Patricia A. Merlo, M.P.M.

Here is a comment I received from an attendee after one of my
Prepare Your Heart for Christmas! presentations:

My Renewed Relationship with Mary , Mother of God, and my Mother.

Mary has always been a part of my life as I prayed the rosary with my family  listening to Father Peyton’s evening radio broadcast that promoted the idea that,” the family that prays together, stays together”.  Most Tuesdays, my mother and I attended Our Mother of Perpetual Help Devotions at our parish.  I renewed my Marian experience by attending Father Michael Gaitley’s program – “33 Days too Morning Glory”, which ended with Marian Consecration just a few years ago, and renewed that consecration last year. 

My experience and relationship with Mary took on a whole new level of intimacy and depth when I attended Patty’s morning session of “Prayer of the Heart”, a time of learning about contemplative prayer, prayer of consideration.  The focus was on the story of the Annunciation from the Gospel of St. Luke.  As I recounted the words of the story and put myself wholeheartedly into the experience using all my senses, I had this beautiful encounter with Mary, the loving, faithful handmaid, the Daughter of God, schooled in the Temple, dedicated to hearing and living the Word of God.  I experienced the physical setting of her home in Nazareth, saw her postures, her body language, her facial expressions. I felt the emotions which must have surrounded this incredible moment of the Incarnation of the Word within, the awe, the movement of life within her, the immense power of the Spirit surging through her, changing Mary forever.  Following her encounter with the Angel, I witnessed her conversation with Anne and Joachim, the grandparents – to-be.  I related all her joy, and anticipation to my own feelings as I remembered my experiences of pregnancy and motherhood.  Mary and I renewed our bond of motherhood, and I recalled the words of the Magnificat and realized how grateful I am for the continuing blessings that God bestows on me.  The experience didn’t end there as I continued to consider (ponder) this story into the next day with new thoughts presenting themselves.  Now as I pray the Rosary, the Joyful mystery of the Anunciation, has taken on new meaning.   I am beginning to get a glimpse of the prayer experiences of Saints Theresa of Avila,  Terese of Lisieux, and John of the Cross. I can pray like these saints.  I can get a glimpse of Heaven and the powerful, deeply intimate, fulfilling, and loving relationship I can experience with Jesus, Mary, and the Saints for eternity.

The Second “Prayer of the Heart” Experience    

The second experience united the Old Testament reading from the Book of Wisdom, (chapter18:14-16)  to the New Testament Nativity story  in a powerful, experiential way as I imagined both scenes interwoven with each other.  Jesus, the Word as powerful as a two-edged sword, lying helplessly in a feeding trough for animals, the Bread of Life bringing nourishment and light to a world dead with sin.  The contemplation took on sacramental aspects as I entered into the scene with my senses, saw the signs representing the message behind the story, ponder the words of each passage, and felt the grace of the moment unfolding to strengthen my relationship with Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit.  Mind, heart, and body all connected, embraced by, and drawn into deeper relationship with the Trinitarian God.     

Anne D.


(Page last updated 5/13/2016)

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