For what it’s worth, I wrote most of this in 2003. I am editing it today, and I can vouch for the prayer at the end. God answers prayers like this. Conversion is a continual turning. Pray for it everyday! When we pray for closeness to God it can only be the Holy Spirit praying through us (cf Rom 8:26).
My favorite prayer is the Rosary (after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, of course). I began praying it nearly everyday (again) about a year ago. This is actually something that I began in 2003, when my first daughter was a newborn. It was the beginning of a renewal of my life. I cannot begin to tell you the difference the Rosary has made. In 2003 I realized that I attended 16 years of Catholic education, yet I never knew that the Rosary was not just a bunch of repetitive prayers. I finally learned that it is a meditation on the life of Christ and His Blessed Mother, Mary. I didn’t learn this until someone gave me a little book called “The Scriptural Rosary.” I received the gift and set it aside for a few years…
At the time I began praying the Rosary I was weary about the Church teaching on Mary! This is an example of how God can take a doubt in our heart and help us grow in faith (cf Rom 8:28). I felt like if I prayed to her, asking for her intercession, that I was ignoring Jesus. I now know that I didn’t understand the Love that Jesus has for us and his Mother. A son cannot refuse his mother, can he? If Mary desires something that is good for us Jesus will not refuse her, and this is why we ask her to intercede. This is why my own children may come to me first, before asking their dad! The Church honors Jesus’ mother because Jesus honors His mother. He not only honored her when she asked him to begin His ministry, (the wedding at Cana) but He gave her to us as our mother in His dying moments on the Cross.
The first mystery is the Annunciation (Lk 1:26-38) – Mary says “Yes” to God and via the Holy Spirit conceives the Son of God. Think about her, a human being, (by this I mean she was no different than we are, except for Original Sin), hearing this news. Would you believe it? God created Mary as the “New Eve,” except this time Eve lived in a sinful world. God had long before made a plan to redeem the world through her (cf Gen 3:15). She had free will – she chose God’s will always. She could have said no! She chose to do the will of the Father saying, “Be it done unto me according to Thy Word.” Think about the tremendous Faith she must have had to say this. How many of us are being asked by God to do something extraordinary? We are all called by our Baptism to live and spread the Word of God as Christ showed us. We are called to obey His commandments. We are called to love everyone, even (and especially) our enemies. These are all extraordinary tasks that can only be achieved with God’s grace. We can receive God’s grace when we ask Him for it through prayer, or someone else asks God to give it to us through their prayers. We receive “grace upon grace” (cf John 1:17) every time we go to confession and/or receive the Eucharist. We cooperate with the grace received and accept God’s will into our own hearts every time we obey His commandments and love Him by loving our neighbor.
Now think of the Faith of St. Joseph – he stayed with Mary. He was told in a dream not to worry (Mt 1:18-25), that he must stay with Mary and be the earthly father of this child. Would you believe it? Most of us could never imagine getting messages from God like this. The obedience to the Father by these two human beings in our history is extraordinary. The souls of Mary and Joseph must have been in full communion with God, with their minds and hearts always attuned to His presence. How did they achieve this? Through incessant prayer and obeying God’s commandments. The Holy Spirit lived in them and worked through them. The lives of Mary and Joseph teach us much about living out the will of God. God can only communicate with us if we want Him to and if we listen. We talk to Him through prayer. We listen through silence — through meditation and contemplation. We show Him that we want a relationship through continuous prayer. Everything we do, except for sin, can be offered as a prayer and sacrifice to God. (Phil 4:6). If we look at our lives this way, we cannot help but grow in love for God and His people.
“Lord, may thoughts of you be on my mind every moment of every day.”