Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Entrustment To Mary = What To Await From God

“We obtain from God exactly what we await from him.” [1]

This quote from St. Therese of Lisieux has had me reflecting on what I await from God?
I can imagine what I “should” await from Him, and that is goodness, love, mercy, hope, peace, joy, and miracles. But reverting to my old ways of thinking I see I mistakenly await justice, punishment, negative consequences, doom, and gloom. Because I am not perfect I figure I do not deserve good things to happen. Because I cannot give God a statement of good works, desires, deeds, I figure I have not earned His special bestowals. Even though I have experienced event after event to prove this theory wrong, I still get stuck in its mixed up rationale.
For example, with my daughter’s high risk pregnancy I don’t believe that we deserve the miracle of God keeping the baby safe in the womb until she is full term. Nor do I completely trust in God’s care of her if she were to be born prematurely. Although I want to, my stupid way of thinking goes back to me not deserving such special graces for I see how quick I am to deny God’s omnipotence, so why would He want to help such an unbeliever!
I have been told that the spirituality of communion of life with Christ through the Blessed Mother is the path of imperfection. This road of imperfection sounds good to me as I see daily how I never will be perfect. I see how lost I would be without my entrustment to Blessed Mom to rescue me from my old behaviors and thought patterns which I return to in a vicious cycle.
Jesus said he did not come for the healthy but for the sick, and that He wishes to be my Divine Physician. Only with Blessed Mom will I learn to believe this truth. Only with Her will WE shed my desires for perfection and become satisfied in being loved, forgiven, and accepted as a wayward soul.
On the road of imperfection, I may never be able to admit my nothingness as I am called to do. Therefore, I entrust myself each and every day to my Blessed Mom. Through my entrustment, WE can await everything from God, and in doing so, obtain everything from Him as well. WE then can joyfully await a beautiful baby girl knowing that God will take care of her and her mom, giving them all that they will need according to His divine plan.
 [1] S.C. Biela, TheTwo Pillars, (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2006), 70.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Entrustment to Mary = Learning How to Pray All Over Again

When my kids were little and I was balancing a newborn, toddler, and preschooler, people would comment to me how easy parenting was at these young ages.  Sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, I would inwardly completely disagree and look forward to the days when my children were more independent. 

Now, though, I see the truth in those comments.  Instead of worrying about whether everyone had been fed, bathed, and interacted with, I worry whether my older children are embracing their faith, being good friends to their peers, and making good choices that will affect their future.  I noticed that as a parent, I, too, was protected and carried.  Being so exhausted all of the time, I prayed constantly, sought out the Sacraments, celebrated little joys and didn’t pay much attention to distractions like social media and shopping, for which I had neither time nor money to address.  Sleep deprivation and social loneliness were my spiritual benefactors:  they pushed me straight into the arms of our Mother, who carried me to Our Father. 

Now, I struggle with making time for prayer.  I get a decent night’s sleep, but I am restless in my spiritual life.  I am so distracted in my prayer life, or avoid it all together, and am tempted to rely on myself instead of our Lord.  I become easily discouraged by my sinfulness, especially in the areas of mothering, and am frustrated that I am not making “progress” in my spiritual life as noticed by still confessing the same sins over and over.  I am lukewarm and recently felt the need for something to polarize me:  to make me choose between hot or cold.  To drive me into the loving arms and a continuous conversation with our Savior.

In the midst of birthday party preparations for my young daughter, I received a phone call from my mother.  Thinking she was calling to wish her granddaughter a Happy Birthday, I was quick to pass off the phone.  My mother cried out that she had called to talk to me, and went on to share the news of my father’s chest pains and imminent cardiac procedure.  Whoa.  Here it is, I thought.  Here’s God calling out to me for deeper union.  Although concerned, I didn’t feel fear, which is my usual response.  I asked her to keep me updated, and went about the birthday celebration a bit detached, and yet still in the moment.  No longer was I worried about a perfectly clean house before our guests arrived, or whether we had any party games to keep our guests entertained.  I interacted with everyone, but felt connected in prayer with our Lord. 

A few hours later, my mother called again, to tell me that it looked like God didn’t have plans for my father to come home.  What????!  She sounded so calm, and so grateful that I was immediately confused.  My heart sank, thinking he didn’t make it through the procedure, but then she explained that “home” actually meant “Home”, meaning eternal life.  God did preserve his life here on earth.   And so I, too, felt immense gratitude, to be able to enjoy my father’s presence here for a while longer.  But I was struck with the realization that I was not ready to handle funeral arrangements and grief, for change and loss.  I am not strong enough nor faith-filled enough to handle a life-changing, polarizing event. 

So where do I go from here?  

Admit That You Are Incapable.

When standing in the truth, you ought to admit that you reduce the time devoted to prayer because you do not know how to pray, and furthermore, at times you do not even want to pray.  Usually, it is difficult for you to dedicate even a fragment of your time to God.

In spite of what you have discovered, try to talk

                                sincerely with Jesus:


                Lord, You see that I do not know how to pray.

                You know, Lord, that I do not have the attitude of the tax

                collector –

                contrite and trusting in Your Mercy.

                I realize that every moment my thoughts are far from You.

                Nevertheless, I believe that You will not reject me.

                I believe that in Your presence

                my seemingly useless efforts have value.

(S. C. Biela, In the Arms of Mary, 2nd. Ed, rev. [Ft. Collins, CO:  IAMF, 2005], 18-19).


For now, I am recognizing my need for prayer and yet my unwillingness to cooperate.  I am asking our Blessed Mother to teach me how to pray.  To begin simply as suggested above.  To not doubt God’s working within my soul in new ways and new seasons.  To await His miracles as I grow in acknowledging the depth of my misery and allowing Him to love through me and in me.  I suppose that’s “progress” after all.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Entrustment to Mary = The Fruit of Imperfection

As much as I was trying hard not to let it happen, anxiety started creeping into my Christmas break as January got closer and closer. I knew January was going to be a busy month work-wise and kid-wise. I was fighting hard not to lose the joy of Christmas, but as usual, when “I” fight something “I” eventually lose!

To battle the obvious scenarios I had in my over-analyzing brain, I started praying. I prayed every day that I wouldn’t let January get me down, that I wouldn’t experience anxiety and late nights and stress. It seemed that as soon as I left the church, I would be talking to someone and hear myself saying how stressed I was. Ah, ye of little faith! Each time I admitted to my anxiety, I was made aware of my lack of trust. I didn’t believe my prayers would or could be answered by my All-powerful God. I went to confession on just this point.

But, there was something else Blessed Mother wanted me to see about myself. It wasn’t only my lack of trust, it was the more deeply hidden truth that I want to be perfect. I was praying not to be stressed – but why? What was my goal? Was I seeking God’s glory in my prayers? No, I was seeking a way to mask my weakness. It was so subtle, but my prayers were actually using the “spirituality” against itself. I was “admitting to my weakness” (anxiety, lack of trust, self-centeredness…) but not so that God’s mercy could embrace me. No. My goal was to be relieved of my weakness so that I wouldn’t be humiliated by it. I was begging to climb the road of perfection!

The road I am on, through communion of life with Christ through Mary, is NOT the road to perfection. It is the road to childlike trust and humility. I am specifically on this road because I am imperfect; I am a sinner; I am full of pride! I tried on my own for years to conquer my weak tendencies and I failed. Then, the words from Scripture touched me very deeply:  “Behold, your mother.”  My heart was opened toward this new way for me – a way in which Blessed Mother picks me up and carries me toward her Son.

It should have been no surprise to me that I was manipulating my prayers, because I still am imperfect. I still am a sinner. I am still full of pride. My surprise confirms this! But, the surprise exposes once again my BLESSED WEAKNESS that is my ticket to the Arms of Mary. This reminder is the fruit of my entrustment. When I start to climb the hills toward perfection, it is absolute grace that knocks me down and reminds me who I really am. Thank you Blessed Mother for rescuing me – all praise and honor be to my Lord, Jesus Christ!

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

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Entrustment To Mary = Starting The New Year By Celebrating Our Blessed Mother

God has enlightened me this year into recognizing how special it is that our Catholic Church starts the New Year off celebrating the feast day of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God … Mother of us all. It is a great reminder that she is our Mother and she indeed wants to take care of us!
For my family 2014 was a rollercoaster of emotions. To recap the past 6 months: we had my husband’s mother pass away, a granddaughter born, a daughter enter the convent, another daughter get married, pregnant, and served divorce papers all within 3 months -  and now is having a high risk pregnancy that could lead to a preterm delivery; my other daughter’s family received notice they have to move across the U.S. for her husband’s next work project; I strained my wrist in October and it still hasn’t healed;  and my husband officially retired at the end of the year.
The only way I am surviving this multitude of graces is through my entrustment to Blessed Mom, allowing her to carry me through my sadness, anger, and despair.
I have shared how my daughter entered the Dominican Sisters, Mary, Mother of the Eucharist Order. This chosen vocation is a beautiful grace, yet, I still grieve the loss of having her close-by and being able to talk to her whenever I want. Feeling the loss especially on Christmas Eve, I was pleasantly surprised on Christmas morning to see her on the cover photo for the Order’s Facebook page. It was a most special present, for which I thank Blessed Mom. I believe she understood my motherly sorrow and interceded for that consoling grace.
I have felt anger with the events surrounding my daughter’s marriage dissolution. I have been unjustly accused and demonized by her husband. Once again I have had to flee to my Blessed Mom’s arms for she is also understanding in these matters. We have received graces showing us the need for compassion for this young man who in our eyes is emotionally wounded. These graces have helped diffuse my anger and resentment toward his actions.
With the risk of my daughter having a preterm delivery I have had a feeling of despair. As a mother, I am overwhelmed with what she has had to face during the past few months, and this additional trial seems almost too much to endure. But again I think of how God does not give us anything we cannot handle, as long as we bear the burden with Him. So, I climb into my Blessed Mother’s arms and entrust the trial to her, and with her WE can ask God for His merciful rescue.
Blessed Mother is really a SUPER MOM, always ready to carry us to her Son, so we may be loved, rescued, and consoled. Celebrating her on January 1st is a great way to remind myself how only through my entrustment to her will I be able to face the graces that lay ahead in this New Year!
“The heavenly Mother is continually ‘at the disposal’ of each of her children; she is disposed to help every time they call upon her." S.C. Biela, InThe Arms of Mary, 2nd. ed, rev. (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005),168.
“That Mary ‘carries us in her arms’ is an objective truth that does not depend on your faith. The words of Christ’s testament pronounced on the Cross are, in fact, an objective truth on the maternity of Mary in relation to all men. Her maternity does not depend on our recognition of it nor in our belief in her. Independently, whether or not you believe it, whether or not you remember it, you are ‘in the arms of Mary’." ibid, 171.