Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to be a registered member of the International Marian Catechist Apostolate (MCA) in La Crosse?
Cardinal Burke has determined that, since we are now an international Apostolate, it is necessary for all Marian Catechists to register with the International office of the Apostolate located in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Please complete the annual membership application and submit it with the appropriate annual fee (U.S. Funds Only: United States $25, Canada $35, International $50). Membership renewals will be mailed to all members near the end of each year. We are unable to pro-rate fees; all renewals are due by January 1st of each year, regardless of the month in which you join the Apostolate.
What if there aren’t any Course Study Groups in my area? How can I do the courses by myself? What if I fail?
Actually, the home-study courses were written for individuals to do on their own, and that remains the standard. Additionally, Father Hardon recommended studying in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, when possible, because the Lord will help with our understanding of the Truths of our Faith. The Holy Spirit is the Teacher. A sincere commitment to study hard and search seriously for answers in the provided texts (and beyond) pays off with a better understanding of the Truths of our Faith and a feeling of confidence and accomplishment.
The Course Study Groups are intended to help Marian Catechists gain a better understanding of the answers to the more difficult questions that they may have answered incorrectly. In order to maintain the integrity of the home-study courses, the answer tablet sheets should already have been sent to the corrector before the class meets, unless there has been some arrangement made to collect the answer sheets before class so the group leader can send them in all together. The duplicate answers written in the workbooks are used during the class and notes can be taken to clarify the answers. The Class group leader comes equipped with the official answers written by Father Hardon and uses those answers to help clear up any confusion about questions missed. Even if only one or two students miss a particular answer, everyone benefits when they hear the answer. Participating in a group study also helps students keep on track when they are tempted to slow down or take a break. Knowing that they have a schedule to keep helps them persevere.
Marian Catechists in “formation” must receive a 75% grade average in order to receive a course completion certificate. Some questions may seem too difficult or ambiguous, but pray and keep searching for the answer. If you continue to have great difficulty, call the International office for assistance. We will guide you to the resources you need. If there ever is an occasion when a catechist fails to make the grade, he or she should order another answer tablet and repeat the study experience.
What if I can’t do all of those spiritual practices?
Don’t let the devil tempt you to stop before you even begin! The list of spiritual practices may seem daunting to the beginner, but all journeys begin with a single step. Practice makes perfect! Look at the list honestly and determine why some things may seem impossible. Can’t get to Mass more often? Are you sure? If someone told you Jesus was visiting your town every morning at 8:00 and had miracles to show and gifts to share, could you be there? He is and He does! If your job or vocation (for instance, mother to several young children) prevents you from going more often, could you watch the Mass on EWTN and make a Spiritual Communion? Could you get the Magnificat prayer book and meditate on the Mass readings for the day and make a Spiritual Communion? Do your best, and when circumstances change and you are able, go to the real Mass. Can’t say a whole rosary? You might be surprised to find out how little time it really takes if you just try. That old devil doesn’t want you fingering those powerful beads. Don’t listen to his lies! Don’t have time for spiritual reading? Put aside the TV Guide, sports pages or the Internet for a few minutes and pick up your Bible, Catholic Catechism or the Imitation of Christ. There are so many good Catholic devotionals available, packed with spiritual wisdom and food for the soul. Once you start experiencing the fruits of your spiritual reading you will crave for more. Guaranteed! Don’t know the Angelus? Never too late to learn! Taking a few moments twice a day to remember that God became man in Mary’s womb so that we would be saved by His merciful love is really not difficult. Actually, it’s very uplifting to break away from your normal routine and place yourself in God’s presence for a moment to thank Him for the gift of His Son. Prayer cards are available to help you learn this simple and beautiful prayer. And, if you’re fortunate enough to hear church bells ringing at noon and six calling you to pray the Angelus, you’re half way there! Getting the picture? Even if you don’t begin “formation” as a Marian Catechist immediately, just start doing some of the spiritual practices that used to be a part of every Catholics spiritual life and see where it leads you. That single step will have you off and running in no time. You’ll see!
What’s so important about First Saturday Meetings for Marian Catechists?
First of all, on the first Saturday of the month we are responding to our Lord’s request to make reparation for all of the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, His Mother and ours, by practicing the First Saturday Devotions. This is based on the approved Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. The devotions include confession, rosary, fifteen minutes of meditation on any one or all mysteries of the rosary in a spirit of reparation, and most importantly receiving Holy Communion in a spirit of reparation. As Marian Catechists we honor Our Lady in this special way. The day also offers Marian Catechists the opportunity to pray and worship together. In addition, a social time after Mass gives us an opportunity to meet with each other and share news and views on how we can help spread the Good News in our locale. The meeting could include a speaker, or viewing a video of a conference given by our founder, Father John Hardon. Saturdays are usually busy days for those with families so a brief social time together may be sufficient. The length of the meeting is determined by the schedules of local catechists. Advertising the First Saturday Devotions in local church bulletins is not only a way to catechize but also a way to draw people to the Marian Catechist Apostolate by inviting them to the coffee social afterwards. Needless to say, others should be edified by the kindness, joy and enthusiasm found at the Marian Catechists meetings.
When can I make my Consecration? What if I can’t make it to La Crosse for the celebration?
By Statute, Marian Catechists make or renew their Consecration on the day chosen by the International Director (after the successful completion of the Basic and Advanced Courses and the Commentary on the General Directory for Catechesis and after the habitual implementation of all the Spiritual practices). It would be ideal if all Marian Catechists could come together to make their Consecration, but that is not practical for everyone. For this reason, those Marian Catechists can plan similar celebrations in their locale. Those catechists who cannot attend one of the local celebrations are to make arrangements with their spiritual advisor or parish priest to witness the consecration, preferably within the context of the Holy Mass, and with the prior permission of our International Director, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke.
How can I get the Marian Catechist Apostolate started in my area?
If you are new to the Apostolate, tell your parish priest, religious education coordinator, relatives and Catholic friends about the Apostolate. Contact the National office to obtain some informational brochures. If married, ask your spouse to do the Basic Course with you. Please help alleviate the misconception that this Apostolate is only for those who catechize in a classroom. If you are a parent, grandparent, neighbor, friend or worker, you have plenty of opportunities to share your faith with others as an Active Marian Catechist. If you are homebound because of age or infirmity, your prayers and sacrifices offered for the Apostolate as a Contemplative Marian Catechist are extremely valuable. We are in the “springtime of the new evangelization” and every layperson is called to catechize in one way or another. The Marian Catechist Apostolate helps you develop a spiritual life that prepares you for your consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, while at the same time, it helps to prepare you, doctrinally, to pass on this tremendous gift of the Faith, with confidence, through the home-study courses. If enough people in your area become involved, you could start First Saturday meetings and study groups for the courses. I urge you to study and pray and then “Do whatever He tells you”! (Marian Catechist motto)