Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Entrusment to Mary = Believing In A Love That Brings Joy

I attended a retreat a few weeks ago. During a conference the priest mentioned that “joy” comes from knowing you are loved. I had been feeling pretty “joyless” lately so this topic peeked my interest. The priest went on to say that if we truly believe God loves us for who we are right now with all of our flaws and weaknesses, then we should have an inner perpetual joy. He suggested reflecting on how children are full of joy which comes from knowing they are loved by their parents.
There was my answer to why I have spent my adult life without this perpetual joy. I can’t believe God can love me for who I am right now. Once I am more holy, and I have overcome my sinfulness, and I am closer to being perfect, then I can start believing I am loved. I also realized I do not unconditionally love myself, and only feel a fleeting joy when I have accomplished a temporal or spiritual feat.
So once again I see how God has rescued me from my skewed image of His love with my entrustment to my Blessed Mother. For I may turn to her with this new awareness, and with her, WE can accept God’s love for “who” I am now, instead of who I think I need to become.  With her, WE can let go of my belief that I have to earn my right to be joyful…and just be joyful!
"Mary is continually with you and takes care of your integral development. In a special way, she takes care of your spiritual growth. She is Mother and Teacher of your interior life.

Her deepest desire is that Christ may grow in you in a way that there is no longer any place in your heart for yourself but only for Him and for His will.

The most important element is your openness to the love of God – the attitude of abandonment, simplicity, and the humility of an evangelical child."
S.C. Biela, In The Arms of Mary, 2nd. ed, rev. (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005), 169.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Entrustment to Mary = Letting God Love Me This Lent

I was introduced to the idea of spiritual direction about 15 years ago.  I had been grieving over miscarriage after miscarriage, begging God for a child, frustrated with my lack of control over my greatest desire - to be a mother.  I did not ask for spiritual direction.  I did not seek it.  It was a gift.  My mother arranged a meeting with a certain priest for confession, and encouraged me to be open as this priest was known for adding spiritual direction within the Sacrament.  It was the beginning of a transformation, as I have been blessed with this priest as my spiritual director for all these years. 

God knew what my soul needed before I did.  He generously provided and continues to provide His grace through His instrument (the priest), surprising me with His wisdom and helping me to look at the events of my life through His eyes.  Trusting that this priest is an instrument of Christ Himself, I find myself pouring out in great detail my struggles, my fears, my joys, my frustrations, my questions.  I am honestly surprised with some of the answers I receive and the answers bring me such joy, reminding me that God’s ways are not my ways. The direction reminds me to take a rest from over-analyzing my ways. I am continually shown how when I do not discern His will, I can be an obstacle to God using me to share His love.  Thanks to God's grace, I can stand in truth in the Sacrament of Reconciliation with someone who knows my soul.  It’s funny, I can spend so much time talking with this priest while confessing my sins, seeking guidance, asking questions, only to discover I have nothing much to say when we walk out of the reconciliation room.  I really trust that it is Christ reaching out to me in those moments, that the priest is truly His instrument.

I am a shy and introverted person, and many times spiritual direction is provided on the phone.  I put off scheduling meeting times for various reasons: I don’t want to bother the priest, I haven’t made any “progress” since our last talk, I don’t know what to talk about.  But I find that God continues to seek me out, as many times, the priest will email me, asking how I’m doing.  Or he’ll happen to be in town.  Or my mom will suggest calling him about a certain issue I may be struggling with.  I truly believe Christ is expressing His great love for me when He is present in the guidance I receive.  I feel so humbled that this gift was provided for me by God Himself.  I know many search for a spiritual director and are unable to find one.  God shows His love, as He searches me out.

As a Control Freak struggling against tendencies toward perfectionism, I am tempted to distrust God’s love for me.  And I am finding out that the less I accept God’s love for me, the less I am able to share it with my loved ones.  I find myself loving so conditionally, criticizing weaknesses of my loved ones, holding them to high standards.  I find myself dissatisfied with myself, and so I know that God uses spiritual direction to remind me of His great Love for me.  A favorite Scripture verse of mine is 1 Jn 4:19 – “We love because He first loved us.”  I tend to ignore Him, reject Him, distrust Him.  This Lent, my hope is that I will allow God to love me.  Within the arms of my Blessed Mama, I ask for Her grace to help me accept God’s pure Love for me.  God recently arranged a phone call with my spiritual director, and I discussed my thoughts about what I could be doing for Lent – giving up sugar, praying more, going to more daily Masses…etc.  He reminded me that Lent meant “slow down”.  Instead of my grandiose plans, he suggested that I be more present to Jesus loving me, pouring His mercy upon me.  This Lent, I can ask myself, to where am I rushing and why? Instead of rushing I can think of ways to slow down.  I am reminded to relate everything to Redeeming Love.  Quite simply, I can SIMPLIFY this Lent.   
I cannot give what I haven’t accepted.  So, in the arms of Our Mother, I ask Her to help me let God love me (as I am).

Monday, February 9, 2015

Entrustment to Mary = Learning to See with the Eyes of Faith

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I believe that when we die we will get our new eyes from which we see Jesus; we see Mary; we see the truth about ourselves in the Light of God’s mercy.  Meanwhile, before our death, we have the opportunity to grow in faith to such a degree we can begin to see God’s action in our lives as if we had those new eyes already. It is a road, and I believe it is my road with Blessed Mother that is helping me to see things through the eyes of faith.

Today we had the reading from the book of Job. Our pastor reminded us about the story of Job. How he was an example for us of what it means to persevere in the midst of trials. The timing of this reading was amazing to me because in my life I see nothing but crazy trials being given to my dear ones. Things I couldn’t imagine happening are now happening in the lives of those nearest and dear to me. A priest friend often reminds me not to ask “why?” when confronted with these trials, but rather to ask “what for?” Job must have wondered, “What for, LORD?” And the answer was given to us in the Scriptures – he was given the trials to be an example for us that GOD alone is GOD and GOD alone suffices.

I find myself asking, what does that look like in my life? 

For example:  I came home from a vacation a few weeks ago on the day of my child’s birthday. I wanted to celebrate with him, so my husband and I picked up cake and ice-cream on the way home from the airport. We were in good moods, ready to surprise him. When I arrived home, however, I discovered dirty counters and dishes that were there when I had left 5 days before. My spirit of joy quickly turned into a spirit of resentment. I wasn’t able to keep from verbally attacking my birthday boy when he walked into the house after us. Were my reprimands so important that I needed to spoil the birthday celebration? My husband didn’t think so! By focusing on my own feelings, I allowed that negative spirit to spill onto everyone in the house.

The next day, the counter was still a mess and I was still upset. Even though I had taken my resentments to the altar at Mass that morning, I wasn’t able to control my reactions when I saw my son again. Only this time, I allowed my assumptions to come out – I made a huge generalization and said “you did nothing while we were gone!” Oh, my, my, my…I fell right into the trap! Now, I forced my son to share how he spent an entire afternoon doing laundry from a fruit fly infestation in the bathroom hamper. He had done something – and he hadn’t wanted to complain about it – but my pressing and pressing pushed his pride into desiring rescue.

What for, Lord?

This simple trial got me to remember I am not GOD and I cannot rely on anyone other than GOD. 

Who am I? Figuratively, I am the Ebola virus, ready to destroy all spiritual good GOD gives me. But, more importantly, who is Mary? Mary is the direct action of GOD in my life. She is holding me exactly because I am full of pride, lack trust, and, if left on my own, would never learn from my past mistakes. Before my entrustment, I would have justified my resentments and my reactions, and I would have solicited the same support from my husband and friends – thereby keeping myself at a distance from God’s mercy and, in a way, diminishing the spiritual lives of my dear ones. Since entrustment, I see the whole thing differently. I see that GOD allowed this event. Unlike Job, I do not persevere in faith; I am quick to fail when presented with adversity. I am not shown this to become discouraged, though, but rather to make use of this very weakness. When I use my weakness to climb back into the arms of Blessed Mother, She can obtain from God the transformation of my spiritual misery into a happy fault. She is able to immerse me once again in the Redemption of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And when I beg for repair, She is the figurative antiviral drug, obtaining the graces to heal all my (and Her) dear ones I wound along the way.

A child of God being led by Mary is certain that God loves him in spite of the abyss of one’s evil. He believes that the abyss of God’s Love exceeds in an infinite way even the deepest abyss of human nothingness and of sin. (S.C. Biela, In The Arms of Mary, 2nd. ed, rev. [Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005], 162.)