On this wonderful Marian Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, when many are consecrating themselves to Jesus through Mary, I thought it would be fitting to share something I learned from my own re-consecration last October. I was struck by the words of Fr. Don Hying, the day's presenter. He began by reading this passage from True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort:
"But who shall those servants, slaves and children of Mary be? They shall be the ministers of the Lord, who, like a burning fire, shall kindle the fire of divine love everywhere. They shall be 'like sharp arrows in the hand of the powerful' Mary to pierce her enemies. (Ps. 126:4). They shall be the sons of Levi, well purified by the fire of great tribulation, and closely adhering to God (1Cor. 6:17), who shall carry the gold of love in their heart, the incense of prayer in their spirit, and the myrrh of mortification in their body. They shall be everywhere the good odor of Jesus Christ to the poor and to the little, while at the same time, they shall be an odor of death to the great, to the rich and to the proud worldlings.
They shall be clouds thundering and flying through the air at the least breath of the Holy Spirit; who, detaching themselves from everything and troubling themselves about nothing, shall shower forth the rain of the Word of God and of life eternal. They shall thunder against sin; they shall storm against the world; they shall strike the devil and his crew; and they shall pierce through and through, for life or for death, with their two-edged sword of the Word of God (Eph. 6:17), all those to whom they shall be sent on the part of the Most High." ~paragraphs 56-57 True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort~
Then Fr. Don asked, "Are you ready? This passage is speaking about you. This is the job description of every Christian. To live this is going to cause trouble in your life. It will stir up difficulty; even those close to you will think you're off the deep end. In Hebrew, the word Holy is translated as 'different.' How different are you willing to become in following Jesus?"
My son, Joe, who used to feel the pain my past depression quite keenly, would notice that my tears flowed more freely after I underwent a conversion experience (he called it "turning into a Jesus Freak.") He often questioned why I would suffer so much when I had given my whole heart to the Lord. I found difficulty trying to offer him reassurance until I heard Fr. Don's talk last October. I also found help to respond to his question in the following quote from Caryll Houselander, one of my favorite authors:
"It is the favorite accusation of those who, for reasons of their own, are made uneasy by the sight of someone else's honest attempt to practice Faith, that to save one's own soul is a selfish, egocentric preoccupation which makes one introverted, censorious and withdrawn from other people. In reality the opposite is true. As Christ grows in the soul, suffering and the capacity for suffering increase in the life, and with it the desire to suffer grows, not because of any morbidity, such as masochism; but because if Christ increases, love increases; when the love of God increases, the desire to atone for sin increases, because the lover of man wishes to heal the wounds from which mankind is bleeding to death." ~Caryll Houselander, The Passion of the Infant Christ
So, to Joe, and to others who struggle with the meaning of suffering in the life of a Christian, I echo the words of Fr. Don: "Are you ready? How different are you willing to become in following Jesus?" Let's follow the example of our Blessed Mother and allow the capacity and desire for suffering to increase in our lives as a means of healing the wounds of mankind and of God.