Every morning and evening I pray the Memorare and every night, at Compline, we sing the Salve Regina. Recently, these tried and true prayers took on new meaning.
One night, Our Holy Father Saint Dominic had a dream in which he went up to heaven. Upon arriving in heaven, he was crestfallen to see nary one of his brethren among the saints. At that moment, the Blessed Virgin Mary pulled back her mantle and revealed to Dominic his brethren whom she kept under her patronage in heaven as she does on earth.
The morning after my solemn vows, I prayed, as I've prayed countless times before, the Memorare, yet I was rendered breathless when I prayed:
Ego tali animatus confidentia, ad te, Virgo Virginum, Mater, curro, ad te venio, coram te gemens peccator assisto.. (Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.)
Through my now life-long consecration to Jesus Christ and His Church, as a Friar Preacher, I understood the life-long patronage and protection Our Heavenly Mother gives to all Christians in a new and more profound way. In professing solemn vows, I had accomplished (fully through my docile reception of God's grace, of course) something amazing and had been rewarded with blessings and graces beyond my wildest imaginations. If you are anything like me, the temptation is to rest on your laurels and to only marvel at how good God has been. Yet, God gives us His grace and Mary gives us her protection so that we might bring it out into the world.
The mantle the Blessed Virgin wraps us in is not meant to hide us but to strengthen us against the rebuffs of the world. The special graces God gives to each of us are given to us to galvanize us for battle against the devil and all adversaries of the good, the true, and the beautiful.
We are called, not to spiritual complacency, but spiritual combat. St. Paul tells Timothy, "None shall be crowned who has not fought well." (cf. 2 Timothy 2:5) Therefore, our vocation as Christians is not solely to cling to God's graces and Mary's protection because they are good, but let us remember the maxim of St. Thomas Aquinas, Bonum diffusivum sui -- the good is diffusive of itself. In other words, if what we have is really good, it will multiply and must be shared.
The more good we have, the more good we can know and experience. Consequently, when we regularly attend Mass and go to Confession, our experience of God's love in the Eucharist and His mercy in Reconciliation is greater with each subsequent celebration of the sacrament. God is the ultimate multiplier effect.
It follows then that all of our accomplishments are for naught unless they lead us to something more, a greater good. Eventually, a life of holiness leads us to our greatest good: the fullness of the vision of God in heaven.
In many ways, the baseball season follows a similar trajectory. Making the playoffs in baseball is an exceptionally hard and, therefore, glorious accomplishment. However, making the playoffs (much like making it to solemn vows) requires a great deal of hard work, overcoming adversity, and perseverance. Furthermore, it should impel the players and fans to desire more, to drive on to the ultimate success.
Unlike baseball, the spiritual life ends with many winners, but, as this is a baseball blog, I am obligated to provide my predictions of the 2014 playoffs.
Without further ado, here are Br. Wesley's and my picks:
Br. Patrick Br. Wesley
ALDS -- BAL over DET, LAA over KCR ALDS -- DET over BAL, KCR over LAA
ALCS -- BAL over LAA ALCS -- DET over KCR,
NLDS -- WAS over SFG, STL over LAD NLDS -- WAS over SFG, LAD over STL
NLCS -- WAS over STL NLCS -- LAD over WAS
World Series -- BAL over WAS World Series -- LAD over DET in 6