Thursday, October 31, 2013

Praying With Mary

There’s just nothing fun about a colonoscopy. Not. One. Thing.

This time, I had a sinus infection that peaked on the day I drank the tanker of Gatorade-Miralax mix.

I should be ultra-thankful for modern medicine that keeps me well – but when you’re in the middle of gagging down lemon-lime ackiness and running to the bathroom, it’s hard to drum up gratitude.

So, yesterday, I kept returning to my Catholic faith. Offer it up, Denise. Just offer it up.

It didn’t make me feel better, but it did make me feel useful.

Recently, I renewed my consecration to Jesus-through-Mary. I read 33 Days to Morning Glory, and I was struck by something that had escaped me in the five-plus years since I made my first consecration.

To be truly consecrated to the Blessed Mother, we must be willing to take her petitions as our own. I no longer have jurisdiction over my prayers.

That was a hard thing to accept. I thought I was all-in with this consecration thing. Suddenly, I realized I was not as far along as I had thought.

I have prayed a lot over the years.

But I always had my list of petitions, and that list of petitions was (usually) limited to my family members. They got all of my attention – and I liked it that way.

Now, I realized, Mary wanted me to take on her intentions. She wanted me to trust that she would know what to do with my family – that they wouldn’t be lost if I completely gave over control to Mary. Her mantle was big enough to cover every petition.

She simply wanted me to trust her. To care about what she cares about.

Now . . . I have prayed the Rosary many times. And from my first days as a new convert, I dedicated each decade to one of the other five members in my family. Things were about to change. I had to pray that Rosary with as much fervor as before – but now, it must be for Mary’s intentions. Could I do it? As a mom and grandma, that's a tall order. I want to pray for those who are closest to me.

I remember the first time I tried to pray for the things that Mary has in her Immaculate Heart, deliberately setting aside my family's needs. I was amazed by what happened next.

The beautiful thing happened – that thing that used to happen in those early days of conversion - that thing that doesn't happen quite as often any more – that contemplative communion that St. Teresa of Avila describes. Consolation upon consolation. Joy. Holiness. Rapture. I was in the presence of God.

And I heard God speak to my heart.

That day, a mom had a special prayer intention that she shared through social media. It was for her son.

I don’t know very much about the situation. I had no idea what to pray for – specifically.

Until, God spoke. The boy came to my mind, and I knew how to pray.

And it felt amazing – a true communion with the Saints – and especially with Mary. There was a boy who had some old hurts, and he was working through them. God was healing old hurts.

So, what does all of this have to do with a sinus headache and a colonoscopy? Well, there wasn’t any great contemplative prayer going on yesterday. I spent most of my time feeling awful – but I offered it up.

Last night, late, long after I had swallowed my last mouthful of lemon-lime mixer, I saw a post on Facebook. Another mother needed prayers. Her preemie was back in the hospital - fighting off an illness – and his life was hanging in the balance. I suspected that this was Mary's intention. And it became my intention as well. I offered the day for a baby I will never meet. For a mother I will never know. For Mary's intentions.

This morning, while the fog of outpatient anesthesia was wearing off, I clicked on Facebook and read that the little boy made it through the night. Thanks be to God.

I’m learning to take Mary’s petitions and make them my own. I am still learning.

But it is good and sweet and a very beautiful gift we have – and it is ours to give. Through Mary, I offer all my works, prayers, joys, and sufferings, all that this day may bring. For Jesus.

All for Jesus through Mary.


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