"Where there is unprecedented evil, God wants to give unprecedented grace." In the introduction to "33 Days to Morning Glory," Father Michael Gaitley, MIC, uses these words to invite retreatants into deeper friendship with the Blessed Mother and more intimate union with Christ. At the invitation of apostolic administrator Bishop Edward Sharfenberger, all the faithful of the diocese were invited to take spiritual renewal to heart by praying the reflections in "33 Days to Morning Glory." The culmination of the retreat was the consecration of the Diocese of Buffalo to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during the first weekend in February in every parish throughout the diocese.
Many Catholics have said that the journey of consecration to Mary has been a difficult spiritual exercise. If you had difficulty with this exercise, know that you were not alone. Throughout the process, discussion and sharing have added new dimensions to the life of the Church. Perhaps the spiritual calisthenics of January have confused you or made you wonder.
Regardless of where you are on the spectrum, we have all had an opportunity to stretch both mind and heart and to engage with the teachings of some great saints. During the past several weeks, those who took part in the retreat followed in the footsteps of St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Teresa of Calcutta and St. John Paul II. Through dedicated prayer time each day, participants followed in the footsteps of the saints and were given the opportunity to open their hearts to the promptings and work of the Holy Spirit at this unique moment in the life of the church and our diocese.
As the door to the month of February opens, the spiritual renewal of our Church has been launched through the Marian consecration of thousands of people in local parishes. Through our consecration, we have been invited into deeper friendship with Our Blessed Mother. As daughter of the Father, mother of Jesus and spouse of the Holy Spirit, the life of God is completely accessible to her. Though human, she is not limited by the constraints and wounds of sin. Through her we have greater access to the life of God because she nurtured the human life of Jesus, and by human birth gave the Son of God to the world.
The presence of Mary and her role in our faith life has the possibility of modifying our perspectives and setting us on a trajectory of deeper spiritual life. In the reflections of this past month, the saints have demonstrated that the spiritual friendship of Mary draws the faithful to Eucharistic Spirituality and the heart of Jesus himself. In a profound and mysterious way, Mary invites us to a deeper experience of Christ.
Through the diocesan-wide retreat, our temporary shepherd has sounded the call to holiness. Regardless of how we experienced the last month of spiritual life, greater prayer, deeper experience of the Eucharist, and an understanding of Mary's spiritual motherhood are keys to the future vitality of the church. As she nurtured the human life of Christ, may all of us continue to nurture his mystical body as we prayerfully support one another and share our gifts of grace.