Wednesday, April 13, 2011
The Gift (reprinted with permission from Mark Mallett)
IMAGINE a small child, who has just learned to walk, being taken into a busy shopping mall. He is there with his mother, but does not want to take her hand. Every time he begins to wander, she gently reaches for his hand. Just as quickly, he pulls it away and continues to dart in any direction he wants. But he is oblivious to the dangers: the throngs of hurried shoppers who barely notice him; the exits that lead to traffic; the pretty but deep water fountains, and all the other unknown dangers that keep parents awake at night. Occasionally, the mother—who is always a step behind—reaches down and grabs a little hand to keep him from going into this store or that, from running into this person or that door. When he wants to go the other direction, she turns him around, but still, he wants to walk on his own.
Now, imagine another child who, upon entering the mall, senses the dangers of the unknown. She willingly lets the mother take her hand and lead her. The mother knows just when to turn, where to stop, where to wait, for she can see the dangers and obstacles ahead, and takes the safest path for her little one. And when the child is willing to be picked up, the mother walks straight ahead, taking the quickest and easiest path to her destination.
Now, imagine that you are a child, and Mary is your mother. Whether you are a Protestant or a Catholic, a believer or an unbeliever, she is always walking with you… but are you walking with her?
DO I NEED HER?
In Why Mary? I shared a bit of my own journey as to how I struggled many years ago with the prominent role Mary has in the Catholic Church. Really, I just wanted to walk on my own, without the need to hold her hand, or as those "marian" Catholics would put it, "consecrate" myself to her. I just wanted to hold Jesus’ hand, and that was enough.
The thing is, few of us actually know how to hold Jesus’ hand. He Himself said:
Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. (Mark 8:34-35)
Many of us are quick to speak about Jesus as "personal Lord and Savior," but when it comes to actually denying ourselves? To embracing suffering with joy and resignation? To following His commandments without compromise? Well, the truth is, we are so busy dancing with the devil or fighting with the flesh, that we have barely begun to take His nail-scarred hand. We are like that little boy who wants to explore… but the blend of our curiosity, rebellion, and ignorance of true spiritual dangers puts our souls at great risk. How often have we turned around only to discover that we have gotten lost!1
In a word, we need a Mother.
THE GREAT GIFT
This isn’t my idea. It’s not even the Church’s idea. It was Christ’s. It was His Great Gift to humanity given in the last moments of His life.
Woman, behold, your son… Behold, your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27)
That is, from that moment, he took her hand. The entire Church took her hand, in whom John is symbolized, and has never let go—though individual members often don’t know their Mother.2
It is Christ’s will that we too take this Mother’s hand. Why? Because He knows how difficult it is for us to walk on our own… how stormy and treacherous the waves can be in our efforts to sail to the Safe Harbour of His love.
TAKING HER HAND…
What will happen if you take her hand? Like a good Mother, she will lead you upon the safest paths, past dangers, and into the safety of her Son’s Heart. How do I know this?
Firstly, because the history of Mary’s providential presence in the Church is no secret. This role, prophesied in Genesis 3:15, birthed in the Gospels, and accentuated in Revelation 12:1, has been experienced powerfully throughout the history of the Church, most especially in our times through her apparitions across the world.
At times when Christianity itself seemed under threat, its deliverance was attributed to the power of [the Rosary], and Our Lady of the Rosary was acclaimed as the one whose intercession brought salvation. —JOHN PAUL II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 40
But I personally know the Great Gift this Woman is because, like John, I have "taken her into my own home."
I have been a strong-willed man. I was that first child described above, a man fiercely independent, curious, rebellious, and stubborn. I felt that I was doing just fine "holding on to Jesus’ hand." In the meantime, I struggled with an appetite for food and alcohol and other temptations in "the shopping mall" of life that constantly led me astray. While I seemed to be making some progress in my spiritual life, it was inconsistent, and my passions seemed to get the best of me at will.
Then, one year, I felt a stirring to "consecrate" myself to Mary. I’d read that since she is the Mother of Jesus, she has but one goal, and that is to bring me safely to her Son. She does this when I let her take my hand. That’s really what "consecration" is. And so I let her (read what happened on that day in True Tales of Our Lady). I noticed in the weeks and months ahead something wonderful beginning to happen. Some of the areas in my life where I was struggling, there was suddenly new grace and strength to conquer. All my years of wandering on my own, thinking I was moving forward in the spiritual life, got me only so far. But when I took this Woman’s hand, my spiritual life began to take off…
IN THE ARMS OF MARY
In more recent times, I felt compelled to renew my consecration to Mary. This time, something happened I did not expect. God was suddenly asking me for more, to give myself totally and completely to Him (I thought I was!). And the way to do this was to give myself totally and completely to my Mother. She wanted to carry me now in her arms. When I said "yes" to this, something began to happen, and happen fast. She would no longer permit me to drag her toward the compromises of the past; she would no longer let me rest in the unncessary stops, comforts, and self-indulgences of before. She was now bringing me quickly and expediently into the very heart of the Holy Trinity. It is as though her fiat, her Great Yes to God, was now becoming my own. Yes, she is a loving Mother, but a firm one too. She was helping me to do something I was never able to do very well before: deny myself, take up my cross, and follow her Son.
I am just beginning, it seems, and yet, I must be honest: the things of this world are fading fast for me. Pleasures I thought I could not live without are now months behind me. And an interior desire and love for my God is growing everyday—at least, every day that I let this Woman continue to carry me deeper into the mystery of God, a mystery that she lived and continues to live perfectly. It is precisely through this Woman who is "full of grace" that I am finding the grace to say with all my heart now, "Jesus, I trust in You!" In another writing, I want to explain how exactly Mary achieves this grace in souls.
There is something else I want to tell you about this Woman, and it is this: she is an "ark" that sails us safely and quickly to the Great Refuge and Safe Harbour, who is Jesus. I cannot tell you how urgent I have felt this "word" to be. There is no time to waste. There is a Great Storm that has been unleashed upon the earth. The flood waters of fear, uncertainty, and confusion are beginning to rise. A spiritual tsunami of apocalyptic proportions is, and is going to sweep across the world, and many, many souls are simply unprepared. But there is one way to get prepared, and that is to quickly enter into the safe refuge of the Immaculate Heart of Mary—the Great Ark of our times.
My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God. —second apparition to the children of Fatima, June 13th, 1917, www.ewtn.com
You can do this by doing what a host of beautiful saints have done, and that is entrust your spiritual life completely to this Mother. You don’t need to completely understand it. In fact, it is by consecrating yourself to Mary that you will begin to understand why Jesus left you this Mother.
A wonderful new website has been launched to help you make this step to reach out toward your Mother: www.myconsecration.org They will send you free information further explaining what it means to consecrate yourself to Mary and how to do it. They will include a free copy of the classic guidebook, Preparation for Total Consecration According to St. Louis Marie de Montfort. This is the same consecration that John Paul II made, and upon which his pontifical motto: "totus tuus" was based.
I have more to write you regarding this Great Ark, of which our Mother forms a part. I strongly urge you to send this writing to as many friends and family as possible and allow the Holy Spirit to make this invitation of consecration to others.
It is time for us to board the Ark.
Just as the Immaculata herself belongs to Jesus and to the Trinity, so too every soul through her and in her will belong to Jesus and to the Trinity in a much more perfect way than would have been possible without her. Such souls will come to love the Sacred Heart of Jesus much better than they would have ever done up to now…. Through her, Divine love will set the world on fire and will consume it; then will the “assumption of souls” in love take place. —St. Maximillian Kolbe, Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit, H.M. Manteau-Bonamy, p. 117