"And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word" (Luke 1:38; Douay-Rheims).
I have not written in a long time. I thought for a while I might have to write a post entitled, "I am not dead" just to assure my readers that I was still alive and kicking. Oh, very much so! There have been many adventures, misadventures, scrapes, and heartaches since this post and the last. There have also been unspeakable joys. Schoolwork has taken up a lot of energy. So has my niece. A million other things vie for a place on this list. But truthfully? There has been nothing to say. To be sure, this does not mean a myriad of posts were not begun; merely that they never made it through. Their discarded remains resemble the scraps of quilting fabric cluttering my mother-in-law's sewing room.
Before I begin each post, I pray a very simple and heartfelt prayer, one which has evolved over time: "O Lord, may I say everything I should say, and nothing I oughtn't, to the praise and glory of Your Name. Amen." It is always interesting to open one's self up to the Holy Ghost and to see His hand at work. Not that my writing is all that special, but that which I begin often takes on a life of its own. Things I had intended to say fall by the wayside. Sometimes even I am not entirely sure what will be said until it is written.
Even now, I would like to find a way in which to weave my more recent experiences. I could quip about a "Happy Seasons" card my Husband received from his place of employment. It has been the source of much laughter for us. Its two or three sentences mentioned neither Christmas nor the more generic, encompassing word "holiday." Rather, it bore the distinction of being an eloquent work of politically correct nothingness.
My Husband and I also found a copy of the specialty magazine in which one of my Catholic photographs was published. This was a tremendous blessing! Perhaps I would speak of the frigid weather and the challenges this time of year brings me. I could longingly, descriptively pine after the gorgeous Christmas cookies, candies, and other pastries which are not my lot to enjoy. My mother's quip to me, after learning that I had given up sugar alcohols for Advent (these are not actually alcohol, but alternative sugars which compose my usual meal bars and sugar-free sweets) was that if I give up anything else, I will have to take to eating paper. That comment earned her a grin. I am not entirely sure, but something tells me paper is off-limits, too. Or maybe, just maybe, if I were writing of my own volition, I would open up a little and share my heartache and fear over the week to come. Surely, I do not know how I will get through it. I am genuinely terrified out of my mind. Yet, none of these things seem to have a purpose, in and of themselves. They would be merely rants.
As I write this, I glance up often. My eyes behold the most beautiful woman to have ever walked upon the earth. Of course, I am referring to the Blessed Mother. Some time ago, my Husband and I moved our very large pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima into the centre of our home. This was to help me with some of my struggles. Her presence has been both comforting and consoling; the atmosphere in our flat has changed dramatically. The only place we could find for her, though, was to the immediate left of the television set. I am not sure how I feel about this. I am not sure how she feels about it, either. "Our Lady of the Airwaves" might indeed be well-needed title for her in our day and age, but perhaps not so much here and now in our living room. ;-)
Looking at Mary reminds me of the Annunciation. How scared this young girl must have been at the angel Gabriel's visit. More perplexing to her, his message. And yet, what was her humble reply? "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word." Without her "fiat," there would have been no blessed Christmas Nativity. Her "yes," which changed the course of human history, likewise held a vital place in salvation history. But at what cost to herself?
Perhaps we do not often think of what total abandonment to God's will cost Mary in the temporal sense, but it is a valid question. Imagine the struggles of an unwed, pregnant mother. Consider her other seven sorrows-- the prophecy of Simeon, the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt, the loss of the child Jesus in the Temple, Mary meeting her Son on the way to Calvary, Christ's death on the cross, His precious body being placed in her arms, and His burial in the tomb. As she was told, a sword pierced her heart also. How agonising that must have been!
For those of us who are submissive wives-- or at least are struggling to be so-- what does this mean for us? If we make our own life's "fiat" before God, what then shall be required of us? Are you ready for the challenge? Truly ready? It is no small thing to abandon one's will to the Will of Almighty God, to be led by His Voice. It is not always easy to see our spouses as the living embodiment of such things. It does not seem possible to remember 24/7 that obedience to him is obedience to God. Then there is the harrowing matter of actually living it out. :-) We stumble. We fall. We are brought back to the fold and are corrected. Yet what other way of life is to be ours? Nothing else fulfills our souls or renders us complete. Only total abandonment will do.
Herein lies the great irony: if we live for ourselves, we lose everything. If our lives are given to God, and everything that keeps us from Him is rooted out, then we shall be destined for great things. What was Mary's loss for herself? Everything. Yet what did she gain, for herself and for everyone who says "yes" to God? Everything.This Christmas, amidst all of the hustle and bustle of holiday fanfare, may we quiet our hearts and offer back to our Creator the only gift we can: the gift of ourselves.
My Husband and I extend our love and best wishes to you all this Christmas season. May you have a truly blessed Advent, a joyous feast day of the Nativity of Our Lord, and a wonderful New Year. May God bless each and every one of you in a unique and special way.