"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." -Cardinal Francis George

Monday, March 12, 2012

I need to step up my game this Lent. Starting today.

Sometimes I really amaze myself with how spectacularly I can fail at being a Christian. It really is something I know how to do quite well! Join me in not pleasing the enemy by having a pity party but by manning up and getting down to the spiritual warfare that Lent is all about. Forward, march.

True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Nos. 81 and 82
We Need Mary in order to Die to Ourselves

Secondly, in order to empty ourselves of self, we must die daily to ourselves. This involves our renouncing what the powers of the soul and the senses of the body incline us to do. We must see as if we did not see, hear as if we did not hear and use the things of this world as if we did not use them. This is what St. Paul calls "dying daily". Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain and does not bear any good fruit. If we do not die to self and if our holiest devotions do not lead us to this necessary and fruitful death, we shall not bear fruit of any worth and our devotions will cease to be profitable. All our good works will be tainted by self-love and self-will so that our greatest sacrifices and our best actions will be unacceptable to God. Consequently when we come to die we shall find ourselves devoid of virtue and merit and discover that we do not possess even one spark of that pure love which God shares only with those who have died to themselves and whose life is hidden with Jesus Christ in him.

Thirdly, we must choose among all the devotions to the Blessed Virgin the one which will lead us more surely to this dying to self. This devotion will be the best and the most sanctifying for us.



  1. "We Need Mary in order to Die to Ourselves"

    Umm - false maybe?

    If this were a true statement - such that 'need' is an imperative, and without the need being met you could not die to yourself - then why isn't Mary mentioned in and through and around all the Bible passages about dying to self?

    If it is not possible without Mary - why is only Christ mentioned?

    Or is this just more exaggeration, like 'without Mary, there is no Christ, so there is no dying to self'. That's like saying 'with no Pilate, there is no crucifixion... ergo no salvation'.

    So which is it - a true statement? or an exaggeration? Or is it just plain false, given all the non venerators of Mary that also 'die to self'?

    Also, if we 'need Mary' to 'die to self', then how is Christ sufficient? - and how can we not pass from veneration of Mary into worship... if she is indeed a necessity? Methinks thou dost split hairs too much.

    Forgive me if I offend, but this line of thinking leads to the Mediatrix of all Graces nonsense.

  2. Thanks to RMBIV. You said what I think but can not express so eloquently.

    Holy Mackerel David...
    Excuse the pun during Lent.

    I'm having a real hard time wondering if you haven't lost something here.... or is that part of dying to oneself? You need to step back, take a big breath of fresh air and read what you posted and compare it to what the Holy Bible has to say.

    Consider what your dear friend has posted in comment #1. His last sentence is something you should ponder.
    Remember, the seed can make it all the way to the ground and sprout and then get tangled up in weeds and hence bear no fruit.

    Consider this scripture, (it is Christ in us that does the work):

    Gal 2:20-21 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
    I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

    David, you need to get back to the basics...maybe quote some scripture to back up your thought process here.

    Love ya brother,

  3. Bob:

    “Umm - false maybe?”

    What is the point of this statement? I know you think it is false.
    Obviously I don’t think it is false. Pointing out that you find it false with “umm-“ and "maybe" does nothing to advance meaningful diologue. Unless yo just merely wanted to inform me you think it is false, which I could have guessed had I cared to.

    “If this were a true statement - such that 'need' is an imperative, and without the need being met you could not die to yourself - then why isn't Mary mentioned in and through and around all the Bible passages about dying to self?”

    YOU used the word imperative. NOT St. Louis De Montfort. Right now it is early Tuesday morning, and I need some coffee. Do you want to break my last sentence down into “imperetives” to try to make my statement seem silly? My point is that St. Louis was not giving us a math problem. His book is called True Devotion to Mary. With a title like that there just *might* be a few statements in there about how great Mary is at helping us achieve holiness. That is the goal of the book—to have the reader do a “Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary”. So of course the focus is on how Mary can help us achieve that consecration. After all, among creatures, she was the most devoted to Christ, so learning at her feet might be a good idea. Again, it’s not a math problem.

    And yes, Bob, of course Protestants can “die to self” without intentionally seeking the help of Mary. Of course I would believe Mary is helping them whether they know it or not though. All grace comes from Christ, and all grace then goes through Mary to the world.

    “Also, if we 'need Mary' to 'die to self', then how is Christ sufficient? - and how can we not pass from veneration of Mary into worship... if she is indeed a necessity? Methinks thou dost split hairs too much.”

    You are the one splitting hairs. I am the one saying that it is “both”/”and”, that it is grace from Christ flowing through Mary. ONE grace, TWO people involved in giving it. Spigot and hose if you will. So it is both. No hair splitting. Ive explained it a dozen times for you so I won’t retread it, but in general, Catholicism is not either/or on the points you demand that it is. Christ is God, and the fount of all salvation. Any grace that Catholics attribute to Mary is in the form of mediation. (which is something you and I can also do! 1Tim. 2:1-5) So yes, she is the mediatrix of all graces. Notice the word mediatrix. She is not the SOURCE-iatrix. She is a mediator just like you and I are called to be. But being in heaven and being the most glorious creature ever created, she is a better intercessor than you or I. (see below to my response to Doug for more)

    “Forgive me if I offend, but this line of thinking leads to the Mediatrix of all Graces nonsense.”

    Well, I don’t believe it is nonsense. And nothing you have said gives me any reason to change my mind about it.

    Have a blessed Lent and a glorious Easter,


  4. Going back to your understanding of 'need', would it be fair to say that some Christians (or Catholics even) don't need Mary, just as I don't need coffee this morning?

    Is that a fair statement?

    I'm just trying to understand the depth of need... is our need for Mary the cup of coffee, or is it closer to the 'need for love', or is it more fundamental, like a need for oxygen or food?

    I would put our 'need' for Christ in the 3rd category... but I haven't been able to figure out where the need for Mary goes - and the how deep the need can be before it crosses from devotion into idolatry.

    Your comment about the hose is telling. A fireman with a thousand spigots and no hose cannot put out the fire. The hose is a need in that instance similar to our need for food. Is this the need that Catholics have for Mary?

    This is about sufficiency. Christ said that 'HE' was the food we need, and that His work is sufficient. If I need Mary's hose to direct Christ's grace, how is the spigot of Christ enough?

    Unless there is a path for grace to come from the Godhead to the laypeople without interference from another creation, then Christ's death is insufficient.

    If Mary's hose is necessary (as in oxygen), then you had better be worshiping her, lest she forget to put out your fire.

  5. Doug,

    I responded in another post:


  6. Bob said:
    "Unless there is a path for grace to come from the Godhead to the laypeople without interference from another creation, then Christ's death is insufficient."

    First off, I dont know what you are talking about when you say "another" creation. As a Catholic, I don't believe Christ is a creature. Mary however is a creature.

    Second, God uses creatures as co-laborers in His work. Nothing could be clearer from scripture and Tradition! Do you disagree!? I assume you would not say my prayers for you are "interference that make Christ's death insufficient", correct? So if not my prayers, then why Mary's? Your statement is inconsistent with (what I strongly assume is) your belief about creaturely intersession. Otherwise, by your logic, you should stop praying for people, because you are making Christ's death insufficient.

    Third, your statement is just that: a statement. It is not a valid argument in any sense of the word. Your conclusion does not follow from the premise. Christ's death can be sufficient and at the same time there can be other mediators of the grace won by that death. Christ is the only mediator, yet he also calls us to be mediators. Those two facts do not conflict. Our mediation is "in Christ" and does not conflict with him. I am 99.9% sure you agree with this Bob! So I don't understand your statement above!

    I have explained that:

    1. Christ is sufficient.
    2. Christ allows his creatures to be mediators, and to be involved in His work of giving grace. (this includes you, me, and yes... Mary)

    Those two things are not at odds in my mind. I dont se how #2 makes #1 impossible!

    Also I thought I explained last time that you should not view St. Louis' use of the word "need" as a math problem, as that is probably not how he meant it. It is a valid belief for a Catholic to believe that 100% of all grace flows from Christ through Mary. But Catholics do not have to believe that. It is not dogma. Even if they do believe it, there are a few different ways of viewing it that all get pretty theological.
    Personally, I don't care all that much either way. Christ is the source, so as far as I am concerned, whether it comes to me through Bob B., Doug, or Mary, it is the same grace.

    Although since we know from scripture that Mary has been enthroned the Queen of heaven, and is the mother of all Christians, it sure would make sense if she is the bit of hose closest to the spigot (so to speak). But remember, you are also a bit of hose Bob. And me. Let's say we prayed for someone and the prayer helped them. Then that someone wrote a book and said "I needed Bob and dave's prayers to make it through." Heck, they might even say "I needed them to die to myself. They really helped me! Thanks Bob and Dave!! You guys rock, and are really good looking too!!" Ok thats a bit much. but IF we were better Christians and helped someone in a profound way like that, they could use the word need and it would not get a negative reaction from you. I am sure of it. Because you know it GOES WITHOUT SAYING that our prayers were not the source of the help, but just the "hose".

    And your example yesterday about Pilate is way off.
    Pilate did NOT of his own free will say "yes" (fiat) to God, he said "no"! Pilate did not give our saviour flesh. Pilate is not the new Eve. Pilate is not the Ark of the New Covenant. Sure it is true that Judas and Pilate were used by God to acomplish his plan, but do you really want to go down that road of comparing them to Mary?

    Did Israel "need" Pharoh to let them go the same way they needed Moses to lead them? We could go down that weird path all day. But in the end, there is a reason Moses is a hero of the Faith and pharoh is not. Moses is in heaven right now rooting for us in the great cloud of witnesses, Pharoh on the other hand... who knows.

  7. DM-

    I experienced the Sacrament of Penance the other day. It was amazing!


  8. That's great Andre! What a powerful experience. I just went yesterday. I am always reminded of how different the sins sound when I say them to the priest than when I just think of them in my head.
    And I love hearing the words of absolution.
    From one former Reformer to another I can tell you that personally, the sacrament of penance and the Eucharist has helped me completely rid myself of some sins that I could never shake before. These sacraments are powerful!

    Have a blessed Solemnity of the Annunciation my friend.