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The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, presented by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV, in a 10-Week Program with weekly one hour Presentations and assigned Daily Meditations drawn from Holy Scripture. The following are six key graces and fruits of the program.
1. Deeper prayer life leading to intimate friendship with Jesus the Lord.
2. Greater love for Holy Scripture.
3. Ability to examine one’s conscience better due to a greater understanding and appreciation of the Sacrament of Confession.
4. Greater love for Jesus truly present in the Holy Eucharist;
5. Deeper filial relationship with Mary, our Mother.
6. Discernment of Spirits. Learning to discern: who is talking to me right now – the good spirit or the bad spirit?
If you can strive to live out these five “M’s” in your life, no doubt, you are on the Highway to holiness. The five M’s: Meditation, Mass, Mercy, Mission, and Mary! In our brief exposition we will strive to offer a short explanation of each and every one of the letters that starts with M—a five letter alliteration! Easy to remember: Meditation, Mass, Mercy, Mission, and Mary! Ready, set, go!
1. MEDITATION. As followers of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, an indispensable quality or aspect of our following of the Lord is that of daily MEDITATION. In the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father, we pray: “Give us this day our daily Bread…” After fasting forty days and forty nights, the devil tempted Jesus who was hungry to change stones into bread. Jesus responded to this temptation quoting from the Old Testament: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” (Deut. 8:3) Jesus emphasized the proper priorities or hierarchy of values that we must embrace, the Bread of the Word of God. The Bread of the Word of God that nourishes the mind prevails over the physical bread that sustains the body. Physical bread terminates in the stomach to be digested; the Bread of the Word of God in the mind to be absorbed in Truth! Let us make a concerted effort and a determined determination to find time on a daily basis to meditate upon the Word of God. If possible, let us follow the invitation of Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: “To make the Hour of Power!” Daily meditation on the Word of God will communicate to your person light, peace, joy, and a keen awareness that the Lord is walking with you during the course of the day. “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.” (Psalm 23:1)
2. MASS. Underneath the firmament of heaven, while traveling as pilgrims toward our eternal homeland that is Heaven, there is no greater prayer on earth than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is the Divine rainbow that connects Heaven with earth. It is the cross of Christ that connects us to the Heavenly Father. It is the renewal of the Sacrifice of Calvary. Jesus offers His Precious Blood and His five wounds to the Eternal Father for the salvation of the entire world. In every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the entire Paschal Mystery is accomplished. That is to say, in every Holy Mass this happens, in a mystical and invisible but very real way the Sacrifice of Calvary, the Passion and death, but also the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As much as possible and according to circumstances in our life and our specific vocation, we should make an effort to attend and participate in Holy Mass, fully, actively and consciously. If we are in the state of sanctifying grace, then we should hunger for the Eucharist, the Bread of life. “As the deer yearns for the running streams, so my soul yearns for you, O Lord.” (Psalm 41:1) The fervent, frequent, faith-filled reception of Holy Communion is the greatest act that a human person can carry out this side of Heaven! Our sanctification and salvation, as well as that of the world at large, depends on Holy Mass and fervent Holy Communions! Let us tap into this infinite reservoir of grace right now!
3. MERCY. What is MERCY? It is nothing less than the Infinite Love of God forgiving the sinner. According to Saint Faustina, Saint Pope John Paul II, and the Angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Mercy is the greatest attribute or virtue in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Often a huge roadblock in our journey to holiness is a certain pride or resentment, disguised as a lack of forgiveness. Often almost unaware, we cling to resentments in which we have not fully forgiven. This serves as a true roadblock and obstacle in our itinerary to holiness. It might even be that we hold on to a resentment or grudge against God for something that He has allowed to transpire in our lives. Or perhaps some person hurt us, and we have not fully forgiven that person. Perhaps we have failed in one way or another and we are unwilling to forgive ourselves and seek forgiveness from God through the Sacrament of Confession. When we truly learn to forgive, we set the captive free; and that captive is our own miserable self!
4. MISSION. From Baptism, all are called to be true missionaries. Anointed as priest, prophet, and king, the Sacrament of Baptism empowers us with a triple mission. As priestly people we offer sacrifices for our sins and those of the whole world. As kings we learn to serve as Jesus teaches us: “The Son of man has not come to be served, but to serve and give his life in ransom for many.” (Mt. 20: 28) Then as prophet, we are all called to preach and spread the Word of God by word and by example. Furthermore, the last words of Jesus in the Gospel of Saint Matthew are: “Go out to the whole world and teach them all that I taught you. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And behold, I am with you always, even until the end of the world.” (Mt. 28: 19-20) In the quiet of prayer, beg the Holy Spirit to enlighten your mind to discern and to follow up on the specific way or ways in which you can spread the Word of God and proclaim the Kingdom. All of us are called to be passionate and fiery missionaries. If we love Jesus, then we should love what He loves most—the salvation of immortal souls. With an aching Heart, Jesus proclaimed: “I have come to cast fire on the earth, and I am not at peace until that fire is enkindled.” (Lk. 12:49) As a missionary, may you cast fire and start a conflagration!
5. MARY: THE MOTHER OF GOD, THE MOTHER OF THE CHURCH, AND OUR LOVING MOTHER. It is interesting, the order or juxtaposition of this exposition. Indeed, Mary lived out to the fullest extent possible these first four M’s: Meditation, Mass, Mercy, and Mission. Hence, she can assist us to live them out most efficaciously!
a) MEDITATION: Twice in the Gospel of Saint Luke in Chapter Two, Mary is presented as a model for meditation. After the visit of the Shepherds, the Evangelist states that Mary pondered these things in her heart. The word ponder means to meditate, to ruminate (the way a cow chews the cud), to reflect seriously upon these happenings related to Jesus. Then about twelve years later, when the Child Jesus was found in the Temple after three days of sorrowful search, once again Mary pondered these events in her Immaculate Heart. Hence, Mary serves as a contemplative model of meditation for all of us!
b) MASS. When Our Lady appeared in Mexico (Guadalupe), France (Lourdes), and Portugal (Fatima), unequivocally she asked that a Church be built. Why? So that people would go frequently to this sacred place where Jesus is offered to God the Father in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the salvation of immortal souls. Saint Pope John Paul II asserted that in every celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Mary is present as she was at the foot of the cross on Calvary when Jesus offered Himself as the sacrificial Victim for the salvation of the world. (Jn. 19: 25-27)
c) MERCY. Among the many mystical and poetic titles given to the Blessed Virgin Mary is that of Mary as MOTHER OF MERCY. In fact, one of the greatest spiritual literary masterpieces ever written on Mary exalting Mary’s sublime virtue of mercy is “The Glories of Mary” by Saint Alphonsus Liguori. This unique, classic spiritual masterpiece comments on one prayer—the Hail Holy Queen. In this beautiful prayer recited at the end of the Holy Rosary, we pray: “Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope…” Saint Alphonsus asserts that nobody should ever fear approaching Mary because Mary is PURE MERCY! She is the quickest bridge to the merciful Heart of Jesus. In our battles to conquer our pride and resentments, Our Lady is a most efficacious means and intercessor!
d) MISSION. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary motivates our hearts, filling them with the fire of the Holy Spirit to bring Christ to others and bring others to Christ—both! For that reason, one of the greatest Missionaries in the history of the Church, Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, pointed out with accurate precision: “Mary was the first Missionary of Charity.” Why? Because in the Mystery of the Visitation Mary went in haste to bring Jesus to Saint Elizabeth and Saint John the Baptist in her womb. Therefore, let us humbly implore Mary the Missionary that through her most powerful prayers she would ignite in our hearts a fiery and passionate desire to set all on fire in the world with the love for Christ!
In conclusion, friends in Jesus and Mary, let us strive to live out the spiritual alliteration of the 5 M’S: 1) MEDITATION, 2) MASS, 3) MERCY, 4) MISSION, and 5) MARY! If carried out with energy of will, intelligence, and perseverance, we will have entered on the super-highway to Heaven. Let us push the pedal to the medal and reach our eternal goal!
Copyright 2021 Oblates of the Virgin Mary
St. Peter Chanel Church, Hawaiian Gardens, CA