Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Secret Trust

I've been asked to speak about the Blessed Mother at my parish this coming March. It's part of a monthly program called Church Chat where "experts" speak about an aspect of the Catholic faith in a question and answer format. When I was first approached to speak about Mary I was so thrilled that there was to be a session about her that I quickly said yes. Of course, unlike the Blessed Mother, my yes's are never really final and peaceful, they always seem to be followed by a great deal of anxiety, and this yes was no exception. I soon found myself panicking over what I should say and the possibility that someone might ask a question that I'm unable to answer, after all, I'm certainly no theologian, I'm just a mom! Besides, I'm most comfortable hiding behind a keyboard, not standing out in the open and speaking to others.

I tried to back out and suggested that they ask someone who really knows what he's talking about and has the ability to inspire, like Bishop Hying. But, everyone knows that the Bishop is terribly busy these days, so my suggestion was downplayed with that excuse and the affirming words that "everyone has great faith in you and is confident that you will do a good job." So, I'm going to speak about Mary this March and you can be sure that I have been praying to her day and night pleading for her assistance and will go on praying to her until that talk is behind me and the people who attend will have gained some new and wonderful insight into the Blessed Mother and why Catholics are so devoted to her.

I'm sure it also helps to read and study all that I can get my hands on about our wonderful Lady, so with that in mind, I recently took my beloved copy of Caryll Houselander's The Reed of God off the bookshelf and have decided to make it an Advent tradition to re-read this enchanting little book each year. Her words, her wisdom, are achingly beautiful and resoundingly true, and the way she sees inside of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the working of the Holy Spirit within her is so inspiring.

Maybe I can just read The Reed of God at the Church Chat session and let Caryll Houselander do all the work! I certainly could use a little of the secret trust that she speaks of in this segment from the chapter Fiat...

"Our Lady was at the most fourteen when the angel came to her; perhaps she was younger. The whole world trembled on the word of a child, on a child's consent. To what was she asked to consent? First of all, to the descent of the Holy Spirit, to surrender her littleness to the Infinite Love, and as a result to become the Mother of Christ. It was so tremendous, yet so passive. She was not asked to do anything herself, but to let something be done to her. She was not asked to renounce anything, but to receive an incredible gift. She was not asked to lead a special kind of life, to retire to the temple and live as a nun, to cultivate suitable virtues or claim special privileges. She was simply to remain in the world, to go forward with her marriage to Joseph, to live the life of an artisan's wife, just what she planned to do when she had no idea that anything out of the ordinary would ever happen to her.

It almost seemed as if God's becoming man and being born of a woman were ordinary. The whole thing was to happen secretly. There was to be no announcement. The psalmists had hymned Christ's coming on harps of gold. The prophets foretold it with burning tongues. But now the loudest telling of His presence on earth was to be the heartbeat within the heartbeat of a child. It was to be a secret and God was so jealous of His secret that He even guarded it at the cost of His bride's seeming dishonor. He allowed Joseph to misjudge her, at least for a time.

This proved that God knew our Lady's trust in Him was absolutely without limit. Everything that He did to her in the future emphasized the same thing. His trust in her trust of Him."


  1. Anne, you will give a beautiful presentation on Our Lady. I have no doubt at all : )

    I don't blame you for burying yourself in Caryll Houselander's writings for help though! I can't wait till Christmas when I will get my Kindle and The Reed of God.

    My favorite book about Mary is The Silence of Mary by Ignacio Larranaga, OFM, Cap. (St. Paul Books and Media) Sadly, it's out of print now.

    It presents Mary as a woman of such simplicity and faith, and silence.

    Congratulations on being chosen for the talk. If you speak half as well as you write, you will receive a standing ovation : ) Really!

    I'll keep you in prayer, as you prepare!

    Love and hugs,

  2. How wonderful to be chosen for such a task. I am sure you will speak eloquently and with grace, your message will be simple and profound and you will touch hearts, just as you do with your writing.
    Blessings and prayers,

  3. Anne, How wonderful that you were chosen to make this presentation on Our Lady. I truly believe that she picked you for this job and with her by your side you can be assured that it is going to be a blessed experience!

    Congratulations and please share the experience with us!!!!

  4. It's been a while, but I recall liking Fulton Sheen's book, The World's First Love

  5. Anne, The Theology on Mary is almost as challenging as the mystery of the Trinity. It is so easy to love her as our Mother, and so compelling to follow the example of a Mother that gave and suffered so much for our salvation. It is challenging for me to see the littleness that you point out, but at the same time to consider the theology of St. Maximillian Kolbe and his teaching on her Immaculate Conception, and even Blessed PJP II's own Totus Tuus prayer, and then the writings of Blessed Mary Agreda, that I have only browsed through, but seem to tell of a very grace, and angel and Holy Spirit filled life long before Pentecost for the Blessed Mother, truly since her conception. The Compendium has beautiful meditation on work of art right before the "Life in the Spirit" section. It speaks of Mary being the masterpiece of the Holy Spirit. Somehow I think it is not that amazing that she said yes then, because her heart, soul, spirit were already a masterpiece--I'll look into that book, but it when I think of Thomas Merton's quote: There is no way of telling people they are all walking around shining like the sun. … it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed. . . . I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other." and then C.S. Lewis's quote in the Weight of Glory, "“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship …” I think that if anyone's soul shown like the sun, or Son, it would have been Mary's.

  6. That comment ended weakly. I mean if all of our souls are beautiful, hers would be the summit of beauty. If all of us are capable of magnifying the Lord, hers truly was most capable--most empty of all things not of God, most able to be full of Grace. I could go on and on, but still getting no closer to trying to explain what seems like the similar observation of the Living God becoming a body and being born in a dark cave warmed by the presence of stable animals. The magnificence of Mary's soul, greater as we sing in some of St. John Chrysostom's words in the Byzantine rite's Divine Liturgy than any of the angels, was there in the 14 or younger girl that said yes. Her humanity was still there, and as a mother, we see it so well in the Finding in the Temple, "Son, why have you done this to us." Still, I think she was easily calmed by the Angel Gabriel as she may have been familiar with the presence and visitations of angels, and the Holy Spirit was also very familiar presence to her, probably from her Conception forward, but also I would think being dedicated to the service of the Temple at an early age, as tradition tells us St. Anne took her there, just as Hannah took Samuel there shortly after weaning. She would have become even closer having been separated from the world as a young child for service to Yahweh.

  7. I will be getting Caryll Houselander's books in the near future. Thank you for the recommendation. I also noticed Fr. Gaitley has another Do-It-Yourself retreat coming out, this time on Marian Theology incorporating St. Louis de Montefort, St. Maximillian Kolbe, Blessed Pope John Paul II. I have it in my cart as Pre-order.

    Sorry for being a glutton in your comment boxes. I went ahead and did a post on this as well--with fuller quotes from the source I mentioned above. As I started I love Mary, and I've been reconciling the understanding I had of her my whole life up until I read Blessed PJP II's Totus Tuus prayer, and then read some of St. Maximillian Kolbe on the Immaculate Conception. The relationship between her and the Holy Spirit is "mystery". I want to understand it more, but it is coming slowly.