Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Entrustment To Mary = What To Await From God


“We obtain from God exactly what we await from him.” [1]

This quote from St. Therese of Lisieux has had me reflecting on what I await from God?
 
I can imagine what I “should” await from Him, and that is goodness, love, mercy, hope, peace, joy, and miracles. But reverting to my old ways of thinking I see I mistakenly await justice, punishment, negative consequences, doom, and gloom. Because I am not perfect I figure I do not deserve good things to happen. Because I cannot give God a statement of good works, desires, deeds, I figure I have not earned His special bestowals. Even though I have experienced event after event to prove this theory wrong, I still get stuck in its mixed up rationale.
 
For example, with my daughter’s high risk pregnancy I don’t believe that we deserve the miracle of God keeping the baby safe in the womb until she is full term. Nor do I completely trust in God’s care of her if she were to be born prematurely. Although I want to, my stupid way of thinking goes back to me not deserving such special graces for I see how quick I am to deny God’s omnipotence, so why would He want to help such an unbeliever!
 
I have been told that the spirituality of communion of life with Christ through the Blessed Mother is the path of imperfection. This road of imperfection sounds good to me as I see daily how I never will be perfect. I see how lost I would be without my entrustment to Blessed Mom to rescue me from my old behaviors and thought patterns which I return to in a vicious cycle.
 
Jesus said he did not come for the healthy but for the sick, and that He wishes to be my Divine Physician. Only with Blessed Mom will I learn to believe this truth. Only with Her will WE shed my desires for perfection and become satisfied in being loved, forgiven, and accepted as a wayward soul.
 
On the road of imperfection, I may never be able to admit my nothingness as I am called to do. Therefore, I entrust myself each and every day to my Blessed Mom. Through my entrustment, WE can await everything from God, and in doing so, obtain everything from Him as well. WE then can joyfully await a beautiful baby girl knowing that God will take care of her and her mom, giving them all that they will need according to His divine plan.
 
 
 [1] S.C. Biela, TheTwo Pillars, (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2006), 70.
 
 


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Entrustment to Mary = Learning How to Pray All Over Again


When my kids were little and I was balancing a newborn, toddler, and preschooler, people would comment to me how easy parenting was at these young ages.  Sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, I would inwardly completely disagree and look forward to the days when my children were more independent. 

Now, though, I see the truth in those comments.  Instead of worrying about whether everyone had been fed, bathed, and interacted with, I worry whether my older children are embracing their faith, being good friends to their peers, and making good choices that will affect their future.  I noticed that as a parent, I, too, was protected and carried.  Being so exhausted all of the time, I prayed constantly, sought out the Sacraments, celebrated little joys and didn’t pay much attention to distractions like social media and shopping, for which I had neither time nor money to address.  Sleep deprivation and social loneliness were my spiritual benefactors:  they pushed me straight into the arms of our Mother, who carried me to Our Father. 

Now, I struggle with making time for prayer.  I get a decent night’s sleep, but I am restless in my spiritual life.  I am so distracted in my prayer life, or avoid it all together, and am tempted to rely on myself instead of our Lord.  I become easily discouraged by my sinfulness, especially in the areas of mothering, and am frustrated that I am not making “progress” in my spiritual life as noticed by still confessing the same sins over and over.  I am lukewarm and recently felt the need for something to polarize me:  to make me choose between hot or cold.  To drive me into the loving arms and a continuous conversation with our Savior.

In the midst of birthday party preparations for my young daughter, I received a phone call from my mother.  Thinking she was calling to wish her granddaughter a Happy Birthday, I was quick to pass off the phone.  My mother cried out that she had called to talk to me, and went on to share the news of my father’s chest pains and imminent cardiac procedure.  Whoa.  Here it is, I thought.  Here’s God calling out to me for deeper union.  Although concerned, I didn’t feel fear, which is my usual response.  I asked her to keep me updated, and went about the birthday celebration a bit detached, and yet still in the moment.  No longer was I worried about a perfectly clean house before our guests arrived, or whether we had any party games to keep our guests entertained.  I interacted with everyone, but felt connected in prayer with our Lord. 

A few hours later, my mother called again, to tell me that it looked like God didn’t have plans for my father to come home.  What????!  She sounded so calm, and so grateful that I was immediately confused.  My heart sank, thinking he didn’t make it through the procedure, but then she explained that “home” actually meant “Home”, meaning eternal life.  God did preserve his life here on earth.   And so I, too, felt immense gratitude, to be able to enjoy my father’s presence here for a while longer.  But I was struck with the realization that I was not ready to handle funeral arrangements and grief, for change and loss.  I am not strong enough nor faith-filled enough to handle a life-changing, polarizing event. 

So where do I go from here?  

Admit That You Are Incapable.

When standing in the truth, you ought to admit that you reduce the time devoted to prayer because you do not know how to pray, and furthermore, at times you do not even want to pray.  Usually, it is difficult for you to dedicate even a fragment of your time to God.

In spite of what you have discovered, try to talk

                                sincerely with Jesus:

 

                Lord, You see that I do not know how to pray.

                You know, Lord, that I do not have the attitude of the tax

                collector –

                contrite and trusting in Your Mercy.

                I realize that every moment my thoughts are far from You.

                Nevertheless, I believe that You will not reject me.

                I believe that in Your presence

                my seemingly useless efforts have value.

(S. C. Biela, In the Arms of Mary, 2nd. Ed, rev. [Ft. Collins, CO:  IAMF, 2005], 18-19).

 

For now, I am recognizing my need for prayer and yet my unwillingness to cooperate.  I am asking our Blessed Mother to teach me how to pray.  To begin simply as suggested above.  To not doubt God’s working within my soul in new ways and new seasons.  To await His miracles as I grow in acknowledging the depth of my misery and allowing Him to love through me and in me.  I suppose that’s “progress” after all.

 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Entrustment to Mary = The Fruit of Imperfection

As much as I was trying hard not to let it happen, anxiety started creeping into my Christmas break as January got closer and closer. I knew January was going to be a busy month work-wise and kid-wise. I was fighting hard not to lose the joy of Christmas, but as usual, when “I” fight something “I” eventually lose!

To battle the obvious scenarios I had in my over-analyzing brain, I started praying. I prayed every day that I wouldn’t let January get me down, that I wouldn’t experience anxiety and late nights and stress. It seemed that as soon as I left the church, I would be talking to someone and hear myself saying how stressed I was. Ah, ye of little faith! Each time I admitted to my anxiety, I was made aware of my lack of trust. I didn’t believe my prayers would or could be answered by my All-powerful God. I went to confession on just this point.

But, there was something else Blessed Mother wanted me to see about myself. It wasn’t only my lack of trust, it was the more deeply hidden truth that I want to be perfect. I was praying not to be stressed – but why? What was my goal? Was I seeking God’s glory in my prayers? No, I was seeking a way to mask my weakness. It was so subtle, but my prayers were actually using the “spirituality” against itself. I was “admitting to my weakness” (anxiety, lack of trust, self-centeredness…) but not so that God’s mercy could embrace me. No. My goal was to be relieved of my weakness so that I wouldn’t be humiliated by it. I was begging to climb the road of perfection!

The road I am on, through communion of life with Christ through Mary, is NOT the road to perfection. It is the road to childlike trust and humility. I am specifically on this road because I am imperfect; I am a sinner; I am full of pride! I tried on my own for years to conquer my weak tendencies and I failed. Then, the words from Scripture touched me very deeply:  “Behold, your mother.”  My heart was opened toward this new way for me – a way in which Blessed Mother picks me up and carries me toward her Son.


It should have been no surprise to me that I was manipulating my prayers, because I still am imperfect. I still am a sinner. I am still full of pride. My surprise confirms this! But, the surprise exposes once again my BLESSED WEAKNESS that is my ticket to the Arms of Mary. This reminder is the fruit of my entrustment. When I start to climb the hills toward perfection, it is absolute grace that knocks me down and reminds me who I really am. Thank you Blessed Mother for rescuing me – all praise and honor be to my Lord, Jesus Christ!


Just as she did in the case of St. Juan Diego, the Blessed Mother places you too on her back and carries you through your life as someone defeated by your own pride. While carrying you on her back, she unceasingly adores her Son, Jesus Christ, your Savior who constantly blesses both her and you whom she carries as her beloved child. You should not forget why you are being carried: you lost the fight; you could not manage on your own. Without her you would have never advanced from the point of defeat.  (S.C. Biela, The Two Pillars, [Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2006], 37.)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Entrustment To Mary = Starting The New Year By Celebrating Our Blessed Mother

God has enlightened me this year into recognizing how special it is that our Catholic Church starts the New Year off celebrating the feast day of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God … Mother of us all. It is a great reminder that she is our Mother and she indeed wants to take care of us!
 
For my family 2014 was a rollercoaster of emotions. To recap the past 6 months: we had my husband’s mother pass away, a granddaughter born, a daughter enter the convent, another daughter get married, pregnant, and served divorce papers all within 3 months -  and now is having a high risk pregnancy that could lead to a preterm delivery; my other daughter’s family received notice they have to move across the U.S. for her husband’s next work project; I strained my wrist in October and it still hasn’t healed;  and my husband officially retired at the end of the year.
 
The only way I am surviving this multitude of graces is through my entrustment to Blessed Mom, allowing her to carry me through my sadness, anger, and despair.
 
I have shared how my daughter entered the Dominican Sisters, Mary, Mother of the Eucharist Order. This chosen vocation is a beautiful grace, yet, I still grieve the loss of having her close-by and being able to talk to her whenever I want. Feeling the loss especially on Christmas Eve, I was pleasantly surprised on Christmas morning to see her on the cover photo for the Order’s Facebook page. It was a most special present, for which I thank Blessed Mom. I believe she understood my motherly sorrow and interceded for that consoling grace.
 
I have felt anger with the events surrounding my daughter’s marriage dissolution. I have been unjustly accused and demonized by her husband. Once again I have had to flee to my Blessed Mom’s arms for she is also understanding in these matters. We have received graces showing us the need for compassion for this young man who in our eyes is emotionally wounded. These graces have helped diffuse my anger and resentment toward his actions.
 
With the risk of my daughter having a preterm delivery I have had a feeling of despair. As a mother, I am overwhelmed with what she has had to face during the past few months, and this additional trial seems almost too much to endure. But again I think of how God does not give us anything we cannot handle, as long as we bear the burden with Him. So, I climb into my Blessed Mother’s arms and entrust the trial to her, and with her WE can ask God for His merciful rescue.
 
Blessed Mother is really a SUPER MOM, always ready to carry us to her Son, so we may be loved, rescued, and consoled. Celebrating her on January 1st is a great way to remind myself how only through my entrustment to her will I be able to face the graces that lay ahead in this New Year!
 
“The heavenly Mother is continually ‘at the disposal’ of each of her children; she is disposed to help every time they call upon her." S.C. Biela, InThe Arms of Mary, 2nd. ed, rev. (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005),168.
 
 
“That Mary ‘carries us in her arms’ is an objective truth that does not depend on your faith. The words of Christ’s testament pronounced on the Cross are, in fact, an objective truth on the maternity of Mary in relation to all men. Her maternity does not depend on our recognition of it nor in our belief in her. Independently, whether or not you believe it, whether or not you remember it, you are ‘in the arms of Mary’." ibid, 171.

 
 


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Entrustment to Mary = Celebrating Sacrifices Not Asked For This Advent


The day before the season of Advent began, our family was strolling about Costco, trying to find some flameless, LED candles to use for our Advent wreath.  A moment later, my husband received an unexpected call from his sibling, with the news that his father was passing away from this life on earth.

It has not been an ordinary Advent.  But our ears have perked up and are listening more intently to the Word of God. The next morning, the First Sunday of Advent, the extended family gathered and heard the words of Jesus: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.”  The following days the Gospel encouraged us to “be like a wise man who built his house on rock, “ (Mt 7 :21,24 – 27), and to “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” (Mk 1: 1-8).    We were promised “a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3: 8-14)

We went on to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, later that night holding a vigil and Rosary to pray for the dear soul of my father-in-law and asking our Blessed Mother to be with him and accept God’s merciful love on his behalf.  The next morning, the feast of St. Juan Diego, we celebrated the funeral Mass of the Resurrection, followed by a graveside ceremony.  My heart ached at the sadness of my husband, and my children grieved aloud for the loss of their beloved grandfather. 

Although we did not choose it, this is the Advent our Father has planned for us. Mary did not choose the path God had willed for her, but she said yes and allowed God to work through her. In this way, our Father hopes to draw us closer to Himself.  This is the setting in which He wills us to hear His invitation to hope in His promises, to find joy in the Nativity.  Although this Christmas will be quite different than years past, with grace and faith, in the arms of Our Blessed Mama, we look to celebrate the true gift of love that God offers to us by becoming one of us.  We can participate in the Eucharistic celebration and be united with the communion of saints, meeting our Abuelito (grandfather) around the Table of the Lord. 

I pray that this year, in our more vulnerable state, we will find ourselves hungering more deeply for eternal life.  I pray we are more open to the healing God wishes to bestow upon us, by allowing the events of this particular Advent season.  I see that God loves us each uniquely.  I am seeing more and more my misery, my real need for the gift of our Redeemer.  Little by little, I am more and more grateful for the Christ Child, as I see my personal Rescuer.  I pray that I might not focus too much on my wounds, my misery, but on the truth that God wants to heal me of something.  He is seeking me out, with a profound and mysterious love.

“O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.”

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Entrustment to Mary = More than Baking Cookies!

The priest commented, “Wow, these Christmas cookies you made look amazing! I bet you put in a lot of time and effort to make them.”

“Yes!” I responded. “They have only the finest ingredients, and I used recipes that have been passed down for generations!”

“That sounds wonderful. So, did the process of preparing them draw you into a deeper relationship with Blessed Mother? Did you become more aware of Christ’s presence in your life while you baked them?”

“Hmm, to tell you the truth, I didn’t think much about that. I guess I didn’t think much about Christ while I baked them at all.”

The priest took the whole plate of cookies I had prepared him and tossed them into the trash can saying, “Then they are worth garbage!”

Harsh, you say? Well, this event didn’t actually happen to me, but something similar did to someone else and now I am the benefactor of her shock and amazement – as I have recently been shown through the example just how useless my actions can become when I am following my own will or acting as if God does not exist.

Each and every aspect of my day can either be full of me or full of GOD. I get to choose.

“The entire world is not worthy of a man’s thought, for this belongs to God alone; any thought, therefore, not centered on God is stolen from Him.” ~ St. John of the Cross, Maxims and Counsels

I have read this line from St. John of the Cross many times, but somehow the example of the cookies that are only worth garbage has drawn out the reality of what he was trying to say. All my actions are garbage if done without being focused on the One who created me, the One who saved me, the One who desires to fill me with His power and love.

Faced with this truth, what can I do? I am so immersed in my will that it seems impossible to believe I could ever fulfill the great command to love God with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my mind (cf. Mt 22:37). But, then I remember I am entrusted to Mother Mary. Jesus says to me again, “Behold, your mother” (Jn19:27).


Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer reminds us in his introduction to S. C. Biela's book God Alone Suffices that when faced with difficult situations, or what we perceive as impossible to change: “we can choose the way of faith, trusting that the endangerment is the opportunity leading us to Jesus, who controls the situation, or, on the Marian way, to Christ through Mary. If it is she who is in control, then we only need to find shelter under her mantle and already we become calm and safe.” (God Alone Suffices, p. xviii. Bold emphasis added.)

Our Lady of Guadalupe's words to St. Juan Diego can become the words she says to me:

Listen, put it into your heart,
my youngest and dearest [child],
the thing that afflicts you, is nothing.
Do not let your countenance,
your heart be disturbed. . . .

Am I not here, I, who am your Mother?
Are you not under my shadow and protection?
Am I not the source of your joy?
Are you not in the hollow of my mantle,
in the crossing of my arms?

Do you need anything more?

(Antonio Valeriano, “Nican Mopohua: Original account of Guadalupe,” in A Handbook on Guadalupe, ed. francis Mary Kalvelage, trans. Mario Rojas S├ínchez and Janet Barber (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2001), 200. Italic and hard return emphasis added.)

Now, the Christ-mas cookies have value – more value in the garbage than on the plate. This Advent, instead of thinking of and hungering for cookies, I am asking my MOM to hunger in me and for me for what truly matters...Her Son. My Savior.

“Thank you God, for allowing me to see the truth about my weakness, and how that calls upon the abyss of your merciful love!”

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Entrustment to Mary = Being Grateful For Everything

Only a person who has faith is able to be grateful for everything. This gratitude will be visible on your face as joy, for everything may be changed into good. [1]
 
It was easy to thank God when my husband and I survived driving the wrong way down a three lane one-way road. Miraculously the cars we were facing dispersed and we were able to turn 180* and head in the right direction, praising God as we did so.
 
It is easy to thank God for His blessings of a warm house, food to eat, employment, and family visiting during the holiday season.
 
It has not been easy to be grateful for my daughter being served divorce papers after only four months of marriage.
 
Although I am a person who has faith, it is not so easy for me to be grateful for everything. I do not always appreciate difficult trials; nor am I thankful for my weaknesses. I am currently reading the book How to Profit from Your Faults. It is based on the writings of St. Francis De Sales and discusses the positive side of one’s faults and failings. I am learning to have gratitude for my weaknesses as it is through them that I come to see how much I need God and His mercy. It is through my humiliations that I grow in my awareness of “who” I am not. It is when I can see my misery and stand in the truth and admit my unfaithfulness to God that I become open to allowing Him to rescue me. And who wouldn’t be grateful for that!?

The seeing, admitting, and opening myself up to my God is not easy for me. That is where my entrustment to Mary comes in, for on my own I cannot, and would not, admit the truth about myself. But in my Blessed Mom’s arms WE can thank God for everything, for WE can trust that everything may be changed into good!
 
Jesus is never sad when looking at your life that may be filled with failures, problems, conflicts, unfulfilled plans, everyday difficulties, and spiritual difficulties. He is joyful because He expects all those things to bear fruit. He expects that you will take advantage of them and you will be joyful and grateful for everything He gives you.[2]
[1][2]Tadeusz Dajczer, The Gift of Faith, 3rd. ed. (Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2012), 13.


 
On behalf of High Hopes, Control Freak, and Scaredy Cat we wish all of our readers a most blessed Thanksgiving and Advent Season. Thank you for sharing in our revelations of the many ways God loves us all as we are!