Monday, May 2, 2011
With Mother's Day Coming and All...
** Stella at her five year birthday party (May 11, 2010). She of course had an animal theme and wanted to have her face painted like a tiger. She was in character with the intense expression
**Stella holding Gia as a newborn, making a silly face.
Since Mother's Day is on Sunday, I wish to write about mothers, motherhood, and Our Mother. However, this is not just for those of us who are mothers. It can be applied to all seasons of life, whether male or female, I think. Sometimes when I look at trying to become like Jesus and how short I fall, I tell myself, "Well, I know He is human, but He IS also God." Then I can look at Mary and I see I have no excuses. She is not God at all, just human. She reflected the life of her Son closer than any other person - past, present, or future.
I read in "The Life of Mary" book seven prayers she prayed daily before she was asked to be the Mother Of God. Here are the seven prayers:
"1.) I prayed for the grace to fulfill the precept of charity: to love God with all my heart.
2.) I prayed for the grace to love my neighbor according to His Will and pleasure, and that He should make me love all that He loves.
3.) I prayed that He make me hate and flee all that He hates.
4.) I prayed for humility, patience, kindness, gentleness, and all virtues by which I might become pleasing in His sight.
5.) I prayed that He should let me see the time when that most holy virgin would be born who was to give birth to the Son of God, and that He preserve my eyes that I might see her, my that I might hear her, my tongue that I might praise her, my hands that I might work for her, my feet that I might walk as her servant, and my knees that I might adore the Son of God in her lap.
6.) I prayed for the grace of obeying the orders and rules of the High Priest of the Temple.
7.) I prayed that God should preserve the Temple and all His people for His service."
Mary continues to make the point by saying to St. Elizabeth of Schoenau "A soul cannot have any virtue if it does not love God with all its heart, for from this love the abundance of grace descends into the soul. But after descending, it does not remain, but flows away like water, if the soul does not hate its enemies, that is, its sins and vices." This desire inside of me, to know this UNFATHOMABLE LOVE my Stella ran to, the One she lives and dwells in, will continue to search for the One who started it within me. If Mary, the one who was asked to be the Mother of God, prayed these prayers, then I too desire to pray them as well. (But obviously, adapt some of the wording and requests to the present - for example instead of Temple I pray for the Church.) I figure if I take on her prayers, I will be given grace to take on her practices. If then I take on her practices I will be given grace to take on more of her mindset. And if then that takes place, my soul will be given the grace to conform to Jesus' perfect Will, His perfect Love. And then as she says herself, I will then be able to contain all the virtues that are enveloped in Love of God. For to love God, is to know Him, and to know Him is to love Him.
I recall a time in my own motherhood, a fear I held. I heard from other mothers who had worked so hard on serving their families, they forgot who they were and it caused much emotional damage. I was afraid, by giving my "all" in motherhood, I would "lose" myself - my dreams, goals, personality, etc. Phillip and I have only one car as one of the sacrifices made in order for me to stay at home. The cabin fever would drive me crazy some days. I would complain to Jesus telling him how I can never get out of the house with or without children. I can't do this or that, become Miss Successful, or Mrs. Accomplished and therefore I felt as if I was already on the path I feared. I felt if I "lost" myself I would not only be a terrible person, but a terrible wife and mother. It was a hard day. I felt trapped. Then inside, I heard these words - "Do not think of these walls as a prison. Think of them as a cocoon." Yes, that is right. And do you know what? I can't even tell you the gratitude I feel towards only having one silly car the last 6 1\2 years. Because of it, I was forced to make my house a home, a domestic church. I could not get up and leave whenever I wanted. I could not get up and run to a distraction, to entertainment, or be busy-bodied with errands. No, instead I often had to remain in the present moment with "hoe in hand." It is the reason why I was able to see my daughter become a saint. For what happens in a cocoon? Yes, a cocoon can seem like a form of entrapment. But a cocoon does not house rot and death. A cocoon prepares, houses, and protects the already magnifcently-made-caterpillar so it can fulfill its complete purpose; that is, to become a breathtakingly beautiful butterfly! And this butterfly then flies FREELY through the skies and over the earth.
So you see, as a person, my complete and total surrender to God's call for me, as wife and mother, I am actually not "losing" myself at all. Instead, I am "finding" myself more and more. For as I teach each child and his or her specific needs, I must search my own self for such answers. In other words, when I instruct their souls, I must first look at my own in order to give them the best guidance and formation I know how to give. Through grace, prayer, and discernment as I learn to teach them how EVERYTHING comes back to our Creator, I myself learn more about the mystery of the creation that I myself am. For I too, am fearfully and wonderfully made. And even though the cocoon might make one feel trapped or even a bit suffocated at times, if we wait patiently, "hoeing our gardens," striving to please our God in the small, mundane tasks of a single day, we will all of a sudden notice we have wings on our backs and we are actually completely FREE. Our free will is the greatest gift God gives us. We must choose his love. He will not force it upon us. And if we do decide to choose it, let us choose it fully and do as Mary did on earth - strive to love Him with all our heart, with all our mind and with all our strength. I ask, I beg for His grace to do so. This soul of mine is ready to become a butterfly.
Posted by Francesca Morgan at 6:00 AM