“I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners.”— Our Lady in Champion, Wisconsin
Today begins our Lenten journey. Even though it’s not a holy day of obligation, many people go to church to commence this yearly observance. We are marked with ashes, a reminder of our death. We are invited to pray more this Lent, perhaps with the Stations of the Cross. We decide to make small sacrifices, acts of denial, to suffer just a little as a reminder of the suffering of Christ.
Some people hope for a life-altering season as they give up vices and bad habits, such as overconsumption of caffeine, alcohol, or sweets. For some, those little penances offered to God become the grace they receive on Easter Sunday, as they continue to deny themselves after the penitential season.
Lent is a time to take our spiritual lives more seriously — to read, pray, and meditate.
Over the next several weeks, we will journey with the Blessed Virgin Mary and ponder the many messages she spoke to children and adults throughout the years. The Lenten themes of prayer, penance, and conversion are the same themes that the Mother of God addressed in her apparitions over the last several centuries.
There is one apparition that holds a special place in my heart. It took place in 1859 in the Diocese of Green Bay, the diocese where I was born, raised, and now serve as a Catholic priest. The Blessed Virgin appeared to Adele Brise, a twenty-eight-year-old Belgian immigrant. After seeing the silent, beautiful woman twice, Adele asked the local priest what she should do. He instructed her to ask the woman who she was and what she wanted. That’s what Adele did when she saw the Virgin for the third time. “In God’s name, who are you, and what do you want of me?” she asked. Mary responded, “I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners.”
So Adele learned not only her identity, but, even more special, that the Queen of Heaven was praying for her. Adele was a sinner. You are a sinner. I am a sinner. The great news is that we have an intercessor in Heaven who is praying for us. We ask her so often to do that: Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Yes, Mary prays for us sinners, but even more specifically, she is praying for our conversion.
As we begin this season of Lent, a season calling us to conversion of life, we know that Mary prays for us. Even as we begin our Lenten observance, as we hunger through fasting, as we struggle to find time to pray, we should be at peace, because Mary is praying for us. During the next several weeks, don’t forget that. Remind yourself often that Mary is praying for you. Even if we forget to ask, she prays for us; she will not forget her children.
Dear Blessed Mother, whisper my name in Jesus’ ear and ask Him to help me live this Lent to the fullest. Through your intercession, obtain for me the grace of conversion where I need it most.
Spend a few moments in prayer today and consider what aspect of your life needs greatest conversion. In what area of your life have you not conformed to Christ or heeded His teaching? Make a resolution to strive to turn toward the Lord.
You can read an additional free excerpt in the article, “How a Thief in Lourdes Taught Me a Lesson on Repentance” here on Catholic Exchange.