Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Entrustment to Mary = Appreciating the Dark Circles Under My Eyes

My baby boy will not be much of a baby much longer.  Now eleven months old, he is nice and chunky, eating more solid foods, crawling, and cruising. He is full of smiles, new teeth, and curiosity.  He is such joy!  Except.  Except this child DOES NOT SLEEP.  At 11 months, he wakes more often at night than a newborn!  And it is taking its toll on this poor mama. 

I was never one to feel comfortable letting my child “cry it out.”  I have checked out many a sleep-aid book from the library.  My husband has been so generous in volunteering to rock him, or pat him, or somehow soothe him back to sleep, but the baby still wants me.  We have read that he most likely has not learned to put himself to sleep.  Still, after so many efforts, he has not been an eager learner. He will fight and fight against sleeping!  He will be completely out, but then still somehow force himself to sit up and begin crying all over again.

I tried to look at the situation through the eyes of faith.  Many a time, awake in the middle of the night, I have felt called to pray for certain individuals.  Because of my constant state of sleep deprivation, I have been reminded of how very weak I truly am.  I have seen the need to call upon God’s grace, to live in the present moment, and hope and pray for His strength to cater to all my children throughout the next day.

However, this control freak does not like the constant disruptions night after night, week after week, month after month.  Enough already!  Fluctuating between trusting in God’s strength/perseverance and my own human desperation, I decided that “crying it out” was a must. The dark circles under my eyes were getting way too dark and there was only so much coffee my stomach could handle!

I would go in his room from time to time to make sure he knew that I was and will always be available for him.  From past experience with an older child, I had learned that I am my children’s first influence on their image of God.  I want them to trust that God hears their cries and is always loving and always present.  But this kid could cry for hours! And he would only calm down when I came in and held him.  He would grab my shirt and snuggle his little head on my shoulder.  I was amazed at how convinced he was about his need for his mother! 

And then it finally dawned on me.  How convinced am I that I need my Blessed Mother?  Am I clinging to Her for dear life?  Do I trust Her presence?  How many “nights” do I live calling out to Her?  Not enough.  Most times I am “sleeping” by myself, convinced that I do not need Her or barely paying attention to Her at all. 

I suppose the dark circles are priceless if they can teach me to seek the arms of our Blessed Mother without ceasing, just as my son calls out for me.  Although I do want my son to have healthy sleep patterns, my prayer is that we do not ever convince ourselves we do not need the arms of our Blessed Mother:  “Thank you, God, for loving me so, so much (as I am, frustrated and all) and thank you Blessed Mama for being the mother of Jesus and my mom, too.” 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Entrustment to Mary = Remembering You Are Loved When You Don't Make the Deadline!

Due to travel, lack of internet access and "life", this week's post will be delayed until next week. We are happily "forced" to remember that God loves us as we are, and not how we want to look (timely, organized, spiritual, etc.). Before entrustment, missing a deadline and being as the world would say "imperfect" led to anxiety or feeling like a failure. Now, Mary helps us to see it as our beloved weakness that leads to the honor of living life in her arms. We are not making excuses, we are reveling in the Truth! Praise be to our Awesome God!

Do you get In the Arms of Mary Foundation's Quote of the Day? Because we find it interesting that today's quote preceded the "event":

Are You Similar To A Helpless Sheep?
"The helpless sheep wants to follow Jesus, even though nothing works out well for it and the efforts that it makes do not have results. It believes that the Good Shepherd sees its desire to follow Him, and its effort to advance at least by a few steps. It believes that in the eyes of the Good Shepherd it is not important how much distance it has successfully taken but only the extent and greatness of its desire and effort to be obedient to Him."

S.C. Biela, In The Arms of Mary, 2nd. ed, rev. (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005), 74.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Why I’m Entrusted to Mary, Mother of God - Reason 2

Because, on my own, I won't run for last! 

An expression used by those trying to live the spirituality of communion of life with Christ through Mary is “I’m running for the last place.”[1] There was an image drawn to depict the saying which shows this very happy runner going downhill passing three very serious, tired uphill runners. 
I'm running for the last place!
When I first tried to intellectualize this expression I really struggled. I couldn’t figure out what it meant – running for last place…is that even possible? And what seemed the most impossible for me was that I would do it smiling.  Discovering my misery before my entrustment equated to self-focused crying, not smiling.  

Blessed Mother is carrying me there.

That’s where Mary, my Beloved Mommy, has helped me so much! Because She is carrying me, I don’t have to rely on myself to pick the right direction – up, down, left, right…is that good, bad,  right or wrong?  She instead tries to keep me focused on the truth that God loves me as I am--the loser and the bungler, or as my ego really rejects – the LAST!

Realizing I’m the last, and rejoicing in this truth is the goal (cf. 2 Cor 9:12). The events in my life are helping me achieve this goal. Before entrustment if I saw my misery, I either hated myself for it or I saved my pride by blaming others, or the circumstances, for my ill behavior. Since entrustment, when I see my misery, WE (Mary and I) desire to remember that this is who God loves: a sinner in need of His mercy.[2]

For example, a couple of days ago I was reading to the Little One the story of St. Thérèse the Little Flower. In it there was a passage about how St. Thérèse, when she was a toddler, threw temper tantrums. It mentioned that her mother was loving and patient with her and helped her to desire to please Jesus.[3] I immediately started dreaming of how I could teach my child this way too. No sooner had these dreams come to my mind, the Little One locked herself into my bedroom where she was going to take a nap. I reacted by screaming like a lunatic for her to unlock the door. My outrageous screaming (or should I say temper tantrum?) didn’t put the proper fear of God into her, but the fear of her mother’s wrath! So, of course, she didn’t open the door. I was totally insulted – proving how much I want to be first. "Loving and patient," I was not.  Blessed Mother allowed me to experience who I am.[4] In a very gentle way, She wanted to show me that I need her to teach me to desire to please Jesus!

Who am I? I am Blessed Mother’s beloved bungler. What did this event help me to understand? That I need a Savior. It made me desire that Christ would live in me. And for that WE are truly grateful!

S.C. Biela helped me to understand this in his book God Alone Suffices:

This process of purification is described in the words of Jesus: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me!” (Mk 8:34). Indeed, we have to deny ourselves in order to undergo the process of purification from our pride of good impressions about ourselves. This indicates the need to take up the cross of truth about ourselves, and imitate Jesus so that we will desire to be the last–to run for the last place here on earth.32
We cannot forget that Jesus, though being first, became the last. In this way, he has shown us how we should relate toward everything. In this way, he has shown us what the spirit of this world offers us, and he has revealed to us our attachments to our own ‘perfection’. He took upon himself our wretchedness and the sinfulness of our attachments. He waits, however, for us to come after him so as to fully take advantage of the sacrifice that he offered for us. He expects that in order to imitate him we will try to lose everything and everybody, which includes the prideful notions that we are good.
This race for the last place on earth is meant to shape us into persons who will consciously and voluntarily assume and admit, in the posture of the poor in spirit, that we are nothing and that we await everything from God. It is only such a person who will try to desire this one thing: that he will not live, but that Christ will live in him. In this way the grain can gradually die.
32 Charles de Foucauld, in his notes from the retreat in Nazareth (November 5-15, 1897), says: “For me, to seek always the last of the last places.” This confession is as an echo of a sentence which he had heard soon after his conversion during a sermon given by his spiritual director, Father Huvelin: “Jesus has so taken the last place that no one has ever been able to wrest it from him.” Father Huvelin, Sermons, March 1887 quoted by Jean-Jacques Autier, Charles de Foucauld, trans. Julia Shirek Smith (San Francisco, CA Ignatius Press, 1999), 152, 105.
S.C. Biela, God Alone Suffices, 3rd. ed. (Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2011), 108.  Used with permission.

[1] Rev. Andrzej Buczel, Ph.D, (1951-1994) co-founder of the Families of Nazareth Movement.
[2] “Why do we not truly lay our life before Him, including our incapability to believe and to pray? This is already an act of worship: when we truly say “Kyrie eleison,” when we truly cry out to God from the depth of our wretchedness, this is acknowledgement of what we are, and who He is; it is the adoration for His glory.” Translated from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Dogma und Verkündigung (Dogma and Preaching), p. 123 f.
[3] Cf. Marie Baudouin-Croix, St. Thérèse of Lisieux And the “little way” of love (Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media, 1999), 11.
[4] In case you are wondering, I was able to unlock the door within a short time, and no physical harm came to the Little One.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Entrustment to Mary = The Peace that Surpasses All Understanding

Last week my daughter got married. Last week my husband and I hosted a wedding reception in our backyard that included over 200 family members and friends. Last week we heard from our family and friends how beautiful the nuptial Mass was and what a good time they had eating, drinking, and being merry during the hours following it.  Some even dared to say that it was “just perfect” – and you know what?  It was – because it wasn’t!

I won’t list all the things that didn’t go according to plan, but I will say that God’s grace sufficed for what we lacked. From the day the engagement was announced, I knew I was in over my head. I believed my only recourse was to ask our Blessed Mother to take over at the helm.[1] She gave me her eyes to see the people who were willing and eager to help. She sent us “Marys” who prayed and “Marthas” who labored. And in the final weeks and days – and hours! -  She had us securely enveloped in her mantle, experiencing a peace that surpassed all understanding. Things didn’t always go our way but we were given the grace to accept and trust and believe that God’s will was being done. This hugely affected our experience of the wedding and those who shared it with us.

A few days after the wedding, I noticed I was not experiencing the same peace.  I wanted to say that Someone was taking the mantle back.  But as I shared my experience with others who have also entrusted themselves to Blessed Mother, the reality was clear – I was the one who was kicking the mantle off, as though I didn’t need it any more. How silly is that? Entrustment to Blessed Mother[2] can be experienced EVERY day in EVERY event, big or small. Just as She pondered all things in her heart, She will guide us to see God’s will in all things. Therein lies the peace that surpasses all understanding.  (cf. Philippians 4:7)

- Contributed by one of Mary's Beloved Children, whose pen name is Farrah C. - "My 'happy fault' leads me in search of the tax collector who humbly acknowledges, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' (cf. Luke 18:13)

[1] For those who are accustomed to planning and organizing everything by themselves, this task of ‘giving over the helm’ may become very difficult. Of course, if God illuminates us with the light of faith, then it will become clear to us that there is no risk involved in this surrender, because – as it was before and it is now – we remain hidden in God’s arms. (S.C. Biela, God Alone Suffices, 3rd Ed. [Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2012], 136.)

[2] The arms of Mary, where we can find security and happiness, are in reality the arms of God Himself, who completely permeates the one whom the Church calls the Vessel of the Holy Spirit. (Ibid. 137.)