Saturday, April 1, 2017

Giving Our All To Mary (And Receiving Her All In Return)

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Life is hard. It seems like everything is a struggle. We struggle with our families and friends, we struggle at our jobs or even finding a job, we struggle with our weight, we struggle with our finances, we struggle with our health, we struggle with our fear of impending doom in the world, etc., etc., etc., In short, we struggle with life! We have moments of pleasure here and there, but for the most part, everything is an uphill climb and just when we seem to get to the top, another huge mountain is staring back at us.



Life is even harder when you try to live as a follower of Jesus Christ.  Christians have always been out of step with the world, but in our contemporary times, Christians are more at odds with the world than ever before.  In the past, for the most part, even though non-Christians didn't share Christian belief in obeying and serving God, they still more or less accepted, at least on a superficial level, Christian morality regarding sexual ethics, respect for life, respect for other human beings, etc. 

However, that is no longer the case.  Christians have become the pariahs of society.  As an example, I was talking with a Catholic yesterday who long ago rejected Christian belief.  However, he is basically a "good" man, very thoughtful and decent.  And we seemed to agree on our concerns about people and respect for others.  Yet, he showed extreme disappointment when I mentioned that I am adamantly against abortion and cannot support it in any way.  That was a bridge too far for him, and he ended our conversation there.  I was, in his eyes, a hateful bigot who could not be reasoned with.

So as Christians, we not only are engaged in all of the ordinary struggles in life, we are also engaged in a constant struggle against our sinful selves and now, we are the rejected people of our modern world.  To believe in a Creator God, to devote your life to serving Him, to live chastely and attend any kind of church on a regular basis is to label yourself a "nut."  I remember a "30 Rock" episode in which the main character, Liz, becomes very interested in a man.  She follows him and sees him going into a church.  Her first reaction is, on no, he is a kook.  But then she finds he is going there only to attend an AA meeting, not for that "crazy God stuff", so everything is okay.  

So where can we find sanity?  To quote an old Rascals song, "How can I be sure in a world that's constantly changing?"  Of course, we find true salvation in Jesus Christ.  But people have all sorts of different views and beliefs on what it means to follow Jesus Christ and which is the correct road to salvation.  If we start to rely on other people to guide us, or even if we rely on ourselves, we can end up taking a lot of bad turns and detours, which could even derail us on our journey.  I speak from hard experience.  

But our all-merciful God does not leave us out in the cold to fend for ourselves.  As I have written before, He has given us many spiritual supports and aides.  But we can still be lead astray even with spiritual aides such as the written Word of God, the Bible, because we are still seeing things through our distorted, sin-contaminated view of life.  If you're anything like me, you have come to realize that you need a true spiritual guide in life which will keep us even from self deception.  Certainly it is good to have a spiritual director, but we are talking about another fallible, sinful human being, and sometimes even our spiritual directors can be wrong.  

As I have written before, we have been given a perfect spiritual guide in Mary, the Beloved Mother of God.  Jesus Christ entrusted Himself to her, and we can certainly do no better than He did.  In His dying breaths on the cross, Jesus Christ gave us His Blessed and Beloved Mother as a personal intercessor and mediator between us and Him.  If we allow her, Mary brings us close to her and becomes quite literally our Spiritual Mother, watching over us closer than our physical mother ever could.

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When we go to Jesus by ourselves, because of our inherent sinfulness we are appearing before him in tattered and torn spiritual clothes, full of holes, stained and dirty.  We are sorely in need of a bath to cleanse the odifericous odor of sin and decadence that stays with us even after we are forgiven.  Our spiritual offerings, like ourselves, are tainted by our sin, including spiritual pride.  

Mary, like a good mother with a young child, knows how to cleanse us of the dirt and mess caused by our sins.  She knows how to comb our hair and dress us which we, in our spiritual ignorance, have no clue as to what is proper and not proper.  She knows all the right words to say to show proper respect and decorum to our King, our Lord and Savior.  So often all we can do is babble in Christ's presence. Our Lady interprets our words to her Son so that we sound as eloquent as Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg address.  

We, so spiritually ignorant, don't even know what our real needs are. When we pray for others, we really don't know what is best for them and hence, we don't really know what to pray for concerning other people. But the Blessed Mother knows, and as pictured at the wedding of Cana, it doesn't matter whether we are aware enough to ask her or not. She will clearly see our circumstances and the circumstances of those for whom we pray, and she will go to her Son and present our true needs and those for whom we pray before Him. And as He could not resist her requests when He walked the earth, Jesus still grants every request from her now because her will is in perfect alignment with His, as it has been since the first day of her creation.

As far as the spiritual offerings are concerned which we present to Jesus, they are much like a child's drawings. But instead of the innocence of a child's pictures, they are tainted with our sin and our pride as I mentioned above. Our Blessed Mother takes our crude and sin-tainted offerings and presents them to Our Lord free of any shortcomings and sin. And to our spiritual offerings she adds her own glory, multiplying many times over the graces that we would otherwise merit on our own.

By going to Jesus through Mary, we are also showing great humility, because we are admitting our spiritual shortcomings and incompleteness. We are like the tax collector in the temple, afraid to even lift our heads but instead striking our breast and declaring, "God have mercy on me, a sinner." [Luke 18:9-14]. We don't choose to go through Mary because of any fear that Our Savior will reject us. We know that Jesus Christ will never reject anyone who goes to Him in true repentance. We choose Mary are our mediator to her Son because we realize our own unworthiness, and we want to give Our Savior only the very best. Our Blessed Mother is able to do this in ways we can't even imagine.

St. Louis de Montfort wrote:
In going to Jesus through Mary, we are really paying honour to our Lord, for we are showing that, because of our sins, we are unworthy to approach his infinite holiness directly on our own. We are showing that we need Mary, his holy Mother, to be our advocate and mediatrix with him who is our Mediator. We are going to Jesus as Mediator and Brother, and at the same time humbling ourselves before him who is our God and our Judge. In short, we are practising humility, something which always gladdens the heart of God.
We, going before Christ on our own, are like people competing in the Olympics who have no athletic skill whatsoever.  All we have is the desire to be an Olympic champion.  But we have no idea even where to begin.  Our Blessed Mother is the all-time Olympic champion who comes in and takes us by the hand, competing right alongside us and doing everything we can't do.  We no longer have to worry about being good enough.  When we slip and fall on our faces, as we will, she is right beside us, picking us up and putting us back in the race.  She will never allow us stay down.  She will never allow us to fall by the wayside.  With her by our side, it is a 100% certainty that we will achieve our goal.

There is, however, a required action our part before the Blessed Mother is able to guide us to her Son.  In order for Mary to give herself totally to us, interceding for us before Jesus Christ and bringing us unerringly on the road to salvation, we must completely and without reservation give ourselves to her.  What does this mean?  As St. Louis de Montfort, the greatest Marian saint, explains in his book, "The Secret of Mary" explains:
Chosen soul, this devotion consists in surrendering oneself in the manner of a slave to Mary, and to Jesus through her, and then performing all our actions with Mary, in Mary, through Mary, and for Mary. Let me explain this statement further.

We should choose a special feast-day on which to give ourselves. Then, willingly and lovingly and under no constraint, we consecrate and sacrifice to her unreservedly our body and soul. We give to her our material possessions, such as house, family, income, and even the inner possessions of our soul, namely, our merits, graces, virtues and atonements. Notice that in this devotion we sacrifice to Jesus through Mary all that is most dear to us, that is, the right to dispose of ourselves, of the value of our prayers and alms, of our acts of self- denial and atonements. This is a sacrifice which no religious order would require of its members. We leave everything to the free disposal of our Lady, for her to use as she wills for the greater glory of God, of which she alone is perfectly aware.

We leave to her the right to dispose of all the satisfactory and prayer value of our good deeds, so that, after having done so and without going so far as making a vow, we cease to be master over any good we do. Our Lady may use our good deeds either to bring relief or deliverance to a soul in purgatory, or perhaps to bring a change of heart to a poor sinner.
To put this in earthly terms, this would be the same as the mother of the king going to a humble peasant and saying I can make you a legitimate member of the king's family and inheritor of the greatest riches on earth. But in order to do this, you have to give me everything you own. All of your wages must go to me. You must put all of your financial holdings, real estate holdings, bank accounts, everything you own must be in my name. You are not allowed to take credit for any accomplishments. You must still keep working and supporting yourself and your family and being responsible for all of your day-to-day obligations, but you must do it all through me and in my name. In return, I will add to your meagerly belongings all of the great riches that I have received from the king and bring you more riches than you can ever dream of. 

From St. Louis de Montfort:
By this devotion we place our merits in the hands of our Lady, but only that she may preserve, increase and embellish them, since merit for increase of grace and glory cannot be handed over to any other person. But we give to her all our prayers and good works, inasmuch as they have intercessory and atonement value, for her to distribute and apply to whom she pleases. If, after having thus consecrated ourselves to our Lady, we wish to help a soul in purgatory, rescue a sinner, or assist a friend by a prayer, an alms, an act of self-denial or an act of self-sacrifice, we must humbly request it of our Lady, abiding always by her decision, which of course remains unknown to us. We can be fully convinced that the value of our actions, being dispensed by that same hand which God himself uses to distribute his gifts and graces to us, cannot fail to be applied for his greatest glory.
This personally brings me great relief because I can only guess at the needs of other people or even myself.   I can only guess at the Will of God in my life.  I can only guess at whom I can or cannot trust.  I can only guess at the road I should be taking.  I, a sinful human being, cannot know the true Will of God.  The best I can do is guess.  Our Blessed Mother tells us to go ahead and pray for what we think is the Will of  God, and she will take those prayers and any good works we do, and apply them in such a way that the Will of God is truly fulfilled, which of course is our intention all along.

By giving our all to Mary, we become her slave, as St. Louis de Montfort tells us:
I have said that this devotion consists in adopting the status of a slave with regard to Mary. We must remember that there are three kinds of slavery. There is, first, a slavery based on nature. All men, good and bad alike, are slaves of God in this sense. The second is a slavery of compulsion. The devils and the damned are slaves of God in this second sense. The third is a slavery of love and free choice. This is the kind chosen by one who consecrates himself to God through Mary, and this is the most perfect way for us human beings to give ourselves to God, our Creator.
There are not enough words, not enough ways in which to praise our Blessed Mother and devotion to her.   St. Louis de Montfort quotes St. Bernard of Clairvaux:
When you follow Mary you will not go astray; when you pray to her, you will not despair; when your mind is on her, you will not wander; when she holds you up, you will not fall; when she protects you, you will have no fear; when she guides you, you will feel no fatigue; when she is on your side, you will arrive safely home
Those who practice this total devotion to Mary have no fear, no anxieties.  They do not struggle day after day, just trying to stay ahead of the devil who seems to be right behind them.  But be assured, devotion to Mary does not eliminate the crosses and trials in our life.  Mary suffered with her Son, and it is necessary that we suffer with Our Lord as well.  From St. Louis:
This does not mean that one who has discovered Mary through a genuine devotion is exempt from crosses and sufferings. Far from it! One is tried even more than others, because Mary, as Mother of the living, gives to all her children splinters of the tree of life, which is the Cross of Jesus. But while meting out crosses to them she gives the grace to bear them with patience, and even with joy. In this way, the crosses she sends to those who trust themselves to her are rather like sweetmeats, i.e. "sweetened" crosses rather than "bitter" ones. If from time to time they do taste the bitterness of the chalice from which we must drink to become proven friends of God, the consolation and joy which their Mother sends in the wake of their sorrows creates in them a strong desire to carry even heavier and still more bitter crosses.
I could go on writing about the glories of Mary forever, and I am sure I will be writing more on this subject in the future.  But I urge anyone reading this, if you have not already done the consecration to Mary, please don't cheat yourself any longer.  Do it.  You may, of course, use St. Louis de Montfort's "True Devotion to Mary."   I have linked to the Amazon 99¢ Kindle edition. You may also use the very beautiful "33 Days to Morning Glory" by Father Michael Gaitely.  It is a beautiful devotion based on St. Louis de Montfort's devotion, but adds three great saints from the 20th Century, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Teresa of Calcutta, and Pope Saint John Paul II, all of whom had great, great devotion to our Blessed Mother.  Also, the Apostolate for Family Consecration has a beautiful online book, Preparation for Total Consecration, which you can download HERE.

If you wish to worship and give your all to Jesus Christ, without reservation, then do so with this most beautiful gift that He has given to us in the Blessed Mother.  You will be filled with peace and joy such as you have never known and never can know apart from her.

2 comments:

  1. Catholic in Brooklyn, you MIGHT want to hold your nose and check out the following URL:

    http://www.churchmilitant.com/video/episode/vortex-preparing-for-attack

    I'm worried about what might happen to YouTube videos associated with EWTN and Catholic Answers. Will EWTN and Catholic Answers still have a place on Facebook and/or Twitter?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Church will almost surely be going underground, just as she did in her infancy in the First Century. As in England after Henry VIII, we may not even be able to openly attend Mass anymore.

      But the Catholic presence on the Internet is, in many ways, more bad than good. Certainly someone like Voris, who makes his living out of attacking other people, is worse for the Church than those on the outside who openly attack her. Far too many Catholic bloggers are a complete disgrace.

      So Catholics getting kicked off the Internet might not be an entirely bad thing.

      Delete

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