A friend of mine recently returned from Portugal where he had the opportunity to visit a church that houses the Our Lady of Nazareth statue. I have since found the legend behind the statue, and the story of how Blessed Mother saved a hunter named Dom Fuas Roupinho from falling off a cliff 100 meters high. You can read this fascinating story about the statue supposedly built by St. Joseph when Christ was a mere infant here. What struck my friend the most on this visit was the story of the hunter. As the horse he was riding was chasing a deer in the fog, it headed straight for a cliff and the hunter knew there was no way to stop before reaching the cliff’s edge. The hunter cried out to Mary: “Our Lady, Help Me!” Instantly, Our Lady helped him. This hunter saw his doom and called out for rescue. This describes my entrustment to Mary perfectly. I am like the hunter – I am blind and unable to keep myself from the “cliffs of life.” With Her protection – always available to me when I cry out from the depths of my awareness – I am saved from sure doom.
Over the last month I have been witnessing the heavy crosses of my dear ones. It overwhelms me just to know their burdens as I cannot imagine carrying the same loads. It doesn’t take much for me to land on my knees in desperate need of a rescue. It might be as simple as having to make my family dinner. Or, maybe it is to shop and buy my sons’ shoes. I had an unusual experience of depression a few days ago. It started when I went to bed on Mother’s Day and lasted until the next afternoon. I had no reason to be depressed when it hit. It was like a wave of melancholy imposed on me. Having had clinical depression in the past, I was keenly aware that depression was the symptom. I made it to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament that day and wanted to ask “Why, Lord?” but the better question according to a priest friend is “What for, Lord?”
What was this bout of depression for? There was not much light until I finally got to speak with my spiritual father. In talking with him about my current daily events of life, he helped me to see that my crosses are really so little. He helped me to see that this was a direct action of my entrustment to Blessed Mother. The awareness that Blessed Mother is waiting and ready to carry me when I ask makes my cross lighter. One could even say my burden becomes “sweet” because it reminds me I have access to those loving arms.
I am aware that some souls can handle heavier crosses than I can. A good example of that is St. John Paul II. His soul was huge and because of that he could say “Totus tuus” to Our Lady. When I was first learning about entrustment to Mary I thought I could say “totus tuus” – but now I see it differently. Blessed Mother says to me "Beloved daughter, I am totally yours!" In Her faithfulness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, She gives Her all to me so as to rescue me from "cliffs" and to carry my crosses and lighten my burdens. It is thanks to my entrustment to Mary that I am protected from the heavy crosses that I truly deserve.
As the years move on, I relate more and more to a letter written to Blessed Mother by someone called "tiny" in the book The Two Pillars. Tiny's words have become my own:
I am grateful that, although my pride constantly tries to shut, lock, and barricade the door of my heart so that Jesus cannot enter, You always stick Your foot in the door so that it will never shut entirely.
I am grateful that You open me to all of Your action, especially these humiliations that wound me. Even though I know that it is what I truly deserve, it still remains difficult to accept. Therefore, I am grateful that You humiliate me and purify me in Your Gentle Arms, where it hurts the least and my burden is lightest of the possible burdens.
I am grateful that being in Your Arms sometimes seems like being in an insane asylum, because it reminds me that Your Embrace is really the Asylum of Divine Love for the mentally, spiritually, and emotionally wounded.
I am grateful that I have nothing to give You except my misery, because You transform my misery into the most beautiful treasure — more beautiful than any illusory good that I could give You.(S.C. Biela, TheTwo Pillars, [Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2006],124.)
“Just as she did in the case of St. Juan Diego, the Blessed Mother places you too on her back and carries you through your life as someone defeated by your own pride. While carrying you on her back, she unceasingly adores her Son, Jesus Christ, your Savior who constantly blesses both her and you whom she carries as her beloved child. You should not forget why you are being carried: you lost the fight; you could not manage on your own. Without her you would have never advanced from the point of defeat.” (Ibid., 37.)