Meet Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC

Father Anthony Gramlich, MIC, rector of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., finds devotion to Mary automatic, as natural as breathing. It's one of the fulfillments of living in community with fellow priests and brothers of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception.

"We encourage each other to stay close to Mary, because she is our lifeline to Jesus," Fr. Anthony says. "It's our charism as Marians. It's our life, something so entrenched that we don't even have to think about it. The presence of Mary is there on our Marian seal, our statues, our pictures, and our architecture. It's there at evening prayer when we sing the "Salve Regina," and it's there after the Liturgy of the Hours, which we pray as a community every evening and morning. She's always there."

Our Lady became an integral part of Fr. Anthony's life as a young man growing up in New Jersey, when he discovered the Mother of Divine Mercy Prayer Group at his church. He learned how to pray the Rosary and the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. He says he had a conversion experience "where God touched my life. The Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet put an incredible peace in my life that I hadn't had before."

This led to a love of Mary, a call to the priesthood, and seeking a religious order with a Marian emphasis.

"I chose the Marians of the Immaculate Conception because of my devotion to the Blessed Mother," Fr. Anthony says. "That has now become the central focus of my spirituality. I go to Jesus through Mary. She is my mother, my help, my guardian, and the one who leads me in my spiritual life and guides me every day."

Marians are obliged to pray the Rosary every day, but Fr. Anthony says "it's not an obligation for me. The Rosary is my favorite prayer. It's easy and simple to pray, a meditation on the life of Jesus as seen through the eyes of Mary. If you want to know the Son, you go through the mother. That's why I love it, because through the Rosary, the Blessed Mother gives me tremendous insight on how I can lead a better life."

Father Anthony likes to recite the Rosary in the evening after dinner or exercise, though, depending on his schedule, he may pray it during the day or alone in his room. When he can, he likes to stroll the Shrine grounds and pray while he's walking.

When praying the Rosary, Fr. Anthony says he often uses picture books, using the images to keep his mind focused on the mysteries. This helps his meditations. He also asks for a specific virtue with each mystery, for example, seeking humility while reciting the Annunciation decade or charity during the Visitation.

Before he prays the Rosary, he seeks the Holy Spirit's guidance and offers to the Blessed Mother "any petitions or intercessions from any people who have asked me to pray for them during the day."

Sometimes, Fr. Anthony admits, the Rosary "gets repetitious, and you have to psyche yourself up to pray it." But, he says, "I think there's even more merit when you don't feel like praying the Rosary and you do it anyway. That's showing your fidelity and love for God through the Blessed Mother."

As his devotion to Mary deepens, Fr. Anthony finds that God graces his priesthood with more of an ability to share the Blessed Mother with other people through homilies, in confessions, and in counseling and prayer.

"The grace is not just for me but for others. What I say to people is just experience it. Experience the love of your mother."

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