Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Entrustment to Mary = Celebrating Sacrifices Not Asked For This Advent

The day before the season of Advent began, our family was strolling about Costco, trying to find some flameless, LED candles to use for our Advent wreath.  A moment later, my husband received an unexpected call from his sibling, with the news that his father was passing away from this life on earth.

It has not been an ordinary Advent.  But our ears have perked up and are listening more intently to the Word of God. The next morning, the First Sunday of Advent, the extended family gathered and heard the words of Jesus: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.”  The following days the Gospel encouraged us to “be like a wise man who built his house on rock, “ (Mt 7 :21,24 – 27), and to “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” (Mk 1: 1-8).    We were promised “a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3: 8-14)

We went on to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, later that night holding a vigil and Rosary to pray for the dear soul of my father-in-law and asking our Blessed Mother to be with him and accept God’s merciful love on his behalf.  The next morning, the feast of St. Juan Diego, we celebrated the funeral Mass of the Resurrection, followed by a graveside ceremony.  My heart ached at the sadness of my husband, and my children grieved aloud for the loss of their beloved grandfather. 

Although we did not choose it, this is the Advent our Father has planned for us. Mary did not choose the path God had willed for her, but she said yes and allowed God to work through her. In this way, our Father hopes to draw us closer to Himself.  This is the setting in which He wills us to hear His invitation to hope in His promises, to find joy in the Nativity.  Although this Christmas will be quite different than years past, with grace and faith, in the arms of Our Blessed Mama, we look to celebrate the true gift of love that God offers to us by becoming one of us.  We can participate in the Eucharistic celebration and be united with the communion of saints, meeting our Abuelito (grandfather) around the Table of the Lord. 

I pray that this year, in our more vulnerable state, we will find ourselves hungering more deeply for eternal life.  I pray we are more open to the healing God wishes to bestow upon us, by allowing the events of this particular Advent season.  I see that God loves us each uniquely.  I am seeing more and more my misery, my real need for the gift of our Redeemer.  Little by little, I am more and more grateful for the Christ Child, as I see my personal Rescuer.  I pray that I might not focus too much on my wounds, my misery, but on the truth that God wants to heal me of something.  He is seeking me out, with a profound and mysterious love.

“O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.”

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Entrustment to Mary = More than Baking Cookies!

The priest commented, “Wow, these Christmas cookies you made look amazing! I bet you put in a lot of time and effort to make them.”

“Yes!” I responded. “They have only the finest ingredients, and I used recipes that have been passed down for generations!”

“That sounds wonderful. So, did the process of preparing them draw you into a deeper relationship with Blessed Mother? Did you become more aware of Christ’s presence in your life while you baked them?”

“Hmm, to tell you the truth, I didn’t think much about that. I guess I didn’t think much about Christ while I baked them at all.”

The priest took the whole plate of cookies I had prepared him and tossed them into the trash can saying, “Then they are worth garbage!”

Harsh, you say? Well, this event didn’t actually happen to me, but something similar did to someone else and now I am the benefactor of her shock and amazement – as I have recently been shown through the example just how useless my actions can become when I am following my own will or acting as if God does not exist.

Each and every aspect of my day can either be full of me or full of GOD. I get to choose.

“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.” ~ St. John of the Cross, Maxims and Counsels

I have read this line from St. John of the Cross many times, but somehow the example of the cookies that are only worth garbage has drawn out the reality of what he was trying to say. All my actions are garbage if done without being focused on the One who created me, the One who saved me, the One who desires to fill me with His power and love.

Faced with this truth, what can I do? I am so immersed in my will that it seems impossible to believe I could ever fulfill the great command to love God with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my mind (cf. Mt 22:37). But, then I remember I am entrusted to Mother Mary. Jesus says to me again, “Behold, your mother” (Jn19:27).

Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer reminds us in his introduction to S. C. Biela's book God Alone Suffices that when faced with difficult situations, or what we perceive as impossible to change: “we can choose the way of faith, trusting that the endangerment is the opportunity leading us to Jesus, who controls the situation, or, on the Marian way, to Christ through Mary. If it is she who is in control, then we only need to find shelter under her mantle and already we become calm and safe.” (God Alone Suffices, p. xviii. Bold emphasis added.)

Our Lady of Guadalupe's words to St. Juan Diego can become the words she says to me:

Listen, put it into your heart,
my youngest and dearest [child],
the thing that afflicts you, is nothing.
Do not let your countenance,
your heart be disturbed. . . .

Am I not here, I, who am your Mother?
Are you not under my shadow and protection?
Am I not the source of your joy?
Are you not in the hollow of my mantle,
in the crossing of my arms?

Do you need anything more?

(Antonio Valeriano, “Nican Mopohua: Original account of Guadalupe,” in A Handbook on Guadalupe, ed. francis Mary Kalvelage, trans. Mario Rojas S├ínchez and Janet Barber (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2001), 200. Italic and hard return emphasis added.)

Now, the Christ-mas cookies have value – more value in the garbage than on the plate. This Advent, instead of thinking of and hungering for cookies, I am asking my MOM to hunger in me and for me for what truly matters...Her Son. My Savior.

“Thank you God, for allowing me to see the truth about my weakness, and how that calls upon the abyss of your merciful love!”