On Whether Ouija Boards, Tarot Cards, and the Weather Channel Are Evil

The film Geostorm debuted in movie theaters across the world in mid-October 2017. Earlier in the month, a trailer for this movie was on and it piqued my interest. That is rare because I normally find weather-related films to be boring! This movie was different.

Relying on a unique story-line, Geostorm  featured a future with the possibility of a global network of satellites used to control climate to benefit humanity. The  technology gets hijacked  and apocalyptic storms ensue as a result.

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Along with my interest in the possibility of humanity controlling weather, October is a month culturally dedicated on Halloween. Originating from the Catholic tradition of celebrating the Vigil of All Saints Day, the word Halloween originally referred to All Hallows [holy] Eve. It is a celebration of the officially canonized holy men and women  by the Catholic Church who had such a profound and transformative relationship with God that they are believed to be united to Him in Heaven.

Holiness or ghastliness?

Unfortunately, sometimes Halloween gets associated with witches, ghosts, goblins, magic, fortune telling, and other sorts of divination. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church,

All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to “unveil” the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone (CCC 2116).

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What exactly does ‘falsely supposed to unveil the future’ mean? A few years ago, a co-worker and I were talking about the weather [go figure]. I do not quite remember how partly cloud with a chance of rain led to the practices of the occult, but my co-worker exclaimed, “You’re Catholic, right?  Don’t Catholics avoid tarot reading, and horoscopes?”

After I confirmed this provided the official Church teaching, he quipped, “Well, what about weather forecasting?”

His question caught me off guard. I did not have a good answer for him. After much reflection on this topic, I will share a few reasons why seeking knowledge from the occult is evil, whereas watching the weather channel to plan your weekend is not bad at all.

Old Testament precedent

The evils of summoning knowledge through the occult is found in the Old Testament. 1 Samuel 28 tells of King Saul’s going to the Witch of Endor to seek knowledge as “He [previously] consulted the LORD; but the LORD gave no answer, whether in dreams or by the Urim or through the prophets” (v.6).

Although this chapter sounds like it came from Middle-Earth [Endor reminds of a Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Universe!!], the first king of Israel went down a path seeking information via the wrong way.  Listen to this brief exchange between Saul and the conjured spirit of the prophet Samuel:

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Samuel then said to Saul, “Why do you disturb me by conjuring me up?” Saul replied: “I am in great distress, for the Philistines are waging war against me and God has turned away from me. Since God no longer answers me through prophets or in dreams, I have called upon you to tell me what I should do.”

e6To this Samuel said: “But why do you ask me, if the LORD has abandoned you for your neighbor?f17The LORD has done to you what he declared through me: he has torn the kingdom from your hand and has given it to your neighbor David.18“Because you disobeyed the LORD’s directive and would not carry out his fierce anger against Amalek, the LORD has done this to you today.g19Moreover, the LORD will deliver Israel, and you as well, into the hands of the Philistines. By tomorrow you and your sons will be with me, and the LORD will have delivered the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines. (1 Samuel 28:15-19).

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Individual gain

Saul’s consultation of Samuel the prophet was not inherently evil. In fact, God encouraged Jewish leaders to listen to His messengers. The problem lay in the fact that Saul sought out Samuel through an improper channel and for ulterior motives. He desired power to defeat his enemies.

If I ever encountered that person from the break room, I would let them know that weather forecasting is definitely not evil. Meteorologists predict the weather for the benefit of society not the individual!

Divination—tarot reading, ouija boards, etc—  occurs when individuals seek specific knowledge to benefit themselves in a selfish manner. What is more, the word occult comes from the Latin occultus which means  “knowledge of the hidden or secret”. Such knowledge is in direct opposition to the knowledge of God taught by the Catholic [Universal] Church!

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Predicting the future

A third and final point regarding the deep gulf between weather forecasting and practice of the occult is found in the nature of how one predicts through those means. Meteorology is established and justified via the scientific process. It is verifiable through series of tests and past data. All forms of divination rely on the paranormal. Man becomes a passive receipt of “secret knowledge” as opposed to learning about knowledge the proper way by faith and reason.

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St. John Paul II in his encyclical letter Fides Et Ratio tells us, “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth…Philosophy and the sciences function within the order of natural reason; while faith, enlightened and guided by the Spirit, recognizes in the message of salvation the “fullness of grace and truth” (cf. Jn 1:14) which God has willed to reveal in history and definitively through his Son, Jesus Christ.” 

Relax you can talk about the weather again

Truth is to be for the benefit of all humanity. Because God is our Creator and I am a creature, I am not meant to acquire control of the future of my life—especially through methods of the occult. This would be selfish of me and quite prideful. “Well, what about weather forecasting? Is that wrong too?” I definitively say no.

Weather forecasting benefits the whole of mankind. May we ask for the graces and courage to resist the temptation to control our future! 

 

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An Exercise to Develop Better EQ—Empathy Broadens Our Perspective

By Keith Little

Replace “God” and the pronouns in these sentences for subjects (health, physics, grace, certain definitions, psychology, communication, cultures, character, language, etc.) and different people as you are led to think these questions over based on situational things you are facing. Whether or not you are a Christian this is a good exercise to understand where we all sit in regards to truth, love, empathy, grace, and maturity.

Objective vs. Subjective Truth

  • Is God subjective, or based on what I currently know?
  • Does God change based on what I think of Him?
  • Does God change based on how I feel or perceive Him as good or bad?
  • Does God change even if I choose to ignore Him or what he says?
  • Does God change even if I believe He does not exist?
  • Is it me who is under God, or God who is under me?
  • Does God bless me through things of the earth, or beyond this life through by what I do with what I know?
  • Can I truly know if someone else is following God correctly, and is it necessary to?

Different Paths (Vocations) Towards Holiness

  • Is my path different with God based on what is in front of me?
  • Will someone else have the same experience with God based on them being on a different path with Him, or being uniquely gifted and facing unique challenges?
  • Is it good for me to force how I see someone’s path with God is, and what good can come from it?
  • If I wanted someone to talk to me about God, when they may believe they may believe God is evil and people who believe in Him are evil, how would I want to be approached?
  • Has it ever been received well by me or anyone I know, when someone seeks to leverage that I agree with how they see God or else?

Be Open to Seeking Truth Daily

  • Can it be at times, that even the experts on God, will make mistakes or still need to learn more?
  • Does calling someone who seeks to do their best before God a hypocrite because they are also struggling, really helpful? Have I never struggled with God, even as I may learn something new about Him I did not before?
  • If there were situational reasons that I was not able to obey God as I would have liked to, (such as go to church for a time because you had unique pressures that needed you attention), is it right to be upset at myself or for others to of me for perhaps not being able to do so?
  • If people don’t know of God and how knowing Him is so great for us, does getting upset that others don’t know Him or don’t desire to learn about Him help them or us in any way? Is loving people despite where they are at with God, more effective when people are wanting to talk to someone about Him?
  • Do people need to agree with how I see God before I will love them?
  • Am I only willing to forgive people who are willing to change as I believe they should before God as I see Him?
  • Isn’t it wise for me to put a boundary up for myself, when someone or something is hindering my relationship with God?

Divine Truth is Revealed Gradually

  • If the person I go to to learn about God in my life, is working through something with God in their own, does that mean that they could not be a creditable source of information? Am I a creditable source of information on my own expertise, even though I may never know everything about it?
  • Is God something that we should expect people to know all about right away, or do we all need time to learn more as we go through life?
  • If I only care about my neighbor when I see them following God as I believe they should, how can I expect them to care for me when I may not follow God as they believe I should?
  • Is God what is most important in my life?
  • If I died tomorrow, would what I see as God be the most important thing to leave those who I have shared God with, and is there surety that God will be eternal?

Remove the Log from Your Eye First

  • Will people speak poorly about God because I chose to say that you should not care about people who do not see God the same way I do?
  • If someone is mad about a situation and blame God, is it that they are truly mad at me if I get in the cross-hairs of having that past situation placed upon me with them now?
  • If someone is angry or upset about how they see God, is it more effective to speak directly to them about the situation, love them through it, ask questions to help them figure it out on their own, or justify ignoring them?
  • If someone is angry about how they blame God for x,y,z, in their life, does seeking a way to justify to yourself and others in ignoring those people truly helpful? Would I desire similar treatment given the reversed roles? Is it not better to simply accept that I may not reach them or be gifted to do so?

Be Consistent in Our Actions and Faith

  • Do I treat my relationship with God as I believe others should given the situation?
  • Do I believe that if I ignore God, that God will not eventually come back to haunt me?
  • Has there ever been a time in my life where I did not know God as well, or need grace?
  • Is it more effective to be as God would have us and love each other, or cast judgment on how others are not being effective for God?
  • If others are not doing well with God now, does casting judgment on them help them focus on the problem or the solution?
  • If given the choice, would I seek to have a good relationship with God and see Him as beneficial to mankind? Are those who have a relationship with God now perfect people, or are they more optimal?
  • Is it possible to be a perfect person according to God or me? Do I hold myself to that same standard? Is it reasonable to hold anyone to it or do we all need grace?
  • Is it ever possible that I can be wrong in how I see God now?

Our View is Limited

A man can display perfect love and maturity and will never have perfect wisdom or insight. We can never see beyond our own two eyes and know what we cannot.

Always be mindful of who you believe God is, and how you might justify expecting perfection from people you disagree with or don’t like, and asking for grace for yourself and those you do like or know better. None of us are perfect people in this world, and never could be.

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The Simple Catholic Named One of Top Catholic Blogs in 2019

I was pleasantly surprised and very humbled to receive the news that my blog The Simple Catholic was recognized by Feedspot.com as one of the top 120 Catholic blogs for 2019 (#102).

Thank you for support

Thank you to all the people who helped me with encouragement, writing guest posts, and engaging with my content on this platform. You my readers are the reason I write. I humbly use this platform as a means to inform and entertain you about the Catholic faith and my journey as a parent with special needs children.

Special shout to my wife Jennifer she was instrumental to my success: she proofread my articles, gave me time to write, and listened to me brainstorm my ideas 💡

It is also her birthday and I had a unique and cool surprise for her—stayed tuned later as I will reveal that later today. 😊

Thank you to William Hemsworth M.Div, Orlando U Javien Jr., Andrew Garofaloand Megan Naumovski for your guest posts and to Keith A. Little for your future content on my site. Please visit the Guest Posts page to read these stellar works by these gifted writers.

Thank you to Pete Socks for reaching out to me with help in promoting visibility of my writing services.

I am a blessed man. I am nothing without your help and ultimately the grace of the Holy Trinity.

Here is a link to the top Catholic blogs if you are curious about the list. There are excellent blogs to follow so please check those out. 👍

https://blog.feedspot.com/catholic_blogs/

#catholic #catholiccontent #chicoinecontent #gratitudeisouroxygen #gratitude #success #catholicblogs #catholicwriting #writing

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Holy Heroes: Helpful Resources for Parents to Teach the Faith

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2207,

The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society. The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society.

Parents pledge during the Baptismal rite to educate their children in the faith and be a model for holiness. Increasing challenges for the modern family such as technology, work/home balance, and a pagan culture make it difficult for moms and dads to pass on the faith. Taking children to Sunday Mass is not easy. Children can lack interest or even give your resistance.

It is absolutely necessary to have a network of resources to help you in teaching the faith. I have been blessed with the opportunity to gain a degree in theology. But I still need help in conveying doctrine to my young kids in a clear and understandable manner.

Bookmark this Website

This year I discovered Holy Heroes: a website dedicated to the helping families pass on the Catholic faith to the next generation. Check out this link:  https://www.holyheroes.com/?Click=47699 for educational and fun coloring page and quiz to prepare and reinforce the Mass readings for every Sunday. My daughter loves coloring and my oldest son is a fact-machine so these FREE downloadable resources are a godsend.

Visit Holy Heroes this week for those Mass prep resources. This would be a great family activity or something you could do with your kids on an individual basis as well. Check out their selection of quality books and Marian consecration resources . I will write more about this topic next week so please stay tuned!

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3 Things about the Holy Trinity I Learned from Elementary Students

Holy Trinity Icon

The Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote, “The soul is healed by being with children.” This Sunday, I experienced the truth contained in that quote. It was the first class for Religious Education at my parish.  Going into my third year of volunteering as a catechist, I was comfortable with the subject matter, but I was a bit nervous about teaching third and fourth graders for the first time ever. Previously, I taught high school and middle school students. 

The starting lesson was on the Holy Trinity. While that teaching is the most essential belief of Christianity it is also the most misunderstood and easy to fall into heresy. How could I explain this doctrine to younger students without getting too theological or technical?

In hindsight, I always am reminded that it was actually pointless to worry. Everything turned out fine. St. Paul wrote, “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God” (Philippians 4:6-7).  I have since bookmarked this passage. Although I failed to petition God for aid before the lesson I am expressing my gratitude in Him using my students as instruments to remind me of wondrous truths contained in the Mystery of the Holy Trinity.

God Welcomes Us

Entering the prayer room the students and I sat before the icon of the Holy Trinity (above). This famous religious artwork was painted by Russian artist Andrei Rublev in the 15th century.  Another catechist acted as a prayer facilitator. She asked us to gaze at the iconic (no pun intended) image and asked about things that stood out.

One of the students raised her hand stated, “It looks like there is an empty seat at the table.” When asked who is the seat for the fourth grader replied, “Us! God is welcoming us to the table.”

Her simple statement goes to the heart of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.  According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 237, The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the “mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God”. Only by inviting us into the life of God will be able to know God.

You Don’t Have to be Old to be Wise

Another thing the children taught me is that wisdom does not come from old age, but rather it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. St. Lucy described it best, “Those whose hearts are pure are temples of the Holy Spirit.” Children’s hearts and intentions are free from prior motivation. The excitement and wonder of a child is something to be celebrated not stymied or stamped out. I have been struggling a lot with seeing the purity in my own children. Instead, I selfishly mistake the energy as causes for messes, extra noise, and an inconvenience at bedtime!

Watching the elementary students talk about the icon of the Holy Trinity with wonder and curiosity made me realize my pride and impatience at my own children. Our three year old with autism spectrum disorder had a week of regressions. Mass was basically a zoo with uncaged animals. He had several meltdowns and slipped the holy water at the entrance.

I should have been angry. Frustrated. Defeated. But somehow I did not let that accident before me. Later during the Mass our son finally calmed down. Walking over to the holy water fount after communion he dipped his hand in the water (thankfully he did not spill it again!!). “Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Amen!” he said with a grin on his face.

The Holy Trinity is the most central mystery of Christianity. How could I be mad at my kid when he expressed that important doctrine with such joy. Wisdom is given by the Holy Spirit. More often than not those less “educated” or “less worthy” will teach the prideful. It definitely happened to me with my students and son.

Equality Matters

A third aspect of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity my students taught (or reminded) me was a different way to look at the Holy Trinity icon. One of the other things the students noticed about the painting is that all three persons of the Trinity had a halo. The catechist asked, “Why do you think they all have halos?” Quickly, one student quipped, “Because it would not be fair. They would not be equal if only one or two had a halo.” Another simple and profound observation. But it cuts to an important part of the teaching of the Holy Trinity— equality matters.

Sign of the Cross Meme

Christians profess belief in One God in Three Divine Persons not three separate gods. The Catechism teaches, “The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the “consubstantial Trinity”.83 The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire” (CCC 253).

This image below is a common diagram used to explain (as best as humanly possible)

Holy Trinity Diagram

 

All analogies will fall short. This mystery of the Holy Trinity was revealed by God through Sacred Scripture and confirmed at the Council of Nicaea through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I urge you to spend time in prayer before the icon of the Holy Trinity.

Reflect on the Mystery of the Holy Trinity this Week

Ask your local parish if you go get access to view a copy of this image. If possible you could purchase this icon as part (or the start) of your home prayer chapel or icon wall. Or simply print off the image from the Internet if you are pinched or time and cannot get access to an actual painting of the icon. Bring your Bible and spend time in Eucharistic Adoration pondering this wondrous Mystery of the Holy Trinity. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom, understanding, patience, joy, gratitude, humility, and amazement. I am grateful for the gift of my students and my children who reminded me of the greatest gift—  the Holy Trinity!

Related Resources/Links

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p2.htm

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/12-things-to-know-and-share-about-the-holy-trinity

https://thesimplecatholic.blog/2019/06/10/toddlers-an-adorable-trace-of-the-trinity/

https://thesimplecatholic.blog/2019/05/02/3-reasons-why-st-athanasius-is-my-favorite-saint/

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5 Reasons Why Mary, Not St. Michael, is the True General of God!

Mary crushing serpents head

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

This prayer is a staple in every Catholic’s spiritual arsenal. I used to believe that St. Michael was the greatest rival to Satan. Over the course of the past few years, my thoughts on spiritual warfare have developed. While I cannot pinpoint a precise date and time on when my thoughts changed, two distinct books influenced my thinking: Fulton Sheen’s The Word’s First Love: Mary, the Mother of God and St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary. Along with a closer reading and re-reading of Sacred Scripture, I have determined that Mary, not St. Michael the Archangel is the true general of God’s army and greatest rival to the Devil!

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Insight from Fulton Sheen

According to Catholic Church tradition, the followers of Christ on Earth are known as members of the church militant. When Jesus ascended to Heaven in Acts 1, He promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide us. He also gave Mary as mother to all of humanity (see John 19:27). Fulton Sheen put it this way, “God gave hope to our disturbed and weak humanity. Oh, yes! He is our Model, but He is also the Person of God! There ought to be, on some human level, Someone who would give humans hope, Someone who could lead us to Christ, Someone who would mediate between us and Christ as He mediates between us and the Father” (The Word’s First Love: Mary, the Mother of God p. 9).

We are called to be soldiers for God in the spiritual battle against the Devil. May we look to Mary as our general to lead and intercede for us on behalf of Jesus- King of Kings!

Insight from St. Louis de Montfort

Arguably the most influential saint of modern times regarding devotion to Mary, St. Louis de Montfort impacted me greatly during the past few years. In reading his True Devotion to Mary, my wife and I participated in our first consecration to Jesus through Mary this spring! My devotion to Mary and understanding of Mariology increased due to the intercession of the 17th century saint. While his entire treatise on Marian devotion is excellent, I will highlight my favorite passage that I bookmarked and underlined in my copy of True Devotion to Mary. De Montfort says,

Satan fears her not only more than angels and men but in a certain sense more than God himself. This does not mean that the anger, hatred and power of God are not infinitely greater than the Blessed Virgin’s, since her attributes are limited. It simply means that Satan, being so proud, suffers infinitely more in being vanquished and punished by a lowly and humble servant of God, for her humility humiliates him more than the power of God (p.52).

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When I first read this passage I immediately re-read it. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. Did St. Louis really claim Satan fears Mary more than God?  The more I reflected on his intrepid claim, the more I saw his logic. The pride of Satan is so debilitating that he must sink to the level of creature-hood. As a part of creation, the devil’s true adversary would need to be a creature, not the Creator—Mary fits that bill better than St. Michael based off my reading of St. de Montfort.

Insight from Genesis

Along with evidence from the Tradition of the Catholic Church, the Bible references Mary’s adversarial role against Satan. A commonly cited Old Testament text on Mariology is Genesis 3:15. Referred to as the proto-evangelium, or pre-Gospel, this text foreshadows Mary’s role in salvation history of being the Mother of God. God’ promise goes as follows, “I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel” (Genesis 3:15). Throughout history, Christian art depicted Mary standing triumphant, crushing Satan’s [represented by a snake] skull.  Such imagery reminds me of the Blessed Virgin’s role as a spiritual protector and warrior against evil!

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Insight from Judith

Marian figures depicted as a warrior continues in the Old Testament with the Book of Judith. Catholic Church tradition connects the title hero of the Book of Judith as an Old Testament prefiguration of Mary. The official public prayer of the Catholic Church—the Liturgy of the Hours— cites Judith 13:17-18 and 13:18-19 on the mid-morning reading on the Feast of the Assumption and the noon reading on the Feast of Mary’s Birthday respectively.

The praise by King Uzziah on Judith mirrors the angel Gabriel’s announcement of Mary as “Blessed among all woman”. The Old Testament monarch declared to Judith, “Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God, above all the women on earth; and blessed be the Lord God, the creator of heaven and earth, who guided your blow at the head of the leader of our enemies (Judith 13:18). Judith helped free the Israelite people from evil. In similar fashion, Mary is depicted as leading the charge against Satanic forces in the world.

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Insight from Judges

Another Old Testament figure traditionally interpreted as a type, or foreshadowing of Mary is the judge from the Book of Judges. Judges 5 contains the Song of Deborah which is a hymn proclaiming the wisdom and strength Deborah demonstrated in leading victory over the Israelite’s oppressors. As a good general, Deborah delegated authority to her special forces agent- Jael. It was Jael who snuck into the enemy camp and killed Sisera the evil Canaanite general. According to Franciscan University professor Mark Miraville,

“The crushing of the head of Sisera by Jael and the victory over the Canaanites by Deborah and Barak brings peace for a generation after them. This is also a foreshadowing of the peace Christ and Mary will bring, “through the blood of His Cross,” for all generations!”

Both Scripture and Tradition attest to the prefiguration and eventual role of Mary as general of the Church militant. Seeing Mary as the spiritual commander obedient to the  King of all Kings has helped me better understand the honor we bestow on the Blessed Mother. Mary is not greater than the Holy Spirit, rather she is the servant of servants. Let us reflect on the words from the Majestic Queen of Heaven Prayer and ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom to properly treat Mary with respect and dignity:

Majestic Queen of Heaven and Mistress of the Angels, thou didst receive from God the power and commission to crush the head of Satan; wherefore we humbly beseech thee, send forth the legions of heaven, that, under thy command, they may seek out all evil spirits, engage them everywhere in battle, curb their insolence, and hurl them back into the pit of hell. “Who is like unto God?”
O
good and tender Mother, thou shalt ever be our hope and the object of our love.
O Mother of God, send forth the holy
Angels to defend me and drive far from me the cruel foe.
Holy
Angels and Archangels, defend us and keep us.

Mary meme

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