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Sending Books to the Future

July 7, AD2017

mary, jesus, cross, marian, altarTwenty-five years ago, I started unknowingly sending to my parents, from one thousand miles away, the actual books I would use for my future spiritual renewal.

The New Evangelization

At that earlier time, my intention was simply to share with Mom and Dad the beauty and majesty of the New Evangelization fermenting within the Catholic Church. The Church had come a long way since the extensive pre-Vatican II era, the period in which my devout parents had been raised.

I was fascinated, then and now, with the person and philosophy of St. Pope John Paul II, and others, like St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. Maximillian Kolbe, and St. Louis de Montfort. I had great hope for the future of the Church because of these Christ-like men and women whose saintly witness took root in a post-modern era when many were predicting the Church’s demise. I believed these writings would enrich the already-strong faith of my parents, which had been the bedrock for my later ordination to the married permanent diaconate.

As if to test God’s infinite reach and desire for me, I subsequently moved further five-thousand miles away from my parents’ home to the remote and distant Big Island of Hawaii. We had lost an adult child in Kansas City and our remaining children wanted to be as far away from Kansas City as possible.

Fact: There is no place in the United States so distant to Kansas City than the Big Island.

My wife and I later followed our children to Hawaii to maintain the familial bonds that had been strained by the death of our son. The imagery and words of Psalm 139 would have presciently applied to me in that remote and distant place:

“Where can I go from your spirit? From your presence, where can I flee? …If I take the wings of dawn and dwell beyond the sea, even there your hand guides me, your right hand holds me fast” (Psalm 139: 7, 9-10).

Then, in God’s mysterious plan, and at the epochal age of 65, I experienced an inner call to return home. My ninety-year-old Dad, in the middle stages of dementia, needed someone to care for him. I was available, so I arranged with my wife and children the possibility I might be gone for several or more months, and took a one-way flight to the East Coast.

When I arrived at my parents’ house, I discovered all of the books I had earlier sent now carefully collected by Mom in a bookstand by my bed.

Even though I had read these same books twenty-five years ago, some even two times, I voraciously gorged on them once again. I found concepts and ideas which I had entirely missed in earlier readings.

True Devotion to Mary

The most compelling of these overlooked concepts concerned St. Louis de Montfort’s theological comparison of the Blessed Mother’s origin as the pure and shameless new Garden of Eden. I had never understood the sublime and mystical origins of our Blessed Mother within such an expansive and mystical theological framework.

According to de Montfort in True Devotion to Mary, Jesus Christ was conceived within this garden of the “paradise” of Mary’s immaculate personhood. This sense of awesome conception stood in stark contrast to the misconceptions of Adam and Eve in the “original” Garden of Eden. Jesus was thus the real Fruit of Life that had existed from all eternity through the true Tree of Life.

Intriguingly, St. de Montfort also postulated that the dreaded Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the purveyor of death and darkness as originally expressed in Genesis 3, became in the paradise of Mary, and through the merits and grace of Jesus, the ultimate harbinger of true light for the entirety of creation and all humankind (True Devotion to Mary, sec. 261).

I was stunned. I had never before understood this “Tree business” in the Book of Genesis. I had even considered it to be symbolic of some ancient Semitic archetype, perhaps even Jungian or psychological, in derivation.

I knew that we were all originally intended to partake of the Tree of Life through Adam. But Adam first had to be formed in obedience to God and NOT eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, so that he and Eve (and the rest of us) would not have to “taste” death.

Could this be really the pivotal insight that I had been so desperate to understand in my flight from home, in my tortuous depression and in my fixation on the banality of blaming and judging others? I had tasted the fruits of death and sin, and could not abandon my search for the knowledge of evil by surrendering myself fully to the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus.

Question: Could I fully accept that I no longer needed to understand and know evil?

Follow-up Question: Could I thereby opt-out of my implicit and compulsive participation in “knowing evil” in the rampant culture of death expressed by darkness in the current world situation?

I found myself compelled by grace to stop reading the book and to think carefully about what this meant for me. Not only did the Book of Genesis as envisioned by St. de Montfort reveal the pivotal role of Mary in my relationship with Jesus, it also illuminated God’s original plan for me, through Jesus and Mary, and for each one of us.

I had previously accepted and even pretended that my lifelong compulsion to know and understand evil was essential to my spiritual life.

Absurd (but real) Question: How could I know the truth if I did not know evil?

I could see now that my compulsion derived from disobedience, the original sin of all humankind, and from distancing myself from my true home. Moreover, this particular sinful perversion, which had corrupted my personal will, had even obstructed me in my desire to live a more holy and true relationship with Jesus!

Ah-Hah: I suddenly realized I had been compromised! I felt that I had let the demonic master of deceit burrow like a mole deep into my dignity and personhood to taint my every desire and action with a web of lies. Even in what I thought were my purest motives, I had let myself be sidetracked by spiritual ambition and pride.

I remembered that this very topic had formed the starting point for St. John Paul’s collection of talks given to Blessed Pope Paul VI and his papal co-workers as part of their Lenten retreat in 1976 (entitled Sign of Contradiction). Without the proper understanding of our origins in Genesis, then-Cardinal Karol Wojtyla explained “….it becomes extremely difficult – if not impossible – to understand man and the world” (p. 24).

Right on! I had been researching relentlessly my family history for intergenerational sins and bondages. I had traced a family history of depression and suicidal ideation extending back five generations.

But I did not need to obsess about that so much anymore now that I had uncovered my true origin in the new Garden of Eden of Mary. In that Garden, the Tree of Life bears the sensational fruit of Jesus, true God and true man, Wisdom and Knowledge incarnate.

And why is this so important in this current era for the Church and world?

Cardinal Wojtyla noted:

“Perhaps because humanity as a whole is uncovering and clarifying with ever greater thoroughness the origins of man’s existence on earth. And perhaps, too, because today we are on the threshold of a new eschatology (pp. 24-25).”

That new eschatology is, without a doubt, the New Evangelization, prophesized by St. de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, Blessed Pope Paul VI and St. Pope John Paul II. This New Evangelization has been pre-ordained to transform the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil into a light for all the nations.

According to St. de Montfort, this transformation is imminent and available to us all, particularly in Jesus through Mary.

I can now rethink how I will approach the remainder of my life. In this light, the words of the dishonest but prudent steward praised by Jesus in Luke 16: 3-4 seared into my thinking: “I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do.”

What I shall do is to care for my family and God’s little ones, the poor and needy, with a spirit of humility and as a merciful steward of peace and joy. I will not pursue what is beyond my understanding, what is evil in Your sight, O Lord.

Books to the future are like prayers. They enter eternity through the Incarnate Word of Life and return to us in God’s plan when we need them most!

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Deacon Jim Dougherty is a married permanent deacon for the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) in the Diocese of Honolulu. Dougherty received a doctorate in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Missouri – Kansas City; an MS in Criminal Justice from the University of New Haven; and a BA in Psychology with minors in English and Philosophy from the University of Delaware. For 27 years, he served as Executive Director of the DeLaSalle Education Center in Kansas City, Missouri, a national model of excellence in education for central-city high school students who needed another opportunity for success. Dougherty participated in a Catholic healing ministry in Kansas City from 2006 to 2013. He has been published in American Jails and Deacon Digest. He has finalized an unpublished spiritual memoir about his son’s death and healing after tragic loss in an encounter with police in Kansas City in 2002, entitled: A Place for Us to Meet. He and Karol have been married 43 years and have four children, three of whom live in Hawaii, one of whom, Aaron, in eternity. Their six grandchildren also live in Hawaii.

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  • The problem with “in Jesus through Mary” is that there is no provision to be in Jesus through Mary. We are in Jesus when we have His Spirit within us. Because of this, Jesus’ Spirit is the only one that I know of that brings us access to the Spirit of the Father because the Father is in Jesus. The Father is the one who sends the Spirit of His Son within us.

    • Marion (Máel Mhuire)

      Peter Aiello wrote: “there is no provision to be in Jesus through Mary.”

      Every Pope dating back centuries has encouraged the Catholic faithful to approach Our Lady in order to draw closer to her Son, pointing to the Scripture passages in which He tells the Apostle John, “Behold Your mother,” thus making Mary the mother of us all. And what mother does not extend herself always to keep the family together, encouraging her children to be reconciled one to the other, especially with the oldest son who happens to be the King and Lord over the others. While His kingship and lordship may at times be intimidating to a son or daughter conscious of his or her own sins and failings, no son or daughter can feel intimidated by so sweet, kind, and gentle a mother.

      The Catholic Church has always understood the economy of salvation to be a family matter, including not just the Father, the Son, and the Spirit – that, is the Blessed Trinity, but also the Mother – the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is not a part of the Triune God, but is the Mother of the Second Person of God. And to deny this is to deny the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which is nothing other than to deny the efficacy of His redemptive work among us.

    • Mary carried the entire Jesus, both humanity and divinity, during her pregnancy. She is the mother of God. When I said that there is no provision to be in Jesus through Mary I was referring to the teachings of Louis de Montfort who says that the preferred way to receive the Spirit of Christ is through surrender to Mary and to receive the spirit of Mary. This would be the only way that Mary, a carrier of the Spirit of Christ, could do this if it were even possible. All true Christians are carriers of the Spirit of Christ. There is nothing in Scripture that allows us to surrender to anyone but the Godhead. It is idolatry to surrender to a creature of God.

      We receive the Spirit of Christ when we surrender directly to Him; and then the Father sends the Spirit of His Son into our hearts. This is the only way to be in Jesus; and when we are in Him, we have the Father.

    • Marion (Máel Mhuire)

      “There is nothing in Scripture that allows us to surrender to anyone but the Godhead. It is idolatry to surrender to a creature of God.”

      If you believe in Sola Scriptura, this would be a valid point.

      But Jesus is not recorded as saying anything about Sola Scriptura, and for the first 1500 years of Christianity, no other prominent Christians did, either.

      All Christians once believed – and Catholics still do believe – that in addition to speaking to us through Sacred Scripture directly, Jesus also speaks to us through has been handed on by the Apostles, apart from Scripture, but very much in harmony with it – that is, what Catholics have believed and done down through the ages.

      Martin Luther made up the concept of Sola Scriptura

      It is idolatry to place the traditions of man before those of Christ and His Church.

      Catholics don’t do idolatry, therefore we don’t do Luther’s Sola Scriptura.

    • Vatican II’s Dei Verbum 21 says: “Therefore, like the Christian religion itself, all the preaching of the Church must be nourished and regulated by Sacred Scripture.”

      This sounds like something that is very close to “Sola Scriptura”. I use this also in my personal life. It has served me well. Scripture has an authority that nothing else has. I don’t believe that Louis de Montfort is in harmony with Scripture.

    • Marion (Máel Mhuire)

      There is a difference between “preaching” as used in your quote from _Dei Verbum_, and the deposit of faith, that is, all of the things revealed by God that the Catholic Church believes and teaches.

      Luther applied the principle of _Sola Scriptura_ as a means of ruling out all the things pertaining to religion not present word-for-word in the text of Sacred Scripture.

      You wrote (above) “There is nothing in Scripture that allows us to surrender to anyone but the Godhead.” It is a true statement, that nothing present word-for-word in the text of Sacred Scripture speaks of “surrender to anyone but the Godhead.” And for followers of the principle of _Sola Scriptura_ that would be the end of the story: Surrender to anyone but the Godhead is ruled out.

      But the Catholic deposit of faith includes sources *in addiiton to* Sacred Scripture, and these do admit of the surrender to God through the Blessed Virgin Mary, not surrender to Mary, period, but to God through Mary. Much of what the saints have written appears in a sort of shorthand – they expect the reader to arrive already understanding certain things. That we surrender, not to Mary as an end in herself, but *through* Mary to God, is what Catholics understand de Montfort and other saints, to have intended their readers to understand.

      Just as the Incarnate Word came to mankind *through* Mary, Catholics believe we may return to Him also *through* Mary.

    • The exact definition of Sola Scriptura is not the issue here. Louis de Montfort tells us that we are surrendering to the Christ in Mary when we surrender to Mary. Are we allowed to surrender to Saint Paul and receive Christ’s Spirit through him? He has Christ in him.

    • Marion (Máel Mhuire)

      You have to understand that the Jewish people are people with soul, passionately deeply attached to their families – their children, their parents, especially men with their mothers.

      Here in white-bread America we tend not to be passionately attached to much of anything or anyone. Children often go off and live by themselves at 18, sometimes at their parents’ insistence. Not so among the Jewish people of first century Palestine. Among them, the parent-child bond was powerful throughout the entire life of both, and especially a son with his mother. Unless the son married, they would live together throughout their entire lives

      I realize that our cool, isolated, aloof, and individualistic northwestern European-dominated culture doesn’t get that connection. But think of a people passionately attached to their family. When a king reigned, he did have a wife, sometimes several wives. But the king’s *queen* was not his wife, but his *mother*. The mother was everything to her sons. And therefore people would approach the Queen (Mother) to make requests of her, which she would then refer to her son, the King. Naturally, if a Jewish mother asked something of her son, he had to fulfill her request. So the Queen, in a sense, held a great deal of power over her son, even though he was a King.

      The Jewish people understand the bond of a Jewish son to his mother. Many other, Western, post-modern people don’t get that. But it was and is very real, and very powerful.

      Jesus Christ has this powerful bond with His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is the King of Kings; she is His Queen (Mother), the one we can approach as our mother, too, and ask her to obtain favors from her Son. Being a good Jewish son, the King can refuse His mother nothing.

      And Mary herself was not and is not like any other mother, however sweet and kind. Mary’s will was united with that of the Father throughout her entire life. That’s what the angel meant by his greeting: “Hail, full of grace.”

      But Mary was well aware that her purity and docility to the will of Father were gifts, not of her doing. When she greeted her cousin Elizabeth, Mary praised God, and said,
      “. . . He has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
      behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
      The Mighty One has done great things for me,
      and holy is his name.” Luke 1:46-49

      Mary referred all her greatness, all her blessedness immediately to her God in Heaven.

      Because of this, and because of the ancestral bond of mother and son, the relationship of Jesus and Mary is on a realm unimaginably higher and more powerful, purer, holier than any other relationship, bond or connection. Her will is completely in union with His. In a sense, it may be said that their wills are one, that their hearts beat as one.

      Only a person with so profound a relationship with the Lord could fittingly fulfill the role of channel through which we might approach His Divine Majesty.

      Saint Paul, as great an apostle as he was and is, could never be said to have a Mother-Son relationship with Jesus, nor could it be said of him that his heart beat as one with Jesus Christ. Nor St. Mary Magdalen. Nor any angel or saint. This glorious connection between mother and Son is an incomparable one, not approached by any other creature.

      Nevertheless, this is a Queen who continues to view herself as but a “lowly maidservant” and who owes every blessing to Almighty God. Unlike many queens, she is never puffed-up, vain, or haughty. Instead, she is gentle, sweet, fair, and approachable beyond our wildest hopes.

      In short, she who His mother, is also our mother, too.

    • The problem is that the man Christ Jesus is the one mediator between us and the Divine Majesty; and we are allowed to surrender to Him because of His Divine nature. It is difficult to find someone else with these qualifications.

    • Marion (Máel Mhuire)

      The Blessed Virgin Mary’s role in our redemption does not in any way diminish that of the Lord God Jesus Christ. She is a lowly handmaid, and like us, a mere creature.

      Sometimes people with heart and with soul, feel the need to confide in a mother, to go to her, to be comforted by her. (People without much in the way of feelings – people who are sort of like potatoes: solid through and through, without a heart, have never experienced this need, and wouldn’t get this.)

      Here is what she does when we go to her, when we surrender to her: she points us to her Son, and she says, “do whatever He tells you.”

      And then we go to HIm, by way of the introduction that has been made on our behalf by the Queen Mother to her Son, the King.

      It is His Divine Majesty, Her Son, the King who is the one mediator between God and man. And Her Son the King in His divine wisdom, has graciously decided to include His beloved mother in this process.

      You see, He doesn’t like to do anything without her, without honoring her, without adding to her glory as the most perfect creature God ever brought into being. Like a good Jewish son.

      And, like a good Jewish son, He includes His mother in “the family business” of the Triune God, loving us, and seeking our love in return, and in God’s work of redeeming mankind. Mary participates in that, not because she is a goddess or divine (she is neither, and would be horrified if anyone treated her as if she were), but precisely because she was and is the lowly maidservant of the Lord, relying entirely on God’s gracious generosity for everything. She has the most proper attitude of a creature toward its Creator, and so Jesus has entrusted to her some of the work He does with souls.

      Because their hearts beat as one (as I mentioned above), to surrender to Mary is, in a sense, to surrender to Jesus. Because, although He is God, and she isn’t, and although He is the Creator, and she isn’t, that Mother-Son bond is so strong between them, that Jesus Our King has graciously continued to use Mary as a conduit for souls who seek God, just as God used Mary as a conduit to bring the Incarnate Word into the world. Her work continues, side by side with His, but only because God has made it so; she would be nothing in and of herself.

    • Why isn’t any of this in the New Testament. The only time that Mary is mentioned is in the epistles is in Galatians 4:4, where Paul says that “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman”?
      Even Louis de Montfort acknowledges that much of what he teaches is not in
      Scripture. When Jesus says in John 14:6 that “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”, I think that it is best to take Him at His word. Anything else is risky.

    • Marion (Máel Mhuire)

      The Gospel also says, “Jesus said and did many other things, not recorded here.” Many of these are what is handed down to us through the Apostles, and became a part of Catholic Tradition.

      Look, either you trust the Church which Jesus Christ Himself established . . . or you don’t. I gather from this lengthy conversation that you don’t.

      So, good-bye, good luck, and may God bless you.

    • I do trust Christ. If you consider the Bible to be Church teaching; I pay close attention to that. It was compiled by the Church in the fourth century for her use. I use the Bible to evaluate other Church teaching. There is a lot out there to process. Figuring out what is official teaching or not can be a challenge. That is not always clear. Much of what we discussed is not dogma even though it is believed by many Catholics. We need to be discerning.

    • Marion (Máel Mhuire)

      If you trust Christ, and you are a Catholic, then you trust His Vicar on Earth. And nearly all the Popes whose encyclicals are available in English on the Vatican website (vatican.va) have written about the necessity of trusting in, or having recourse to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Some of their language is very much along the lines of what Saint Louis de Montfort wrote.

      If you trust Christ, you trust His Church. If you don’t, then you don’t.

    • We have to be discerning.

    • Marion (Máel Mhuire)

      I have a question for you, Peter. My question is this: in discerning matters of this kind, do you believe that your powers of discernment are equal to or even superior to those of several of our Popes?

    • I am obligated to go with my personal conscience.

    • You bring up an interesting point. When I was growing up before V2, blind obedience to what the Church taught at that time was expected. Nowadays it’s not as severe. V2 clarified the place of Scripture and personal conscience in a way that was helpful to me. At 20 years old I went into agnosticism. At 31 I found my spirituality from the instruction in the Bible. V2 enabled me to eventually bring this into my Catholicism. This is why I am resistant to things that are or appear to be added to Scripture, especially when they don’t seem to add anything to my surrender directly to Christ.