A quick glance at the calendar tells us that Mary is front and center in the minds of Catholics during the autumn months. October is traditionally called the month of the Rosary, and the Marian feasts of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, the Holy Name of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, and Our Lady of the Rosary all fall in September and October.
What a great time to deepen our devotion to our Blessed Mother. Fr. Joseph Burtka, LC, certainly thinks so. He has just published a new book called Contemplating Mary, available on Amazon. To him, it is one thing to know about the Blessed Virgin Mary and about the epoch and culture in which she lived, but it is something completely different to know her personally, as a loving mother. In this book, Fr. Burtka guides the reader into the deep waters of contemplation with the ultimate goal of growing in love for Mary, the Mother of God.
Fr. Joseph‘s life has taken him around the world beginning in his childhood and continuing in his service as a priest. was born in 1966 in Tokyo to American parents on service in the Vietnam War. Raised in Detroit, He came in contact with the Legionaries of Christ in 1978 and became a member of the Ecyd in 1979. Four years later he incorporated into the Regnum Christi Movement. In 1986 he joined the Legionaries of Christ in Cheshire, Connecticut. Since his ordination in 1997 he has worked as a seminary formator in the United States, Germany and Rome. He also served briefly as Territorial Director of the Northeast United States. Since 2014 he has worked as section Director for RC women in Mexico City.
“I think that my relationship with Mary comes out pretty clearly in my book, Contemplating Mary” Fr. Joseph shares. “From an early age I was taught to be close to her, although that hasn’t always been the case. She has been very patient, however, and has always been there in my moments of need. Besides praying the rosary daily – for more than 35 years now – and the occasional pilgrimage (I have the grace to be close to the Basilica of Guadalupe), the last thing I do every day is “make a visit to Mary” before going to bed. Before the statue to Mary I close my eyes and thank her for being my mother, I entrust to her my perseverance in my vocation, and I pray for my family and the Pope. If I have made it this far, through so many obstacles, I attribute it to her.“
Combining the month of the Rosary with the contemplation of Mary is a very natural fit in his eyes. He explains why: “St John Paul II wrote a beautiful Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, where he explained that the best way to pray the Rosary is by contemplating the mysteries, letting the Hail Marys become the rhythmic background that set the stage. John Paul II invites us all to try to see the mysteries of Christ’s life through the eyes of Mary.“
To many people, Mary can be a silent and somewhat unknown figure. She says very little in the Gospel. For someone who wants to get to know her but isn’t sure where to start, Fr. Joseph has this advice. ” To know someone is to love someone. Get to know her in the Gospel (although she says very little). But also, just start by closing your eyes and telling her you want to know her more to love her more… and ask her to lead you to her Son.
“Mary is like a bonus, a totally free gift of God. I think God knows very well that sometimes we feel very strongly the need of a mother´s embrace; that sometimes we relate more easily to a mother figure. Sometimes when I am praying and God doesn’t seem to answer… sometimes when I am really hurting and God seems to be inviting me to be strong and “offer it up,” I turn to Mary. “Mom, this is really tough. Give me a hand.”… or just, “I could really use a hug about now.” In these moments she has often brought me unexpected consolation. God wants it to be so. He wants to send us love and joy and comfort by means of Mary.”