Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Friday, July 26, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = Perceiving God’s Reality Show

Last weekend I went to a wedding. Before going I watched two episodes of the reality show Four Weddings. It is a show that has four brides attending each other’s weddings and scoring them according to dress, food, venue, and overall experience. The women do not know each other before filming the episode. The winner is the bride who receives the most points for her wedding, and the prize is a luxury honeymoon trip. With that said, when I arrived at the wedding, I started to immediately judge the venue site. It disturbed me how my experience was being tainted by a television show. It also disturbed me how judgmental I was during the whole wedding ceremony and reception looking at it through the eyes of the world. The only moments I felt at peace were when the officiate spoke about God being the center of their marriage, and when he quoted from Scripture about true love. I saw how when I am not focused on God the world is a distracting place for me.

This isn’t the first time this reality show has bothered me. When my daughter was getting married two years ago, I told my family to turn off that show because while watching it I became anxious that my daughter’s wedding would not live up to the high standards exhibited on the episodes. I found peace when my family redirected our attention back to God and our reliance back to His grace to lead us through the event.

A friend shared with me how the website Pinterest had disturbed her when she was planning a party, as she did not feel like she was planning her event to be as spectacular as the ideas she had seen on that site. Another friend shared with me how incompetent she feels sometimes when she compares her life to those on Facebook. Both of these website experiences prove to me that when we allow the world to speak to us on how to manage our events or our lives, we can be led to anxiety, frustration, and disappointment.

The spirituality of communion of life with Christ through the Blessed Mother has helped me to look at the world through the eyes of faith. To see that God is a part of everything. When I acknowledge God’s Presence in every aspect of my life I feel more peaceful during the good and bad times. God’s thumbprint is on every part of my day, so when traffic gets busy, or internet is slow, or I stub my toe – no worries, as I know God is a part of this scenario, and He only wants the best for my soul. My entrustment to Mary helps keep me focused, as Mary was always centered on God.

When I allow myself to be distracted and disturbed while watching reality shows, I can count on God showing me how my parting from His gaze brings me unrest and anxiety. This truth is highlighted when I return my attention back to Him and feel the peace of God who loves me even when I stray.

“The created world surrounding us is a voice that speaks to us. If our faith is weak, then that voice will distract us, pull us away from God, and will focus our attention on itself. As faith grows, the opposite process occurs. The outside world begins to speak of God, to focus our attention on God, to draw us to Him, to become a sign of His presence, to help us get in touch with Him, and to become a place where we encounter Him.”
Tadeusz Dajczer, The Giftof Faith, 3rd. ed. (Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2012), 5.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = Freedom from the Madwoman

The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha [Control Freak], Martha [Control Freak], you are anxious and worried about many things.  There is need of only one thing…

How fitting that this Sunday’s Gospel speaks so directly to my heart.  This past week has been ridden with anxiety, so much so that I have not slept for 3 nights straight.  However, this tossing and turning and insomnia are the result of trials of my imagination.  Imagined and magnified fears!  My mind has been spinning out of control!  My son has been away at camp for the first time and I fear abuse.  Friends come to visit and I worry about what to cook and how to plan the days and how to find time to clean everything with little ones underfoot, and then after their visit I end up fearing exposure to stomach flu and lice! 

By God’s grace, I was sharing my out-of-control fears with a relative, and she was able to direct me to an excerpt from a book entitled Jesus as Friend by Salvatore Canals, based on the teachings of St. Josemaria Escriva:

But the imagination is a madwoman – la loca de la casa, Saint Teresa called her, with her usual wit – and yet how often we choose her, more or less consciously, as our adviser in the most delicate problems of our soul.  Those imaginary crosses that torment us and exhaust us:  they are tricks our imagination plays on us….We are afraid of things or of dangers that at present do not exist, and we don’t know if they will every happen; but in our imagination we see them as present, and this makes them appear even more terrible….[but] because these dangers that you imagine possible are not actual dangers and because this fear you have has not been verified, then clearly you do not have the grace of God necessary to overcome them….If your fears were verified….then you would have divine grace; with that grace and your response to it you would win out and have peace. (Salvatore Canals, Jesus as Friend, (New Rochelle, NY:  Scepter Publishers, 2002), 60, 62.)

Because these fears were not crosses sent by the Lord, I do not seem to have the associated graces He promises me to carry them.  I have wasted my energy and fed my soul with distrust in God’s plan for me.  I have not been begging Blessed Mama to bring me back to the simplicity and trust of a child.  The result?  Fatigue.  Anxiety.  Crankiness.  Sugar addiction.  Acne breakout.

As I reflect on my misery further, I turn to The Gift of Faith by Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer.  Here I find hope on a grander scale: 

Through faith, we are incorporated into Redemption, which includes not only our sin but everything that pertains to it…Jesus, dying on the Cross, redeemed us from fear and from the feeling of being threatened, just as He redeemed us from sin….Grace flows continuously from the Cross so that we may be saved from sin as well as from fear…..How are you to fight this fear that surrounds you? If you fight it directly, it will end in a fiasco.  There is only one unfailing way:  open yourself up to the redeeming action of Christ through faith like that of an evangelical child. …You should say to yourself:  There is no threat since He has redeemed me and has freed me from everything.  I need only to accept this.  (Tadeusz Dajzcer, The Gift of Faith, 3rd. ed. (Ft. Collins, CO:  IAMF, 2012), 60.

Jesus says, “There is need of only one thing.”(Luke 10: 42)  I need communion with Him. Blessed Mother, please carry me to the feet of your Son.  Like Martha’s sister Mary, please help me to choose the better part.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = Guiding my Little One to Find Rescue in Mary’s Arms

After a week at Vacation Bible School my Little One shared a fear of dying on the cross. I wasn't there to know what was presented to the kids, but the Little One would end our prayers in tears saying “I don’t want to die on the cross, Mommy.”  I shared with her that Jesus already died on the Cross for us because we wouldn't have been able to do so. I shared that we should be so happy and thankful to Jesus that He did this for us. We also talked about how special it will be when we die and have our “new eyes” that can finally see Mary and Jesus.

Last night the Little One woke me up at 3 a.m. It has become a regular occurrence, although unpredictable – 3 am, 1 am, 5 am.... The issue this time was a painful shoulder from a mosquito bite on top of her sunburn.  In trying to soothe the Little One, I started asking her to pray to Blessed Mother that She might accept the pain for her, so that it would stop hurting. There was a definite resistance to this prayer. The Little One preferred to repeatedly say “it hurts” and to want to take care of it by rubbing and scratching the mosquito bite and sunburn. (Hmmm, not much different than my lack of trust when I choose to complain rather than pray for relief from a headache, or ask Mary to be my patience with the kids or to hold me during an anxiety attack. What a gift to see this similarity in attitude…in the wee hours of the morning.) I kept encouraging the Little One to ask. Then she said to me “you say the words for me.”

This phrase struck me. It is what communion of life with Christ through Mary is really about. It reminded me that by asking Mary to pray for me, I am freeing my will for God’s action. I am allowing my locked door to be opened by the key of Love.

Through spiritual direction I have become convinced that Blessed Mother is ready and willing to cooperate with me if I allow Her to. She waits for my free will to be given to Her. When I give it to Her, miracles start to happen. It has taken faith and perseverance to believe that this is really true. When I experience my resistance, it is a reminder for me that I am so prideful! I usually am resistant because I fear not having my prayers answered the way I want them to be. In those times, I am not really giving my will over. Instead, I am holding on to my lack of trust that God loves me as I am.

Last night, when I was given the green light to intercede for my daughter, I realized I (on my own) was full of resistance. My resistance started because I was faced with the truth that it was my negligence that the Little One was suffering – I was the one who didn't do a good job with the sunscreen and I was the one who didn't put the bug spray on her. Even though I was the one who caused her suffering, I was faced with the darker truth that, even if I could, I wasn't willing to accept the consequential pain for her.

Fortunately, it didn't end on that note. I begged Blessed Mother to pray in me and for me, with contrition, for me and my Little One. Using me, Blessed Mother shared with the Little One (and me) that her (and my) experience with this little pain should make her (and me) so happy and thankful that Jesus already carried her (my) LARGE cross! Mary wanted both the Little One and me to realize how small we are and to remember how we never could have carried that heavy cross on our own.

This morning, the Little One came to me and said, “Mom, Mary took the pain from this shoulder, but not my other shoulder.” So, WE (Mary and I) reminded her to keep asking. Later, she came to me and said “Mary took away all the pain, Mommy!” So, we said together, “Thank you, Mommy Mary! Thank you, Jesus, that you already carried our Heavy Cross!” 

While dying on the Cross, the Savior confides His mother to John, and, at the same time, entrusts John and everyone for whom He was dying, to her who abandoned herself totally to God.39
Therefore, do not be terrified by your own weakness.
You yourself, with your own efforts, will never choose the way
of the Cross.
But in fact, the words of Christ’s testament
are a special gift for you.
You also are a child of the Mother of God
you have a particular right to these words.
Therefore, why are you afraid?
Why do you want to carry your cross alone?
In fact, this is the precise cause of your torment!
In your stubbornness and pride, you want to carry your
cross by yourself.
But, in fact, you will not carry it alone.
Christ wants
you to ask Him for help from His mother.
(S.C. Biela, In The Arms of Mary, 2nd. ed, rev. (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005), 157.)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = Defining Myself as a Christian

I have been unemployed for three weeks now and have gone through a whirlwind of emotions. When I want to start second guessing my resignation I remind myself that I had begged my Lord and His Blessed Mother to not let me make a mistake and to be quite obvious [like my car not starting] if I should not turn in the resignation letter. All had gone smoothly that day, as well as the following final two weeks.
What I have come to realize is I want to be a “Somebody”, and I think I can only be one if I am employed. For 15 years I had defined myself as a secretary/bookkeeper for my parish. I took pride in that title and the work I did. I liked how the parishioners relied on me for matters concerning the Church. I felt that since my job was working for the Church, I was then extra “special” in the eyes of God and the world. Now that I have stripped that title from myself I feel I have lost a sense of who I am.

Visiting with my niece we discussed how most people define themselves by what they do for a career or the job they hold. She had heard someone share the answer to the question: "What do you do?" as "I am trying to follow Christ the best I can."

This response really struck a chord with me. For now being unemployed, I cannot answer that question with some fancy work title. But in reality, I can give the same answer that person did and be grateful that God has blessed me with the grace of being a Christian and for the graces He has given me to live out that calling. When I think about it, I realize there is no other title worth holding - for a worldly job will eventually end, but my Christianity will continue for eternity. So it makes sense to make living my spiritual life the highest priority. And the only way I can do this is to keep entrusting myself to the Blessed Mother, allowing her to guide me on a path that follows her Son and His example which will help me be the best Christian I can be.

We prefer to think "I am somebody." And yet this greatness that we presume to have and with which we constantly fill our hearts, is only a mirage and illusion. All of the illusory supports that we seek in ourselves, in others, in objects, in money, and in success feed this mirage. God wants to burn all of this away in the fire of His love, because He loves this handful of dirt so much that He wants to permeate it with Himself - He, the Creator of the universe.
S.C. Biela, God Alone Suffices, 3rd. ed. (Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2011), 148.