“I was somebody who was not close to God,” reflects Deacon Daniel Maria Klimek when speaking of his past. Born into a Polish Catholic family, he fell into what he calls “Cultural Catholicism,” accepting the faith of his parents but struggling to discover it for himself. Oftentimes he found himself asking, “Can the miracles of Jesus be real?” If not, Jesus was “no different than Buddha or other ‘prophets.’” But if so…it was possible everything could be true. “I needed Him to be real,” Dcn. Daniel remarks, and this question of the authenticity of Christ and His miracles was answered for him through a book describing the events at Medjugorje. Within this book, Dcn. Daniel encountered our Lady who led him to believe in the authenticity of her Son’s supernatural nature. After all, “if Mary appears to people in the 21st century,” who is to say Jesus could not also perform miracles in His time? By our Lady’s own miracles, Dcn. Daniel came to believe in the miracles of Christ, walking hand-in-hand with Mary to her Son.
A relationship with Mary is essential to our spiritual lives because we need both a Father and Mother. Through God the Father and Jesus the Son, “we have the masculine figure,” but we also “need the maternal, feminine figure.” In her, we find a “tenderness” and “intimacy” of her “feminine beauty” that cannot be traded. In her, we find our Mother. Just as a house divided against itself cannot stand, neither can a Church without both Father and Mother. Mary’s motherhood is unique both in the sense that she belongs to all of us and in the sense that Jesus chose her to be His mother. Therefore, she must hold a prominent position in His Sacred Heart, and her Immaculate Heart must be similar to His. Through praying to her, we encounter a powerful intercessor with a heart united to her Son’s own, devoted to helping us to reach Him.
To foster this relationship with Mary, Dcn. Daniel suggests meeting her through literature and letting her guide us to Jesus. “Spiritual reading has many saints,” he notes, and we “need to read books on our Lady’s message.” Understanding her message is essential to understanding her, and “if we’re going to understand her as a mother, we need to understand her word.” The Church has approved many apparitions over the centuries through which we can come to know Mary and her message better. In addition, cultivating this relationship with Mary requires us to “spend time with Jesus in Adoration,” and “speak to her from the heart.” As a mother, her main focus is her Son, and she will always walk us to Him. To have our Mother to walk alongside, “to be able to come to her, to give her [our] struggles, fears, anxieties, joys,” is a gift.
A specific way we can journey with Mary through prayer is by praying the rosary. The rosary has two major components: “intimacy” and “intercession.” The intimacy Mary grants us in the rosary is like that if “a friend who wants to meet with you each day.” On Monday, “she wants to share with you the most joyful memories of her life,” on Tuesday “the most sorrowful,” and so on. In this personal time we share, she gives herself vulnerably, intimately, and trustingly, inviting us to meditate on her memories through daily encountering her. Furthermore, this intimate union of prayer with Mary can be used to intercede for ourselves and others because the rosary is a gift both to her and to us. For instance, Dcn. Daniel shares a story of a Franciscan novice who planned to leave the friary but experienced an apparition while praying the rosary. Every time he prayed a Hail Mary, he gave our Mother a rose, and these roses formed a crown on her head. When we pray the rosary, “we give our Mother a spiritual bouquet.” We present her with a crown of roses, “giving our Mother a gift” which she can share as she pleases. Her roses are our prayers, and we must not doubt that she receives these roses and looks upon them lovingly.
“When I was living in Washington D.C.,” remembers Dcn. Daniel, he received a text from a friend that his friend’s girlfriend was going to get an abortion, asking Dcn. Daniel to pray for them. Dcn. Daniel spent that entire night praying and fasting and realized that “the forces of hell were trying to take this child’s life,” so he “employed all the heavenly forces I knew.” Reaching out to everyone he could, he had soon inspired many to pray the rosary for this child’s life. The next morning, Dcn. Daniel called his friend who reported that his girlfriend, not having any idea why she felt so changed, decided not to have the abortion, later giving birth to a healthy baby girl. “To honor the fact that the rosary saved this child’s life,” his friend gave her the middle name “Rosario.” “The rosary is a spiritual weapon,” and as Mary promised, its power will never fail us.