As #MeToo campaigns rage and countless men are outed for the sexual harassment, abuse and assault of women, it may be time to look to a woman—THE WOMAN—for the answer on how to heal this mess...Read More
Today is the feast of St. Louis de Montfort, who died on this day nearly 200 years ago. St. Louis was French priest who tirelessly promoted both devotion to and consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In honor of this feast day, and in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the Blessed Mother’s apparition at Fatima on May 13, I would like to share with you an excerpt from my book, Mary’s Way, about the impact consecrating myself to Mary made on my life. I would also like to ask you to prayerfully consider consecrating your life to Mary—it is nothing short of life changing! Two wonderful resources for the consecration are “Preparation for Total Consecration According to St. Louis Marie de Montfort” and a newer version of the consecration, “33 Days to Morning Glory,” which I am reading now to renew my own consecration on May 13. It is excellent and very enlightening!
Also, I am excited to let you know that Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God will be offered by Ave Maria Press at a 25% discount for Mother’s Day. You can order the book at this link using the code MOM2017.
Blessings and grace to you and yours this Easter season.
From Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God, p. 92-95
Mary, the Woman for All Women
The second nut to crack—the heart problem I had concerning Mary—was harder, as it involved serious questions about my identity as a woman and about my own ongoing conversion. Would I be willing to be changed that I might embrace Mary as the model of my own femininity? Was I prepared to lay down the notions of womanhood in which I had been formed, making space for something new, such as accepting the idea that Mary’s way—and not the way of radical feminism—is the life-giving way for women? And would I let Mary lead me by the hand as I sought to love Jesus and as I tried to help my children find Christ in a post-Christian culture that has lost him almost completely? It was in the midst of pondering these questions not long after my return to the Catholic Church that some- one mentioned to me St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s “Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary.”
Anyone who has made the thirty-three-day consecration to Mary’s Immaculate Heart can tell you how powerful and life changing it is, just as the women in our parish Rosary group told me one providential day. Peggy, who had recently made the consecration herself, was sharing with the group what a profound impact it had on her relationship with the Lord and how much personal healing she had received by making it. Always looking for ways to grow deeper in faith, I went to the Catholic bookstore and bought a copy of St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s little gem of a book Preparation for Total Consecration.
While I must admit that I was somewhat taken aback by de Montfort’s seventeenth-century language of making oneself a “slave” of Mary, as well as by the thought of giving myself entirely to her, I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to complete the consecration. Jesus tells us to judge a tree by its fruit (Mt 7:18), and shortly after consecrating myself to Mary amazing fruit began to appear in my life.
The first thing I experienced was long-sought-after forgiveness for the men who had hurt me in life, especially the person who had abused me. Though I had prayed for several years to forgive in obedience to Jesus’ words, “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you” (Mt 6:14), I still felt nothing but intense anger toward the perpetrator. And while I know that forgiveness is an act of the will—not a feeling—I desired to be free of angry, negative emotions and their impact on my life and family. I clearly remember the day the feelings came that matched the decision I had made to forgive, and they in no uncertain terms came on the heels of my consecration to Mary.
I was alone in our master bedroom when I was spontaneously overcome with such a powerful sense of mercy and forgiveness for my abuser that it caused me to drop to my knees weeping in prayer. It was as though a river of pent-up hurt was released from my heart all at once, matched by a river of tears. Not long after that day, I started to become aware of the unfavorable, combative thoughts I entertained about men as they were occurring in my mind. I began to renounce them as they took shape interiorly, extracting myself spiritually and emotionally from the “man-hating” feminism that had formed me. I can emphatically say that all this lent itself to what happened next—letting go of my defenses against the authority of the Church, including and especially the men who run it. This ushered in what I like to call my “third conversion,” that is, accepting the teaching of the Catholic faith in its entirety, including its magisterium or teaching of office. (My first adult conversion was when I gave my life to Christ in an evangelical church at the age of twenty-three. The second was when I returned to the Catholic Church five years later.)
In the long run, accepting the Church’s authority led me to experience liberating healing in so many areas of life, especially in my relationship with God the Father. My consecration to Our Lady caused the dominoes to begin to fall in my heart and mind, softening me and making me more pliable in the hands of God. And isn’t this the very essence of Marian spirituality? We, like Mary, utter an unceasing “may it be done to me” to the Lord, letting God have his way in us?
I can’t say that it happened all at once, but the change in me was nothing short of miraculous. And instead of costing me my voice, my power, and my independence, as I had feared, giving myself to Mary caused me to become more completely yoked to Christ, who gave me an authentic voice, true power, and real freedom.
So why do we need Mary? We need Mary because her love and example humanizes us, tenderizes us, and makes us more welcoming of Christ. She teaches us in flesh and blood what it means to be a Christ-bearer—one who receives the Word, believes the Word, conceives the Word, and gives birth to him in a broken, sinful world. Further- more, she shows us how to persevere in suffering, and her intercession helps us to stand steady before it, especially before suffering that involves our children. For Mary, of all women, understands intimately how a mother is cut to the heart when she sees her offspring hurting.
Consecrating my family and myself to Mary was both a life changer and a game changer for all of us, the fruit of which is still unfolding in our lives. After all, Our Lady’s greatest joy is to point us to Jesus and say, “Do whatever he tells you.”
The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of woman is being achieved in its fullness, the hour in which woman acquires in the world an influence, an effect, and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the whole human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women impregnated with the spirit of the gospel can do much to aid mankind in not falling. Second Vatican Council, Closing Message to Women
In last week’s post, which quoted Saint John Paul II on the problem of “models of male domination,” I suggested that the prevalence of a deformed prototype of masculinity has gotten us into the political and cultural mess we’re in.
The piece was oddly prophetic in its timing, given the fact that it ran the same morning the story broke exposing Donald Trump’s horrific comments about groping women—confirming in living color how the man shamelessly objectifies women, treating them as “things” to be possessed and violated at his whim.
Three days later Hillary Clinton stood on a debate stage and proudly announced that she will appoint Supreme Court justices that will uphold Roe vs. Wade—affirming once again how she shamelessly objectifies unborn children via her unapologetic stance that a woman should have the right to kill her pre-born child without restriction until a baby is born, treating them as “things” to be disposed of at a woman’s whim.
Again—these behaviors speak of what Saint John Paul II called “models of male domination”—systems of power that blatantly employ exploitation, aggression, and violence to rule over others and to have one’s own way. Obviously, Trump and Clinton didn’t invent this problem, but are instead the perfect representatives of a culture that largely embraces such an approach to reality.
What is the remedy for these disordered attitudes, beliefs and behaviors—attitudes that have spawned what John Paul II termed the “culture of death”? Interestingly, the visionary pope taught that it is the “feminine genius” that can re-humanize and re-civilize the world, and echoing the words of the Second Vatican Council, suggested that “now” is the hour when the genius of women is needed to save a free-falling world:
Unilateral progress can also lead to a gradual loss of sensitivity for man, that is, for what is essentially human. In this sense, our time particularly awaits the manifestation of a “genius” which belongs to women, and which can ensure sensitivity for human beings in every circumstance: because they are human! Pope John Paul II, On The Dignity and Vocation of Women, 30.
Pope John Paul II taught in various documents and ways that “the ‘woman’ is the representative and the archetype of the whole human race: she represents the humanity which belongs to all human beings, both men and women.” (Pope John Paul II, On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, 4) As such, woman stands as the symbolic key to humanity’s return to a right relationship with God and the entire created order—as the key to bringing the culture of death back to its senses.
Because woman—in the image of the Woman, Mary—incarnates in her very nature the way in which all human beings are purposed to relate to God: that is, standing in the feminine posture of Mary’s fiat mihi proclaiming “Let it be done unto me.” With hands, heart, mind and body surrendered to God, Mary becomes a conduit of life and love, both human and divine, becoming the icon of the sacred call of every human person. Conversely, when hands, hearts, minds and bodies close in on themselves, turn against God and turn instead to their own lordship, human beings become a channel of death for themselves and for others.
When we continue to declare that success in this culture means winning, subverting others, and aggressing anyone whom we choose in order to achieve our own agendas, we fall prey to a disordered masculine approach that inverts self-sacrificial love into domination, control, and flagrant disregard of the human person. On the other hand, when we assume the Marian, feminine posture of active receptivity, saying to God thy will be done, we cooperate with God in opening civilization to his grace, grace that alone can save us and a fallen world.
This article was previously published at Aleteia.
Dear Friends, I'm heading off to play "Grandma" for a few days! While I'm away, I thought you might enjoy this interview about "Mary's Way" by CatholicMom.com founder Lisa Hendey. I am so grateful and honored that "Mary's Way" bears the CatholicMom.com imprint and pray that you will find the book to be a powerful resource in praying for your children and grandchildren.
Grace, peace and blessings to you and yours! Judy
From Lisa: Today, we celebrate the launch of our newest CatholicMom.com Book Imprint title, "Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God," by our very own Judy Landrieu Klein. From the moment I met Judy a few years ago, there was a grace about her that drew me in. In a way, I had “known” her through my great fondness for her daughter Kara Klein, who was already a friend of mine. It didn’t surprise me that such a gifted and graceful young woman would have a lovely mother.
But in better coming to know Judy’s story over the past few years, my initial respect for her has only deepened over time. We came to know some of Judy’s challenges and triumphs in her first book, "Miracle Man." But with "Mary’s Way," we learn more about how Judy’s powerful intercessory relationship with our Blessed Mother has helped her in her own spiritual perseverance and in the parenting of her children. Whether you are a mom of young ones or of young adults, or even not a mom at all, you will benefit from the mature wisdom Judy shares in this book. In my friend Judy, you will find a mentor who doesn’t candy coat life’s most difficult trials. Rather, you’ll discover a companion for your own moments of need, as Judy holds your hand and leads you into Mary’s Immaculate Heart. I hope you enjoy our conversation today and that you’ll make this important book a part of your spiritual library.
Q: Judy, congratulations on the launch of "Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God"! And a huge thank you for being a contributor to our family here at CatholicMom.com. Please briefly introduce yourself and your family to our readers.
I’m thrilled to be part of the Catholicmom.com community and especially delighted to have "Mary’s Way" honored with the Catholicmom.com imprint! As a Catholic theologian, a mom of five children and grandmother of seven, I am always looking for good resources that will help women raise their families with strong Catholic faith in a secular culture. I hope that "Mary’s Way" will be such a resource for women.
Q: What will readers discover when they open the pages of your new CatholicMom.com imprint book "Mary’s Way"?
Readers will discover our own family’s story of both suffering and finding hope in the midst of multiple tragedies, including the death of my husband, Bernie, to a massive heart attack and my son’s serious battle with drug addiction. They will discover how to surrender to God in the midst of real life problems that can seem formidable, they will find hope in the face of hardship, and they will also find specific prayers to pray for their children. But most of all, I pray that readers will discover how to look to Mary not just as a model of Christian motherhood, which she is, but also as a model of persevering in faith, hope and love in the face of suffering.
Q: Why this book at this time in your life?
It has been an ongoing source of frustration for me to bump up against what I call the “prosperity gospel” as a mother, which suggests that if I do enough and try hard enough in my relationship with God, then my life will turn out “well,” my children’s lives will be perfect and we will know nothing but “blessing.” I believe that one of the great challenges mothers encounter in this world is how to contend with the reality that we can try our very best to love God and be faithful to him, and have things turn out messy anyway. I encountered this dilemma myself, and when I began to ponder Mary’s life I realized that in spite of the fact that she was sinless and had a sinless son, her only child died a brutal, violent death upon the cross—not exactly turning out “well” by the world’s standards. And clearly it wasn’t because Mary had done something wrong or hadn’t gotten it right. Mary’s life holds the clues we need as to how to have steadfast faith and hope in the midst of the mess, and it’s what I hope to convey in "Mary’s Way".
Q: You speak openly and honestly in the book about your family’s joys and challenges and about your own faith journey. Briefly, how has our Blessed Mother been a companion for you along the way? How will the book help lead others into her loving embrace, especially those for whom Mary has not been a big part of their spiritual lives?
When I came back into the Catholic Church from evangelical Protestantism, Mary was one of the biggest stumbling blocks for me. But once I understood and embraced Marian devotion, everything changed! Today, I cannot overstate how much Mary has helped my family and how critical I believe her intercession and example are for us—particularly at this time in history when there is so much confusion about what it means to be a woman and a Christian.
I use one chapter of the book to present some basic biblical apologetics about Mary that convinced me that what the Catholic Church teaches about her is both biblical and true. But I also give concrete examples of the miracles Mary has secured for our family, of the ways consecrating myself to her healed me as a woman, and of the ways the Rosary has been a lifeline to God for me in times of deepest darkness. I hope and pray that our story will encourage others to embrace and love Mary, and especially to seek her most powerful aide.
Q: This book is very personal, which is part of what makes it so compelling. Why is it worth the personal risks you’ve taken for you to encourage other women who may be experiencing major trauma (or even minor annoyances) in their own lives?
I made a decision to be very self-revelatory in this book because I believe that so many women and families are struggling with the same issues we faced as a family. I am weary of the Pinterest-perfect world and even the Pinterest-perfect church, where we all pretend our lives are just fine while we secretly die a thousand internal deaths over our personal struggles. Knowing we are not alone in what we’re confronting, and knowing that other faith-filled people have made it through great adversity with God’s help, lends itself to both spiritual and emotional health. I pray that our story gives others hope and courage, and that it will draw them more deeply into a trusting personal relationship with God, who is so good and merciful, as well as with Mary, our loving Mother.
Q: As a theologian, how has your study of Mary enhanced the love that you have for her in your heart?
It was a great thrill for me to study the Church’s Marian doctrines and to learn not only how biblical they are, but also how incredibly beautiful they are! Learning about Mary and embracing her as my own Mother has made me love Mary, but more importantly, it’s made me love Jesus more. In the end, leading others to her Son is Mary’s greatest glory, and it’s also the most convincing proof of her God-given role as Mother, intercessor and treasure house of God’s graces.
Q: What few words of encouragement can you offer to the mom out there who feels as though her children’s lives have completely spun out of control?
First I would say to continue to pray and ask God for your children to be converted, and don’t give up! (And please do make use of the powerful prayers in "Mary’s Way"!) God is faithful to hear the cries of a mother’s heart, even if our prayers aren’t answered in our lifetimes or in a way that we will see. I think of my own mother-in-law, who prayed a Rosary for my late husband every day of her life. His conversion didn’t happen until his deathbed, and she was in her 90s and too far into dementia to understand what had happened. But her prayers were answered!!!
Second I would say to surrender your children to God in trust—to intentionally place them into God’s loving hands, which are big and strong enough to carry them. Truly, they are God’s children and He is far more invested in their salvation than we are. Trust Him to take care of them.
Finally, I would say to consecrate your children to Our Lady. (I offer a consecration prayer for children on my website.) Consecrating a child to Mary and placing them under her mantle of peace and protection is very powerful. I have seen miracles happen by doing this.
Q: What are your hopes for the women who will read this book?
My ardent prayer is that women will find deeper faith by reading "Mary’s Way" and that when they finish reading the book, they will have a renewed sense of hope that God is always acting lovingly and mercifully on their behalf, and that He can be trusted. I hope they will learn to surrender to God more deeply, and that they will come to believe that God is always about the business of working all things together for our good. When we truly believe this, we have much more peace!
Q: Judy, thank you for so generously sharing your gifts! How can we learn more about your writing and speaking?
I’d love for readers to spend some time at my website at MemorareMinistries.com. And it would be my joy to visit your parishes or conferences personally to share our stories of hope!
Q: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to share with our readers?
Faith is more than just believing in God—it is our total self-surrender to the living God in trust. That is, indeed, “Mary’s Way,” and it is the way to peace.
You can buy "Mary’s Way" at MemorareMinistries.com, at Barnes & Noble or at Amazon.com.
Copyright 2016 Lisa M. Hendey ABOUT AUTHOR
Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children's fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa's articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at www.LisaHendey.com for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.