Marian Missionaries Level One (M-1) consists of all those who have read 33 Days to Morning Glory, 33 Days to Merciful Love, and 33 Days to Greater Glory and who embrace the Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy spirituality and mission through a specific commitment to daily prayer (see below and Commitment Form).
Goal: to Become a Saint
A daily prayer commitment is required of every Marian Missionary of Divine Mercy. Why? Because the goal of each Missionary, following the “universal call to holiness” of Vatican II, should be to strive to become a saint — and that requires prayer.
Thankfully, because we are living in “the time of mercy,” a time of great and extraordinary grace, the daily prayer commitment to become a saint does not have to be overly burdensome. The forthcoming book, 33 Days to Mary, Mercy, and Community: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat to Become a Marian Missionary of Divine Mercy, will explain the logic of the Missionaries’ daily prayer commitment in the context of the present time of mercy. For now, however, it’s enough to summarize what it means to become a saint — at least for a Marian Missionary. This will help us to better appreciate the Marian Missionary daily prayer commitment.
The Heart of a Saint
For a Marian Missionary, to become a saint means to reach the greatest degree of glory that we possibly can. The degrees of glory of heaven, however, are not about getting halos or wings but about our capacity to give and receive love.
Our capacity for love will be somewhat fixed at the moment of our deaths. In view of this, one might say that a person who has been selfish all his life but who embraces the gift of Divine Mercy on his death bed will be saved; however, in heaven, his heart’s capacity for love will always remain relatively small. In other words, for all eternity, you might say he’ll have a thimble-sized heart. Of course, such a person will surely be happy and filled to overflowing with God’s love, but his heart will always remain relatively small like a thimble, and he’ll only enjoy a low degree of glory in heaven.
Take another person. Let’s say there’s a husband who loves his wife and children and gives himself to them and for them. Let’s say he works hard, goes to Mass every Sunday, and strives to avoid sin. Such a person, whose heart mostly just goes out to his family and friends and who believes in God, will likely be saved; however, for all eternity, you might say he’ll just have a bucket-sized heart. In heaven, God’s love will surely fill him to overflowing, but his heart will always remain “bucket-sized” in terms of its capacity for love.
Now let’s imagine an ideal Marian Missionary of Divine Mercy. Let’s say she’s a wife and mother who deeply loves her family. However, let’s say she also loves God so much and has experienced the tenderness of His mercy so profoundly and trusts in it so completely that she burns with longing to bring that same merciful love to the whole world. In other words, let’s say her heart aches not only for those who suffer among her family and friends but also for those who suffer throughout the world, and therefore, she continually cries out to God the Father, through the Son, to have mercy on us and on the whole world. Let say she also does what she can to further put her compassion into action through her deeds and words. If such a person were to persevere to the end, she would have a Grand Canyon-sized heart, would receive a superabundance of God’s love for all eternity, and reach a very high degree of glory in heaven.
That’s what it means to be a Marian Missionary of Divine Mercy. It’s to develop a massive capacity for love by being committed to love and mercy, especially through a daily prayer commitment.
By the way, the specific focus that Marian Missionaries have on living the Little Way of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, with an emphasis on the Offering to Merciful Love, means that Marian Missionaries can hope to have a Grand Canyon-sized heart, even if in their daily lives it seems that their hearts remain chronically narrow and small. This hope comes from their expectation to die of love. And what is it to die of love? It’s to have a massive, spiritual heart-attack through a personal encounter with God’s unveiled, incredible tenderness at the very last moment of life. This death of love, as Thérèse teaches, will greatly expand the heart of Marian Missionaries according to their great desires (at least a Grand Canyon-sized heart). This is, of course, provided that they keep “trusting, trying, and recognizing.” More specifically, it’s provided that they keep trusting that God can and will give them this grace, that they keep trying to become saints (by living their Missionary commitment to love and prayer), and that they keep recognizing their weakness, brokeness, and sin.
Daily Prayer Commitment
The daily prayer commitment of a Marian Missionary, our “trying” to become saints, has as its purpose to gradually expand our hearts’ capacity for love through three spiritual exercises that correspond to the threefold spirituality of the Marian Missionaries: Mary, Mercy, and Community.
(1) MARY: Marian Consecration. A Marian Missionary’s daily commitment to prayer begins in the morning with Our Blessed Mother. Specifically, we entrust ourselves to she whose capacity to give and receive love is the greatest of any creature. Because her love is so great and because she’s our spiritual mother, she best helps to form and expand our hearts to give and receive greater and greater love. Here’s the recommended version of Marian consecration for Marian Missionaries that comes from 33 Days to Morning Glory:
I, ________________________, a repentant sinner, renew and ratify today in your hands, O Immaculate Mother, the vows of my Baptism. I renounce Satan and resolve to follow Jesus Christ even more closely than before.
Mary, I give you my heart. Please set it on fire with love for Jesus. Make it always attentive to his burning thirst for love and for souls. Keep my heart in your most pure Heart that I may love Jesus and the members of his Body with your own perfect love.
Mary, I entrust myself totally to you: my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions. Please make of me, of all that I am and have, whatever most pleases you. Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for bringing the greatest possible glory to God. If I fall, please lead me back to Jesus. Wash me in the blood and water that flow from his pierced side, and help me never to lose my trust in this fountain of love and mercy.
With you, O Immaculate Mother — you who always do the will of God — I unite myself to the perfect consecration of Jesus as he offers himself in the Spirit to the Father for the life of the world. Amen.
(2) MERCY: The 3 O’Clock Hour. The second daily prayer commitment of a Marian Missionary is to observe the 3:00 Hour, also known as the “Hour of Great Mercy.” Jesus promised St. Faustina that he would give great and extraordinary graces during this hour. For a Marian Missionary, the 3 O’Clock Hour is the time for one or two spiritual exercises that expand our hearts to give and receive more and more love. (If possible, it’s best to do these spiritual exercises before the Blessed Sacrament. If you can’t visit the Blessed Sacrament during the 3 O’Clock Hour, we might at least make a spiritual communion as a way of powerfully receiving God’s merciful love during such a time of mercy.)
First, we can strive to console Jesus. We can do this briefly, even for an instant, or for a longer period of time. If our duties allow us only a brief moment, we can simply call to mind an image of Jesus on the Cross or look at a Crucifix. With the image of Jesus in his Passion before us, we can simply tell him that we love him, thank him for his sacrifice for us, unite our own sufferings to his, or simply pray, “Jesus, I trust in you.” A longer version of that simple prayer, called the “Three O’Clock Hour Prayer,” comes to us from St. Faustina:
You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty yourself out upon us. … O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You.
Of course, if we have more time and are so inclined, we can pray the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary or make the Stations of the Cross.
Second, we can pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Uniting ourselves to the Concluding Doxology of Masses being said throughout the world, we can ask God’s mercy on suffering humanity. As we pray, we can think of all the people whom we know are lonely, sad, or suffering. We can pray for specific intentions or general ones. The goal is to be moved to compassion for the suffering of others and to ask for the Father to have mercy on them by virtue of his Son’s Passion. By faithfully doing this everyday, it’s like getting a spiritual workout. For just as lifting weights in a gym makes our muscles grow, so also, by lifting the weight of the world, the suffering of fallen humanity each day, the spiritual muscle of our hearts grows and grows.
(3) COMMUNITY: Examen and Marian Missionary Daily Prayer. The last of the daily prayers for a Marian Missionary is to recite the Marian Missionary of Divine Mercy Daily Prayer at the end of the Examination of Conscience. This end of day Examen can be as simple as reviewing the day before the Lord, looking at the blessings (and thanking the Lord for them) and acknowledging our sins (and asking the Lord’s forgiveness), but specifically as a Marian Missionary of Divine Mercy. Here’s a five-step way of making the Examen as a Marian Missionary:
B = Blessings. Spend most of your time here, praising and thanking God for the blessings of the day, realizing that praise and thanksgiving is one of the best ways to console Jesus.
A = Ask. Ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten you, so you can recognize your sins.
K = Kill. It was our sins that killed and crucified Jesus. Search for ways throughout your day that you did not live up to your commitment to love as a Marian Missionary of Divine Mercy and so pierced the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
E = Embrace. Be sorry for sin and allow Jesus to console you by embracing you with the rays of his mercy, knowing that this also consoles him.
R = Resolution. Look ahead to the next day, anticipating potential pitfalls and opportunities to love and show mercy.
Because the Examen affords us an opportunity to see where we have broken the communion of love with others and to ask forgiveness, it’s a fitting prayer of community. It’s also fitting to end the day by praying the Marian Missionary Daily Prayer, which reminds us of our identity as members of the community of Marian Missionaries and includes a prayer for all of its members. Now follows the Marian Missionary Daily Prayer:
Good and gracious Father in heaven, in this time of great mercy, please grant to us Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy the grace to understand, accept, and trust in the love and mercy pouring forth from the Heart of your Son, Jesus.
Dear Mary, our Mother, please keep us under this torrent of grace that it may make us overflow with the joy of the Gospel. Then, with haste, bring us to those who are lonely, sad, and suffering that they may share in our joy and meet the loving gaze of God.
Through this work, may we build up the Body of Christ and thus prepare the world for the coming of him who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.
Conclusion. This concludes the three daily spiritual practices of a Marian Missionary. Of course, one can adopt other spiritual practices as well. Most recommended for Marian Missionaries would be daily Mass, if possible. As Vatican II teaches, the Mass is the “source and summit” of the Christian life, and every Marian Missionary should especially look forward to attending Mass with a “full, conscious, and active participation.” For Marian Missionaries, a most important moment of that most important prayer is the Concluding Doxology. That is the moment when the priest at the altar takes the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus and offers him to the Father in the Holy Spirit with these words, “Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, Almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours forever and ever.” That is the moment when we, as a Marian Missionary community, can most powerfully cry out to the Father, through the Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, that God would have mercy on us and on the whole world, which should be a fundamental desire of every Marian Missionary, a desire and prayer that effectively expands our hearts to someday become great saints in heaven.
By the way, it goes without saying that the basic spiritual attitude of a Marian Missionary is the joy of the Gospel that comes from the daily encounter with Jesus, the Divine Mercy, where his loving tenderness meets our weakness, brokeness, and sin. This habitual attitude of receiving God’s merciful love, beautifully depicted in the Image of Divine Mercy, is perhaps the greatest way that our hearts grow in their capacity for love. After all, “We love, because he first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19).
Now, before you decide whether to make the commitment as an M-1 (see Commitment Form), there are two more levels of commitment to the Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy spirituality. They’re called “M-2” and “M-3” — and they include everything from M-1 and more.