Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = Expanding My Diet

We've been hearing a lot about “fasting” recently, but I want to talk about expanding my diet.  A friend and I were recently talking about how picky appetites can be. It didn’t take me long to have the vision of a recent family dinner where a child’s plate was headed to the sink with half-eaten vegetables on it.  The Little One’s chant “I don’t want that” is heard more times than I like when we are offering her delicious and healthy choices. It made me reflect on how easy it is in this world of food-centered entertainment to develop a finicky appetite.  Recently, the Little One was having a melt down after we were at the park because she was legitimately hungry. However, when I offered her the only food I could find in my car (a bag of dried bananas and almonds), it was refused. The tears and “suffering” were preferred to the unappetizing snack.

This sharing with my friend got me thinking in a different direction. I started to see just how picky I am when it comes to the moods and actions of my dear ones. There are days I prefer locking myself in my room in tears and “suffering” over being “treated” to my Little One’s refusal to obey me!  Oh, and don’t think of serving me a teen attitude of laziness, or an exhausted husband after a long day at work who goes to take a nap instead of “eat off my plate” of overtired Little One. I inevitably chant, “I don’t want that!” when God serves me the daily food for my soul.

I’d rather have some “comfort food,” like a child’s quick obedience or a sparkling bathroom. I want an order of “yes, Mom” and “I like to share” with a side of “pleases” and don’t forget the “thank yous.” No, I don’t think I’ll choose an “I don’t want to go to Mass” or an “I’ll do my homework later, Mom, after my 3 straight hours of t.v.” snack. Yes, I’m picky. If you serve me what I don’t like, I might just chew you up, and spit you out for it! Oh bother – I really am self-absorbed.

I was sharing my struggles with self-absorption and the various sins it was leading me into with my spiritual father when he reminded me about Blessed Mother’s “appetite.” She ISN’T picky. She loves me when I am faithful; she loves me when I am unfaithful.  She stays with me when I get moody, when I find myself angry, or when I am joyful and upbeat. She ISN’T picky. Since my willful entrustment to Christ through Mary, I have been discovering more quickly and deeply just how amazing God’s love is.  He knows who I am, and He loves me as I am. It is this Love that is pushing me to desire to expand my diet and be more conscious of and grateful for the “meals” my Lord prepares for me, or allows to be prepared for me, through the daily events with my dear ones. I entrust these “meals” to Blessed Mother that WE may be less picky with my dear ones, and love them as they are!

“Spiritual childlikeness will enable you to thank Mary for loving you in spite of your misery. It is true that the interior of the whitewashed tomb is filthy and abominable. However, it is also true that you are loved not because of some kind of imaginary perfection or cleanliness of soul, but because you are a child the Heavenly Father’s child. He will always accept you. When you throw yourself into His arms with childlike trust, He will never despise you or abandon you.” (S.C. Biela, Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock [Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005], 66.)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = Graces Attached To Obedience

Two weeks ago when Holy Father Francis asked us to fast for peace in Syria and the world, it threw me into a tailspin. I have already disclosed my detestation of fasting in previous blog posts [1].Although, the Holy Father did not mention how to do the fast, a priest friend suggested bread and water. Once again I rebelled in my mind remembering how it used to be when I did that type of fasting over 15 years ago. [cf. Blog Fasting During Lent] My mind started reeling with ideas of how I could survive this fasting day rather than looking at it as an opportunity to offer up my hunger for the perilous condition of the world.
I am seeing that the more I refrain from fasting the worse I dislike and fear it. I have gone from bread & water - to no sweets - to choosing what type of ice-cream I like least as my method of fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Once I stood in the truth, I discovered my fear and unrest came from not wanting to be obedient to the Magisterium and thus closing myself off from the graces that come from that obedience. Instead of embracing the Holy Father’s proclamation and my priest friend’s suggestion, I quickly tried to change the recommendations. I contemplated doing bread and water for breakfast and lunch, then eating a regular meatless dinner, so sort of making it a combination with the Good Friday type of fast, which I felt would be easier. I turned the whole event around to being about “me” not about the suffering humanity. I saw how consumed I am with my routine, my comforts, my love for food, and how adverse I am to going without and being told what to do. I saw just how high of a pedestal I was climbing.
I also realized I had closed myself off from the graces that come with my entrustment to the Blessed Mother for I thought I had to fast relying on my own will power and strength. My fear came from my past struggles/failures when I tried fasting on my own.
Finally, once I succumbed to the Holy Father’s request, and entrusted my fasting to the Blessed Mother there was peace. Yes, I was hungry and weak, but also calm and content. This experience truly showed me how much grace is attached to obedience. Little did I know that the Holy Father’s announcement of fasting would lead me to fasting from my good impression about myself by seeing who I truly am when closed to God’s graces.  Yet this spirituality has taught me to be joyful when being purified and humbled as it helps me turn back my focus onto my merciful Lord. And in reality this was such a gentle experience allowed by a God who loves me so completely.
“On your path to God, do not be surprised that you discover your own misery and nothingness more clearly. You should receive these revelations with joy. For, if you were perfect, then you would not need God. Only the person who experiences his own misery can turn his heart away from himself toward the Lord, who is knocking.”
S.C. Biela, Open Wide the Door to Christ, (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005), 42.
                                        Entrustment to Mary = Facing My Sugar Addiction.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Entrustment To Mary = Desiring To Fight My Addiction (To Facebook)

I've been dealing with the desire to give up Facebook. I say "dealing" because as much as I'd like to, it seems like it would be the hardest thing ever and I'm actually a little afraid to do so. Even though I gave it up for lent, and thoroughly enjoyed not being on all the time. And the first two weeks after moving we had no Internet at our apartment or even data on our phones - meaning I was only on Facebook when I went to a coffee shop; it was great! I tried to come up with certain days or times that I would allow myself on, but that was more of an idea rather than a plan of action. I have no self-discipline and just can't stay off of it. I don't like wanting to get on when my son is awake and watching me. I don't like comparing myself to others on FB or getting annoyed with what people post. I don't like rushing back from a walk or outing so that I can check what’s new on FB. I'm actually addicted to it! Now don't get me wrong I do appreciate a way to stay in touch with people but right now I feel that the negativity it brings into my life outweighs the positive. I've been praying for the grace to give it up but didn't feel like I was getting anywhere, if anything the nagging feeling had started to go away, until this past week.

I recently found out that my uncle is fasting from chocolate, and offering it up for our president's conversion. I was so impressed with his self-sacrifice and thought I should do something of that sort too. But I have to admit that self-sacrifice isn’t easy for me. I don’t like saying no to myself or feeling uncomfortable. I mean if it was easy for me I’d already be done with Facebook!

Then Pope Francis asked for a day of prayer and fasting last Saturday for peace in Syria and around the world. My first reaction was “Ugh, I don’t want to fast on Saturday!” But I was reminded that God loves me as I am - whether I fast all day, or part of the day or not at all. I was also reminded that I can’t do it on my own. I’ve been so wrapped up in thinking that I have to do it and forgetting that the Blessed Mother is there to help me. Saturday came, I asked for the Blessed Mother’s help and the day of fasting wasn’t so bad. The reason I couldn’t give up FB before is because I was trying to do it all by myself. Even though I was praying for the grace, I wasn’t really asking for help but just expecting instantaneous results.
Now with the Blessed Mother, WE are fasting from Facebook, and remembering God always loves me even if I fall back to my addiction or begin a new one.

"God loves you precisely as you are: as someone attached to your idols, as someone who lives as if He does not exist, and as someone who turns even that which you do because of His will against Him. He never stops loving you even though you continuously reject Him and wound Him by turning your heart away from Him and by seeking reliance in your own riches."
S.C. Biela, Open Wide theDoor to Christ, (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005), 101.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Entrustment to Mary = Scooped Up While Running Away

This past week I experienced a somewhat “near-death” experience of my two year old.  I thought our house was well baby-proofed, and the stairs were properly gated.  On my daughter’s first day of preschool, we ran upstairs to quickly fix her hair in pigtails, only to discover that my little monkey found his way upstairs via the 2-inch outer ledge of the railing. There he was, grinning as he held on to the vertical posts on the OUTSIDE of the banister.  It was one of those slow-motion moments, my heart pounding in fear, hoping he would hang on in time for me to quickly snatch him up before he let go, falling from the second story. 

If he senses he’s done something mischievous, he usually bolts in the opposite direction.  So, I falsely praised his acrobatics, and approached him without rushing.  It seemed to take forever to walk those four or five steps toward him!  I was shaking like a leaf while my daughter and I hugged him and praised God, thanking Him and my son’s guardian angel for the gift of their protection. 

But when all was said and done, what was God trying to tell me? 

Lately I have been made aware of many parents’ struggles and trials with the deaths or illnesses of their children.  Why did God spare my child?  I had recently been wondering why my life has been so “easy” and feared that “my turn” was coming.  And yet – for now – God has been so very gentle with me. 

I am reminded of a quote from God Alone Suffices by S.C. Biela: 

Seeing our inability to accept various difficulties, our Lord lowers the intensity of our purification process.  This should be a very visible sign for us that we are still opposing the working of grace in our lives.  The reason for this is our lack of trust.  The person who lacks trust closes the gates of his own heart and does not want to rely on God in everything.
(S.C. Biela, God Alone Suffices, 3rd Ed. [Ft. Collins, CO:  IAMF, 2012], 108.)

I see that my faith is so very lacking.  This scare is a most precious reminder that I am in need of trusting that God alone is indeed enough.  I sense a need to be grateful for, and yet unattached to, His gifts. I am reminded that God is merciful and is drawing me to Himself.  It is a slow process.  At times, I am so very afraid.  This Control Freak is in dire need of her Mama.  If I sense that I am doing something mischievous/sinful, I want to bolt in the opposite direction of God, just like my two-year-old son. I am too weak to trust.  I am too self-absorbed. So I praise God for this spirituality.  I would be so very lost without it.  With Our Mother, I trust that I will be rescued.  How beautiful that she will approach me slowly and gently, allowing me to handle this spirituality step by step.  Only with Her will I truly trust that God loves me as I am.



(words of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego)[1]

[1] Nican Mopohua [Aqui se narra] escrito en Nahuatl por Don Antonio Valeriano-Traduccion del Nahuatl al Espanol, trans. Fr. Mario Rojas Sanchez (Mexico:  Los Libros Hacen/Edamex, 1990), trans. Ramon Pedrosa, “nican Mopohua.”  http://www.emc.com.ph.monpedp/nicantext.html