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Photo: Fr. Mark Baron, MIC
The Marians are called to pray five decades of the Rosary daily in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Spiritual Sons of Mary
"Mary is the only motherly presence i can remember," says Br. Thaddaeus, MIC, who lost his mother when he was 3.
By Andy Leeco (May 1, 2013)
As we honor Mary during her month of May, several Marian seminarians took some time out of their busy schedules to talk about their love for Our Lady and how it has shaped, and is shaping, their lives as Marians.
"My mother passed away when I was just under 3 years old," Br. Thaddaeus, MIC, says. "Mary is the only motherly presence I can remember. I can truly relate to Blessed John Paul II's statement as a child upon the death of his mother, 'Mary, you have to be my mother now.'"
Brother Allen, MIC, says he has always felt Mary's presence.
"From a young age, I have felt particularly close to the Blessed Mother. I can remember having a keen sense of the truths concerning her perpetual virginity and her sinlessness, defending them ardently against naysayers and doubters."
Community Devoted to Mary
So how did their love for Mary help them in finding their vocation?
"My devotion and love for the Blessed Mother definitely played a role in discerning my vocation with the Marians," Br. Allen explains. "When I discovered that our beloved Father Founder was a staunch defender of Marian doctrine and vowed even to give his life in defense of the truth of the Immaculate Conception, it struck a cord deep in my heart."
Brother Thaddaeus adds, "Every Sunday, even after my mom's death, we would gather as a family to pray the Rosary. This left a profound impression upon my heart, and the habit of saying the Rosary never left me. When I learned that the Marians pray the Rosary daily, I knew I had found a community truly devoted to Mary."
Brother Allen and Br. Thaddaeus live at the Marian house of studies in Washington, D.C., where 19 men live, including nine seminarians and four novices. (Altogether, there are nearly 30 Marians in formation in the Mother of Mercy Province.)
Once young men like these have joined the Marians, how do the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception help nurture this love for Mary?
"During the novitiate, we study Our Lady in relation to the consecrated life," says Fr. Mark Baron, MIC, who serves the Marian Fathers as house superior, novice master, and rector of their house of studies in Washington, D.C. "During her life, Mary lived the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience in her perfect following of Jesus. These virtues, then, really form the basis for understanding the four dogmas, such as the Immaculate Conception, that define her and her relationship with God. We also spend more time studying the truth of her Immaculate Conception, its history, and theology."
The Marians are also called to have a daily focus on Mary.
"Our constitutions call us to pray five decades of the Rosary daily and on Saturdays, when allowed, to offer a votive Mass in honor of Our Lady," Fr. Mark says. "Every day, we say a prayer of consecration to her. We also recite other special Marian prayers that foster our love and devotion to her Immaculate Conception."
Nurtured by Mary
Further, Fr. Mark says that the seminarians do more on their own to foster their love of Mary.
"Since I first received the call to the priesthood years ago," says Br. Matthew, MIC, "I have had a devotion to Our Lady, the Rosary, the Seven Sorrows, and St. Louis de Montfort's True Devotion to Mary with the consecration. I also pray the Chaplet of the Ten Evangelical Virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary every day. If I did not have the love I have for Mary Immaculate, then I would not be a Marian."
Brother Allen says he keeps Mary in the forefront of his thoughts.
"I find myself constantly invoking the Blessed Mother throughout the course of the day," Br. Allen says. "One of my favorite prayers is the Memorare, which I pray each time I come across a prayer intention either in my own thoughts or by the request of another. I enjoy speaking with the Blessed Mother, asking for her assistance, thanking her for her maternal care, and asking for the grace to join her in pondering the mysteries of Christ in my own heart, as she had done in hers."
Brother Thaddaeus likes to talk with Mary as well.
"To grow closer to our Lady, I simply try to talk to her from my heart as I walk to and from school, as well as other times during the day," Br. Thaddaeus said. "I know she loves the Rosary, but I imagine that she also loves hearing her children confide everything to her."
Marian Devotions for May
Father Mark mentions as well special prayers that the community offers together for the month of May, such as the Litany of Loreto.
The seminarians are also encouraged to delve deeper into their devotion to Mary during this month.
"I like to pick flowers for the Blessed Mother and to place them near a statue of her on Mother's Day," Br. Allen said. "But by far my favorite Marian devotion for the month of May is to participate in a May Crowning, especially one involving young children. Seeing devotion to Our Blessed Mother on the faces and in the hearts of her little ones gives me great joy!"
"I simply try to remember that it is May and try to perform actions in union with Mary," Br Thaddaeus said. "I also ask Jesus to increase my love for His Mother."
Father Mark says another way that the seminarians grow in their love for Mary is by consecrating themselves to her.
"Most of the men who join us have already consecrated themselves to her in some way," Fr. Mark says. "Oftentimes, I see our men renewing that consecration. Father Michael Gaitley's book 33 Days to Morning Glory on Marian consecration has helped our guys deepen their understanding of why Mary is the quickest, easiest, and surest way to Jesus."
But it's not just the studies, prayers, and devotions that inspire the Marians, it's the community's deep love for Our Lady that radiates from the house in Washington.
"In our community, love for Our Lady is a way of life," Fr. Mark says. "Through all the communal prayers, studies, and personal devotions, Our Lady helps to stamp us with her personality in some way.
"I am surprised when a guest mentions that they sense the presence of Mary in the house. When I was a seminarian here, we had a Franciscan priest visit who had lived with St. Maxmilian Kolbe at Niepokalanów, Poland. He said that the same presence of Our Lady that he felt there, he felt in our house, too. We were shocked by his comments because we didn't feel like we were doing anything extraordinary.
"That just points to the essence of our Marian formation," Fr. Mark says. "All of us are trying to open our hearts to her in an ordinary way, allowing her to help shape each one of us as a Marian of the Immaculate Conception."
To support these seminarians and our other men in formation, visit marian.org/seminarians, or call 1-800-671-2020.