Be Like the Mother, Be Like the Son

By Chris Sparks

Confession makes my job easier.

It’s one of the strange consequences of working for the Marian Fathers at the Marian Helpers Center. The laws of the Gospel clamp down hard here, in ways that we choose but also in ways that are simply on the level of the spiritual.

It's a strange thing to watch the Beatitudes enforce themselves in our day to day work, in our interactions with people, with each other, with you Marian Helpers who visit us on Eden Hill. It can be hard, but it’s also a great blessing.

We get to see the reality of the faith, and part of that means that spiritual warfare is an unavoidable, very real part of our work. I’ve heard stories from employees past and present of machinery and technology simply not working. There was no earthly reason for things to malfunction. When one of the Marians or the other priests on the Hill came by and blessed the equipment, everything began working again.

I’ve experienced in my own work the huge difference prayer makes, either my own prayer or the prayers of others. There’ve been times where my mind had locked up, slowed to a standstill, and nothing was happening when I tried to write or do my work. I pop over to Facebook, put up a request for prayer on my wall, and within 10 minutes or so, all of a sudden, my head clears and I can write again.

And Confession makes a huge difference to me, as well. It can make the difference between receiving the crosses and the tasks of the week ahead with peaceful calm or endless stress. It can clear my mind and heart, and help me see more clearly the blessings God gives us along with the burdens. It can set me free from impediments to my work, and speed me along in my tasks.

More importantly, it puts me right with God again, allowing me to set aside my sins and welcome again the fire of the Holy Spirit into my heart. Indeed, important though our work on the Hill is, far more important is our personal relationship with the Living God.

Our work is part of that relationship, of course. We are blessed with unique opportunities to serve you all and the rest of God’s chosen people, to share the blessings of Divine Mercy, Mary Immaculate, and devotion to the Holy Souls in Purgatory with the Church wherever the need is greatest. And yet that relationship existed prior to our serving here on the Hill, and it will exist long after we are either retired or passed on to eternity.

That’s why the Church dedicates the month of August to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Saint Faustina wrote:

[D]uring Holy Mass, I heard the rustling of garments and saw the most holy Mother of God in a most beautiful radiance. Her white garment was girdled with a blue sash. She said to me, You give Me great joy when you adore The Holy Trinity for the graces and privileges which were accorded Me. And She immediately disappeared (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 564).

Mary’s Immaculate Heart is only so pure and holy by the grace of God, by reason of her relationship with God. At no point did she sin; at no point did she draw back from the uttermost generosity with God. She shows us and proves to us that the most important relationship in our lives is the relationship with God. And that relationship is preserved, healed, and restored through the Sacraments, especially through Confession.

The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart will certainly involve the emergence of more immaculate hearts, of Catholics practicing our faith and putting our relationship with God first in our lives. How do we know this? Just take a look at the requirements for the First Saturdays. Essentially, Our Lady asked us to be faithful to our sacramental lives, to meditate on the mysteries of the Incarnation, and be faithful to prayer. In other words, she sets us up to be making our hearts immaculate each month, restoring ourselves to the state of grace through the Sacraments, the grace offered us through the Church. She calls her children to be faithful to eating the Bread from Heaven, to getting washed in the Blood of the Lamb through the Sacrament of Confession, to say our prayers and be thankful for our gifts, to spend time with Our Father in Heaven, our Brother, Jesus, and the Love that makes us all family.

In this month of the Immaculate Heart, let us recommit ourselves to regular Confession, attending Mass at least on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, regular prayer (especially the Rosary), and putting God first in our lives. Let us say yes to the gifts and invitation of God, to His summons to holiness, to His loving call to participate in the household of God, which is the Church (see 1 Tim 3:15). Let us commit ourselves to making and persevering in the First Saturdays, and grow in our devotion to the Immaculate Heart.

Pray for me, that I may practice what I preach. I’ll pray for you.

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What does it mean to work for the Catholic Church, especially by working for (or with, in the case of volunteers) the Marian Fathers? It means that we are reminded throughout our day, in ways large and small, that our earthly work depends on grace.

The devil may rage; the wealthy may grasp at their riches; the powerful may send forth their forces; the world, the flesh, and hell may do their worst. But Jesus Christ is Lord of Heaven and Earth, and there is nothing they can do about it.

Give thanks for the lives of our forebears, and obtain indulgences, knowing that we are fallen humans descended from fallen humans, and that grace is needed if we are all to meet again in happier circumstances.