Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Entrustment to Mary = Realizing that Not Everything is “Okay”

The Little One started school a few weeks ago. She started a full-day kindergarten program. I am happy to report that she is enamored with her new teacher and wakes up eager to return to the classroom each day. You can imagine how exhausting a full-day program is for her. One night she fell asleep before dinner at 6 pm and didn’t wake up until the next morning. She is learning a lot and adapting to the new responsibilities. However, she is not always able to remember what she has to do, and when. While this was a major stress for me as a little girl, the Little One likes to say “that’s okay” each time she realizes she missed a deadline or forgot her PE shoes.

At first I was pleased with her lack of stress and ease at dismissing her “failures.” I thought perhaps the Blessed Mother was trying to show me how I should live and look at things from that angle. But, after a week of daily “that’s okay!”s I started to get concerned. Something wasn’t sitting well with me in what was starting to sound like a flippant response. I tried to explain that it isn’t really okay to forget our library books each week and that we are required to bring our PE shoes for every PE class. When it is her turn to bring in an item for “show and tell” then she should bring an item on that day, not another day.

Because I often think like a human being and not like God, I took the matter to spiritual direction. What a grace! Through the instrument of the Spiritual Director Blessed Mother was able to help me see through the fog! The issue isn’t that the Little One is forgetful; the issue is that she doesn’t see the need for contrition in these events. She wasn’t seeing the need to ask me to help her to remember, to help her to do the best she can do.

No doubt, Blessed Mother was trying to show me how I should live and look at things through this little event with my daughter. Blessed Mother wanted me to remember her rolemy life and that I need Her to help me to remember what is important and what I need to do each day. Right away an example came to my mind - daily Mass. Over the years I have come to know that living daily by the Eucharist is a top priority in the spiritual life. However, lately I have been saying to myself, “it’s okay,” when I choose not to attend some days. The issue isn’t always did I attend or not attend…the issue is do I ask for the graces from Blessed Mother to remember to hunger for the Eucharist each and every day? Do I have contrition when I don’t make it to Holy Mass when perhaps I could have made it there, if it had been my TOP priority and/or if I had asked Mary to help me remember?

Nothing compares to the purifying and healing action of the Eucharist. There is no other cure like it for our spiritual diseases. When you await the fruits of the Holy Mass you are already purified to a certain extent because you meet with the Eucharistic Christ through faith and hope….
At the beginning of the day, during your morning prayer, you can entrust yourself to Jesus, through Mary. During this time, you may ask Mary herself to immerse you in the Redemptive Sacrifice of her Son. If you see that you lack good will and you do not want to live by the Eucharist, ask Mary to await the Holy Mass in you, ask her to thirst and quest for the Lord in you, and ask her to live with a hunger for God according to the example of her Son….If you do not ask for her intercession, then how can she help you? She does not want to take away your freedom. (S.C. Biela, Open Wide the Door to Christ, [Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005], 76 and 77.)

At night for prayers we are helping the Little One to say her “sorries” for when she forgets to ask us for help. In addition, we are teaching her to ask for Mary to help her remember for the next day. As for me? Oh, Blessed Mother, be my contrition for today’s messes, and thank you for hungering in me and for me for my daily Bread!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Entrustment To Mary = Being Taken Off My Pedestal

My faith sharing group started up again last night. The theme was Human Pedestals and how God loves us so much to the point of knocking us off our self-contrived ones so to save our souls to be with Him for all of eternity. In reflection, I remembered back to 2nd grade being knocked off a "good student" pedestal I had constructed for myself. Our teacher was going around the room making comments on the personalities of each student and their good and bad behaviors. I figured she would not have any negative comments to make about me, but when it came to my turn she pronounced that I was a busy-body, and talked to my neighboring students too much during class time. I was crushed. Now I can see it was God's love that had toppled my pedestal. The humiliation had let me descend so to see that I was on the same level as my fellow classmates who I wanted to judge as lower than I. God was saving me way back then, from losing sight of Him with the elevation separation I was creating.
I have erected several pedestals during my life using my family, work, Church. In every aspect of my existence I have put myself above others at some point, believing I am a special "somebody" deserving praise and recognition. But God has always showed His loving mercy by collapsing these platforms in order to save me from my own self-interest. A priest friend suggested I keep my pedestals low to the ground so when God has to knock me off it won't hurt so bad!
This image of pedestals has helped me visually see how quickly I can build myself up in the temporal world, and the image of crushed edifices helps me see God's loving rescue. How hopeful it is to know He won't let me remain far away from Him on my self-absorbed throne, and that He gives me His Mother to pick me up out of the rubble and set me again on level ground.

Our contrived greatness - our self-invented pedestal - has nothing in common with the truth. It is as phony as stilts on which a circus performer shows off in front of an audience.
How we perceive ourselves demonstrates that all of us are, to a greater or lesser degree, seated on some kind of pedestal. Contrition is what demolishes the fictional pedestal and the illusions that prevent us from standing before God in the truth. In order for contrition to become truly deep and authentic, a person must stand in the truth - on the ground. A person must see himself as he really is before God. He must descend from his pedestal with a contrite heart. If an individual resists this, however, then the pedestal must be demolished.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Entrustment to Mary = Rescued From My Pride Over Chips & Salsa

After acting so very childish tonight, I was amazed to read the following words:

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 blessed 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. (S.C. Biela, The Two Pillars, [Ft. Collins, CO:  IAMF, 2006],  37).

I had been so very fed up with the at-the-drop-of-a-hat temper tantrums of my three year old that I threw one of my own.  These past few weeks with everyone back at school has worn me out, and it seems this introvert (Control Freak) has yet another strong willed child.  As soon as his third birthday hit, he forgot how to use his words and has replaced most conversation with full-blown screaming.  Not good in the car, not good at the dinner table, not good at bedtime, and at most other moments throughout the day.  So, when my husband so considerately offered to bring home dinner tonight, I texted our Chipotle order to him as he had requested.  As we unpacked our meal at the dining room table, I noticed he had forgotten the one item that I personally was looking forward to – the chips!  After the last few 100 degree days and nights, I had been looking forward to a cold diet coke and chips and salsa.  Needless to say, I overreacted with criticism and disappointment at his honest mistake and made a fool out of myself in front of my children.  So embarrassing to admit, but I actually left the house to go back to buy the chips myself.  Sad to say, but not quite the good example I had in mind to teach my kids about gratitude!
"The Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, prays for us continually, and helps those we entrust to her care" 
by Elizabeth Wang, T-01513-OL, © Radiant Light 2006, www.radiantlight.org.uk"  

While driving in my car, I felt so very frustrated.  I knew it really wasn’t about the chips.  I had been feeling so tired and unappreciated by everyone in my household and was throwing a little pity party for myself.

But - mostly I was frustrated by my pride.  My pride pushed me out the door to buy the chips and show my kids how unappreciative I was of their father’s generosity.  My pride was separating me from a family dinner.  My pride was feeding feelings of entitlement to some quiet time and yet, I couldn’t shake it.  I really didn’t even want the chips anymore, but I felt so lost I didn’t know where to turn.  It is like the quote above:  I was defeated by my own pride.  At that point, I was completely helpless and couldn’t advance without Blessed Mama.  I didn’t recognize her intervention until I reflected on that quote.  Because of her, I now see that I was able to come home with ice cream to celebrate her feast day of the Most Holy Name of the
Blessed Virgin Mary.  On her back, I was able to apologize to my husband.  I think she picked me up and placed me there.  I don’t think I was even able to climb up there…she had to do even that for me.  And I am so very, very grateful. 

I see how ridiculously weak I am, complaining about chips.  But God revealed to me once again my need to be rescued from my own pride, especially in the ordinary, everyday events, and sent in my Mother to help.  Thank you, God, for allowing me to see the truth about my weakness and how it calls upon the abyss of Your merciful Love.  

Friday, September 5, 2014

Entrustment to Mary Does NOT = Being Free from Trials

A common misconception I’ve run across is that if you are entrusted to Blessed Mother it means your life will begin to look prefect and trials will cease to exist. I lived with that way of thinking for a long time. When bad things happened in my life, or to those around me, I would think “if only I stayed in MOM’s arms more,” or “if only that person entrusted themselves to Mary.” But is this really true? Am I really running from Mary’s arms when I encounter trials? Is it Mary’s role to work like a magic genie in my life, taking away all bad things?

Looking at the life of St. Peter this week has helped me to realize that God is still with me when I fall or fail at something. In fact, He even predicts and warns me when it might happen. Last Sunday’s Gospel was when Jesus had to say to Peter: “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do”(Mt 16:23). Jesus was right there with Peter when this happened. Peter faced our LORD and thought as a human being. At the last supper Jesus predicted Peter would deny him…and Peter did. Wasn’t this the grace for Peter? Wasn’t Jesus, who loved him fully, trying to help Peter live a deeper calling?

Meditating on Peter’s journey is helping me to realize that Jesus and Mary do not have the same expectations of me that I have. I am the one who lives in this illusion that I won’t fall or experience injustice as a Christian. This illusion is why I am constantly disappointed and anxious about my life. This week, I have several emergency-type deadlines and in addition, I am empathizing with multiple friends whose lives are truly in trial mode. Everything in me wants to allow myself to wallow in anxiety and justify lethargy as a solution to escape the responsibilities. But to be a Christian isn’t about removing it so I can function. It is about functioning while living it. I’m discovering that living in the Arms of Mary isn’t about being free of these things; it is about learning to know myself and coming to expect my falls and the injustices all around me. It is about becoming small enough to call out for the miracles and rely more on Christ’s power than my own.

"Peter said, ‘I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, [rise and] walk’” (Acts 3:6).

Peter spent three years with Jesus, who helped Peter learn how God truly loved him for who he was, not for any false perfection. In turn, Peter became convinced of this truth so that he realized he was never apart from Christ, which in turn enabled him to give Christ to others. I believe this is my journey too. My entrustment to Blessed Mother is helping me to live in the truth of who I am and who God really loves – and more importantly, HOW God really loves. I don’t think I can truly desire pure love for others until I experience this true love – and that is what Blessed Mother’s arms are helping me with. My entrustment is helping me to utilize my trials for a greater good – to reach out to others that they might know THE True Love.

"During our storms and our trials of faith, we must also never forget about the continuous presence of Mary who is close to us as the Mother of our abandonment to God. Let us ask her to allow us to share in her abandonment to God, so that we may stop trusting ourselves, things, and people, and that we may perceive the continuous presence of her son who is close to us and is our only security. We ask Mary that, following her example, we trust exclusively in the Lord: Mother of Great Abandonment, I offer myself to you without reservation – to the end." (Tadeusz Dajczer, The Gift of Faith, 3rd. ed. [Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2012], 125-126.)