"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever."
Today's Gospel reading is one of the most eloquent of all passages. I have an affinity for literature and poetry, not that I get to indulge that much aside from Scripture these days (thank you, Magnificat). So the various canticles that are found in sacred scripture are some of my favorite parts. Obviously, I hold Mary in high regard and more and more I try to emulate her example as a wife and mother. But for years, I had the hardest time relating to her canticle. It was beautiful to my ears but otherwise fell sort of flat in my mind.
The last few years, as my faith has grown and life has happened, I've come to appreciate Mary's song. I've actually had moments occur which evoke the opening lines straight from my heart. One of which happened just a week or so ago.
On Dec. 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and my grandmother's birthday, I decided to take the boys to the adoration chapel at our parish after I picked them up, to light a candle for my grandmother.
I was a little nervous bringing two rambunctious boys into that sacred space that's just so quiet, but I persevered. After a quick explanation to the boys -- no talking, bow to Jesus, etc -- we walked into the oratory, which was pretty crowded. Thankfully, many of the older parishioners are always so delighted to see us parents bring our children before the Sacred Host. Hardly a sour face there. We went straight back to Mary to light the candle. The little one sat quietly in the chair I plopped him in and the older one stood next to me as I lit the candle. And much to my surprise, he kneeled down next to me as I said a little prayer.
We all left as reverently as we came in and I thought our mission was complete. Well. We get outside and my older boy wants to go to the rosary garden, which we visit after most Masses. I'm feeling so great, I say sure! My little one and I follow him over, and much to my surprise he walks right up to the statue of dear Mary and kneels down, crosses himself and prays.
Well, my soul could do nothing but proclaim the greatness of the Lord at that moment. Tears came. A little laughter. A lot of amazement.
I watch my older boy pray, then cross himself again and walk back to me and grab hold of my other hand. Beautiful. I tell him how proud I am and how wonderful that was. Then my little one wants to go to Mary, too. Of course! Who could say mo?!
He walks up, crosses himself and tells me there are no flowers, where are her flowers? I tell him, we should have brought flowers. I'm sorry we didn't. So he proceeds to give Mary a hug and says , "Bye Mary!"
By then I was so overflowing with gratitude and amazement, I could barely think.
Indeed He has done great things for me, but most of all He has been merciful and I can truly see his fulfillment of His promise in my boys.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Friday, December 14, 2012
The horrible things that happened in Connecticut today -- I can't even bring myself to link to a story -- are breaking my heart in a million ways. I want nothing more than to go pick up both my babies from school and kiss and hug them until they tell me to stop. But instead I'll be sitting at my desk, praying and shopping online for Christmas presents. Even that makes me feel guilty.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
I no longer think it coincidental that my grandmother's birthday is on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Considering she was the first in the family to convert to Catholicism, I think it's entirely appropriate. It's unfortunate that her conversion wasn't a fire that burned through the family, though. I mourn that, actually. But perhaps it's God's plan after all. I've come home, and I've brought my husband and children to the Lord. I wish to pray always for the continued conversion of my family and friends -- I want for them what is promised to the faithful -- life eternal in his beatific vision.
I was reading this today and I find it an extremely well-written piece on what it means to be Catholic, especially at Advent. I am a sentimental person by nature, so the Flannery O'Connor quote struck me deep:
To be a Catholic is to enter into a relationship with Christ that is at once intimate beyond imagining and entirely anonymous, hidden, and private. Flannery O'Connor once observed: "I went to St. Mary's as it was right around the corner and I could get there practically every morning. I went there three years and never knew a soul in that congregation or any of the priests, but it was not necessary. As soon as I went in the door I was at home."
"To expect too much," she wrote elsewhere, "is to have a sentimental view of life and this is a softness that ends in bitterness."
I am blessed because I am able to experience the body of Christ and fellowship experience at my parish. I have attended Mass and Confessions by priests I felt were less than interested or distracted. Naturally, I was disappointed and hurt by the experiences, but I was a new convert and didn't understand that it's not the priest that matters. It's a huge plus if you happen to have a wonderful homilist and confessor like we do. But that is so far from the point of Mass. I've learned this as I've grown in my faith.
And I'm beginning to realize that being Catholic has been my calling all my life, but I haven't been ready until (fairly) recently. Because I am drawn to the Mass and to sacred space like never before. Just to be there, in His presence, is what I crave.
But I don't fool myself for a minute by thinking that I'm starting to get it, for that's precisely when the wheels start to come off. I will never understand it all, and that's okay. I don't really want to, until Jesus says it's time. Until then, I am living the mystery and praying His will be done.
Friday, December 7, 2012
Let it be done for you according to your faith.
They are Jesus' words to the blind men who cried out to him, "Son of David, have pity on us!"
And it took me a while for it to hit me ... according to your faith. Really? It should come as no surprise -- Jesus was constantly telling the recipients of his miraculous healings, etc. "Your faith has saved you" or something to that effect. But for some reason, today it really *hit* me. According to my faith. Let it be done according to your faith. It makes me wonder, is my faith strong enough? I realize everything doesn't hinge on whether or not my faith is strong or weak -- Jesus died for us and my salvation is in his hands, his mercy infinite. But it did make me wonder, if Jesus stood before me now and I asked him to heal me, would my faith be enough to save me?
As today's Advent meditation in Magnificat discusses, it's not like magic from a genie in a bottle. It's a matter of aligning your will to God's will and desiring what God desires for you. This has been a recurring theme for me for about the last year or longer -- we humans always think we know what to pray for, we always think we know what we need. Nothing could be more wrong. Our vision is so flawed and so near-sighted!
"For all who in blindness cry out to be healed to see, the birth of Jesus is God's answer to desires adjusted to God's desire. Christmas is God's Fiat to our deepest desire: 'Let it be done according to your faith.'" (Douglas Bushman)
All this being said, this Advent so far has been particularly challenging. I usually have a tough time tampering my desire to start celebrating Christmas righthisminute, and that's mostly because I want to keep that "holiday" feeling going for as long as humanly possible. Which is a great part of being Catholic -- I can celebrate for a whole month after! Take that! But this year, anxiety has crept into my life in a way unlike anything I've experienced before. Thankfully, my support system is deep and well-acquainted with anxiety issues. But its presence has kind of knocked me off-balance. Just trying to be cheerful is a chore. Heck, just relaxing is a chore. Not to mention nearly impossible. The closest I come is adoration and Mass, speaking of presence, and as much as I'd like I can't move into the chapel or onto church grounds. I haven't tried yet, but I'm pretty sure I'd be missed at home.
In all honesty, I can't wait for my oldest boy's Christmas vacation from school. There's a chance I won't have to work that week (hooray!) but even if I do, I'm looking forward to being able to let go of our schooltime schedule for a while. That's really what I loved about homeschooling -- making our own schedule. It was awesome. But alas, it's not to be, at least right now. Which brings me back to aligning my will to God's... so much easier said than done. But the Lord knows I'm trying, and I'm confident that counts for something. I'm seeking to remember His presence in me and with me, to be ever-mindful of His presence. Which makes Christmas the best present ever.