This week on Register Radio for both segments of the show, I interviewed Father Michael Gaitley, a priest of the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. His order is charged with promoting devotion to Divine Mercy in the U.S. and they care for the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass.
Father Gaitley and I attended Franciscan University of Steubenville at the same time in the ‘90s. Even back then, the fun and sun loving California native already heard God calling him to the priesthood. His journey to ordination took 15 years of study and formation—which isn’t typical unless you’re a Jesuit. These years of study and his joyful zeal for sharing faith (which also was visible at Franciscan) have given him the fodder to evangelize in big ways, reaching many souls.
He was ordained in 2010 and in just three short years, he’s published three books, started a parish-based evangelization program and directs a large spiritual benefit society, the Marian Association of the Immaculate Conception. He’s so busy and I had to schedule this interview so far in advanced I decided I’d have him on for the whole show, rather than just one segment.
Author of Three Books
Father Gaitley is best known for his best selling books Consoling the Heart of Jesus and 33 Days to Morning Glory. Consoling the Heart is a do-it-yourself Ignatius retreat that can be done in a weekend. Father Gaitley makes the bold claim that this short retreat can have the same powerful spiritual effects as the 30 day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Listen to the show to hear the “secret weapons” that make his bold claim possible.
33 Days to Morning Glory has sold over 200,000 copies. It’s a Marian consecration that is based on the classic consecration to Jesus through Mary of St. Louis De Montfort but it puts a twist on the classic way—it’s shorter, has fewer formal prayers and includes the spiritual writings of 20th Century saints who had special Marian devotions: St. Maximilian Kolbe, Blessed John Paul II and Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta.
In our radio interview, we discussed those excellent books but in the first segment we focused on his most recent book The One Thing is Three. Register staff writer Joe Pronechen recently reviewed this book.
This newest book was released in November 2012 as the Year for Faith started and unlike his other two books which aim to help the reader grow in spirituality, this book seeks to aid the reader's growth in theological wisdom of the basic truths of our faith—the primary of which is knowledge of the Trinity.
In the second segment of the show, I asked Father Gaitley about the new parish based program, Hearts Afire. On Divine Mercy Sunday 2012 the program was launched. Father Gaitley told me on the show that it has now reached 10,000 people and is present in every state in the U.S.
"The program is contributing to the New Evangelization by bringing Catholics together in small groups to experience Jesus’ mercy and the tender love of our Blessed Mother," said Father Gaitley in a recent article on the new program.
This weekend I’m in Louisiana visiting family and after my interview with Father Gaitley, my mom and sister-in-law listened to the interview with me online. In one of those “God-incidents,” my sister-in-law had just been given a copy of Father’s book Consoling the Heart of Jesus the evening before and her eyes filled with tears when she heard Father Gaitley describe that his new parish-based program aims to help families grow together in holiness and faith along with other families. As a mom of three with one on the way, she and my brother are constantly seeking ways to grow as a family in faith and to do so together with a community.
“This is it,” she cried. “This is what I have been looking for. I can’t wait to start…I just can’t decide, should I wait until after the baby comes or before.”
Families like my sister-in-law’s are who Father Gaitley aims to reach. He said his books were written for his brother and sister who are busy with lots of kids and tough jobs, people who can’t easily take a 30 day retreat, or spend hours in a course on theology. But those are the people who make up our parishes and who touch the world. His hope is that those people, really all of us, be ablazed with the fire of God’s love. God seems to be on his side, his work has set many on fire. Praise be to God.