Tag Archives: St. Louis Marie de Montfort

My Vocation Story: Father Jason Smith, LC

If not for a hockey game, I wouldn’t be a Legionary of Christ priest today. As a good Minnesotan, I naturally considered hockey as divinely inspired, a sign of God’s love for us. But it’s what happened after the game that took me by surprise and lead me to know my priestly vocation.

During my first year at college, I often went to the rink at the University of Minnesota with my friends. After one such event —ending in a double overtime victory for the Golden Gophers, and a long celebration— I returned home in the wee hours of the morning, too tired to get out of bed until Sunday afternoon.

Stumbling upstairs for something to eat, I found my Dad sitting at the kitchen table, reading the paper. Opening the fridge, I heard from over my shoulder: “Jason, did you go to Mass this morning?” I swallowed hard. I hadn’t. Quickly I tried to think up the perfect excuse. None came. Trying to hide behind the refrigerator door, I quipped “No, I didn’t go”. Without looking up Dad replied solemnly, “Go tomorrow then.”

It was my first Monday morning Mass ever. I was struck by how quiet the Church was, and how empty. I sat about halfway up and waited. Little by little people began to filter in. Then an attractive girl sat down a few pews behind me. How is it I find a girl like this now and not last Saturday evening? It must be God’s providence! I decided the sign of peace was the perfect time to introduce myself. When the moment came I turned around and, to my surprise, she passed me a note. I put it in my pocket pretending it happened all the time.
When I got home I opened the note. It read something like this: “It’s good to see someone young attending daily Mass. You must really love your faith! I want to let you know about a group of young people who pray and study scripture Wednesday evenings. If you would like to come, here is my number.” I decided I could find time in my packed schedule to go. That’s when it occurred to me I hadn’t seriously looked into my Catholic faith since Confirmation. What would I say? What would I pray? Where was my Rosary? I found it stuffed in the bottom dresser drawer along with a pamphlet of prayers.

As to what I would say, I went to my Dad’s study and checked out his library. It had books on music, history, politics —but the largest section was religion. I found one book called True Devotion to Mary. It seemed like a good place to start since it was short. The book changed my life. It explained how St. Louis de Montfort, a priest who tirelessly preached the Gospel and underwent extraordinary trials, spread devotion to Mary throughout France. It was my first encounter with the life of a saint. I marveled how someone could dedicate himself entirely to Christ, even to the point of heroism. It inspired me to truly seek God and sincerely live my faith.

A few months later I went on a retreat with the youth group. It was the first time the priesthood entered my mind. During the consecration, as I gazed at the elevated host, I thought to myself —in words that were my own, but which carried a remarkable resonance I will never forget: If there is one thing I should do, it’s that. It was the defining moment of my life and it came entirely by surprise. I knew I had to look into the priesthood, but I didn’t know how or where. To make a long story short, the same girl who gave me the note in church then gave me a brochure on the Legionaries of Christ. It had testimonies of the young men who entered the year before. I read it and was convinced. I called and asked for an application. A Legionary came to visit. I went to candidacy. I joined. My younger brother followed the next year.

Since then 25 years have passed by like a whirlwind. There is much more I could write, but the essential is simple: Christ crossed my path, called, and by His grace —definitely not my own strength— I found the courage to drop everything and follow him. I have never looked back. Our Lord’s presence and the needs of the Church have captivated my attention ever since.

___

Originally posted by Catholic Convert. Reprinted with permission of Fr. Jason Smith LC.

What’s the Pope’s Consecration of the World Got to Do With Me?

With all the post-interview spotlight beaming/glaring on Pope Francis, I hope all Catholics and secular media alike pay careful attention to what did on October 13th, 2013: consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Specifically, I wish he makes everyone wonder: what this consecration means to me on a personal level, why is it so significant, and hopefully, make us all want to jump in.

demontfortConsecration means to dedicate an object or person thing toward a specific purpose. When one consecrates himself to Mary, he gives himself over to her hands so that she can teach and mold him for the purpose to which God created him.  St. Louis de Montfort writes that Mary is the “surest, easiest, shortest and most perfect means” to becoming like her Son Jesus.  Technically speaking, it is consecrating oneself to union with Jesus through Mary. Since Mary is in full union with the Divine Will, her mission is always to serve the Divine Will, particularly to help the formation and sanctification of souls. Mary, in short, helps us become the purpose for which we are created: saints.

Blessed Pope John Paul II and St. Maximilian Kolbe are the two most famous saints in our history who consecrated themselves to Mary.  Blessed John Paul II, who dedicated his papacy to Mary with the motif Totus Tuus, is on the record-breaking fast track to canonization.  Granted, St. Maximilian Kolbe’s martyrdom is not the easiest path, but it was the surest one, and one he willingly accepted.

The significance of consecration is that it is a covenant with a dual dimension.

A person consecrated to Mary entrusts everything he has to her: body, soul, material possessions, spiritual goods (like merits and virtues), everything in his past, present and future.  Mary takes the gift (often imperfect because of human flaws and selfish motives), and presents the gift to Jesus perfectly wrapped. St. Louis de Montfort illustrated this analogy: a humble farmer offers his only fruit –a scruffy, bruised, worm-bitten apple– to the King through the hands of the Queen.  The Immaculate Queen, conceived without sin, polishes that gift with her merits, and embellishes it with her virtues.  The gift becomes a purer, more pleasing version than what came out of the farmer’s own efforts.

The late Cardinal Luigi Ciappi further describes Mary’s holiness as having the “multiplier effect.”  I believe this also refers to her role as mediatrix of graces. Thus, not only does Mary multiply one’s offerings to Jesus, her holiness also multiplies the graces one receives from Him as it goes through her hands.  An example: my two-year old daughter once swallowed a coin. When we asked her what kind it was, she pointed to a penny.  A quick 911 call and some procedure under general anesthesia later, the surgeon presented us with a nickel.

“That’s one heck of a slot machine you got,” he said, with a chuckle. “A 500% return on investment!”

In essence, this is what consecration does:  Our offerings and prayers are deposited to Mary and her intercession and mediation yield a hefty return on investment of graces.  (Forgive the gambling analogy, it happened in Las Vegas). The maximized graces will be distributed to us, our families, communities and there’s even enough to go around for the world.

“Can we have a piece of the pie?” you want to know.

Absolutely!  St. Maximilian Kolbe said: “The Immaculata alone has from God the promise of victory over Satan.  However, assumed into heaven, the Mother of God now requires our cooperation.  She seeks souls who will consecrate themselves entirely to her, who will become in her hands effective instruments for the defeat of Satan and the spreading of God’s kingdom on earth.”

Finally, St. Louis de Montfort motivates us: “The Most High with His holy Mother will form great saints for Himself, saints who will tower in holiness over other saints even as the cedars of Lebanon tower over little bushes…”

* If you want to learn more about consecration to Mary and prepare yourself over a 33 day period, use this easy to read, easy to follow book “33 Days to Morning Glory” by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC.   This book offers the writings and reflections of the great Marian saints like St. Maximilian Kolbe, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Blessed John Paul II, and the “founder” himself, St. Louis de Montfort.  It also contains the short and long form of consecration prayer, as well as a guide for living out a true devotion to Mary.  If your family wants to consecrate as a family, use this book an option, “Preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary for Families” from the www.familyland.org online store.  It is available in CD or DVD format, too.