Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = Perseverance while Awaiting “New” Eyes

“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3-4).

This week a friend of mine experienced the death of her 28 year old niece. I was leaving to go to the funeral when the Little One asked me where I was headed. I told her who died, and how this person was given her new eyes! The eyes that get to see Mary and Jesus. Immediately I heard her repeating my description to her sister with great joy. The Little One and I often talk about how special it’s going to be when we get those “new eyes”!

Obviously, when I’m talking to the Little One I’m referring to literally seeing Jesus and Mary. But today I was realizing that I could start to see Jesus and Mary with the eyes I have, if I just let MOM (Blessed Mother) share with me Her eyes of faith and hope and love.  For example, am I seeking Jesus in my neighbor? My children? My spouse? More often I forget this and instead I am annoyed with my neighbor, children or spouse. I see them as obstacles to my will being accomplished. Oh, how blind I am! But, when looking with Mary, WE see they are actually the instruments in God’s hands to help me fulfill HIS will. 

Over the last few weeks I've had the crazy experience to, on the one hand, be gifted with tremendous hope and joy when describing things to the Little One and to others in my life, while on the other hand, be so self-absorbed.  I am addicted to Facebook, Ruzzle (a game app), and a TV show on Netflix. These “little” distractions take up a good part of my day by being in my thoughts (awaiting the next chance to watch), in my actions (not hearing anyone around me as I play the 2 minute game or while I look at FB), and in what I fail to do (deciding one more round of Ruzzle instead of starting dinner on time, or one more show instead of going to bed on time).   
St. John of the Cross, in Maxims and Counsels writes, “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.” I am a thief!  But, what a grace that WE can see this truth! Blessed Mother has been using this reality to put a desire in my heart for the Holy Eucharist, to beg to be washed clean by the Blood of Christ. 

I was sharing this recently with my spiritual father and once more, to a deeper level, I was brought to the awareness of how absolutely wonderful it is to desire communion with Christ through Blessed Mother.  I was reminded that our persistent desire to be united with Christ will eventually overcome even our sinfulness. Like St. Augustine, my heart is restless, and that restlessness has me searching…and the short cut to my search is the Arms of Mary whose desire for my good is so much greater than my own desire. This is why I am hopeful in the midst of my addictions. My perseverance stems from Mary constantly reminding me that one day I will have “new eyes” and I will have to face my Savior. She wants me to trust in His Mercy today, with what I can see, so that when I die, and am shown all that I missed along the way, I will automatically call out to His Mercy and live with Him for eternity! I am Mary's little, beloved daughter, who desires to one day enter the kingdom of heaven.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = Becoming A Beggar

God loves the truth. Therefore, at a certain moment in our lives, God no longer allows our illusions of being spiritually rich to exist. He wants us to see and acknowledge that we stand before Him as beggars who have nothing of our own, and who are always in need of spiritual alms, such as the gifts of prayer, faith, hope and good will. {1}
Recently, I made a 5 hour trip to visit my daughter on a Saturday. I planned on making it to her Church’s reconciliation time of 3-4:30PM. I figured if I left at 10AM I would have plenty of time to get there. As 10AM approached I saw I was nowhere near ready to depart –as I had not finished packing nor had I painted my toe nails yet. By the time I drove out the driveway it was 11AM. I still felt like I could make it by 4PM. As I started over the mountain pass a fierce thunder and lightning storm ensued with heavy rains making it hard to see the road. I pulled off for a few minutes but realizing the storm was not going to blow over quickly, I started out again driving a slow 30-40mph. It was quite terrorizing as the lightning was continuous for a good 20 miles. I started to pray aloud the Divine Mercy Chaplet over and over again, begging God for the mercy to keep me safe and to allow me to arrive to the Church in time for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I pulled into the Church parking lot at 4:15PM. I thanked God and hurried into the bathroom before getting in the confessional line, where there were 2 other girls in front of me and an older woman behind me. [My daughter told me the priest would go longer if there was a line, so I figured I was set.] Well, the person who came out of the confessional at 4:27 said confessions were now over. I couldn’t believe my ears. Then the priest came out and I looked at him and said, “I just drove 5 hours to be here!” He didn’t seem to be interested and walked away. I [my pride] was crushed. I slowly walked out to my car wanting to cry. I couldn’t understand how God would not want me to receive this Sacrament, especially when He had allowed me to arrive in time.
The alms of spiritual misery are extremely difficult for your pride to accept because your pride does not want to acknowledge that you are a spiritual beggar. Pride wants to continuously prove something to God. Pride wants to give Him a bill and receive payment, rather than alms, in return.{2}

In reflecting on this experience I realized I indeed felt spiritually rich in making my plans to go to Confession that day. I can remember a feeling of spiritual superiority, thinking how special I was to make the Sacrament of Reconciliation my priority, assuming God would be so pleased that He of course would “pay” me by allowing my plans to materialize. Yet in reality I put my temporal needs of painting my toenails above my spiritual desire of making it to confession with time to spare. I travelled in the illusion that God owed me the right to receive this Sacrament.

It makes sense now that I did not receive the Sacrament that day. It was a humiliation that allowed me to see more of my spiritual misery.  It allowed me to see: "When you open the door of your soul to the Lord, you always stand before Him as a sinner who has nothing and who counts only on His alms."{3} It allowed me to see that I cannot dictate to God my will, and expect Him to carry it out. It helped me realize how I am an ungrateful beggar. "Such a beggar does not accept God’s alms and acts as if he were to say, ‘Come back later and bring me something else.’"{4}

With Blessed Mom, I am grateful for these truths that were revealed from God’s loving and most
merciful Light, and with Blessed Mom I thank God for showing me the truth about myself and how even in my spiritual misery He loves me as I am.

Footnotes all taken from: S.C. Biela, Open Wide the Door to Christ, (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005)
35, 36, 35, 46

Friday, August 16, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = Rescued from Temper Tantrums

The other day my two-year-old was starting to get loud and fussy during Mass.  I took him out to the vestibule of the church, only for him to discover the holy water font.  Up on tiptoe, he reached inside the bowl, and right away he knew to touch his forehead with his wet fingers.  But, he wanted to continue – over and over and over.  I tried to distract him and then it was time for communion.  He protested loudly, clinging to the holy water bowl.  I started to get a bit nervous.  I didn’t want to take a screaming child inside the church, but at the same time, the line was almost ending, and I didn’t want to miss receiving.  I snatched him up and he started to kick his feet and flail his arms.  Oh, boy!  What to do?  I knew I needed the graces, so in I went and he calmed down just a bit.  As I approached the priest, he tried to squirm away, but thankfully allowed me to quietly carry him back to the vestibule.  As soon as I set him down, he dashed off to the holy water font, reaching up and smiling grandly, pleased with himself. 

It struck me right then how pleased I am with myself when I think I know what is best for me, but how clueless I really am when I push away from God’s loving presence and His holy will.  So many times God invites me to a closeness that I reject because I allow myself to be distracted by my own worldly desires for momentary pleasures.  I was reminded of a catchy phrase my old pastor reminded his congregation of:  “The main thing is to make the main thing the main thing.”   So many times I give Jesus the leftovers.  So many times I miss out on the main thing, because I cling to having control over what I  want in the moment, rather than seeking what God’s will is for me in the moment.  For example, during the summer my kids were in the habit of bickering quite a bit, driving their mother crazy.  Last night, I was sending them off to bed, looking forward to a moment of quiet, when there was a commotion and I was quick to discipline them to stop “fighting”.  My husband shushed me and pointed out that my younger daughters were giving their older brother hugs goodnight.  I had been praying all summer that my son would give his little sisters “the time of day.” He was laughing and allowing them to hug him and actually returning the hugs, and here I was ready to nip the whole thing.  In my control-freakness, I was resisting God’s workings in my own home.  I was insisting on ‘staying near the holy water’ instead of ‘coming face to face with God in the Eucharist’.  

I am not often enough the little child who is awaiting miracles.  Often times I am very childish, insisting that I know best or that I have the strength to control things.  I beg Blessed Mother to pick me up, despite my kicking legs and flailing arms, and to take me to her Son! 

Mary, carry me in your arms like your own child.
Please allow me to become light like a balloon
carried by the wind of the Holy Spirit, docile to
carrying out God’s will and free from attachments.
I do not want to know where this Divine Wind
comes from or where it will carry me.  I do not
want to impose my own plans and visions on God.
I want to be docile like you.
           (S.C. Biela, Open Wide the Door to Christ (Ft.  Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005), 146.)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = Sharing Her Cart

Last weekend my husband and I stopped in to do a “quick shop” at Walmart before going to a movie.  My un-written shopping list included a few things that I knew I could buy there for a lower price than my local supermarket. My husband’s un-written list included any obscure item that he may just need some day that may be on sale for a price he couldn’t pass up.
My husband had the cart. We parted ways in the Personal Hygiene aisle but I thought for sure I’d have no trouble finding him in Bread and Condiments soon after since he had the assignment of getting peanut butter. Just in case, however, I scouted around for a hand basket for the couple of items I had already picked up. None were in plain view – and neither was husband with cart.  Oh, well, they weren’t that heavy.  I could manage.

Walking purposefully toward the grocery aisles, my eye caught sight of some large kitchen trash bags. We were out of those, so I snatched them up.  Ah! Then I saw that the center display had the granola bars I wanted on special, so I went for the bigger cost-saving box and continued on. My armload was getting heavier and more cumbersome.  Glancing up, down, and around, there was no husband with cart in sight. I could try reaching him on my cell phone but that would be tricky, so with mismatched parcels slipping and sliding, I walked on toward the last item I wanted – the eggs.

It was there, in front of the eggs priced 60 cents per dozen less than at my local market, that I realized I needed help.  Adding a couple of dozen eggs to the already precarious load I was juggling did not seem at all prudent. And where was my husband, after all?  Exasperated, I dumped my armload in a bin of Oscar Meyer wiener wanna-be’s and fished out my cellphone.  My husband picked up on the first ring and without delay (and without yet securing a jar of peanut butter) rushed to my assistance. What a relief it was to see him hurrying my direction with the cart (and 50 lb. bag of dog food?). Without judgment, he helped me fetch my items from the wiener bin. Together we made a plan to get the last two items on my mental list along with yes, a great sale item that had slightly distracted him. And so we made it to the movie with plenty of time to get popcorn and a good seat.

Communion of life with Jesus through Blessed Mom means seeing the mundane with the eyes of faith. How did I unpack my little escapade above?  In my daily life, there are those few things that are necessary for me to have or to do in order to be a responsible functioning adult. Those things alone are enough to ask Blessed Mom to “put in her cart” – to help me carry. Oh, I may make a weak effort to find her most times but I’m likely to think to myself, “Oh, well. They aren’t that heavy. I can manage.”  So then I continue on, becoming distracted with this and that – things that seem important or advantageous at the time, adding them on to my load of commitments or activities and then reaching the point where to “pull out my phone” or make a real supplication for help is so much more difficult because I am flustered, exasperated, or maybe just embarrassed by my ineptitude.  Dropping my load of miscellaneous grocery items and asking for help saved me in the store that evening.  Dropping my load of family concerns, work issues, church commitments, etc. – and asking Blessed Mom and Her Son for help, can save me too. My husband responded as my Savior does – eager to assist, not making me feel badly about my poor choices, helping me to laugh at myself and move forward to the real goal at hand. I am grateful for that and I told him so. He replied, “What else would I have done? You needed me.” 
"You have to start looking at your life differently; you must look at it with the eyes of faith. Then you will see God's endless giving of graces; you will see your whole life as a multitude of hidden opportunities for continual inner transformation. You will come to know that everything is grace." Tadeusz Dajczer, The Gift of Faith, 3rd. ed. (Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2012), 12. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = Discovering Christ's Humility

I recently celebrated my 13th anniversary of Entrustment to Mary - an act of consecration to Christ through Mary that I made with my confessor totally in service to the Church. The anniversary date is always something very special to me. It reminds me of God’s Divine Mercy and Love and fills me with gratitude that I am His beloved daughter. Having spent 13 years walking the path of this spirituality, I have many concrete examples of how it has helped me live more peacefully. Longanimity is no longer a word that confuses me, but a fruit the Spirit has made a regular part of my diet. I take no credit, other than to acknowledge Blessed Mother’s perseverance and patience in my life.
I have learned to anticipate gifts as the anniversary approaches. I never know what kind of treat I will get - corporal, spiritual or mental. This year, I was given such a “sweet” it brought me to tears.  A friend was sharing with me a conversation she had with an acquaintance. This fellow Catholic was vocalizing concerns about receiving the Blessed Blood from a shared Chalice. It was just short of repulsive to the person and so this person had made up his mind not to receive for fear of germs.  My friend, however, saw it differently. She shared how she believes Jesus purifies the germs on the way to our lips.
It is hard to explain what happened to me in listening to this story, but it absolutely rocked my world. I have not had trouble receiving my Lord from the Chalice. I am an Extraordinary Minister at my parish, and I make sure I wipe the Chalice well when I am in that service. But this was a matter of faith. In and through faith, I took a “deeper” look at the humility of Christ. HE comes in contact with my neighbors “germs” and purifies them before HE then touches all my “germs” ~ and so how can I fear? Every Mass this lesson is taught, and I was closed to it completely. But, on my day of Entrustment, Blessed Mother (MOM) opened my ears and heart to this truth.

The example of the Body and Blood of Christ purifying the Chalice can be applied in so many areas of my life. For example, when I catch myself yelling at my kids due to my impatience and self-absorption, I can immediately make an act of contrition - praying to be immersed in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Or, when I am unjustly treated, I can remember Christ’s humility - realizing He makes Himself present to my neighbor and to me in my neighbor. Focusing on Jesus’ humility can allow me to desire more humility in my own life, and often leads me to beg for closer union with Him through Mary. Most importantly, it reminds me that humility is the Christian road. Christ reaches out and touches my sin - and in so doing purifies me from it. In faith, I see now why we must run to the fountain of His Mercy, allowing it to wash us clean.
One of the spiritualities of the New Evangelization is called the Families of Nazareth Movement (FNM). It’s role is to help its members to grow in humility so that they can be more open to God’s Redeeming Love. Since it is so hard to believe we are loved as we are, the FNM members turn to Blessed Mother who lived that truth (that She was purely loved as She was). Obeying Christ’s dying words from the Crucifix, “Behold, your mother,” (Jn 19:27) its members allow Her to work in their lives to more openly see who they are - who GOD loves. Ultimately, a FNM member will be so joyfully overcome with God’s love that he/she will want to spread that love to all those around him/her. This is how FNM members serve the Church...becoming instruments of God’s love in the world.  
"God falls in love with the posture of humility precisely because He can pour out the ocean of His mercy into the humble spirit." (S.C. Biela, Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock (Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005), 31.
Free reflections on faith are available at the In the Arms of Mary Foundation website that deal with the themes we blog about. There is a 5-reflections series called “Behold, Your Mother.” I strongly encourage it for anyone desiring to grow in deeper communion of life with Christ through His Mother.