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Mary

Listen To Your Blessed Mother: Confusion


 

“How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” (Luke 1:34)

One day, God dispatched an angel named Gabriel to a city of Galilee named Nazareth. He urged her to not be afraid and assured Mary that she had found favor with God. Then he proceeded to explain the purpose of his visit, a purpose which would be enough to make most people afraid. Mary was given the details of a plan that would have her conceiving a son. That son, named Jesus, “will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Lk 1:32-33) While you and I may look at these words and be confused as to what’s being asked, a devout Jewish girl would have known exactly what was being stated. Mary was being asked to become the mother of the Messiah!

After the angel finished speaking, Mary was confused and asked a simple question – “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” (Lk 1:34) Some people will look at Mary’s words and wrongly conclude that her faith was weak. She’ll be compared to Zechariah who, a few verses earlier, doubted Gabriel’s prophecy about the pregnancy of his wife. Didn’t Mary and Zechariah both doubt the angel’s message? Not at all. Mary believed and Zechariah doubted. How do I know, you might ask? The answer lies in Gabriel’s reaction. After Zechariah’s question, the angel stated that he “didn’t believe his words” (Lk 1:20). Mary received no such rebuke because, unlike Zechariah, she was simply asking for details.

Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that, although Mary was sinless, she was still human. Being chosen to become the mother of God didn’t automatically give her all the answers. Like us, there were times when Mary had questions about God’s will. Even though she always wanted to follow the Lord’s plan for her life, she was sometimes confused and needed to discern His will. As for Our Lady’s question to the angel, some background is necessary in order to understand what she is asking. The common belief of many theologians throughout the years (including Blessed Pope John Paul II, St. Augustine and St. Gregory of Nyssa) is that Mary was confused because she had consecrated her virginity to the Lord. Although unusual for married people, this practice was not unheard of in Mary’s time. This theory is supported by looking at Gabriel’s words. He told Mary that she would conceive and bear a son named Jesus. He didn’t say when, only that it would happen at some point in time. Since Mary was engaged to Joseph, it would be expected that she’d bear his children, therefore there’s nothing unusual about the message…unless she vowed to remain a virgin. Always desiring to do what’s right, Mary made a decision to do what she thought was best, but then Gabriel appeared with some new information. When informed that God wanted her to have a child, Mary needed to reevaluate her plan. Wanting to fulfill the will of God in her life, she needed to ask the important question. How can this be? Please tell me the details so I can cooperate with God’s plan. Far from doubting, Our Lady was pondering Gabriel’s astonishing message and was asking for guidance in carrying out God’s will.

Mary’s words to the angel remind us that it’s perfectly acceptable to ask questions. If you feel that God is asking you to do something, but you’re not sure how it’s possible, go ahead and ask Him for details. Mary did. If you’re carrying a heavy cross and can’t understand why, ask the Lord to enlighten you. Unfortunately, I can’t promise that you’ll get the answer you want. Instead, the Lord’s answer may be, “trust me”. If that’s the case, you may be asked (like Mary) to go along with His plan without knowing all of the fine details. If you have a difficult time doing that…join the club! However, don’t ever forget that Mary can help you tremendously. As someone who’s “been there, done that”, she knows exactly what you’re going through. Turn to her and ask her to share some of her faith with you. I can guarantee you that, as stated in the Memorare, “never was it known that anyone who fled to her protection, implored her help, or sought her intercession was left unaided.”

The Message: God has a plan for my life and wants to make it known to me. Through prayer and careful listening, I can become aware of that plan and put it into action.

(The above is an excerpt from Listen To Your Blessed Mother – Mary’s Words In Scripture, the latest book from Gary Zimak. As someone who always sought to follow God’s will, Mary can teach us how to be better Christians and will help us to grow closer to Jesus. By looking very carefully at Our Lady’s words and actions as recorded in the Bible, we can “hear” her voice and benefit greatly from her motherly advice.)

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Total Consecration Begins On September 4th!


 

I’m pleased to announce that, beginning on September 4th, I’ll once again be leading Total Consecration To Jesus Through Mary on my daily BlogTalkRadio show. This year, I’m thrilled that we’ll be using the acclaimed book by Fr. Michael Gaitley as the basis for our 33 day preparation. Even better is that you can order a FREE copy of the book by going to the My Consecration site!

What exactly is Total (or Marian) consecration? According to Fr. Gaitley, Marian consecration means “giving Mary our full permission to complete her motherly task in us, which is to form us into other Christs”. The preparation period will involve 33 days of meditation and prayer, based on the spirituality of St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximillian Kolbe, Blessed Mother Teresa and Blessed Pope John Paul II. After making our way through the preparation phase we will then make (or renew) or Total Consecration To Jesus Through Mary on October 7th, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Why should you consecrate your life to Jesus through Mary? Here are a few reasons…

“The more we honor the Blessed Virgin, the more we honor Jesus Christ, because we honor Mary only that we may more perfectly honor Jesus, since we go to her only as the way by which we are to find the end we are seeking, which is Jesus.” (Saint Louis de Montfort)

“There is no surer or easier way than Mary in uniting all men with Christ.” (Pope St. Pius X)

“We are convinced without any doubt that devotion to Our Lady is essentially joined with devotion to Christ.” (Pope Paul VI)

Interested? Want to find out more? Simply enter your email address below and press the “Join Now” button and you’ll be placed on our email mailing list. I’ll be sending out periodic emails to provide more information and guide you through the process. It costs nothing and there is no obligation. As it was for Blessed Pope John Paul II and many others throughout the years, Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary was a life changing experience for me and I HIGHLY recommend it for anyone who desires a closer relationship with Jesus. Sign up TODAY and please tell your friends!

Sign Up For Total Consecration!



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Coming Soon…Listen To Your Blessed Mother!

 

I’m excited to officially announce my second book, Listen To Your Blessed Mother (Mary’s Words In Scripture). Coming in August 2013 from Liguori Publications, it will be a reflection on Mary’s words in the Bible. Matt Swaim, author and producer of EWTN Radio’s Son Rise Morning Show, has graciously agreed to write the foreword.

This book has been a labor of love and I’m anxious to share my thoughts on my Blessed Mother with you. The idea started when I did a series of blog posts and segments on The Son Rise Morning Show. When we listen to Mary’s words and observe her actions, we can learn more about our Faith than from a library full of books. I can personally attest to the fact that the more we love Mary, the more we will love Jesus.

I’d appreciate it if you’d keep this project in your prayers and help me to spread the word. I’ll provide more details as soon as I can.

Total Consecration Summary (Day 1-12)


 

As you may be aware, on September 4th I began leading 880 people as we prepare for Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary on October 7th. Using my daily radio show on BlogTalkRadio, I’ve been reading and explaining the preparation prayers and meditations. On Saturday, we completed the first stage of the journey – 12 days spent trying to rid ourselves of the spirit of the world. In an attempt to summarize our accomplishments, I sent the following email message to all participants. If you’re interested in learning more about this great devotion, please email Me . I guarantee it will change your life!

Congratulations!

We have completed the first phase of the process. It’s important to remember that the first 12 days of Preparation for Total Consecration are designed to help rid ourselves of the spirit of the world. More accurately, they are designed to help us recognize the influence that the world has over us. It will probably take a lot more than 12 days to completely rid ourselves of the world’s influence, but this period is certainly a start.

What have we accomplished? Here are some questions that should make you think. They represent some of the lessons that we should have learned in the first 12 days.

Are you aware that you have been called to holiness?

Did you dedicate a firm amount of time to spend on the exercises each day?

Have you decided on an act of sacrifice for the remainder of the preparation period?

What are the excuses that you make for not responding to God’s will?

Do you boldly proclaim the truth of the Catholic Faith or do you sometimes hold back, choosing the path of least resistance?

Do your external religious practices match your interior devotions or are you sometimes hypocritical?

What is your most common temptation and how do you fight against it?

Have you decided when you will go to Confession during the preparation period?

Which of Mary’s virtues have you chosen to imitate?

Have you identified a persistent sin in your life that you are not fighting against? Why not?

How can you better participate in Mass on Sunday?

In your daily life, how can you become a light in the darkness?

If you think you could have done better during the initial period, don’t panic. Instead, be thankful that you are aware of your shortcoming and use this knowledge to try to do better in the next phase. Be aware that the evil one doesn’t want you to complete this process and will do everything in his power to get you to quit. One of his favorite ways is to make you think that you’re not doing a good job. DON’T FALL FOR IT!!!

May God bless each of you as you continue on the journey which will bring you closer to Him! Let me know if I can be of service to you.

In Christ,
Gary

Total Consecration Update – Week 1


 

Hi Friends,

I hope you’re all settling into the routine as we continue to prepare for Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary on October 7th. We currently have 880 people making the Total Consecration, which is truly AMAZING!!! Thank you for all of your email comments about my show. In response to the requests of those who are too busy to listen to the entire show, I’ve modified the program format as follows:

Monday-Friday show (8 – 9 PM Eastern)
Introduction (5 minutes)
Prayers and Readings (10 minutes)
General Comments, encouragement and any other messages that I want to disseminate (approx. 15 minutes)
Analysis and commentary on the daily readings (approx. 30 minutes)

Saturday-Sunday show (2 – 2:30 PM Eastern)
Introduction (5 minutes)
Prayers and Readings (10 minutes)
General Comments, encouragement and any other messages that I want to disseminate (approx. 5 minutes)
Analysis and commentary on the daily readings (approx. 10 minutes)

Although I’d love you to stick around for the entire program and encourage you to do so, I realize that not everyone can. Therefore, I modified the format to appeal to as many as possible. Let me know how it works out.

We’re currently just past the half way point of the first 12 day section. In this phase, we’re focusing on ridding ourselves of the spirit of the world. Although it can be difficult, it is an important step of the process. I would encourage you to focus on the daily meditations and not try to think ahead. Don’t worry about the Marian aspect of Total Consecration yet. It will be explained in the weeks to come. The purpose of Total Consecration is to get closer to Jesus. In order to do that, we turn to Mary and let her help us. For the remaining days of this first section, however, continue to concentrate on how the spirit of the world is in direct conflict with the spirit of the Lord.

If you missed some of the days, try to make them up by using the book or listening to the podcasts. If it’s not possible, my advice would be to continue moving forward anyway. You can also push back your consecration date. It doesn’t have to be made on October 7. Although it’s recommended that you do it on a Marian feast day, it’s not mandatory. You’ve already made the decision to do the Total Consecration and have momentum on your side. If you quit now and think that you’ll do it in the future, you may never do it!

Please remember to pray for all of us making this Total Consecration. If there’s anything that I can do for you as we move forward, please let me know. It’s my job to help you get through this successfully and it’s a privilege to be able to answer your questions. I’d also like to thank those of you who have made financial contributions to my apostolate. I’m very grateful. Please know that your generosity is responsible for allowing me to continue to spread the “Good News” of the Catholic Faith on a full time basis!

God Bless,
Gary

As a reminder, my radio podcasts can be found at the following link:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/gzimak

We’re using the following book:

Aquinas and More Catholic Goods - For all your Catholic needs

Preparation for Total Consecration

Preparation for Total Consecration

Happy Birthday, Mom!


 

“Hail full of grace, the Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28)

On this day, the Church celebrates the birth of Mary, the Mother of God. She is a great gift, given to each one of us by Jesus (John 19:26-27) as He suffered and died on the cross. If you haven’t already done so, today would be a good day to accept the gift of the Blessed Mother into your life. She is standing by, ready to lead you closer to Jesus. Tell her you love her, thank her for saying “yes” to God’s request, and be sure to tell her your needs. She wants to hear about your problems and will take them to the Lord, just as she did at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11).

I love you, Mom…Happy Birthday!

Spiritual Bouquet For Angela Faddis


 

Many of you are familiar with the story of Angela Faddis, a young wife and mother of 2 who is battling untreatable Stage 4 colon cancer. The doctors have recently declared that there is nothing else that can be done for her medically. As Christians, however, we believe strongly in the power of prayer and Jesus’ instruction to “ask and it will be given you, seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).

In 1997, my wife and I were told by many doctors that our twins, Mary and Elizabeth would not be born alive. Although we were devastated, we spread the word and asked as many people as possible to pray for us. Even though we were realistic and knew that there was a good chance the girls would not survive, we took the advice of Our Lord and asked, sought, and knocked. As we struggled to get through each day, we were comforted by numerous prayers, some of which came from people we didn’t even know. Ultimately, the Lord physically healed our twins and today Mary and Elizabeth are healthy 14 year old girls!

Angela’s situation is gravely serious and I’m not trying to bury my head in the sand. Only the Lord knows whether she will survive. What I do know with certainty is that God can cure her cancer in the blink of an eye. As a result, I’d like to send her a spiritual bouquet containing as many Hail Marys as possible. Just as she did at the Wedding at Cana, I’m asking Our Lady to take our request to her Son, knowing that He will do what’s best.

If you’d like to participate, please begin praying and update the number of Hail Marys that you prayed. I’ll keep track of the count and update the count at the top right hand corner of my site. Please spread the word and let’s get as many people praying for Angela and her family as possible. On the Support Angela Faddis Facebook fan page, her husband posted that “Angela is very aware of all of your prayers”. Please update your Hail Mary counts often by visiting this post or by updating the fields in the upper right hand corner of my website. I’ll be updating the totals as requests come in.

Let’s “storm Heaven” on behalf of our sister in Christ, fully believing that “with God all things are possible”. (Matthew 19:26)

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Number of Hail Marys prayed

More On The Brown Scapular…

 

On today’s episode of the Following The Truth radio show, I discussed the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. As promised, here is some additional information:

The history of the brown scapular and requirements for wearing it (from EWTN).

Here are the 2 books I referred to:

The Scapular of Mount Carmel (comes with a scapular).

Mary In Her Scapular Promise (originally published in 1940)

Here is the Doctrinal Statement from the Congregation of Divine Worship:

The Doctrinal Statement on the Brown Scapular (11/29/96)

Choose from an assortment of scapulars offered for purchase by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods:

Aquinas and More Catholic Goods - For all your Catholic needs

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Brown Scapular

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Brown Scapular

Aquinas and More Catholic Goods - For all your Catholic needs

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Brown Scapular with Miracul

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Brown Scapular with Miraculous Medal

Aquinas and More Catholic Goods - For all your Catholic needs

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Brown Scapular

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Brown Scapular

Aquinas and More Catholic Goods - For all your Catholic needs

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Brown Scapular with St Bene

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Brown Scapular with St Benedict Medal and Crucifix

Aquinas and More Catholic Goods - For all your Catholic needs

St. Pio Brown Scapular

Pio Brown Scapular

Aquinas and More Catholic Goods - For all your Catholic needs

Scapular Sterling Round Medal

Scapular Sterling Round Medal

Aquinas and More Catholic Goods - For all your Catholic needs

Miraculous Scapular Sterling Silver Medal

Miraculous Scapular Sterling Silver Medal

Aquinas and More Catholic Goods - For all your Catholic needs

Scapular Medal, Sterling Silver

Scapular Medal, Sterling Silver

Aquinas and More Catholic Goods - For all your Catholic needs

Sterling Scapular Medals

Sterling Scapular Medals

Why I Wear A Scapular


 

On this day, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Tradition tells us that Our Lady presented St. Simon Stock with the brown scapular in 1251. Just what is a scapular? According to the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy:

The scapular is an external sign of the filial relationship established between the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of Mount Carmel, and the faithful who entrust themselves totally to her protection, who have recourse to her maternal intercession, who are mindful of the primacy of the spiritual life and the need for prayer.

Even though I am a cradle Catholic and have always gone to Mass regularly, I used to think that people who wore scapulars were a little flaky. Rather than just be “normal” like me, I believed that those “scapular wearers” were oddballs who embraced apparitions and phony visions of the Blessed Mother. Why can’t they just be “regular” Catholics, like me instead of believing in something superstitious like the scapular? Most of all, I would never wear a scapular because someone might see it and think I’m weird.

How do I feel now? Every morning I kiss my brown scapular and say to Our Lady, “Blessed Mother, I am all thine and all that I have is thine!” I then put on the powerful sacramental knowing that Mary will help me to stay close to Jesus as I do battle with the forces of evil (and don’t kid yourself…they are all around us!) that threaten me constantly. I wear Our Lady’s scapular because it is a sacramental which better disposes me to receive the grace that I need to be a better Christian. I am proud that I wear the scapular and I hope people see it for what it is, a visible sign of my love for Mary and my trust in her intercessory powers. Most importantly, I wear the scapular because I am a comfort-loving, cowardly, self-centered sinner and I desperately need Mary’s help to keep me close to her Son and help me remain on the road that will lead to Eternal Life in Heaven.

That’s why I wear a scapular!

10 Great Tips To Help You PRAY (not just SAY) The Rosary!

 

I’ve always found praying the Rosary to be difficult. Although I love the Blessed Mother and understand the importance of the devotion, it just doesn’t come easy to me. In reality, I have no problem SAYING the prayers, the problem arises in transforming the words into a heartfelt prayer. Furthermore, many books tell us how to SAY to Rosary, with only a few instructing us how we should PRAY it. In an attempt to discover the “secret” of this beloved prayer, I’ve done a lot of research and uncovered 10 great (I can say that in all humility because they’re not mine!) tips to help you PRAY (not just SAY) the Rosary!

1. Less Is More – In his book, The Rosary of Our Lady, Msgr. Romano Guardini offers the following advice:

“It is not necessary to ramble through the whole Rosary; it is better to say only one or two decades, and to say them right.”

Talk about removing the pressure! I’ve always struggled to make sure I complete the entire Rosary, even if it meant that I wasn’t paying attention. Now I realize that quality is more important than quantity.

2. You Are Not Alone – A great proponent of Marian devotion, St. Louis de Montfort urges us to be aware of our company while praying the rosary. In The Secret of the Rosary, Montfort reminds us that, when we pray the Rosary, we should put ourselves in God’s presence and imagine that He (along with the Blessed Mother) is watching us and that our guardian angel is standing to our right. If we say the prayers well, our angel will use them to make crowns for Jesus and Mary. Thinking about this before beginning to pray helps us to realize that we are doing A LOT more than just repeating pious words!

3. Watch What You Say – St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, contributes a simple, but often overlooked suggestion. He encourages us to pronounce each Our Father and Hail Mary clearly and without rushing. In doing so, we will better express our love for Mary and Jesus. When praying the Rosary, it’s easy to fall into the trap of mumbling and our rushing through the prayers. Remembering that the Our Father was handed down to us from Jesus and that most of the Hail Mary is taken directly from Scripture should help us to recall that the words DO mean something!

4. Been There, Done That – When we look at Mary’s life, we sometimes overlook her many struggles. Like us, Mary was forced to endure suffering and difficulties, often without a lot of explanation. Being the Mother of God didn’t make her all knowing. The Bible tells us that Mary experienced confusion and had to seek understanding through prayer. In her book, The Splendor of the Rosary, Maisie Ward (Catholic author, publisher and wife of noted apologist Frank Sheed) stated:

“In the Rosary we rejoice, sorrow and triumph with Our Lady as she walks the same path we have to walk. But now she has reached the end.”

When we pray the Rosary, we should remember that Mary understands our problems and confusion. By meditating on the events in her life and the life of her Son, we can obtain help for our daily struggles from someone who is now in a place where we’d like to someday be!

5. Listen To The Word – In his Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae (On The Most Holy Rosary), Blessed Pope John Paul II recommends that we supplement our Rosary meditations with Bible reading. After announcing the individual mystery, the late Holy Father encourages us to read an appropriate Bible passage. While this is not always possible (if we are praying while walking or driving, for instance), we can still mentally recall the details of an appropriate Bible story. This underscores the importance of becoming familiar with Sacred Scripture.

6. Savor The Repetition – Sometimes it feels as if praying the Rosary is just “repeating a bunch of words”! In fact, one of the criticisms of the Rosary is that it is nothing more than “vain repetition”. In his book, The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God, Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen addresses those who consider the rosary to be monotonous. Using the analogy of a husband telling his wife “I love you” or a mother proclaiming “you’re a good boy” to her child, Sheen stresses that the words mean something different at each point in time that they are repeated. In the same way, each time we pray the Rosary, we are saying “I love you” to God, the Trinity, to Jesus and to Mary. With each successive bead (or decade) the meaning shifts as we contemplate a new aspect of Jesus or Mary’s love.

7. Do Whatever He Tells You – Praying the Rosary, no matter how devoutly, is never a substitute for following the commands of Jesus and His Church. The Rosary should spur us on to live the mysteries in our daily life. In his book, The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales on Our Lady, St. Francis de Sales had this to say:

“The worldly-minded imagine that devotion to Our Lady usually consists in carrying a rosary in their cincture. It seems to them that it is enough to pray it a number of times without doing anything else. In this they are greatly mistaken. For our dear Mistress wants us to do what her Son commands us (John 2:5) and considers as done to herself the honor we give to her Son by keeping His commandments.”

8. Think – In the preface of Father Peyton’s Rosary Prayer Book: The Family That Prays Together Stays Together, Fr. Patrick Peyton reminds us that the Rosary is more than a series of prayers to be recited. Rather, it is “a series of thoughts to be dwelt on, to be turned over in the mind, to be applied in daily life.” While we are saying the words of the prayers, we should be meditating upon the mysteries. That was a hard concept for me to understand, but it’s the key to unleashing the power of the Rosary.

9. Grow In Virtue
– Mother Angelica loves the Rosary. In her book, The Prayers and Personal Devotions of Mother Angelica, she discusses how to use the Rosary to grow in virtue:

“If you’re not making progress in one virtue, say your Rosary and meditate on that virtue as Our Lord practiced it. I cannot get over my faults and weaknesses if I don’t substitute those faults and weaknesses for something of God. This is precisely why the life of Jesus and the reading of Scripture and the rosary never seem to change us – why we remain the same: Because to change you need to admire someone other than yourself.”

10. Ask Mary For Help – This one’s so obvious that it’s easy to overlook! This simple, but powerful suggestion comes from a list (Tips On Praying The Rosary More Devoutly) put together by The Association of the Miraculous Medal in Perryville, MO. Before beginning the Rosary, we should ask Our Blessed Mother to help us pray devoutly.

Although the Rosary follows a simple pattern, it can be a very challenging prayer to master. Rest assured that many of the Saints struggled with it too. If you find it difficult to pray the Rosary, try out these tips and see what happens. It might take a little time, but eventually your persistence will pay off. The next time you pick up your rosary beads, imagine that you’re holding Mary’s hand and taking a trip to visit Jesus. For when we pray the Rosary, that’s exactly what happens!

“The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God…and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary.” (Pope Saint Pius X)