The Memorare Legacy is part of St. Mary of the Angels’ For All Generations Campaign, raising money for the final restoration of the church. The Memorare Legacy is an opportunity for people to entrust loved-ones to Our Blessed Mother, as “never was it known that anyone who fled to [her] protection, implored [her] help, or sought [her] intercession was left unaided” (from the Memorare prayer).
A Story of St. John Vianney
St. John Vianney, the Cure (Pastor) of Ars, was a very holy parish priest in eastern France, outside the city of Lyon. He was known as a great confessor and catechist.
God gave him a very powerful gift of reading into the state of souls. For example, when a person was a bit embarrassed to confess his big sins—just having the nerve to confess his little sins, such as arguing with a sibling or friend—St. John Vianney might happen to ask the person: “But didn’t you do X, and didn’t you do Y, and didn’t you do Z?” mentioning to the penitent all the big sins he was too embarrassed to say. “Ah… Yes, Father, I did,” the penitent would say sheepishly. Then, after asking the penitent if he were sorry for those sins, the Cure of Ars would give the sacramental absolution.
One day an elderly woman came to confession to the Cure of Ars. She had been quite distraught, because her husband had died two years earlier without receiving the last sacraments. In fact, he had lived most of their married life without going to church or confession, so the woman thought: “I’ll never see my husband again, he must be in hell.” This disturbed her greatly because she loved her husband a lot.
The widow’s neighbor noticed her depressed state and encouraged her to go to confession to this holy priest in Ars. The widow said No, telling her neighbor that she didn’t have any big sins to confess, and besides she went to confession to their parish priest quite frequently, so why should she travel across France just to go to confession? Her neighbor kept pestering the widow to go until she finally acquiesced, and the two made the long trip to Ars together.
When they got to Ars and entered the church, they found a very long line for confession—some had to wait two days (the Cure of Ars heard 15 to 18 hours of confessions daily). The two did wait—they didn’t want to waste their trip. The widow went to confession, it was a pretty normal and quick as she was a pious ole-lady who didn’t have much to confess. But then as she was leaving the confessional St. John Vianney stopped her and said: “Don’t worry about your husband.” Now she hadn’t mentioned her husband at all in the confessional. The Cure of Ars continued: “Do you remember when your husband picked the flower from your garden and placed it next to the statue of the Virgin Mary in your home?” Sure enough, she vaguely remembered that years earlier her husband, probably in a moment of weakness, picked a flower from their garden and placed it next to the statue of Mary in their home. The widow had all but forgotten. Besides, what was that compared to all the big sinful things he had done, she thought.
St. John Vianney went on to say: “Well, when your husband died and went before the Judgment Seat, and Satan accused him of all he had done, ready to grab his soul and thrust it into hell… Our Lady remembered that deed and snatched his soul from the grasp of the devil. That was all that she needed.
Now people say, “Women never forget…” well Our Lady is a woman, so let’s take advantage of that—anything we do for Our Blessed Mother she will not forget!
St. Mary of the Angels, Our Help and Protection
In replacing the parapet wall of St. Mary of the Angels, above the rose window over the church entrance, we plan
to put a large image of our Blessed Mother, overlooking the raised Kennedy expressway and Metra train lines just a block and half away. The image will be made in painted ceramic tile, 26 feet tall and 15 feet wide. The image will show Our Lady holding her mantle out in protection over the church, school, and all of Chicago. On the backside of the image—which can be seen from the “606” elevated trail—will be the Memorare prayer painted on ceramic tile formed by the names of persons and institutions entrusted to Our Lady.
As many faithful Catholics wish to entrust a loved-one to Mary: perhaps a child or God-child recently baptized, asking Mary to lead that child to its vocation and to heaven; perhaps unbaptized relatives or ones who have gone astray; perhaps a sick, elderly, or frail loved-one… anyone who needs St. Mary of the Angels, Our Help and Protection. Some have loved-ones in perilous and uncertain situations—living the “gay” lifestyle, in an unhealthy or sinful relationship, addicted to drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc., etc. We can and should be “inspired by this confidence” and go to Mary’s intercession with the assurance that our prayers will be “heard and answered.”
For gifts of $1000 or more we will inscribe the name into the Memorare prayer on the back of the parapet. Our Lady appreciates gifts of any size as well as anything we do for her and her parish; nothing will be forgotten. We will find a way to entrust everyone who makes a gift to Mary.
Fr. John R. Waiss
The Second Vatican Council reminds us that Baptism is a call to sanctity and apostolate—a call to be a disciple.
A disciple is someone who follows Jesus to the most blessings and consequences. Is someone who takes Christ as his or her model and imitates Him. Is walking in the footsteps of the Master answering the question “what would Jesus do?”
In the same way that Jesus summoned the twelve apostles and later called upon seventy two more, He is calling us today. He is asking us to preach, to evangelize and to liberate the world from unclean spirits, to be active followers, bringing the good news and contributing in the construction of this Kingdom here on earth.
In our Baptism we were chosen to be part of God’s plan. We become adopted children through Jesus Christ. Sealed with the Holy Spirit, we were invited to be human beings (to be stewards of our humanity), to be Christians (to take care of our spiritual life), and to a vocation (to the life style in which the above is exorcised).
But what does discipleship looks like? Just look around. It looks like you, and this is the essence of our community. It looks like the parents who are trying to raise their children with Christian values. It looks like the senior members of our community who pray for a better world. It looks like our youngsters who struggle to do what is right in a society that encourages them no to do so. Discipleship is not limited to the walls of the church. It extends to our community, our neighborhood and our society. It means to treat anyone, regardless of their creed, ethnic origins or socio-economical position, with charity, justice and love. Just like Jesus did.
Fr. Hilary Mahaney
In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis is constantly directing us to reflect on the Merciful Heart of Jesus and how to reflect that in our lives as Christians. Recently he told us priests:
“In the Church we have, and have always had, our sins and failings. But when it comes to serving the poor by the works of mercy, as a Church we have always followed the promptings of the Spirit. Our saints did this in quite creative and effective ways. Love for the poor has been the sign, the light that draws people to give glory to the Father. Our people value this in a priest who cares for the poor and the sick, for those whose sins he forgives and for those whom he patiently teaches and corrects… But the failure of a priest to be merciful is a glaring contradiction. It strikes at the heart of salvation, against Christ, who ‘became poor so that by his poverty we might become rich’ (cf. 2 Cor 8:9)” (Retreat for Priests, June 2, 2016, 3rd Meditation).
Reading this reminded me of St. Josemaría, the Founder of Opus Dei. Works of mercy permeated his priesthood and prepared him for his mission. He loved serving the poor and would acknowledge: “Opus Dei was born in the hospitals and poor districts of Madrid.”
Sensing that God was calling him to something more—though he did not know what—St. Josemaría began his seminary studies at the age of 16; becoming a priest seemed to be the way God was preparing him for his mission. As an extern to the seminary of Logroño, he taught Catechism in the city, even though this was not required of externs.
Then as a young priest in Madrid, St. Josemaría spent many hours at the Foundation for the Sick, caring for the sick and dying, working in their soup kitchen, or helping out with their catechetical programs scattered in the poorest slums of the city. He heard lots of Confessions, especially of the poor children or the dying, even if they were hardened atheists who resisted coming back to the Sacraments.
St. Josemaría did not see this work as a burden but as an encounter with Jesus Christ. He wrote in his personal journal: “It was at the Foundation for the Sick that the Lord wanted me to find my priestly heart” and “My Jesus does not want me to leave him. He reminded me that he is nailed to a hospital bed.” Saints see such works of mercy as essential to being a priest and a Christian. Pope Francis highlights: “Father Brochero, soon to be canonized, put it this way: ‘The priest who has scarce pity for sinners is only half a priest. These vestments I wear are not what make me a priest; if I don’t have charity in my heart, I am not even a Christian’” (Retreat for Priests, June 2, 2016, 3rd Meditation).
Shortly after receiving the light from God to found Opus Dei, St. Josemaría had to leave that particular work of charity. Yet his priestly heart still felt the need to love Jesus Christ even more, by doing more works of mercy, so he began to volunteer at the poorest hospitals around Madrid. He would empty and clean patients’ bedpans, bathe them, cut their fingernails, and help with other details of hygiene just to make the patients feel a bit more comfortable. Then he would ask them to pray for this new enterprise God was asking him to found. As he described: “I begged them to offer up their sufferings, their hours in bed, their loneliness (some of them were very lonely): to offer all that to the Lord for the apostolate we were doing with young people.”
St. Josemaría would also get those young people with whom he was beginning to work to accompany him to those hospitals. God used that to cultivate the virtue of generosity in their hearts and many of them received a vocation to God’s Work: Opus Dei.
May we follow the advice of the Pope and the example of the saints by serving those in need with generosity.
Fr. John R. Waiss