Posed with the above question, the English journalist and Catholic convert and apologist G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) is famously said to have replied, simply, “I am.” And cannot each of us, his successors in faith, own up to a similar shortcoming?
Fortunately, as Christians, we can have recourse to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, before her Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and to the graces she is privileged to dispense if we will but ask for them. In anticipation of the October 11 feast of the Maternity of Our Lady, the following prayer, promulgated in 1886 by Pope Leo XIII and formerly indulgenced, would be a worthy one to offer during a novena on each of the nine days beginning this Friday, October 3.
Prayer to Our Lady, Mother of Divine Providence
O Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of Divine Providence, take possession of my soul with all the fullness of thy favor and protection. Govern thou my life, and direct it along the way of virtue to the fulfillment of the divine will. Do thou obtain for me the pardon of my sins; be my refuge, my protection, my defense, my guide in the pilgrimage of this life; console me in afflictions, sustain me in dangers, and in the storms of adversity afford me the security of thy guardianship.
Obtain for me, O Mary, the renewal of my heart within me, so that it may become the holy dwelling place of thy divine Son Jesus; remove far from me, weak and miserable as I am, every kind of sin, negligence, sloth, timidity and human respect; entirely expel from me pride, vain glory, self-love, and all other earthly affections which hinder the efficacy of thy patronage. O sweetest Mother of Providence, turn thy maternal regard upon me, and if through frailty or malice I have provoked the menaces of the eternal Judge and embittered the most Sacred Heart of my loving Jesus, do thou throw over me the mantle of thy protection, and I shall be safe.
Thou art the watchful Mother, the Virgin of forgiveness, and my hope on earth; oh, grant that I may have thee for the Mother of Glory in Heaven.
Hail Mary . . . (3 times).
Although a specific indulgence no longer applies to the above prayer, a visit on the patronal feast day to a parish church such as that of St. Mary Mother of God in Chinatown, accompanied by the recitation of one Our Father and the Creed, is enriched with a plenary indulgence. Note that all plenary indulgences require sacramental confession, Communion, prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff, and the absence of any attachment to sin whether mortal or venial.