Seven or eight years ago, I made it my New Year’s resolution to stop trying to lose weight. I decided that dieting was a ridiculous resolution, and I never kept it, so why not make this year more meaningful, spiritually speaking. So instead, I resolved to get to know Blessed Mother better. It remains one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.
When I embarked on this journey of building a relationship with Blessed Mother, I admit I had the all-too-common view of our dear Mother, seeing her as many do, just another person in the bible, and wondering why we ‘worshipped’ her. I had listened to too many Protestant friends over the years, telling me that we did, and I thought, well, maybe they were right and knew something that I did not know. P.S. -- WE DO NOT WORSHIP MARY.
We love Mary and we honor her because God chose her as someone special. He chose her to bear His Son, and Jesus, our Savior and King of the Universe, permitted Himself to be a virtual prisoner of her womb for 9 months before entering the world. He chose her to be the one person whom He would completely depend on for warmth, food, drink, clothing, education, shelter and human love. He gave Himself to Mary, and if we are to imitate Him, then we must do the same, giving ourselves to this humble, pure Mother of God and Mother of us.
That being said, I glibly said to Blessed Mother, while driving to court one day in early January, something like this: “I have no idea who you are or why you are important, but I am loving this Catholic Church of ours, and since she says you are important and we should love you, I have to try to understand this. Please help me.” Well, help me she did!
A few weeks later, I resolved to try a 33-Day Preparation for Consecration via St. Louis de Monfort that I had read about. (You can get free copies of it online – click HERE for more details). I only did it because I trusted the Church enough to know, that if there were popes saying this was the surest way to Jesus, then I had to at least open my mind to trying it. So I did.
The first time I did it, I only lasted a week or so. I did not understand what I was reading, and some of what I was reading could not yet break through to my cold, stony heart. However, as an intellectual, I made the decision to try again a few months later, this time making it a little further. Then finally, on my 3rd try, I made it from beginning to end, with my consecration date being the Assumption of Mary, August 15th. Yippee!
As I was doing it in those early days of my relationship with Blessed Mother, much of it was an exercise in faith, trusting but not understanding, permitting the graces to flow, but not believing whole heartedly that they would. Of course that did not stop her from showering grace upon grace on me. I did not know it then, (although I trusted something would come of it), but those first feeble steps toward her took me many miles closer to her Son. That’s just the way she is, always bringing us to her Son, always pointing us in the right direction. Since then, I have made the consecration prep an annual gift to myself, and even added some other days here and there for extra graces. I am in the middle of another 33-day prep for consecration that will end on January 1st, the feast of Mary, Mother of God. I can hardly wait!
Fast forward to the beginning of this year. After giving myself to Mary over and over again in the years which followed, I found myself ready to give myself entirely to her Son by entering a Dominican monastery to become a nun on April 29th . I was so sure, after a few years of discernment, that this was where I was called to be, that is until everything fell apart on March 19th.
As God would have it, I had begun another 33-day consecration to end on March 25th, the feast of the Annunciation. I was longing to enjoy that day as another consecration, just 4 weeks prior to entering the monastery and making my own fiat. But alas, my entrance into the religious life was not meant to be.
I did make my consecration on March 25th, and feeling absolutely rejected by God, just days before, I was like a child in the arms of Mary. I gave her everything, because I could not bear to face Him after such rejection and the confusion and sorrow which followed. I wrote my own consecration prayer, and even my own ‘psalm’ of longing and mourning. Oh, I know He did not reject me, but it sure felt like He did. And I was not ready to come to grips with that, as I wondered what I would do, having given up so much, my business included, to give everything to God. I did not know it then, but I was being emptied. I was being purified.
In the months that followed, I prayed the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) and meditated on the mysteries of the Rosary. When I prayed the Psalms and prayers of the office, I felt that if my mouth could say the words, then my soul would eventually catch up. Since I felt I had nothing left to give God, I gave Blessed Mother every suffering, crying to her to mend this tear in the fabric of my soul. And that is exactly what she did as I meditated with her on the mysteries of her Son, through the Holy Rosary. Don’t let anyone tell you this is just repetitive prayer—THIS IS A GIFT FROM GOD. And this gift brought me to peace and understanding and complete healing.
Through suffering and the help and intercession of Blessed Mother, I was not only made whole again, but she brought me closer to her Son, taught me to trust and surrender, and she made me to know on a much, much deeper level, that God’s way is perfect. His plan is perfect. I have learned that I need not worry about tomorrow. My Mother will not let me stray from the path too far, before pulling me back and scooting me closer to the Throne. She loves me. And she loves you, too. Give her everything. She will magnify it and give it to God. At the end of your earthly life, come to heaven with empty hands because you have given it everything to Mary, and she will give you all of her merits and all of the love in her heart in return. It’s a great deal, really. Show up to heaven with my meager offerings? Or show up to heaven with all that Mary gave? To me, it’s a no-brainer.
Totus Tuus – Bl. John Paul II