The Don: A Weekly Publishing

Fr. Steve Ryan S.D.B.

A Son of Mary
By Fr. Steve Ryan, SDB
Don Bosco was not afraid of telling his Salesians that we were entirely consecrated to the Blessed Mother. After he had begun the Salesian Society, young men who after high school wanted to join the Salesians were put in a separate program and they were called Sons of Mary. The  title stayed around in Salesian circles until 1990.
I like the title. It reminded me and my classmates that right from the start of our Salesian formation, we were to entrust ourselves and give ourselves over to Mother Mary.
Just as Jesus is the Son of Mary, we are sons (and daughters) of the Virgin Mary. So much does God want to share his life with us that he makes his mother fully our mother. Think about it – God fully lets you and me share his relationship with his mom. His mother is fully our mother. Amazing!

We should all feel very grateful for Mary’s motherhood. Every Christian can reflect that Our Lady is their mother and that we are her children. The thing about mothers is that they are always there for their kids. Mary is there for us! Having a relationship with the Blessed Mother is a real joy. A Christian who doesn’t “go to” Mary is missing out on a lot. A priest who doesn’t have Mary in his life will lack a lot of additional grace and support. The Blessed Mother has always been a big help to me. She is the “Help of Christians” who always has our back. Sleep peacefully knowing very well that your Mother Mary really loves you as her own dear child.
I have done the 33 Days to Morning Glory prayer experience three times. It’s a self-made 33-day devotion / home retreat. Over the course of four weeks, you look at four Marian saints – St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta and St. Pope John Paul II – and their reflections on consecrating yourself to Mary. Here is a summary:
1. From St. Louis de Montfort:

  • We learn that when a soul is united to Mary, the Holy Spirit flies there and turns negative passion into positive passion for holiness.
  • Mary is the Helper that God gives us so that we can mature in holiness. We need her help to grow into full stature in Christ and not waiver, falter or give up. 
  • Thirdly, we learn that Marian Consecration is a GREAT GIFT that is waiting for us – the quickest, easiest and best way to sanctification

2. From St. Maximilian Kolbe we learn:

  • That there are two crowns – the red one and the white one. Maximilian chose both. We are so weak that we choose neither. 
  • That in order for us to change the world, it would take a militia. We are a member of Mary’s militia. We have strength in numbers. 

3. From St. Teresa of Calcutta we learn:

  • “I thirst.” We go to the cross where Jesus says, “I thirst.” What does he thirst for? Answer: He thirsts for our salvation. Mary tells us to listen to Jesus’ thirst.
  • Lend me your heart.
    • We want the love of Mary’s heart.
    • We want to love Jesus like Mary did.
  • Mary has a burning desire to save souls. Her heart longs for us to turn to her son. She wants to share her son with us. 

4. From St. Pope John Paul II we learn:

  • Mary is the mother of mediation (just think Fatima).
  • Like the apostle John at the foot of the cross, we take Mary into our home.
  • Mercy – through Mary we can receive great graces.

If you haven’t done 33 Days to Morning Glory you ought to look it up. Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception everyone!

St. Nicholas
By Fr. Steve Ryan, SDB
The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek. Now it is on the southern coast of Turkey. Nicholas’ wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while he was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a fairly young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, ESPECIALLY to children.
Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests and deacons, there was no room for real criminals (murderers, thieves and robbers). After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicea in AD 325. This council was hugely important in Church history. The Nicean Creed we say at Mass on Sundays was put forth definitively as the Christian profession of faith at that council.
Nicholas died on December 6, AD 343 in Myra. He was proclaimed a saint of the Church in a very short time. So loved was Nicholas that his canonization was called forth by the people. Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas’ life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.
One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman’s father had to offer something of value – a dowry – to prospective husbands. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. In the story, this poor man’s daughters (without dowries) were destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, three bags of gold appeared in their home providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas.