Little things done exceedingly well over and over again for the love of God: this is going to make you saints. It is absolutely positive. Don’t seek immense mortifications of flagellations or what have you. Seek the daily mortification of doing a thing exceedingly well. —The People of the Towel and Water,from Moments of Grace calendar, January 13th

Part of that mortification, then, means turning away from the little distractions and curiosities that the evil one constantly sends in order to make us unfaithful. I remember sitting across the table from Msgr. John Essef, who was once the spiritual director of Mother Teresa and who was himself directed by St. Pio. I shared with him the burden of my ministry and the challenges I face. He looked intently into my eyes and remained silent for several seconds. Then he leaned forward and said, “Satan does not need to take you from a 10 to a 1, but from a 10 to a 9. All he needs to do is distractyou.”

And how true this is. St. Pio once said to his spiritual daughter:

Raffaelina, you will be safe from the hidden schemes of Satan by rejecting his suggestions as soon as they come. —December 17th, 1914, Padre Pio’s Spiritual Direction for Every Day, Servant Books, p. 9

You see, temptation will always follow you, dear reader. But temptation itself is not a sin. It is when we begin to entertain these suggestions that we become ensnared (please read The Tiger in the Cage). A subtle distraction, a thought, an image in the sidebar of your browser… the battle is most easily won when you reject these temptations right then and there. It is much easier to walk away from a fight than to wrestle your way out of it!

A lot of people write me and ask if they should move out of the U.S. or stock up on food, etc. But forgive me if all I can seem to utter these days is be faithful. Scripture says,

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path… I set myself to carry out your will in fullness, for ever. (Psalm 119:105, 112)

A lamp, not a headlight. If you are being faithful to God in each moment, if you are following the light of His lamp… then how can you miss the next step, the next turn in the road? You won’t. And more than that, the will of God becomes your food, your strength, your protection from the pitfalls of the enemy. As Psalm 18:31 says, “he is a shield for all who take refuge in him.” The refuge is His will, which then shields you from the clutches of the evil one. His will is what gives the soul peace and true rest, which produces the fruit of joy.

Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience. (Today’s first reading)

And can I add—don’t feel guilty for living. Live your life. Enjoy this life, every moment of it, in the simplicity and purity of heart that makes it truly enjoyable. Our Lord himself teaches us that to worry about tomorrow is futile. So what if we may be living in the end times? The answer to enduring these days is to simply be faithful (and this is coming from someone who is writing on some very difficult topics these days!)

One-day-at-a-time.

Have you failed? Have you been unfaithful? Are you frozen in fear, either of punishment or of the times we are living in? Then lower yourself before Jesus like the paralytic in the Gospel and say, “Lord, I am disoriented, scattered, distracted… I am a sinner, frozen in my dysfunction. Heal me Lord…” And His reply to you is twofold:

Child, your sins are forgiven… I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.

That is, be faithful.

 

 

 

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Mark Mallett

 

THE NECESSITY OF FAITH

LENTEN RETREAT
Day 2

NEW! I am now adding podcasts to this Lenten Retreat (including yesterday). Scroll to the bottom to listen through the media player.

BEFORE I can write further, I sense Our Lady saying that, unless we have faith in God, nothing in our spiritual lives will change. Or as St. Paul put it…

…without faith it is impossible to please Him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Heb 11:6)

This is a beautiful promise—but one that challenges so many of us, even those who have been “around the block.” For we often find ourselves rationalizing that all our trials, all our problems and crosses, are really just God’s way of punishing us. Because He’s holy, and we’re not. At least, this is how the “accuser of the brethren” [1] speaks, as St. John called him. But this is why St. Paul says that, in all circumstances—especially the one I just mentioned—we must…

…hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Eph 6:14)

If we don’t, as I said yesterday, we often fall into a state of bondage to fear, anxiety, and self-preservation. We fear God because of our sin, become anxious about our lives, and thus take them into our own hands, feeling that the last thing God will do is bless-me-a-sinner.

But the Scriptures say:

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love… He does not deal with us according to our sins… The Lord’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent; they are renewed each morning—great is your faithfulness. (Psalm 103:8, 10; Lam 3:22-23)

The problem is that we really don’t believe this. God rewards the Saints, not me. He has compassion for the faithful, not me. In fact, the first sin of Adam and Eve was not eating a forbidden fruit; rather, it was not trusting in the Father’s providence that led to them taking their lives into their own hands. And this wounded trust still lingers in the flesh of men, which is why it is only by “faith” that we are saved. Because what needs to be reconciled between God and man is the relationship of trust, and when that trust becomes total, we will find true peace.

…we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand… (Rom 5:1-2)

But today, the modern mind is removing itself from grace because its faith is so impoverished. We chalk up as superstition or delusion anything that cannot be measured with a scope or deciphered by a computer. Even in the Church, some of our contemporary theologians have questioned the miracles of Jesus, if not His divinity. And some clergy all too frequently frown upon mystical phenomena, scorn apparitions, deride charisms, or downplay prophecy. We have become an intellectual/philosophical Church that, frankly, often looks nothing like the faith-filled, radical, world-transforming early Church.

How we need to become simple, faithful, and courageous once again!

And here, I have just given you the key to where this Lenten Retreat is going. For really, what we are being called to now is to become copies of the Blessed Virgin Mary. That is, to become totally abandoned to God in faith. For if we speak about “giving birth” to Jesus in our lives, we already have our prototype in her. Who was more simple, faithful, and courageous than Our Lady? The great Marian saint, Louis de Montfort, taught that, “Towards the end of the world… Almighty God and His Holy Mother are to raise up great saints who will surpass in holiness most other saints as much as the cedars of Lebanon tower above little shrubs.” [2] Of course, you’re probably saying, “Who, me? No, not me.”

Yes, you. You see, already a lack of faith is being exposed, and it’s only Day 2!

The goal of this apostolate, and most especially this Lenten Retreat, is to help you reach a disposition where you are docile to the incredible, hidden work that God is doing at present, even while the rest of the world descends into chaos. This docility is called faith. Do not be surprised if the Lord is calling “nobody’s” like you and me. So was Mary. But she was a beautiful, humble, and docile nobody, which is why the Lord wants us to become copies of her.

The Holy Spirit, finding his dear Spouse present again in souls, will come down into them with great power. He will fill them with his gifts, especially wisdom, by which they will produce wonders of grace… that age of Mary, when many souls, chosen by Mary and given her by the most High God, will hide themselves completely in the depths of her soul, becoming living copies of her, loving and glorifying Jesus.  —St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, n.217, Montfort Publications

The entire foundation of this work of the Spirit is faith. And faith is foremost a gift. As Catherine Doherty once said,

Faith is a gift of God. It is a pure gift, and only He can bestow it. At the same time, He passionately desires to give it to us. He wants us to ask for it, because He can only give it to us when we ask for it.—from Poustinia; “Moments of Grace” calendar, Feb. 4

And so, as this Lenten Retreat continues, we have to reset our hyper-rational minds. We have to start resting in not knowing, not having control, not fully comprehending. More than anything, though, we have to rest in the truth that God loves us, no matter how terrible we really are. And for some of us, this is like moving a mountain. But a little faith goes a long way.

If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. (Matt 17:20)

Faith is a gift, and so, let us begin this day asking the Lord to increase it. Place the mere “five loaves and two fish” of your present faith into the basket of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and ask the Lord of Multiplication to increase, multiply, and overflow your heart with faith. Forget your feelings. Ask, and you will receive. Here is a little, but powerful prayer to help you:

I believe; help my unbelief. (Mark 9:24)

 

SUMMARY AND SCRIPTURE

The work of God at this hour in the world is to raise up saints who are copies of the Virgin Mary so that, they too, will give birth to Jesus in the world. All He asks of us is faith: total trust in His plan.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are holding to your faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? …[May] Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (2 Cor 13:5; Eph 3:17-19)

like Mary, who was “full of grace.”

 

 

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