Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Friday, August 31, 2012

Why I'm Entrusted to Mary, Mother of God - Reason 3: Bad Eyesight

I come from a line with bad eyesight. I’ve needed corrective lenses since I was in grade school and all of my children have followed suit.  I just removed my glasses from my face and the computer screen, only two feet away, turned into a fuzzy blur of colors. To put it into perspective, I zoomed my page to 500% and, while I could then make out where a word starts and stops at that zoom, each letter was still blurry and individual letters were not sharp enough to know for sure which letter it was.

Needless to say, I am extremely grateful for my glasses! Without them, I would live in a world of grayness, I would have constant headaches, and I would miss most of the details of the third dimension!  

Not only do I have poor visual eyesight, but I am practically blind when it comes to my eyes of faith. This is exactly why I am completely and utterly grateful for my entrustment to Blessed Mother! Before my entrustment, I spent my days living as if God didn’t even exist.  All I could “see” was how I or my dear ones felt, and how I or my dear ones were affected by our immediate environment. I then reacted to those events as if I could control them; change them to make us all feel good again. This led to living in a gray world (full of anxiety), suffering constant headaches (following my daily bout with tears), and missing most of the details of the spiritual dimension.

I guess it was no wonder the Good Lord had to pound so heavily on the door of my heart. He pounded with events that just couldn’t be fixed with my will, nor understood with my poor mind. Because of my blindness, I “tripped” over the attempted suicide of one of my close friends, then I “pounded into the wall” of my father-in-law’s sudden death…but it wasn’t until I “fell flat on my face” with my third miscarriage that I went to the Divine Physician to admit my blindness! 

How in need I was for so long, yet trying to deal with it all by myself. I looked like I was a religious person on the outside – attending Church, reading spiritual books – but I was so unaware of God’s Presence in my every day, ordinary and extraordinary events. Thanks to Blessed Mother, my eyes are being opened to His Presence more and more each day. Now, when I stub my toe on a stool I can’t see in the middle of the night because my eye glasses are off, I immediately “reach” for my spiritual glasses and say “Oh, MOM! Be my gratitude for this humiliation!” Together, WE (Blessed Mom and I) say, “All is grace.”[1]

[1] “If we look at the world through the eyes of faith, we will notice that our Creator is present in everything, and that this is the presence of Love – our only authentic reliance.” S.C. Biela, GodAlone Suffices, 3rd. ed. (Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2011), 115.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Entrustment to Mary = Having No Expectations

I have lived the majority of my life with high expectations. Most of my Christmas celebrations were spent in disappointment due to not receiving the gifts I had expected – even after writing very specific Christmas lists. I grew up in a large family, and there were many expectations to live up to, especially in grade school. The 8 siblings before me had all received the academic excellence award in 8th grade, so I put that expectation on myself to achieve as well.

When I was in my first years of marriage I had some heart aches that were due to me listening to the world’s view on what a marriage is all about. Watching my TV soap opera had me in tears that my husband did not send me flowers or shower me with compliments and love notes. Once I turned off the daytime dramas I had a much more satisfying marital relationship. I realized my expectations were the TV illusions I believed to be reality.[1]

My children suffered my expectations that they should show pristine behavior - especially in Church. When they didn’t meet these expectations I became a frustrated, anxious, and stressed mother.
Entrusting myself to the Blessed Mother and following the spirituality of Communion of life with Christ through His Mother, has helped me to begin to release my expectations. Mary seemingly never had any grand expectations. Just looking at her life – conception through the Holy Spirit, delivering an infant in a stable, watching her Son be abandoned and die a horrible death on a cross – I see that She only expected to love and serve God. She never dictated how her life should go, nor questioned God about the path on which He was leading her.[2]

With Blessed Mom, WE [Bl. Mom and I] have come to see that it is so much easier to allow God to work in all situations, instead of having a premeditative idea of how an event must go, or a person must act, or a situation must play out. With Blessed Mom, WE believe that God works for the good in all things, WE are letting go and even look at negative circumstances with a positive attitude.[3]

Starting to release my expectations has begun to set me free from the disappointments, sadness, and frustrations that come from them being unfulfilled. WE are living life more in the present moment, with God’s grace directing its course. The fear of not living up to the expectations I put on myself and my dear ones is starting to fade, allowing me to be at peace in my Blessed Mom’s arms knowing that God loves me as I am.

[1] Does It Matter What You Watch On TV? 
[2] If you believe that in everything that God does there is an expression of His love, you may not expect special explanations. You may not analyze why sometimes you were particularly honored and at other times divested of everything. This attitude will permit you to accept your own way toward God, since there are varied ways through which we journey toward Him and frequently these ways are incomprehensible for us.”  S.C. Biela, InThe Arms of Mary, 2nd. ed, rev. (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005), 149. Used with permission.
[3] “If you want to be the servant of Christ, it is possible that He may treat you in different ways: Sometimes you will receive ‘easy’ graces, and at other times ‘difficult’ ones. The Lord does not have to explain to His subject why He gives him ‘candies’ or nourishes him with ‘bitterness’.” Ibid, 148.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Entrustment to Mary = Being Loved Through a Broken Lamp

Before being introduced to the spirituality of living in communion with Christ through His Blessed Mother, I was an extremely anxious person: over-analyzing, trying to control each situation, trying to avoid unpleasant ones, fearing the worst, feeling insecure and inadequate.  Now, although I am still this way by nature, God has graced me with an awareness that His presence is with me always.[1]  His love permeates EVERY SINGLE MOMENT, although it might not seem as such if I limit my view to that of the way of human thinking.  The spirituality challenges me to see all moments as gifts and helps me to look at the world and events through eyes of faith.  

I’ll share with you an example that stands out.  When we had just two small children, we went on vacation with my family. We rented a condo and when we arrived, my husband started to baby-proof the house.  My daughter was crawling at the time, so he wanted to move this heavy chair in front of the staircase to prevent her from falling.  He didn’t realize that the lamp cord was stuck under the chair, so it fell and broke into pieces.  We didn’t think too much of it, but reported it to the management company as we checked out.  They got back to me, and sent me a bill for the lamp replacement totaling $800.  $800????  Apparently it was a custom lamp from a specialty shop.  I have to say I was unbelievably angry and started lashing out at the management company:   “That’s ridiculous!  Who has custom lamps in rental homes?  There is no way I’m going to pay that much!” ...and on and on I went. 

I called my mom to rant and to justify myself.  She responded with: “Why don’t we look at the spirituality of this event?  How could we look at this through the eyes of faith?  What is God trying to tell you?”  Believe me, I was in no mood to look at this through the eyes of faith.  But – after I cooled off a bit and my pride was a bit more in check - I spoke with a priest and he had a lot of insight for me.  It turned out that this was one of the gentlest ways God could have spoken to me.  It turned out it had nothing to do with the lamp.  Instead, I learned a lot about my own pride, my attachment to money and security and my own sense of entitlement.  It turned out that this was the best investment of $800 I could have ever spent.  And again, God was so very gentle.  I even had the money in my bank account.  This was a turning point for me to begin looking at events through the eyes of faith, and not so much the way the world and human thinking would have me look at them.  All is grace.[2]

Now, as soon as I start to feel the familiar racing of my fearful heart, I am quicker to take a deep breath, remind myself to stay under Blessed Mama’s mantle and seek the peace that comes from knowing God’s loving presence is with me.  I need to call upon the Blessed Mother for openness to seeing the spirituality of events.  With Her, I will NOT rationalize my ways of thinking, but truly discern how God may be speaking to me and what He may be teaching me out of LOVE. And of course, with Her, WE will trust that His ways will bring me much JOY. 

[1] “Every moment of your life is a moment of meeting with the Presence that is loving you.” (Tadeusz Dajczer, The Gift of Faith, 3rd. ed. [Fort Collins, CO:  IAMF, 2012], 6.)
[2] “…Everything is a ‘gift’, since always and everywhere God gives you an opportunity.  It is extremely important for you to believe in this constant Presence who manifests Himself in various ways.” (Ibid. 6-7.)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Entrustment to Mary = Different than Imitating Mary

I was at a retreat this summer and the theme was about Blessed Mother and her role in our life. The priest drew our attention to the words of Jesus Christ while on the Cross, “Behold, your mother” (Jn 19:27). He mentioned how these words have the potential to be understood deeper and deeper every time we hear them. If we seek, then we shall find the deeper meaning.

Imitation of Mary

This same priest gave one of the most helpful analogies I have heard shared to help understand what entrustment to Mary means. He said to imagine a mother with two children. The first child is very brave, while the second one is not.  Both children watch as their mother enters a dark room. The brave child sees her enter and thinks, “Since my mother can do it, then I can do it too.” That child desires to and is able to follow the example of the mother, and enter the dark room. This is the example of imitating Mary.

Communion with Mary

Meanwhile, the other child thinks, “Yes, I saw my mother enter that dark room, but I am too afraid to go by myself. I will only be able to go in if my mother is present with me.” This child desires to enter the dark room, since his mother is there, but cannot follow her on his own. He needs the awareness of the presence of his mother to enter. He prefers to say “WE (mom and I) are going into the room together.” This is the example of entrustment to Mary or, another way to say it, communion of life with Christ through Mary.

The above analogy speaks volumes to me. I am definitely the cowardly child who wants/needs Blessed Mother’s presence in my life! Sometimes, I am not even brave enough to desire to follow her. That is why I beg for the graces that She will carry me. I like to envision myself as a child on her back, in a papoose sleeping while She carries me through all the adventures of my days. Therefore,  I can say “WE (Blessed Mother and I) are together caring for my children, washing the dishes, reading Facebook posts, going to Holy Mass, receiving the Holy Eucharist, talking to my ‘difficult neighbors,’ mourning the loss of my father, loving my husband, etc., etc. ”

Since being on that retreat, I have been contemplating the significance of being carried in the arms of Mary. It is easier to remember that I am carried the more I remember how truly God and Mary love me. In the example above, the two children wanted to follow their mother. Why? Because they were convinced of her love! They beheld their mom and wanted to be with her.

How much more crucial it is in my life to desire to be with the Blessed Mother! The more I desire this, the more She has been convincing me that I am loved as I am. The awareness of being loved as I am is helping me to be more and more grateful for Mary’s presence in my life. It is a lovely circle of discovering God’s mercy and love.

I’m curious – for those reading this blog – which child do you relate to most? Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Entrustment to Mary = Be Not Afraid

I have been full of fears my whole life. As a youngster I was afraid of the dark and when going to bed I  would ask my sister if I could put my hand on her bed, or if she would turn and look my way so I could fall asleep. I carried on this way until in Jr. High, when God gave me the grace to recognize that He would take care of me and I need not be afraid but only to entrust my fear of the dark to Him. 
As I grew older my fear switched to people. I fear offending others – like not telling my relatives and friends that their lives would be so much easier if they returned to practicing their Catholic faith. I fear conflict with others – like not suggesting to the coaches through the years that Sundays should be a day of rest for our daughter athletes. I fear opposition with others – so I refrain from speaking up for the unborn against abortion. The worse products of these fears are that they lead me to silently deny my God, my Savior and my faith. 

The following quote is from the book, God Alone Suffices, which speaks to this subject, and tells how in reality the only fear I should have is the fear of God. For me it answered my anxieties with common sense truths:

After all, everything depends on our God. Our respect and praise belong only to Him – this is what we call a fear of God. When this fear of God is missing in us, we give an exaggerated value and our praise and respect to less important things – the situations and circumstances that should always be secondary when confronted with the action of God. We are afraid of people and their rules, which in our thinking govern the world, instead of fearing only God, whose will is necessary for all things to happen.
Because of human regard, we become stagnant and discouraged when we are faced with difficulties, circumstances that we consider as unfriendly winds preventing us from achieving our goal. We forget that there are only two scenarios: either God wants these difficulties, for reasons that we do not have to know, or at least He allows them to happen.
Perhaps He allows these difficulties to show us how much we lack faith? Our connections toward people and the different ‘rules of the game’ invented by them is a form of idolatry because we are either too afraid of them, or we adore them without any reservations. In this way we disregard our Almighty God. If our hearts properly feared God, if we sought reliance on our Lord and Creator in every situation, then a certain distance would be generated in us toward the illusory calculations of our minds, which are not enlightened by faith.

S. C. Biela, God Alone Suffices, 3rd ed. (Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2011), 132. Used with permission.

I seek rescue from my fears through God’s grace and entrustment to the Blessed Mother. When feeling intimidated I remember She holds me in Her arms - and remind myself what She once asked St. Juan Diego:
I believe I will always have a fear of people, for this weakness helps me entrust myself to the Blessed Mother – reminding me that ONLY with Her will I have the proper fear of God; and ONLY with Her can I be a confident believer - who gives less attention to human regard – for She knows that God is in charge and that He is the only One who first and foremost deserves my interest, praise, and respect.