Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Friday, March 7, 2014

Entrustment to Mary = Choosing the Humble Means

After I shared with my spiritual director my ideas of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving for the next 40 days, he suggested I reread the chapter in The Gift of Faith on humble means. He proposed that I “fast” from my pedestal – meaning my desire to be acknowledged, admired, and esteemed. {And I thought candy, cookies, and chips would be hard to give up!} He recommended I go to my adoration time in the arms of the Blessed Mother, and keep the posture of the tax collector not the Pharisee during the 10 minutes I had decided I could try to allot each day. He didn’t specifically address my idea of thoroughly cleaning my house during Lent, but I am guessing that would go under fasting from my pedestal; for knowing my personality, if I end Lent with a clean sparkling home, I am sure I will take all the credit and bask in the glory of a job well done.

What I appreciate about the spirituality of communion with Christ through the Blessed Mother is how it has helped me see how selfish I have been when deciding on what to do for Lent. For example, I like giving up sweets so I can lose a few pounds. The spirituality has also helped me release my narrow perception that fasting is only from food, praying means only rosaries, and almsgiving is only donating to an organization in need. I now realize charitable giving can mean more than dollars donated. It can mean giving a "smile" to a coworker who is having a bad day. Or offering my “time” to listen to a patient explain their ailments. Praying can be continuous, all-day-long, short ejaculations of praise or petitions for souls in need or just a grateful look to heaven for God’s generous bestowals. These are the humble means that cannot be measured and most times not seen so as to gain recognition from others.

I have also learned that before starting any Lenten sacrifices I must first stand in the truth and admit I cannot do them on my own, but only with God’s grace and through my entrustment to the Blessed Mother may I try. And most importantly, God loves me even if I fail.
                                               Rich Means vs. Humble Means
Jacques Maritain divides temporal means that may be used for spiritual ends into two categories: rich temporal means and humble temporal means. Those means which are visible and can be statistically analyzed Maritain calls rich means. They are tangible things like organizations, meetings, marches, church architecture and decoration, audio-visual and mass media. A characteristic trait of rich means is their influence on one’s self-love because their effects and results are apparent. This has the danger of our claiming these results and our own and, as a result, adopting an attitude of triumph.

Humble means are marked with the stigma of the Cross and express one of the most profound truths in the Gospel: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (Jn 12:24). In humble means, a true paradox of the dynamism of faith can be observed: the poorer they are – that is, the more destitute, the more insignificant in themselves, and the less visible – the more efficacious they are. As opposed to rich means, these humble means are not dependent on tangible success, and they do not have any internal need for temporal success. Humble means is the acceptance of suffering out of love for God. You encounter such means when your knees hurt during prayer, when you deny yourself something, when you question who you are and, at times, live in great calmness, silence, and contemplation. Nothing much is known about these things; they are invisible means. They cannot be measured by any sociological statistics. However, these are the humble means that, in the light of faith, prove to be the deciding factor in the fate of the world.
Tadeusz Dajczer, The Gift of Faith, 3rd. ed. (Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2012), 147-148,150.

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