Discover more from The Dove and Rose
My Life with St. Joan and St. Thérèse - Chapter 3
How my initial devotion to Mary led to total consecration after the Feast Day of St. Thérèse.
The Dove and Rose offers free and paid subscriber options. Publications from my books are paid subscriber only. Much of the rest is free. If you enjoy The Dove Rose regularly, consider becoming a monthly or yearly paid subscriber.
I also have a tip jar in the main menu and after each post. If you enjoy a post and want to make a one-time contribution to my work, the gesture will be much appreciated!
Most importantly, enjoy yourself because I appreciate that you are here.
1984-85, Guymon Oklahoma
Josey reached out to hand me something. She had a big smile on her face as she did so. It looked like a piece of jewelry, a necklace of some sort. She held a silver chain with black beads and a crucifix hanging from it. Given our venue, I did not know what it was but suspected it was not jewelry.
We were in the “old” St. Peter’s church, which was “off on a side street.” The move to the new church was practically complete, but services and special events still took place in the old church. I was in the middle of our RCIA class schedule, classes that met every Monday night at the parish hall in the new Church on Quinn Street. Despite the very moving spiritual experiences of my conversion on the Feast Day of St. Thérèse in October, I had yet to formally and publicly declare that I was joining the Catholic Church. My heart was converted. So was my head. But the actual will to make the final decision lagged. However, I certainly enjoyed attending these church events with my bride-to-be. For sure, I was feeling more comfortable.
I do not recall the specific activity that drew us there that afternoon. However, I remember that many gift items were for sale in the back of the sanctuary, all spread out on various folding tables. They were selling Catholic books, pictures, and jewelry similar to the one Josey handed me.
“Lovely. What is it?” I had a pleasantly perplexed look on my face.
“It’s a rosary. You need one of these,” was the reply.
She proceeded to explain the rosary to me. I did not understand it all the first time, but I knew this. I knew it was designed to help us pray that beautiful Hail Mary prayer that had swept me off my feet a couple of months earlier in the RCIA class. I knew it was a devotion to Mary and, through her, to Our Lord. To pray the rosary was to repeatedly pray that heart-warming Hail Mary, the Our Father, and a few other short prayers.
I loved it. I began praying it daily, sometimes even several times a day. My heart was attached to Mary, and while using these beads, this prayer seemed like the perfect path to draw closer to her. From the moment Josey handed me my first rosary, it became, and remains today, my most cherished devotion after the Mass, the Sacraments, and Eucharistic Adoration.
Sitting on my couch at home after lunch one afternoon in December, I prayed the rosary. Often I would drive the short distance from work at the family business to our house for lunch. Guymon was a small town with around six thousand residents at the time. Commuting was no issue.
As I prayed the rosary that afternoon, it hit me. I decided that I must join the Catholic Church. The formal decision was made. That was followed by my public declaration, which led to me being scheduled for entry into the church the following Easter of 1985.
I did enter the Church that Easter. Josey and I were married the following Saturday. By the next day, we were off to Hawaii. The man who boarded that plane for paradise with his new bride differed from the one a week earlier. I was not only married. I was Catholic.
The following months were filled with much activity and anticipation. Work obviously occupied a significant amount of my time, but, in addition, we were buying a new home. Just like the new church of St. Peter’s and the new rectory, our house would be brand new. We were excited. We had to secure financing between picking our colors, cabinets, and carpet. Everything was a blur. By the middle of that summer, 1985, we were in our new home. Less than a year after I had proposed to Josey and she had accepted with her “Yes, however…” response, I was married, Catholic, and a new homeowner. Things were moving quickly.
One sunny, hot Sunday afternoon that summer, while Josey and I were enjoying leisure time around our new home, we heard the doorbell ring. It was Delilah. Delilah was Josey’s cousin who lived in town and attended St. Peter’s. Josey had a relatively large number of cousins, aunts, and uncles in Guymon. Because of her family in Guymon, she had come to town in the first place. Because of her family there, she returned from El Paso to visit that previous summer, which allowed me to ask her out on a date to start this whole ball rolling. Delilah was one of those cousins. She was only about a year or two older than we were.
Delilah walked into our living room and, with a broad smile, handed me two books. The first was The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus de Liguori. The second was True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort. During my conversion, Delilah knew that I had developed a great love for Our Lady, the Virgin Mary. She stayed briefly. She said that she thought I would enjoy those books. How accurate and prophetic was that statement! After a few pleasantries, she left.
It took me only a short time to get into those books. The first one I read was The Glories of Mary. I was astonished at how well-developed the theology of Mary was in the Catholic tradition. I was also delighted. St. Alphonsus’ praises for Mary seemed to leap from the pages like streams of holy fire to ignite the flames of devotion for Mary in my heart.
After completing that book, I dove into True Devotion to Mary by de Montfort. As with my experience on the Feast Day of St. Thérèse the previous October, I had no way of knowing what would happen to me then. I was about to enter into a lifelong journey. This journey continues and is reflected in the writings you read here. True Devotion to Mary was to become the cornerstone of my spiritual life. True Devotion to Mary, as the saint explains, is the safest, surest, and easiest way to Jesus Christ, the true cornerstone of the church. To devote oneself to Mary is to commit oneself to Jesus most sublimely and intimately. I was about to discover a devotion, one of the richest treasures in all Church tradition.
I poured over de Montfort’s book. I was dumbfounded by his thesis. Reflecting on his words, I realized that I must do this. I must do this thing about which he spoke. He spoke of total, complete, and perfect consecration to the Mother of God. I realized that the love I had developed for Mary over the past year was just the tip of the iceberg. Mary was asking me for a much deeper relationship. Mary was asking me to entirely consecrate myself to her so that I might find the fullness of Jesus Christ, her Son, Who is our only salvation.
The Mother of God was asking for my life. I made the decision to give it to her.
Little did I know that to help me fulfill this consecration, Mary was preparing to formally introduce me to my spiritual sister, the one through whose behind-the-scenes, anonymous intercession my conversion was wrought the previous October. I was about to learn who St. Thérèse of Lisieux was so I could develop a relationship with her. Through my relationship with St. Thérèse, I would be united with St. Joan of Arc. Together, they would guide me for the rest of my life along the trail that leads to the center of Mary’s Immaculate Heart, where Jesus Christ reigns in all His glory.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
Check out the Heroic Hearts podcast on Substack, Spotify, or Apple. Heroic Hearts is a podcast about healing, enchanting, and elevating our hearts through the stories and spirituality of St. Joan of Arc and St. Therese of Lisieux. Co-hosted with Amy Chase.