Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Entrustment to Mary = Finding Love

Today my husband and I had a task to fulfill up in the mountains. We set our alarms for 6:30 a.m. with the goal of leaving our house at 7:00 a.m. to head off on our 2.5-hour drive. For the third day in a row, I found myself waking up before my alarm. I was dismayed to see the clock was 5:45 a.m. When my husband looked at his clock at 6:00 a.m. I let him know I was awake and asked if we should get ready. He said, “Let’s do it.” So out the door we were by 6:30 a.m., two night owls who hate getting up early.

We weren’t sure if we’d hit a lot of ski traffic or not. Our plan was to go directly to our destination as we were meeting someone. However, there was no traffic. A restroom break was calling my husband just as we were approaching the town where a priest friend lives. I knew there was a bathroom in the Church and I had to wonder, would he be offering a Mass this Saturday morning? I couldn’t remember if he usually said it at 8 or 8:30 a.m., and we were pulling into the parking lot at 7:50.  As we entered the Church we noticed the candles were lit on the altar and there was a man sitting in the front pew. I quickly asked him if there was going to be Holy Mass. He said, “Yes.” Yes!!

There was so much joy in my heart to think we could 1) surprise our friend by being in the Church when he walked out for the Mass and 2) WE WERE GOING TO RECEIVE THE EUCHARIST on a day that I anticipated we weren’t going to be able to. Taking my joy one step further, our priest friend came out and in response to seeing us in the pew said he would offer the Holy Mass for our intentions! Treat beyond treat!

During our drive before our stop, I was sharing with my husband that I believe discerning God’s will is often more of a disposition of the heart rather than the worry if I am doing the right or wrong thing. For me, God’s will is to remember that Jesus entrusted me to His Blessed Mother. In all that I do or say, I am to remember that She holds me and will hold me all the way to Heaven. When I received Jesus in the Holy Eucharist this morning, I believed that it was only thanks to this entrustment that I was in that Church at the right time. Gratitude for this gift filled my heart and I was overwhelmed with the awareness of God’s unique love for me and my husband.

What could have been a day complaining that I woke up too early, turned into a day where I found Love!

From the depth of your misery, call upon the Blessed Mother:

Mary, carry me in your arms like your own child. Please allow me to become light like a balloon carried by the wind of the Holy Spirit, docile to carrying out God’s will and free from attachments. I do not want to know where this Divine Wind comes from or to where it will carry me. I do not want to impose my own plans and visions on God. I want to be docile like you.

Once you pray in this way, Mary will lift you up into her arms and, even if you still remain heavy and resistant like a brick, she will carry you where the Holy Spirit wants to lead you. She is the one who is fully sensitive to the subtlest promptings of the Spirit. She is the one who is always obedient to Him. (S.C. Biela, Open Wide the Door to Christ, [Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005], 146.)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Entrustment To Mary = My Rescue

My husband and I attended Sunday Mass at the Cathedral in Boise, Idaho a few weeks ago. A rather large, bald headed man came down the aisle and sat right in front of us. He had a black suit coat on over casual jeans. He seemed very agitated, looking around and moving side to side. At one point he made a fist and pounded it against his other hand. I noticed he did not pray the prayers with us. In my mind I began relating him to a possible ISIS follower. I imagined he had a long machete concealed in his coat’s sleeve. I wondered if he was there to cause terror and possibly cold blooded murder. I looked over at my husband and he seemed to be thinking the same. He whispered that he did not feel comfortable and that we should move. I told him I agreed and that we should wait until we stood up for the Gospel reading before moving. When it was time, my husband pointed to a pew across the aisle and a few rows ahead from where we were sitting. I did not like the fact we moved ahead, thinking the man then saw us moving away from him. I figured if he was a terrorist, he would take offense to this action and would single us out during a rampage. I also felt guilty for in our original pew, behind us was a mother and two young girls. I felt that maybe we were supposed to stay there to be the barrier between him and them. All of the ISIS terrorist news stories I had watched in the past few weeks surfaced in my mind creating an image of what this man could do to us, the congregation, and the priest. Needless to say I was most distracted during the Mass. We noticed the man went up to receive Communion. When we were ready to leave my husband suggested we go out a side door. When we got to the crosswalk, we turned around to see the man right behind us! We walked slowly across the street so he could get ahead of us and we could quickly slip into our car where we felt safe and sound.
 "You look at the tabernacle, but do you believe that there, barely a few yards away from you, is the One who holds your history and the history of the entire world in His hands…the One on whom everything depends? In His presence you worry about various problems and how to resolve them. When you kneel before the God of impossible things and you worry about your problems, there is a kind of falsehood in this type of prayerful attitude. You are acting as if you were God and as if you yourself had to solve everything you who are who is not." [1]
Upon reflection of my actions that morning and reading this passage above, I realized two things. One, during that event I depended more on my knowledge and instruction from the world’s news shows, than depending and trusting on my Lord and Savior. My omnipotent God was in the Church with me, yet I let my fear overshadow my belief that He would protect all of us there. Second, I had immediately accused this man of a life of crime just by his appearance. My judgment showed my lack of charity for my neighbor. Instead of seeing Christ in him, I chose to see Satan.
This event is more proof of how I walk along the road of imperfection, and need my Blessed Mother’s rescue. Only with her may I look at my misery and not be ashamed. She reminds me that Jesus came to save me through His death and resurrection. Jesus trusts that He can reveal my weaknesses to me, knowing that I am held by His mother and she will be my comfort. She will help me understand His merciful love – a Love for me, as I am. She will also help me to see her Son in those around me, to look for Him in the events of my life, and to seek Him above all else.
Thank you Jesus, for giving me your mother before you died! You knew I would be lost without her. [cf. Jn 19:26-27]
[1] S.C. Biela, TheTwo Pillars, (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2006), 81.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Entrustment to Mary = Being Loved as Dr. Jekyll AND Mr. Hyde

“I love you!”  “I hate you!”

“Come here.” “Go away.”

“You’re the best mom.”  “You’re so mean.”

“Thank you!” “I don’t want this.”


Life with five kids has me feeling a bit beat up lately.  Our household seems very up and down, but with too much drama for my taste.  Everyone seems very needy and with my husband working crazy hours, I feel inadequate to be present to them all. I have been noticing how everything is a battle:  homework, bedtime, extracurricular activities, prayer time.  I feel like a ping pong ball, bounced around to deal with everyone’s issues or defiant moods.  Why can’t we be kind to one another?  Why all the poking each other, teasing one another?  Why can’t everyone be in a pleasant mood all at the same time, at least for a few minutes or so?!  I feel like my kids can be extremely disrespectful one minute, but then completely loving the next, acting as if our conflict never even happened – like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.


Last Saturday, it was our turn to host some friends over from our parish.  We meet as families once a month for faith-sharing and a meal.  We had planned an activity for the children about the fruits of the Spirit.  My daughter and I went to the market and picked out twelve different fruits: pineapple, kiwi, strawberry…etc. and labeled each one with a different fruit of the Spirit.  As we were preparing for the activity I couldn’t help but notice how lacking our domestic church was in terms of the action of the Holy Spirit.  Gentleness?  Self-control?  Patience?  Not lately.  Two days later it seemed no coincidence that my daughter’s prayer book of daily reflections addressed the fruits of the Spirit.  Even my kids noticed the same theme.  So, we prayed for openness to these fruits, acknowledging our weakness and need to beg. 

Later, I was reflecting on this blatant reminder to be open to the Spirit.  At first I was sad about the missing fruits in our home, feeling that I was the primary cause, as a leader in our home.  But, in our spirituality of living in Communion with our Blessed Mama, why should I be surprised? I so often treat my Blessed Mama the same way my kids treat me: begging Her to be with me one moment, and completely ignoring Her the next.  I am grateful for my entrustment on the one hand, but then I am resuming reliance on self the next.

I can see how very much I am in need of the fruits of the Spirit, but instead of feeling discouraged, I can rejoice in the fact that our Blessed Mother is the Holy Spirit’s spouse.  Instead of being frustrated, I can stand with empty hands.  Yes, our domestic church is lacking the fruits of the Spirit.  Yes, we lack self-control and are practically suffocated by our pride, but that is the very reason we must stand with Her before our Lord, with nothing to give except our misery.  We cannot take any credit for any virtue, but perhaps with our ugliness before our eyes, we can grow in humility.  Maybe then, and only then, will the Holy Spirit descend upon us and surprise us with His gifts. 


“It is good for the rich man to acknowledge his poverty…Let him recognize that his hands are empty so that God can fill them.”  St. Augustine


Our gesture of showing empty hands can be directed toward God not only in spiritual matters….but it can also indicate our attitude of awaiting everything from God.  It should accompany us in everything we do in life:  in work, in raising our children, in our influence on others, and in prayer.  The gesture of empty hands should also accompany us when looking for the greatest of God’s gifts to come – the gift of Himself for He is Love that embraces us and in which we are immersed.    (Tadeusz Dajczer, The Gift of Faith, 3rd ed. [Ft. Collins, CO:  IAMF, 2012], 40.)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Entrustment to Mary = Seeing Bullies through the Eyes of Faith

I remember a conference years ago about why there are bullies. It was explained to me that GOD may make use of bullies to confront our pride. It is not our humility that is confronted. The larger our pride, the larger the confrontation. The same speaker gave another talk about children's pride and parents yelling at children. He said we shouldn't apologize to our kids after we yell at them, because it wasn't their humility that led to the loud voice. He also mentioned that if a child's pride is not broken when they are young, then they will be the instruments to break the parents' pride in the teen years.

All those conferences led me to desire not to feed my children's pride. I saw no way out for me because on my own I was only either going to feed their pride or I was going to try to control it. This led me to Blessed Mother. I began begging for her intercession and intervention in all my interactions with my kids. The answers to my prayers varied depending on the child. 

In my house, the older son bullied the younger one. Each time he was bullied, the younger one would run to me and want to complain about his older brother. I would beg Blessed Mother, and with an open begging hand, I would take my younger son to another room and explain to him about his pride. I would explain that GOD has a right to crush his pride using whatever instrument HE chooses.  In addition, I would make sure he understood how much I loved him with his big pride. (I knew Blessed Mother was with me because there were hugs...loving eyes...calm voice…not my usual self!). 

I can't say that my younger son ever understood or accepted this message, but I can say that he learned how to be a peace keeper sooner than later. I found he didn’t run to me and complain as much because – well – who wants to hear they have big pride?! Now this “younger” son is equally as strong as his older brother. He has a dignity about himself and never lets his older brother get him down. 

Meanwhile, the older brother's pride has been crushed because his younger brother has a confidence he doesn't possess - some skills he doesn't have - the ability to make friends more easily. Despite his earlier bullying years, my oldest son is a good boy and likable, but finding his way is often more difficult then the road his younger brother walks. (Little does he know that he helped mold his younger brother with all that bullying!) 

It wasn't so easy with my oldest daughter. With her, I wasn't given the miracle of a calm voice, hugs, and loving looks. Instead, I was allowed to see what happens when I handle things on my own. I just squashed, stomped on, and verbally blew all over her pride. With her, I discovered how Christ was crucified by me. I guess I could say I was the "bully" in her situation. For her, it was always reverse. I would have the begging hand AFTER my encounters - begging Blessed Mother to obtain the graces of repair and God's mercy and love to make up for the way I reacted with her. Well...GOD IS merciful and my daughter has had less ramifications from her childhood than I would imagine. She helped me because through her my pride was constantly challenged, my weakness always before my eyes. (Little does she know that she helped mold her mom!)

GOD is good and HE always knows what I need. As a parent, I see how each of my children is a means to my sanctification and to each other's sanctification! Embracing them as they are (with all their weaknesses and pride) is a challenge for me. However, this is why I am entrusted to Blessed Mother. This entrustment becomes two-fold. First, it helps me to understand that I am loved with all my weaknesses and pride, and second, WE (Blessed Mother and me) can embrace my children just as they are!

For the Divine Spouse Who tries hard to conquer the human heart, everything can become a means to make it so that the soul falls in love with Him without reservation. However, other people – our neighbors – fulfill special roles in this matter. This is because of their freedom that does not always submit to God’s will, let alone our will!

God makes use of a difficult neighbor to gradually reveal the whitewashed tomb in us.

The light of faith is very necessary in order for us to see that the light of the Lord, Who is knocking, is hidden under the appearance of the most difficult persons around us. This neighbor alters the order that you have maintained for many years. He crucifies your plans so that at last you may begin to perceive, in the light of faith, the painful truth that you, yourself, are a difficult neighbor.

You should then be grateful not only to God but also to this neighbor who, perhaps unknowingly, is the instrument through whom God serves you, through whom He reveals the truth to you, in order to rescue and heal you.  (S.C. Biela, Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock [Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005], 13-14. Bold emphasis added.)