by Fr Richard Heilman | June 4, 2016 11:04 am
1. Let Mary Help
I happen to be one of those lunatics (in the eyes of the worldly) that actually goes into each prayer/petition anticipating that God will answer that prayer. And, I believe we should always ask Mary for her help!
St. Louis de Montfort, in his classic True Devotion to Mary, gives us a wonderful analogy of how we can have access to the King. A poor man wants to offer the King a bruised apple. The King will never receive the apple directly from the pauper/poor man. However, if the poor man knows the Queen and presents the apple to the Queen, then she will polish the apple, place it on a golden platter, deposit the apple between two flowers and present it to the King and His Majesty will receive it. Why? Not because of the apple in itself, much less due to the poor man, but “yes” due to the Queen who presents the apple to him. Our actions are poor, tainted with sin and concupiscence, but if placed in the hands of the Queen—the Blessed Virgin Mary—she purifies, polishes and perfects them so that the King accepts them. Jesus rejoices in us, the more He sees Mary present in our lives and our hearts!
Whenever I offer my prayer/petition, I always picture Mary receiving it at the edge of Heaven, placing it on a golden platter between two flowers, and turning to go to throne to present it to the King. With great joy and anticipation, I do it this way, because God has revealed “this way” through His saint. No questions asked. I hear and I obey.
2. Be Obedient
God is our Father … our parent … He is a perfect parent. Saint Augustine said, “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” Good parents know that rewarding good behavior reenforces that behavior and disciplining bad behavior teaches the child to shun bad behavior. Parents do this because they love their children. St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Love is to will the good of the other for the sake of the other.” Parents not only want good for their children, but the “very best.” So does God. Why not only offer “good behavior” (precious obedience) to be rewarded, rather than compelling God to “withhold things” – including His Presence and His miracle power – in order to reprimand bad behavior?
And, it is more than that. There is obedience, and then there is OBEDIENCE. Some try to “game the system” and only do what is minimally expected. Understand that God sees through that. No, He is looking to reward those who “obey well” … those who are extravagant in their obedience; those who make the “extra effort” to please God in all ways. THAT’S the kind of behavior God wants to reward; to reenforce.
Our prayers must be “obedient.” What do I mean by that? God has revealed to us, through many glorious saints, the “way” in which to pray. God has revealed this by answering prayer “done this way.” This is why I embrace, wholeheartedly, the many devotions, sacramentals and special prayers handed down to us by these mighty saints.
Many of these “ways of praying” seem foolish to the world. That is precisely the point. Whether it is twiddling beads or repeating prayers, we are saying “yes” to the way God wants us to do it and, therefore, expressing our precious obedience. This is our way of checking our pride at the door of heaven’s gate. In a world that wants to do it “My Way,” this is our way of offering our sweet submission to God. Think about it … God has always been asking us to do foolish things since the beginning, when he told Adam and Eve … “You can have all this, but not that apple tree over there.”
3. Offer Your Best Self
While we may be poor and broken, as we approach heaven, we must still be resolute. We are not asked to be “perfect” when we approach the Blessed Mother at the edge of heaven, but are you trying? Are you truly striving, each and every day, to be a better saint today than you were yesterday? Not perfection, but “striving” gains access to heaven.
Be striving in your prayers too. Do you REALLY want this? Well, than pray like it. Don’t just “add a petition” … “Storm the Gates!” Do novenas and fasts – give up stuff – and offer the least little suffering and sacrifice for the prayer intention you seek. Offer the “strain of exercise,” or the “hunger pang” of resisting too much food. When you fight off laziness, and do anything to improve yourself, offer that “effort” for your prayer intention.
Also, it is not an unrealistic “perfection” that gains access, but an altogether realistic “purity” that does. Being “pure” is as easy as making a good Confession. Confession washes you clean and fully charges in God’s good graces (a state of grace). That clean and sparkling “state of grace” self is your best self. Go to Confession!
This can be very difficult in the intensely secular times in which we live. Many have dismissed the supernatural power of God as the silly notions of our ancestors. Yet, if you read many of the accounts of miracles performed by Jesus, He will first say, “Do you believe I can do this?” Or, Jesus will remind them, “It was because of your faith that you were healed.” Why is “belief” a prerequisite to God’s supernatural intervention? Because He wants you and others to believe more deeply by knowing it was God who did this. Otherwise, we may attribute it to luck or coincidence or anything else but God, and faith remains diminished. When you ask God for something, do everything you can to “believe” He will answer.
“AND ALL THINGS, WHATSOEVER YE SHALL ASK IN PRAYER, BELIEVING, YE SHALL RECEIVE” (MATTHEW 21:22)
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