Chosen and Beloved by God: Weekly Message for 8-9-16

Dear Fellow Digital Pilgrim, pax Christi:

Whenever I think of Mary’s Assumption (The Feast Day of the Assumption of Mary coming up soon on August 15th), I think about the mutual fidelity between God and Mary.  God invited her to participate in the history of salvation in a unique way.  She said yes, and lived her mission to the full, holding nothing back.  And in the end, she was assumed into heaven to enjoy even now the fullness of eternal life – body and soul – that we are all hoping to experience at the end of history.  The thought inspires me to want to be faithful the mission God has given me.  It also inspired our Retreat Guide on the Assumption: God Is Faithful.  Check it out if you haven’t had the chance yet:

That same thought came to me during a privileged day earlier in the summer.  On June 2nd I had the grace of participating in a Jubilee Retreat for Priests, in Rome, which was preached by the Holy Father himself.  He gave three meditations to thousands of priests gathered in three of the great Roman basilicas: St John Lateran, St Mary Major, and St Paul Outside the Walls.  The Holy Father traveled to each basilica, so that the priests each and the chance to receive one live meditation.  The other two we watched on large-screen simulcast.  

Myself and a few of my Legionary brethren signed up to participate.  And we were given tickets to St Mary Major, the smallest of those three basilicas.  I spent the day there, praying, singing, adoring Christ in the Eucharist, praying for you and everyone connected to my priesthood, and enjoying the ancient beauty of the oldest Marian church in western Christendom.  

Of the three basilicas used for the retreat, only St. Mary Major still has its original structure and decorative mosaics.  St. John Lateran was leveled more than once by earthquakes throughout its 1800-year history, and has had to be rebuilt various times.  St. Paul Outside the Walls was burned down to its foundations a couple hundred years ago, and it too had to be rebuilt – a massive undertaking.  But St. Mary Major has weathered the storms of history unscathed, still supported by its original pillars, and still bewitching with its original early-Christian mosaics.  

I can’t help wondering if that’s more than just a coincidence.  Jesus has a special relationship with his Mother.  Just as she was preserved from original sin, perhaps Providence has preserved that Basilica from the ravages of time.  Maybe I am just being romantic, but the thought warmed my heart as I prayed there during my retreat.

The same grace that made Mary holy is at work in your life, and in mine.  We are not immaculate, as she was, but we are chosen and beloved by God, and we each have a mission to fulfill in this life.  We are part of the same story that she became part of through her “yes” to the Archangel Gabriel, the same story that includes the building and rebuilding of the great basilicas.  I hope that thought comforts you.  It certainly comforts me.  More than that, it inspires me.

On our upcoming Going Deeper pilgrimage to Rome (, we will visit all three of those basilicas, sharing – I hope – in that inspiration.  And we will pray there for each one of our digital pilgrims and digital missionaries.  Though most of you will not be able to travel with us in body, we will bring you with us in spirit. 

Yours always in Him, Fr John Bartunek, LC, SThD

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