What would be the absolute worst thing that could happen to a nice Protestant girl?
That Mary, the Blessed Virgin, would do a little interior house cleaning, then make a home for herself in the poor girl’s heart, that’s what! If that was not bad enough, this perplexed young woman’s belief system would stay staunchly anti-Catholic for oh, about another 10 years, even though she had converted to Catholicism. I mean, what choice did she have? Nobody but the Catholic Church even wants someone who craves the Eucharist and has a relationship with Mary, the Mother of Christ.
Obviously this young woman was and is me. God has a peculiar sense of humor and now I can look back and laugh at my dilemma. At the time, though, I was shaken up.
As Pope Francis said at the Easter Vigil, God delights in shaking us up, or as I like to say, ripping the rug from underneath us. Nope, God will not stay in a nice, neat little box of our own making. Just when we think we have Him all figured out, He pulls another fast one on us. Thank goodness; life is never boring when you give God permission to work in your life.
I was reluctant to turn to Mary; I couldn’t help but feel like a heretic somehow turning from Jesus as my only Savior. Yet over and over, God only offered healing and peace when I turned to His Mother. Finally a wonderful priest from Madonna House, the Director General of Priests. Fr. Bob Pelton, smiled at me compassionately and said something like this:
“Melanie, why don’t you relax for a few months and stop tormenting yourself with guilt? Simply relax into the bosom of the Church and Her teachings and allow your relationship to Mary grow naturally, without fighting everything with your intellect? Trust in your own heart as well.”
Even now, some 30 years later, tears are welling up and I could weep with relief all over again as I write these words. Somehow I was given the grace to lay down my logic, reasoning and Protestant theology and simply throw myself into the arms of Mary, my Spiritual Mother.
Actually, we really do not have a clue what we are saying “yes” to in the beginning of our Christian walk. At our wedding, 34 years ago, I sensed these words within my heart:
“I will change the way the two of you work and play, the way you walk and talk, the way you laugh and cry, everything about you, so that you will reflect the glory of my Father in Heaven.”
Foolishly we thought that this was a nice word from God! Little did we know that 34 years later we would still be being turned inside out. I agree wholeheartedly with Pope Francis: God does seem to delight in shaking us out from our narrow little lives. I could not live any other way.
Thank you, God, for not listening to my opinions or plans for my life.
Thank you for the grace to give You permission to take over and make me yours.
What is your relationship to Mary, the mother of God? Is she calling you to a deeper intimacy with her, heart to heart?
A tidbit from the Catechism:
[Mary’s] role in relation to the Church and to all humanity goes still further. “In a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace.”
“This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.“ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 968)
Copyright 2014 Melanie Jean Juneau
Image: Virgin Adoring the Child | Italian, about 1470–93. Attributed to Francesco di Simone Ferrucci, Italian, 1437–1493