Next week, for three days in a row we will celebrate three Dominican saints, all of whom have a close link to Our Lady. On Wednesday, we celebrate St. Louis de Montfort. While a diocesan priest, he was also a member of the Dominican Third Order and his spirituality was greatly influenced by his Dominican association. He is most famous for writing two of the greatest works about Our Lady in the entire history of our Catholic faith: True Devotion to Mary and The Secret of the Rosary. They are works that I personally believe every Catholic should read at some point in his or her life. No less an authority than St. John Paul II related that reading True Devotion to Mary, and then undergoing the Marian consecration outlined therein, marked the “decisive turning point in my entire spiritual life.” Wow. I don’t know that any work could receive a better endorsement than that!
Then on Thursday we celebrate the feast of St. Catherine of Siena… one of the saints whose image now graces the upper nave walls of St. Mary Church. As a consecrated Dominican tertiary, her own life was modeled after the Blessed Virgin and she wrote of her with a tenderness and beauty rivaled by few other saints.
And finally, on Friday, we celebrate the great Dominican Pope St. Pius V. It was he who asked all of Christendom to pray the rosary as the Christian forces made their desperate attempt to turn the tide of Islam from overrunning the entire Mediterranean at the Battle of Lepanto. Then, after the stunning victory was won, he instituted on our liturgical calendar the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
As we prepare to head into May, which is known as the “month of Mary,” these three great Dominican saints can help lead us into a deeper love and devotion for Our Blessed Mother.
I’d like to end this reflection with a beautiful quote from one of the letters of St. Catherine of Siena, which is especially relevant during this Easter season:
“The Word was engrafted in her flesh, this blessed and sweet field of Mary, as the seed that is cast on the earth. Through the warmth of the sun, it germinates and draws out the flower and the fruit and the shell remains on the earth. So, truly, [it was] through the warmth and the fire of divine charity which God had for the human race, casting the seed of His Word in the field of Mary. O blessed and sweet Mary, you have given us the flower of the sweet Jesus! And when did this blessed flower produce the fruit? When He was grafted on the wood of the most holy cross. Then we received perfect life.”
May Our Lady, St. Catherine, and all the saints help us to fully receive the gift of “perfect life” from He who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Fr. John Paul