The big day is here! It's November 5th, and this is the day we get to start walking toward December 8th and our consecration (or renewal of our consecration) to Mary!
I had a great idea for this time frame of 33 days starting today. I was going to do nothing! Well, sure, I have various obligations, and there are always silly movies to watch, fun music to listen to, a son to drive hither and yon, etc. But when I considered doing (or, rather, re-doing) Fr. Gaitley's 33 Days to Morning Glory, it didn't take me long to nix that hypothetical plan.
The funny thing is, having already consecrated myself to Mary (first in 1983, and if you're thinking I must have been a tiny tot way back then, bless you!), I don't have the last word on my plans, Our Lady does. Fortunately she's the Seat of Wisdom and Mother of Good Counsel, so when she gave the Go Ahead, the All Clear, the "Think again, littlest one," it was but the work of a moment to re-decide. And here we are!
In order to get here though (to November 5th and our starting place for the 33 Days), I had to traverse what I thought would be the rough ground of this past weekend. To my everlasting gratitude, Our Lady took care of everything I had on the calendar, and with her usual sublime grace. I felt myself held, cared for, and definitely the recipient of sweet maternal attention and love. The best part was spending Saturday with my earthly mom, who showered me with her own sweet maternal attention and love. Then there was the unexpected delight of two meals and a Mass (including Sicut Cervus) shared with a dear friend from out of town. And finally, the joy of 17 enthusiastic college students held in the warmth of our home, eating delicious food that somehow I (and Mary, whose near presence explains everything) had prepared.
This morning I prepped for a class I'll be teaching at an upcoming Carmelite meeting, and before I knew it, my various tasks were behind me. By the Holy Spirit's power I found myself free to focus on Day 1 of our 33 day journey, and I could only shake my head in wonder. How does God do it? As Therese never tires of repeating, for Him it's easy-peasy: He is so mighty and so merciful.
But as I look about and hold out my hand for you to grab so that we might begin our trek, it feels almost redundant to be traveling to Mary when she's clearly with us, making the trip possible. I've felt her nudge me to begin (and take you with me), I've felt her nearness since she gave me that nudge, and as I've wondered what I'll write about here during the next month, I think I've heard her gentle laughter. The louder laughter was certainly coming from Marcel and Therese on her lap with little Jesus, and their ruckus reminds me of what I keep forgetting:
Jesus is a master at making things new, and there won't be any lack of things to write about as I read again, day by day, Fr. Gaitley's marvelous book. The "new" that strikes me most of all is our little brother Marcel - I didn't know him yet (perish the thought, but there it is) when I made my consecration in the past, and I'm smiling to think of what wonders he'll bring into my musings now that he's here to stay.
Today he started straight off by whacking me so hard (it was a spiritual whack of great excitement, immaterial I'm sure, but I know when I've been wacked) that I almost fell off my chair. Well in truth I was on my bed (a great big bed) so that was lucky - hard to fall off! I couldn't blame him, though; I was equally riveted by the first thing Fr. Gaitley tells us on Day 1. He starts with the simple request: "Take a look at a map of France."
I should admit immediately that if I have one flaw (and I actually have more than one, but this one you can count on), it's that whenever somebody (especially in a book) tells me to look at a map, I don't. Even if the map is right there in the book along with the suggestion or command (and Fr. Gaitley hadn't put a map in there), I just disregard it. Maps don't float my boat, but France sure does!
Marcel and I didn't need the map, though, to look at each other in astonishment, saying, "Whoa, baby! Can you believe he's starting with France? This is going to be awesome!"
The deal is that I've been remiss here on Miss Marcel's Musings, a blog dedicated to musing most especially on Marcel's Conversations with Jesus, Mary, and Therese. Their conversations are full of France, and so far (for 10 months) I've said barely a word on the eldest daughter of the Church.
But Our Lady knows how to get me talking about France. She just had Fr. Gaitley (another of her minions) put it in line one of Day One of his book (that I'm supposed to talk about). Good thinking, Mary!
And what about France?
Fr. Gaitley wants us to look on a map to see where St. Louis Marie de Montfort, our guide in Week One, was born and spent his boyhood. After explaining the significance of the part of France from which St. Louis hails (haha, I'm going to let you read that yourself in the book!), he goes on to quote Pope St. John Paul II when he visited St. Louis' grave. Our dear Marian Holy Father said, "I am happy to begin my pilgrimage in France under the sign of this great figure. You know that I owe much to this saint, and to his True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin."
Oh yes, Holy Father! I, too, owe much to St. Louis and his True Devotion book, which I read in the fall of 1983 and which propelled me to that first consecration on December 8th. And I, too, am thrilled to start my pilgrimage in France! Not that I'm in France, but there's a way we do start in France by starting with St. Louis and what he has to teach us.
Fr. Gaitley then asks if we have a fire in our hearts as we begin this retreat. Wouldn't you know that yesterday my friend Angela was saying the same thing - we need a fire in our hearts!
Fr. Gaitley goes on to say "Desire and generosity are key ingredients..."
When, after Mass yesterday, I told Angela we had to PRAY BIG because clearly God was waiting to answer those big prayers, He is so mighty and so merciful, she answered: "And thirst! We have to thirst more!" That's the desire Fr. Gaitley's recommending, and as to the generosity, I'm leaving it for God to provide. He's very generous, as is Our Lady. I'm asking them to fill us with generosity, and we can try (with the help of the Holy Spirit) to desire.
To desire what? For one thing, to desire to belong to Mary more than ever! To desire to learn from her conversations with Marcel, as well as from Fr. Gaitley's pages on her. To desire to travel together for these next 33 days . . .
I don't know how often I'll be able to post - in fact, this very minute it's time to get dinner ready - but we'll leave that to the angels, the saints, and Our Blessed Mother. Meanwhile, rest assured that Jesus is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega, the One who Thirsts for us, and who will fill us with true thirst for Him. Going to Mary is just the way to get to Jesus on her lap, and He must provide us with everything we need to get ourselves there. Let's ask Him now!
Draw me, we will run!
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