February 20, 2013 - To Jesus through Mary

“A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.  Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me.”  This verse from Psalm 51 expresses a lot of desire, a desire for a clean, new heart. It's a desire for a steady spirit secure in our true identity. It's a desire to be in God’s Presence never feeling as if we have to face life alone. And it's a desire for the Holy Spirit to fill my heart.  All these desires are especially fitting in this Lenten journey as we prepare to give ourselves to Jesus through Mary in a renewed way.  They all sum up our deepest desire to live our true self, finding our dwelling place in the Father’s Love.

The people of Nineveh were a pagan people addicted to their sinful false selves.  They were on a path of self destruction.  God sent them the prophet Jonah to speak His Word of Love.  He had only gone a days journey through the vast city announcing “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,” when the people of Nineveh believed God.  They proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.  We have to give a lot of credit to these people of Nineveh.  They believed God’s Word of Love that challenged them to renounce their selfish selves, and they had the deep inner common sense assisted by God’s grace, that fasting is a great way to attack the false self by not giving everything my selfish side wants.  They turned away from the “unholy trinity – me, myself, and I” towards the Living God calling them into communion.

With the Immaculate Heart of Mary ready to form us and nourish us, we desire our true selves to be born from God’s Love: a clean heart, a steadfast spirit.  Part of that process is the necessary dying to our old selves.  Some of that dying can happen by us actively attacking any selfish desires that seek to own us, rather than us controlling them.  That’s where the power of fasting can be used as a weapon.  If any food or drink owns us, making us more centered on self, we can give it up and eat something else that we are not as drawn to.  In doing so, we are telling our false self, “you’re not in charge… I can freely choose a sacrifice out of love for God.”  If TV or internet owns us and we find ourselves losing valuable time that could be given towards building relationships in my family or having quiet time with God or even learning a constructive hobby, then we can limit time with the media (especially if it is harming us and destroying our heart with sin) and by God’s grace take control over it, conquering it with a decision of love.

Then there are the other dyings that we do not choose: things in life God permits that can be wonderful opportunities to again say to our false self, “I trust God and choose not to go down the road of negativity or selfishness.  I trust that this hurt, this cross has come only because God wants something better for me.”  So perhaps you get cut off in traffic, someone cancels your appointment, someone butts in front of you at the grocery store on a particularly busy day, or that person didn’t pay very much attention to you and so on.  Life is full of little dyings (and some not so little) where what we had hoped to happen gets all messed up.

Our Immaculate Mother can teach us how we can offer those dyings into Her hands, just as Jesus Crucified was lowered into Her arms from the Cross.  Even though they are small, these unplanned sacrifices pack a lot of power when we offer them to Jesus’ Pierced Heart through Mary.  We discover in Mary that there is no situation in life that can take away our freedom to be the real us.  There is nothing outside of us that can force us to act out of our false self unless we freely let it.  And the heavier the "dying," the more Mary’s presence can comfort our hearts as if to hold our hand and say “I understand. I know what you are going through, but your Mother is here. Something new and better is coming.”  In those moments we are then like Jesus to Mary.

In short, in God’s Presence, we can always choose to love, turning from the unholy trinity of “me, myself, and I” and turning towards a place of communion where our heart is joined to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, learning that Love is creative.  “Create in me a clean heart O God.”

Mary, Mother of God and my mother, obtain the Light I need to see where I choose paths of self destruction.  Where do I allow self-pity, or ingratitude, or fear to suffocate my heart so that I am not breathing the "air of heaven?"  Where do I allow my false self, the self I am not happy with, to be enslaved feeling as if I do not have the energy to break away from too much TV, or “me time,” etc?  Mary, nourish my faith and help to see those opportunities where I need to die to my old self and trust that at the same time I can discover a new self rising in strength, hope and love.