Monday, March 12, 2007
Mary, Our Mother
I was thinking again the other day about my experience of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Part of my Lenten journey this year is preparing for a consecration for the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, thanks to friend Pam from the Catholic-Fertility yahoo list.
Years ago, before I was a Catholic, I was so painfully ignorant about why Catholics honor Mary. I remember one episode that occurred when I worked at a Christian bookstore. For some stupid reason I was reading through the microfische (yes, in the days before computerized records, at least at that store). I was noting all of the "supposedly Christian" books about Mary. I was reading off the titles out loud, scoffing about Mary This and Mary That. Even my two co-workers, one a former Catholic, were looking at me a bit weird, as if to ask why I had such an axe to grind about her. Just then a customer came to the check out, and as I went to place an order for her, she gave her name as Sister Mary So and So. I remember feeling a bit embarrassed that she'd heard me, but I didn't regret what I'd said.
I have a feeling Sister Mary So and So went back home and prayed a rosary for me.
Flash ahead just a few years: I was wrestling with Catholicism, and really wrestling with what to do with Mary. While wrestling, I was driving through West Allis residential streets, and unexpectedly came across a shrine statue of Our Lady of Fatima, with the three children kneeling in front of her. In my state (and in my ignorance), I saw what appeared to but a HUMONGOUS, godlike statue of Mary with three people bowing down before her. It was almost enough to make me cry in panic that God seemed to be calling me to a Church that espoused something that looked so idolatrous. But God spoke to me right then, saying "they see her as an example". That is, the children of Fatima were not kneeling down to worship Mary, but seeing in her the holiness to which God was calling them.
By the way, I went back to the shrine later, and realized that the statue was not 50 stories tall, as it appeared to me that night. I guess I was just in shock when I saw it.
Flash ahead again. Bill Clinton was elected president, and I decided it was time for me to buy a rosary and learn to pray it. That was so hard. When I first started praying it, I prayed "Holy Jesus, Son of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death." I knew the first half of the Hail Mary was simply Scripture, but it was just so hard to say the words.
Flash way ahead. I was Catholic, I was in Japan, life was not going so well. I felt I was surrounded by Mary. Everywhere I turned, Mary seemed to be there. I had very realistic dreams where I saw her and practically had my breath knocked out of me by how beautiful she was. She was desperately trying to show me I needed to get out of the situation I was in and walk forward with her.
Then I came to Steubenville (Thank you, Blessed Mother! You succeeded!). I was a bit put off by the many people I met who seemed so personally in love with Mary. I think we all feel that way when we get that outside-looking-in feeling. My first semester in grad school I took Dr. Mark Miravalle's Mary in the Modern World class, and also made my first Marian consecration that November 21st. I remember distinctly how powerful that was.
So now it's about 10 years since I made that first consecration. The Lord has just been nudging me back towards the Mother, more and more since taking up the commitment of a lay apostle (see the label "Direction For Our Times"). This consecration for the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart dovetails perfectly with the messages of Anne, a Lay Apostle.
To love Mary is all about wanting God's perfect and holy will in one's life. To desire all that God wants, and only that which God wants. To desire to be completely taken up by the Holy Spirit, to see the Father's will be done, to be united in heart with Jesus' most sacred heart.