Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = Giving Spiritual Gifts

We are sending this blog post again as the address for the In the Arms of Mary Foundation was incorrect. The below address is the correct one to use. Sorry for any inconvenience this mistake may have caused.

Tis the season to give presents! I usually pick a tag from the local TREE of JOY to give a Christmas present to a person in need. This year the material gifts asked for on the tags somehow discouraged me from choosing one. Yet, I felt a need to offer alms somewhere this Advent/Christmas season. Then a request came across my email that was an answer to my dilemma.  It is one asking for spiritual books to be donated to priests and seminarians in Uganda. The priest making the request recognizes how these books can touch the interior lives of those who read them - in order to grow in holiness and to strengthen one's faith. A priest who desires to grow in holiness and faith on his journey to heaven is always beneficial for the souls of the lay people who come to that priest for personal guidance. Here is part of the priest's request:
"I have a feeling that if these books have helped the Laity, then it would even be very good for the Priests and Seminarians as well. Kampala Archdiocese has 317 Priests and 216 Seminarians. In addition there are 19 Diocese in the country where those books would be appreciated…I trust if these books are published and given to Priests as well as Seminarians, they will make a very big difference in their spiritual growth."
It brought me joy knowing my donation would not only be for the priests and seminarians who will read these books, but for the blessings that will be bestowed upon those who will come in contact with these men. It would be giving a gift that would have a spiritual and even eternal benefit! This opportunity brought peace to my soul.

I have read the 2 books the priest is requesting: Behold I Stand at the Door and Knock, and Open Wide the Door to Christ, both authored by S.C. Biela.  I will include a description of each at the bottom of this blog posting. These books have helped me come to understand how necessary it is to become poor in spirit in order to enter the Kingdom of God. I have learned that I must stand in the truth of “who” I am and admit this to Christ accepting His mercy and unconditional love as I do so. They are books that address everyday circumstances with a spiritual spin, helping me see how to open my heart to my faith, the Sacraments, God’s will, and my entrustment to the Blessed Mother. They are written in a way that speaks to every reading level.

What also is attractive about this request is the affordability of the donation. Just $10 buys one book including the shipment to Uganda. If this sounds good to you too, you can mail your donation to:                                               
In the Arms of Mary Foundation
P.O. Box 271987
Fort Collins, CO 80527
Or click on this link to Uganda Book Fundraising project. This will bring you to the In the Arms of Mary Foundation website to make your donation there. Please let the Foundation know that the donation goes for the Uganda Book Fundraising project.

The Foundation desires to fulfill the request of this priest with the help of others. It has begun by sending him a box of 24 copies of Behold I Stand at the Door and Knock. They will continue to ship books for Priests and Seminarians as long as there are funds available. I invite you to share this news with your family, friends, and cyberface acquaintances as well.
May all of our readers have a very Merry Christmas knowing God loves us as we are!


“Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him and he with me” (Rev 3:20).
This book leads the reader to discover the constant loving and merciful Presence of God. God never leaves His beloved children alone. He is always at the door of our hearts knocking, awaiting our opening of ourselves to Him. Discover the different ways God knocks, why we hesitate to open the door of our heart, and what treasure lies ready for when we do open the door to our creator. S.C. Biela, (Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005)
Continuing the themes presented in Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock, Biela helps to convince the reader of the treasure that awaits when we finally open wide the doors to our Creator. He reminds us of the key: spiritual poverty. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3). But how to become poor in spirit? That is exactly what this book addresses. A must read for all who desire transforming union with Christ. S.C. Biela, (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = A Joyful Home

Over the weekend, my son was invited to enjoy the afternoon and spend the night with his cousin.  When he returned the next day, he shared about all the fun activities and yummy food that they enjoyed, and I was happy he had a good time with his relatives. That is, until he hinted that he would prefer living at their house, with them, over our home, and us.  Ouch.  Now, before you might think badly of my son, know that his Control Freak of a mother encouraged him to be open with his feelings.  I knew as I was asking him that I was also asking for trouble, and for a quick wounding of my ego.  Sure enough, even though I understood what he was saying and why he was saying it, I wanted to rescue my pride.  I wanted to (and did, to some degree) rationalize to myself and to him why their home environment might appear to be better, but that the grass wasn’t necessarily greener. 

The truth, though, was that I had been praying for more peace and joy in our home for a long while.  The noise and chaos drives me crazy, and because I am so darn responsible, all the activities and school projects stress me out.  I am so overwhelmed that my temper is short and often times I unfairly lash out at my son.  OR hold too high of expectations.  OR micro-manage his schoolwork.  OR nag him about how inefficiently he does his chores.  Of course he enjoyed the laid back personalities of his aunt and uncle!  Yes, I can rationalize to myself that they might have been trying their best to make sure he enjoyed himself, but perhaps not.  Perhaps they are like that all the time.  It doesn’t really matter, because if I stand in truth, I know God is asking me to allow more of HIM and His joy in our home.  I must beg Blessed Mother, Queen of Peace, to reign in our home. 

Now, in my mind I want to be strong and organized, while remaining gentle and loving and present to my loved ones.  But according to my track record and my awareness of my personality, this doesn’t work.  I am always so tempted to rely on my own strength (which is non-existent) rather than allow the One to live in me and through me.

So as we celebrate this third Sunday of Advent, I am reminded of the pink candle – JOY!

    Christian faith most fully expresses itself in the joy of discovering the personal love of God, which you can depend on and to which you can entrust yourself.  Faith experienced in this way eradicates the attitude of the dramatic fatalism toward one’s own evil, which our contrition can change into a “happy fault.”  Christian joy flowing from faith is like a stream of God’s love.  It is faith that tells you to smile at God, to be joyful in His love.  Then you should look at yourself, whom you take much too seriously, from a certain distance and with a humorous perspective.  The virtue of humor lets you defeat the poison of sadness with which Satan tries to permeate your soul.  This virtue of humor causes you to stop worrying about yourself and allows you to live a life of joy flowing from faith. (Tadeusz Dajzcer, The Gift of Faith, 3rd ed. (Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2012), 99-100).

So if I read that right, I can ask Blessed Mother to be contrite with me and for me, and allow her to rescue me from my sadness over my temper with my children.  I will not be a perfect mother, but I can bless my children by being a channel of grace and of the pure love of their Heavenly Mother by allowing her to carry me.  I can trust that God, in His infinite wisdom, has paired my soul with the particular souls of each of my children for our greatest good.  Yes, this is reason for joy.  The fact that I am being reminded over and over how very much God loves me as I am is cause for great joy.  So I am grateful for the conversation with my son, as it allowed me to stand in truth and be reminded of how very much I need God.  I am reminded that I must fall to my knees with empty hands and simply ask for the grace to respond to His Love (in the arms of Our mother, of course!).  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = Celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

I have encountered different people who struggle building a relationship with the Blessed Mother. Usually their road block is the fact that Mary was conceived without original sin.  They’ve said to me “of course She could say ‘yes’ to God,” or “She can’t possibly understand me, I'm attached to sin” or “at least the other saints had to get over their sinful nature, thus I can possibly follow their lead, but Mary? How can I compete with that?”

Well, by the grace of God, I don’t see it that way. I find the news of Mary’s Immaculate Conception all the sweeter for me! When I go to Mary I am going to someone who has the “power” (She is FULL of grace) and the “humility” (She cooperated with grace) and therefore, She will care for me in the best way possible. If our LORD saw fit to put Himself into Her arms, then wouldn't it be just crazy foolishness for me to think that isn’t good enough for me?

Awaiting Christ this Advent – and doing it by staying in MOM’s arms.

“Freedom is something extraordinary and it takes on its proper meaning only in the posture that Mary assumed during the Annunciation. She was fully free, and yet with Her entire life She wanted to fulfill God’s will – She wanted to become the handmaid of the Lord.”  (S.C. Biela, Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock [Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005], 53.)

“The call to childlike trust is always leading us to imitate Mary. Our Heavenly Father wants us to imitate the way Mary lowered Herself before Him, especially the way that She continually maintained the posture of servant and slave.20 Mary assumes this posture because She knows that Her humility and childlike manner lead Her to abandon Herself to God’s love – a love that is constantly knocking on the door of the human heart.” (Ibid. 90.)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Toward Gratitude: The List that Never Ends....

With it being Thanksgiving, which for some turns into Black Friday, which for some turns into hectic travel, which for some turns into anxiety and fear of falling behind, we decided to give you a quote from one of S.C. Biela's most beautiful books The Two Pillars.  This book guides the reader toward contrition and gratitude. There is still time for us to stop and remember that we are utterly and completely immersed in LOVE!

“It is necessary to open our eyes and our hearts widely, to look at our lives as far back as we can remember to childhood and try to see how much good, love, care, and forgiveness is in everything that the Loving Presence gives us. The gift contains the interior call to respond to it. The gift demands gratitude.

What if we overheard a prayer lifted up to the Blessed Mother by a young American student who calls herself tiny (crumb)? This prayer is so simple, yet simultaneously astonishing, in the way it shows how she perceives God’s gifts in the areas of life where God’s bestowals are corroded by routine and, therefore, normally illegible for us. Perhaps our lack of discretion will be forgiven us if, because of it, we begin to discover bestowals whose dimensions can reach the size of a continent a continent of bestowals.

Dearest Mommy,
Thank You for everything:
For sitting with me on the subway as we returned from school.
For brushing my teeth with me.
For cleaning with me.
For giving me the grace of loneliness, so that I can better understand how You love me so much.
For my entire past and for everything that has led me to this moment of grace, thanks to which I constantly remember about Your loving presence.
For allowing my pride and my illusions to crush me to the point of depression, such that now I can understand and desire Your love and truth.
For Your constant friendship, even when I still didn’t know where You were.
For the fact that I do not have to try to achieve anything in the eyes of this world.
I thank You for the fact that I am constantly rejected by others, so that only You can be the Queen of my heart.
For laughing with me when I stumble and fall on this way because of my weaknesses.
For crying with me when I helplessly tried to understand, instead of simply entrusting myself to Your love.
I thank You, Mommy, that I am not tall and that I cannot see a lot of things because of this.
For all of the girls in the dormitory who look at me and giggle because I do not drink or sleep with boys.
For gathering up all of the graces that I receive and for safeguarding them with Your care so that they are not wasted.
For preserving me from so many sins because You know that without You I am capable of doing the most heinous and evil things.
For everything, Mommy, I am grateful.
For the abyss of my spiritual misery and for the abyss of Your love that fills it.
For the tininess of my entire being and for Your greatness.
For being my only home and refuge.
For our communion of hearts.      
For simplicity.
For silence, but also, for noise.
For the ocean of mercy that is outpoured over the earth.
For taking me and carrying me in Your arms anew, even after I wound You and Your Son.
For loving me so much that You desire my sanctification.
For showing me that, on our path of life, everything is and always will be grace.
Mommy, I thank You that this list will never end
Your beloved, little
(S.C. Biela, The Two Pillars, [Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2006], 71-73. Used with permission.)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Entrustment To Mary = Gratitude Diffuses Discouragement

Why is gratitude so important? St. Therese of the Child Jesus emphasizes that it is
gratitude that attracts God's grace the most. On the other hand, ingratitude, according to St. Augustine, is "the root of all spiritual evil, a windstorm that burns out and dries up every good." The desire to show gratitude to God should be born in us each time we notice how we have experienced His love. It is precisely this gratitude that will build in us an image of God that is close and closer to the truth. It will build in us the image of the One who is Love and who continually takes care of us. [1]
With Thanksgiving Day approaching, I thought a reflection on gratitude might be in order. I have learned through the spirituality of communion of life with Christ through the Blessed Mother that being grateful is the rescue for my discouragement and anxiety.
For example, after I was hired for my current job, I noticed in the newspaper an onslaught of new employment opportunities. I started to second guess my decision to accept my position which is less than part-time and came without benefits. I questioned myself, wondering if I should have held out for an appointment that would have been more hours and thus more income. Then I recalled how I had given God the credit for giving me the job as the interview had been scheduled for the mercy hour. I also remembered how grateful I was when I saw my work hours still allowed me to attend daily Mass three times a week. My anxiety released as I thanked God again for blessing me with my job. Also, God sees the bigger picture. At this workplace I have been able to take a week off to make a trip to celebrate my grandchild's 1st birthday. In my limited human way of thinking, I never would have guessed I could be leaving for a vacation so soon after being hired. Of course, I will not be paid for the time off, but God had everything fall into place so my duties would be covered. Again my heartfelt gratitude came pouring out for my Creator's merciful love.
But what about being grateful for what the world would perceive as negative events? I have been witnessing how ready I am to shout grateful praises when all is going my way, but lose the desire to do so when life takes a downhill turn. This is where my entrustment to Mary becomes my saving grace. When I cannot be thankful, or do not want to be grateful for so called "negatives" I remember I can turn it over to Blessed Mom and ask her to be my gratitude. Just the action of admitting my helplessness diffuses my discouragement or anger, for I know she is all powerful with God's grace and will help me through whatever adverse situation I am facing. Like just this week I had to ask her to help me remain appreciative for the 7+ years we have had a renter, even though when she moved out she left a mess, poorly painted walls, a cut doggy door, and took two weeks longer than a potential replacement renter could wait!
I also need her gratitude for my hearing disability which brings many humbling moments. It is hard for me to be grateful when I misconstrue what someone says, or I have to ask for a person to repeat themselves. If I truly believe God gives only the best gifts for my soul, I should be appreciative that my poor hearing brings purifications for my sanctification. Yet my stubborn pride keeps my "thank you" hidden under pursed lips. Fortunately, God knows best the burden of my nature, so He gave me his Mother to take care of me, and to make up for what I lack. She leads me to understand that it is easier to have gratitude when I am following God's will and not my own. She helps me remember that everything God bestows and desires is for my eternal happiness.
If you were grateful for all the graces you receive, then you would see God's presence and His intervention in your life much more clearly.[2]

[1] S.C. Biela, TheTwo Pillars, (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2006), 74.

[2] Ibid 85-86.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = Seeking Protection for My Children's Souls

One of my fears about our move to a nicer, “safer” and more bubble-like neighborhood relates to my children (and myself) adopting a sense of entitlement. Yes, I am so very, very grateful that I am not worried that my front door is going to be kicked in by intruders at 10 o’clock in the morning anymore, but there are other dangers to be concerned about here in our new city.  Day after day, going to school or playing sports with young children who seem to have everything and then some, can slowly poison our thinking about what we need vs. what we want.  I spoke with my spiritual director about my concerns, and he readily agreed that my concerns were valid.  It seems these days I have more concerns over the safety of their souls than the safety of their physical bodies. 

I am amazed at how God can hear the quiet prayer of my heart and answer my unspoken prayers.  Just last week a Catholic Relief Services representative from Kenya spoke to the young people at our parish.  My husband took our two oldest children, and when they came home to discuss all they had learned, my heart was filled with gratitude for the Holy Spirit teaching my children about gratitude.  Even though my husband and I try to teach them gratitude here at home, at times it is much more effective for them to hear the message elsewhere. The speaker’s personal story about near starvation moved my children’s hearts with compassion and planted a seed of awareness more quickly than anything I could have shared with them.  The speaker suggested that at this time and place in their lives, they could help by (1) being grateful for all that God had blessed them with, (2) do their best to avoid waste, and (3) offer their personal prayers.  The next day, they reflected that they looked at their meals a bit differently and felt a different sense of gratitude, but they still felt a bit helpless and a bit guilty for all that they had. The very next day, during a morning reflection reading, Jesus spoke to us all about not feeling guilty for all that we had been blessed with, but to be thankful and to see the truth that no one deserves anything from Him. “My kingdom is not about earning blessings.  And life with Me is not some sort of game in which you earn points to buy prizes.  Good behavior doesn’t buy blessings.”[1]   I did, however, notice that the reflection pointed out that this was a time of plenty in our lives, and that we should enjoy this time as His gift to us.  A time.  Hmmm…there is no guarantee it will last forever, nor that it will be good for my soul if it does last. Only God knows. 

“The person who wants to acknowledge his dependence on God in everything will have to agree to accept material poverty.  Otherwise, this desire to be dependent on God will only be a theory. ….In addition, even if our spiritual maturity is such that we are able to be detached from rich things, a comfortable life style, and a well equipped house, who can guarantee that our children will also be detached from these things?  Who can guarantee that they will not feel superior to those who are less fortunate?  The pressure of the environment pertaining to material reliance is so great that if parents do not give a believable testimony from their own lives, no amount of moralistic discussions will suffice to equip their children to withstand such pressure.”[2] 

And I wonder, how attached am I to a comfortable lifestyle?  Am I really detached and dependent on God for everything?  What am I modeling to them?   After hearing their recap of the Catholic Relief Services speaker, I thought differently about turning on my water faucet, and about leftovers in my fridge.  I see how much I take these gifts for granted.  "Since this detachment to prosperity does not come easily, we must attempt to stand in truth, admitting to our enslavement.  Then, with humility, thank Jesus for loving us as we are and for desiring to be united with us."[3] 

“When we look at our family’s material situation, we must always take into consideration the most important goal of our lives, that is, our sanctity and the sanctity of our children.  If we think seriously about holiness, then money is equivalent to garbage.  Money has value only to the degree that it serves us according to God’s will.”[4]  This is such an anti-cultural message and being the Control Freak that I am, I fear that my children will not embrace the gift of faith.  I fear that they will rely on themselves and live as if God did not exist.  But I cannot control them – at all.  The only thing I can do is seek deeper communion of life with Christ through His mother.  I need to ask her to repair the damage I do with my poor examples.  I can only entrust each interaction and each conversation with them to our Blessed Mama, and allow grace to be attached to carry them closer to our Lord.  I beg God to love them through me, so that His Presence will permeate their souls (and mine!) and draw us unto Himself.

[1] Sarah Young, Jesus Calling:  365 Devotions for Kids (Nashville, TN:  Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2010), 331.
[2] S.C. Biela, God Alone Suffices, 3rd ed. (Ft. Collins, CO:  IAMF, 2011), 25.
[3] Ibid., 26.
[4] Ibid., 26.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = Learning Simplicity from a Child

The last few early mornings I've been woken up by the Little One crawling into bed needing to be held. “HUG ME!” she says.  I usually have to roll over to face her, and I sleepily put my arm around her. She much prefers the two armed hold, but will accept my attempt, especially if it’s still dark outside.  If I’m too asleep to respond, she has no trouble waking up my husband with the same demand. It has got me thinking…how much do I need to be held by Blessed Mother?

The spirituality of Communion of Life with Christ through Mary emphasizes childlike trust and humility. I have come to believe that one of my Little One’s roles is to teach me the proper disposition to have in front of my Mother and ultimately, my Father in Heaven.

So my reflection and prayer today is what does MOM (Blessed Mother) want to share with me through the Little One’s desire for being held?

It is in the mornings, when the Little One finds herself alone and in the dark, that she seeks out my arms or my husband’s, but not only then. She asks to go to sleep in our arms too. During the day, she comes to us regularly asking to be held. If the walk is too long, she starts stretching her arms high, whining “hold me!”  When she gets a boo-boo, she runs to share the news with us…hoping for kisses and hugs. When she eats, she prefers to sit on our lap. When she is cold and/or tired, she snuggles into our embrace. I find she seeks me out when she is bored, and/or when I am distracted – wanting to make sure I still remember she is there. She runs to us to share her good news, as well as her bad news. She comes when she doesn’t understand something, and/or when she finally gets it! She often seeks out our arms at the Holy Mass – when she is overwhelmed by her lack of patience and/or distractions. 

Entrustment to Mary, submission to her, and being in her arms are your source of life. Outside of these arms everything appears to be threatening, the world seems hostile, and you encounter the worst things. And it would be so if Mary did not pick you up, embrace, cuddle, and hold you within her merciful arms. (S.C. Biela, The Two Pillars, [Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2006], 77.)
And, what does MOM want to tell me through the Little One’s desire NOT to be held?

It is always when the Little One wants to exert independence that she doesn’t seem interested in being held. When we pick her up to keep her from something is when she flies out of our arms quickest. She screams when her siblings pick her up and won’t let her down – when she feels trapped and when it isn’t her will. She stays away from us when she wants to be in control, or when she doesn’t trust us.

The words, I am afraid to turn everything over to God, hurt like a slap in the face because they are as if you were saying to God, I don’t trust You; I do not know what You are going to do to me. … Distrust, in a certain way, is worse than sin because it is the root and the source of sin. If you do not want to trust, if your enemy is able to engraft distrust in your heart, then consequences will have to follow – fear, the feeling of being threatened, and the suffering associated with it.  Only through the consequences of this evil will you see how far you have strayed. … You will continue to carry the burden of fear until you are converted, until you become like a child who simply entrusts himself into his loving father’s arms. “A patient should be treated for as long as it takes until he learns to pray,” wrote L. Szondi. This does not refer to repeating simple prayers. It refers to an attitude of deep prayer, the trusting prayer of a child who surrenders himself fully into the arms of the Father. (Tadeusz Dajczer, The Gift of Faith, 3rd. ed. [Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2012], 63.)
Childlike trust and humility, what does it mean for me?

I guess, in simplicity, it means I need MOM’s arms always:

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. (S.C. Biela, God Alone Suffices, 3rd. ed. [Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2011], 137.) 
©2012-2013 CyanoScarlet

Friday, November 1, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = Acknowledging God In The Workplace

Someone who is poor in spirit stands before God in truth and does not hide behind the masks of perfection and self-sufficiency. He believes that God loves him just as he is. Consequently, he is willing to admit to his limitations, fallibility, weaknesses, and misery, even in matters pertaining to work. S.C. Biela, Open Wide the Door to Christ, (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005), 114

I have almost completed working one month at my new job. When my interview for the job was scheduled for 3PM – the mercy hour - I figured it was a sign from God that He wanted me to have this position. I started praying every morning before work entrusting myself to the Blessed Mother and asking for graces to be able to do the work required of me. I would pray not to be a super employee, but just to be competent in learning the job’s duties. Then I would proceed to go through my work day totally forgetting about relying on God’s graces. I would become anxious and upset at every new aspect of the job that would come my way. To problem solve, I relied only on my experience and knowledge. I became stressed and overwhelmed. Driving home one night I realized this pattern, and asked God’s forgiveness for trying to do it all on my own. I admitted to my Lord that yes, I actually wanted to be a super employee.   

The next day I prayed to remember to rely on God’s graces during the work day. I remembered to ask for the Blessed Mother’s help for the various situations that arose. I did not become a “super worker”, and I made mistakes, but there was a calming peace that penetrated my being that can only be described as God’s merciful love. It has been a hard transition leaving a position that I was proficient at and becoming the new hire with limited knowledge and competence. There are a lot of humbling moments. But experiencing the peace that came that day when I stood in the truth and admitted my nothingness and asked for God’s helping graces, gives me hope that I can be content in this new employment knowing that God is a part of this environment and He wants to guide me on this path as long as I am open to following Him. And I can only be open to following Him if I continuously entrust myself to the Blessed Mother’s care.

Another grace God has bestowed during this time of transition is having me reach the section in my current meditation book Open Wide the Door to Christ that speaks about keeping God in the work environment. I believe there are no coincidences, just God’s love for me and my soul. I have included some of the helpful reflections below.

God wants to use your work, the people with whom you come in contact at work, and the difficulties that arise during work, as instruments in forming your soul. A large part of your adult life is spent at work and this time should serve you on your path to sanctity. If you look at your job without faith, then you shut God out of an important part of your life. Ibid 110-111

When you are excessively absorbed in what you do, you behave as if you have forgotten that you are God’s child and that you have an immortal soul, which your Heavenly Father wants to feed with His love, even when you are at work. Ibid 111
When you experience difficulties, you lose a sense of security. In turn, anguish overcomes you. Therefore, you should always seek reliance in God’s will. By seeking reliance in God’s will, you will cease to feel estranged and isolated. In addition, you will stop fearing people and circumstances. You will cease to be excessively preoccupied with what other people think about you. Peace will begin to reign in your heart – a peace that comes only when you seek to rely on God and follow His light. Ibid 97

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = Becoming Aware of Not Only Being Loved, But Also Longed For

The other day, a friend posted on Facebook a quote from Mother Teresa: 

Do you really know the living Jesus – not from books but from being with Him in your heart? Have you heard the loving words He speaks to you?…The devil may try to use the hurts of life, and sometimes our own mistakes – to make you feel it is impossible that Jesus really loves you, is really cleaving to you.  This is a danger for all of us.  And so sad, because it is completely the opposite of what Jesus is really wanting, waiting to tell you.  Not only that He loves you, but even more – He longs for you. 

This quote really resonated with me because I think often times, when it comes to Christ, I “know” Him in my head, and not so much “know” Him with my heart.  I keep Him at a distance.  As Pope Francis warned us recently, there is a danger of “becoming a disciple of ideology”.  “In ideology there is no Jesus:  his tenderness, love, meekness.  And ideologies are always rigid,” the Pope said.  “In every sense: rigid.  And when a Christian becomes a disciple of ideology, they have lost the faith;  they are no more a disciple of Jesus, they are a disciple of this attitude of thought, of this…”…”Why does a Christian become that way? …It is simply one thing:  that Christian does not pray.  And if there is no prayer, you will always close the door.”[1]

I have been blessed with a spiritual director for the last 11 years.  And he continues to advise the same thing all these years:  prayer.  Meditate for 20-30 minutes a day.  Well, for the last 11 years, I have struggled with just stopping and praying.  Always making excuses.  Always waiting until the end of the day, when I am too tired and too tempted to just turn on the TV and turn off my racing mind.  I shared with my spiritual director about how touched I was with Mother Teresa’s quote.  He advised me to respect that desire for a deeper relationship with the “real” Jesus, revealed to me by the Holy Spirit.  To sit down and see what changes I could make in my daily schedule.  To allow myself to be led to a greater aliveness in the Word/Gospels.  To avoid neglecting my friendship with Christ (through prayer, the Word, meditation), otherwise this will lead to a domino effect of increased anxiety.  I am reminded in The Gift of Faith by Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer that “the Holy Scriptures are also inspired text and a source of revelation;  therefore, our relationship with the revealed text should primarily be a personal one.  In fact, the Bible is not a “thing” but, above all, it is “Somebody.” ….When reading the Holy Scriptures, you encounter the living and true Christ through the gift of faith, which He Himself gives to you.” (Tadeusz Dajczer, The Gift of Faith, 3rd ed. (Ft. Collins, CO:  IAMF, 2012), 214).
I often wonder how different my life would be had I been obedient to his advice of daily meditation all these years.  Where would my faith be today?  I know that my laziness in my prayer life is connected to my struggles today, and I also know that I should not remain sad in this.  As Mother Teresa reminds me, He longs for me. 

I think what sparks my increased desire to know and fall in love with the “real” Jesus is because of my desire and hope for what my children’s relationship with Christ could be.  I want them to fall in love with Him.  I want them to pray, not to recite prayers.  I want them to be aware of His presence with them, all day long.  I want them to trust Him and His will for their lives.  I know that I cannot control them or force Him upon them, so the only thing I can do is fall in love with Him myself.  Perhaps with Blessed Mama’s help, they will experience God’s love through me and know that they are longed for, too. 
After all, just as I am motivated to see my children give their hearts over to Christ, our Blessed Mama is even more motivated to bring me (and all her beloved children) to her Son.  Thank you, God, for loving us so, so much.

[1] Esteves, Junno Arocho.  “Pope Francis:  ‘Becoming A Disciple of Ideology Closes the Door to Faith’”, Vatican City, http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-becoming-a-disciple-of-ideology-closes-the-door-to-faith (October 17, 2013).

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = Sobering Up

I was reminiscing today about a previous stage in my spiritual life when I was given an abundance of drawing graces, defined as graces given to me to draw me into relationship with Jesus and Mary. I remember feeling spiritually “intoxicated”! Everything seemed so easy – meditating, reading spiritual books, turning off the TV, sitting at Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, praying the rosary.  These graces were heavenly and I “drank” them up! The more the better! I could talk for hours into the night with other spiritual friends on the same “high” as me! 

Looking back, I have to laugh at myself. My reaction was definitely not that of Elizabeth’s: “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43). No, I think I must have subconsciously imagined I deserved it somehow. My reaction was more like the Pharisee who saw when someone else WASN’T praying! In my intoxication, everyone else’s “exterior” spiritual life was magnified and obviously needed fixing! And, what was worse was that I often doubted my dear ones could convert!
My White-washed Tomb!

Oh, to waste such beautiful graces! But, it is true. I did. I used God’s drawing graces against Him by living as if I was the master of these graces, up on my pedestal of “holiness” looking down on everyone else as if on their own they should be able to do more to grow in faith. It was so deeply subconscious that it is only now that I see it – over 10 years later.

But, praise God for His master plans and for HIS MERCY! Eventually the drawing graces were limited, and more and more “humble pie” was served to me! The drawing graces were special and needed – without them, I may never have started a prayer life or seen the value in all the Church has to offer. Without all the grace from that time in my life in which I grew quickly in relationship with Christ through Mary, I may not have survived the deeper misery they wanted to show me. During the necessary stage of initial conversion I wasn’t getting the full message of how tremendously God loves.

Now I understand better why it is so emphasized in our spirituality to look upon my dear ones as the saints they WILL BE in Heaven, and not to view them in the “stages” of spiritual life I think they are in. Just as I was drawn by grace into relationship with my Savior and His Mother, why should I doubt that my dear ones will have the same opportunity? WE (Mary and I) believe that my conversion and deeper realization of how I am loved as I am will benefit those around me more than my words, persuasions, or judgments.

“Therefore, we should always look upon our dear ones, as well as those who are away from the faith, as God looks upon them in His mercy. God looks at them as saints, even though they may convert in a year, maybe in ten years, or even – as in the case of the good thief – only at the last hours of their lives. “ (S.C. Biela, God Alone Suffices, 3rd. ed. (Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2011), 41.)

“The person who concentrates on God and on fulfilling His will does not get too discouraged by his own failures, even when it comes to testifying to the truth. If others are not open to his words, his arguments, or his attitude, he tries to remember that faith is a grace, which these people perhaps have not yet received. Also, when he sees that he himself continually forgets about the truths pertaining to interior life, and when he does not see any of the fruits of his interior struggles, he tries to remember that God, in order to realize His will, can hide these fruits from him.” (S.C. Biela, Behold, IStand at the Door and Knock (Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005), 59.)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Entrustment To Mary = Not Limiting God's Graces

A year ago I was a bit down in the dumps at my job and one reason was due to being the only employee. I thought how it would have been enjoyable to work in an office with others. Watching the TV sitcom The Office helped increase the desire to have co-workers. I resolved myself to believing it would never happen in my life, as I figured my current job would be my only career. Little did I realize then, that a year later I would be hired into a new position that has me in a clinic connected to a hospital with plenty of employees and patients to share my day. I am totally amazed by God’s generous love which has brought me to this change in my life, and given me this gift of something I have longed to experience.

Because all of my children had graduated from High School and we had hosted my daughter’s wedding, I figured the visits from extended family were probably coming to an end. To my delight the following year my sister and her family stopped by our home on a trip they were making to a relative's wedding. I smiled to myself that God would prove to me how limited my thinking is when it comes to His big loving graces that He desires to bestow.

Just last week my daughter shared that she and her family, who now live out of the country, are thinking about coming to our home for Christmas. Again, I had to chuckle to myself on how closed I am to God’s ways which are incredible, for I presumed we would not see them this Christmas season.

This same closed attitude of mine relates to my entrustment to the Blessed Mother. I limit the graces that flow from this union because I am always thinking in human terms, and setting up defenses against hurt feelings. I presume events won’t occur so I won’t be disappointed, when in actuality, God is ready to bestow so many more spectacular graces if I would just be open to them.

An example of such an extraordinary grace is Holy Father Francis consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary this Sunday, October 13th. For me, it is God using a world event to remind me how my entrustment to the Blessed Mother is exactly the path I need to take to make it through this world on my journey to Heaven. I look at this Consecration as affirmation of the spirituality of communion of life with Christ through Mary. And I see how I have not trusted in this gift I have been given. Jesus entrusted humanity [including me] to his mother from the Cross. Therefore, I should never doubt that Mary is my spiritual mother. I need to remember I am in her arms with her forming me as she guides me to her Son. I need to trust that she will help me to stop thinking in human ways as she leads me to being open to receiving God’s unimaginable graces. She is my rescue, just as she is the world’s rescue.
“When Jesus told His mother [Jn19:26]: ‘Woman, behold, your son’ it was as if He was telling her: My Mother, from this day on you will care for all people and you will ‘carry all of them in your arms’ as your children in the same way that you carried Me. And the words addressed to John: “Behold, your mother’ [Jn 19 :27] can be interpreted as: John, from today you have the special right to benefit from the privilege of being Mary’s child – this privilege consists of being ‘carried in the arms of My mother’ who is also your Mother.” S.C. Biela, In The Arms of Mary, 2nd. ed, rev. (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005), 170.
“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’. The recognition and acceptance of this truth can become an opportunity to open oneself to God and to His mercy.” Ibid 171.