Who's Your Favorite Saint?
I've been thinking about this post since 5:30 this morning. Don't worry, I was able to get back to sleep . . . and then it's been one thing after another and still Holy Mass for the Feast of All Saints in another hour. Which means, Come Holy Spirit! Make my fingers fly and fill this page with Your light and Love!
The portrait above is of Our Lady of Confidence. She's a darling (and chubba little Jesus too!), but we'll get to her in a minute. She came to Save the Day. Was that part of the Underdog theme? Someone awesome like that, I'm sure, sang, "Here I come to save the day!" But today it was none other than Our Lady of Confidence, all the way from the Roman Seminary (haha, in Rome, I was going to tell you!) by way of Jupiter. Well, Jupiter, Florida, that is. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's go back.
This morning when I woke, I worried.
I know, that is wrong, wrong, wrong, especially in one who has been privileged to not only know, thanks to Marcel, but also repeat from Marcel's Conversations - and frequently - our happy mantra:
No more worrying, any more, ever! (and I like to add "about anything!").
Jesus said it to Marcel, and we here at Miss Marcel's Musings can never muse enough on those delightful words. It's almost like a riddle:
What talent does every person have which they should never use?
The talent of worrying!
Happily, so happily, there is one who loves to stop our worrying.
Is it Jesus?
Well, yes, He definitely loves to stop our worrying.
But what about St. Therese?
Yes again, absolutely, she's a big fan, too, of stopping our worrying.
And the second little Therese?
Oh yes, Marcel wants very much to stop our worrying.
But I'm not talking about any of these. When it comes to someone who wants to stop our worrying, the ultimate tender lover of our souls is Our Lady, Jesus' Mama and ours. She has a mouthful to say to Marcel (and us through him) about this very topic.
It happened the day Marcel was worrying about cleaning his room. I daren't go find the passage because I'd just quote page after page to you, it's all so delightful! But the upshot was that Marcel had to clean his room, and he noticed that though Jesus spent so much time with him, was like a roommate in fact, still little Jesus only played with him and never actually did His Divine part to clean their room! So naturally, guilelessly, plainly, Marcel complained to Mary.
Good for you, Marcel! Tell it like it is, little brother!
Somehow, though, Mary didn't see it that way. She was viewing the scene from a maternal perspective, and she told Marcel what was really going on. She herself had to do all the cleaning, because though little Jesus and Therese, too, were frequently with Marcel, the three of them just played, leaving every bit of the work to her!
The adorable part is that she didn't mind too much. Or to tell the truth, she didn't seem to mind at all, I mean about them playing and not cleaning.
But what did bother her was that no matter how hard she worked, and it turned out that Jesus and Therese helped her in this one particular task, but no matter how hard all three of them worked, they couldn't get Marcel's room cleared of cobwebs.
Sure enough, the cobwebs were precisely what worried Marcel.
Since yesterday was Halloween (in the rest of the world, All Hallow's Eve, but in our corner of earth it was definitely Halloween - creepy, crawly time, but with the sweet custom of children dressing up and receiving candy for the trouble, so as well as creepy things, I saw some cute princesses, pirates, butterflies, and so on), you may be thinking spider webs are just a seasonal thing. But no. As one who lives in a spider-ridden area - and thankfully I'm not terrified of them as was our sister Therese! - I can tell you that spider webs are a year long issue!
So Marcel was complaining that if little Jesus didn't do something, soon he wouldn't be able to make a path to the door through all those spider webs in his room!
Mary explained that was the least of her worries. Not that she was worried, but Marcel was, and that was the problem creating the spider webs! And now, perhaps recklessly but it must be done, I will quote for you from Conversations.
Or actually I won't! For once the book is not at hand, but for good reason. It got left behind when I came to the library to write this musing, and the book in my bag is actually another! This could be tragic, but in comes Our Lady of Confidence.
But first, to finish with the spider webs. . . Our Lady explained to Marcel that everyone tried to get him to stop worrying (she and Jesus and Therese, for starters), but he kept on, and the result? Tons of spider webs in the room of his soul. When you think of how very many spider webs it must take to make a ton, wow! No wonder Our Lady is concerned! And boy does that sound familiar! No wonder I'm Miss Marcel: I have the same sort of spider web challenge going on in the room of my soul too these days.
Hmmm . . . I wonder if you do too.
Fortunately, we all have Our Lady for our mother, and she is awesome at reassuring us. Take this morning, for instance. What was I worrying about? Well, we all have our little concerns. My latest was that I'd gotten myself into a pickle, and I was worried about how I'd get out or manage from within (kind of like James and the Giant Peach and the predicament poor James found himself in, inside the Giant Peach). So there I was in this Giant Pickle, and who came along to help but Our Lady.
It was early morning of All Saints Day (now it's late afternoon of the same while I write), and along came Our Lady to make me laugh. That was a clever way for her to stop my worrying! I somehow thought of the time I asked my Gido (a soft "g" like the beginning "Zhivago" if that possibly helps, or better yet, the beginning of je t'aime!), that is, my Lebanese grandfather, "Gido, who is your favorite Saint?"
He looked at me like I was the stupidest girl in the world (and he usually looked at me with great love, so this was an interesting development) and said, "St. Mary, of course!"
It was funny at the time - about 33 years ago, I'd say - and it's funny still! I was surprised when he called Our Lady "St. Mary," that not being so much the custom in the U.S. And sure, definitely if you put Our Lady (or St. Mary) on the list of ordinary - or even extraordinary - Saints to choose from, I'd say yes, definitely, I shoulda known she'd be anyone's favorite! I just thought she was, as Queen of the Angels and the Saints, on a list of her own. A list of one!
But this morning as she reminded me of that long-ago conversation, I found myself thinking about who is my favorite Saint - after St. Mary! I thought that Marcel would be my quick answer and my final answer, but no wonder it took me some time to fall back asleep. How could I possibly choose? If I chose Marcel, then what about St. Joseph, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Therese, St. John Bosco and St. Padre Pio? And those are just some of the canonized Saints on my short list. It's not that I love them more than Marcel, but gee, I wouldn't be able to say for sure how they rank because My Stars! I love them all, and I certainly wouldn't want to hurt their feelings by not choosing each of them as my favorite!
Which reminds me of a great passage I read about Therese recently. It was in the circular letter (obituary notice) the Lisieux Carmel sent out after the birth-into-heaven of Therese's novice, Marie of the Trinity. Talk about favorites! I love Marie of the Trinity! She had the best questions for Therese and they were the best of friends. Therese was Marie's novice mistress in the mid 1890's, for the last three years of Therese's life on earth.
One day Marie of the Trinity was telling Therese how much it mattered to her that people would like her. Therese laughed and said, "Me too, if you're talking about how it will be in heaven! Then I will need all the Saints to love me - and if I find out that one does not love me, I will go to Jesus and tell Him that this one does not love me, so I'm not happy!"
Like Jesus would later often explain to Marcel in Conversations, Therese explained to Marie that what people think of us in this life is usually none of our bees' wax! Ah, but in Real Life? Then it matters! In Heaven? It will be heavenly, because we'll all love one another so much, with no exceptions and no one left out!
With this in mind, it made sense to me that I couldn't choose among the Saints even now. Like Therese before me, I choose all!
She tells us in Story of a Soul that Leonie, older than Celine and Therese, offered her sisters their choice of items from a basket she'd outgrown. The basket was a treasure trove of doll's clothes and such. Celine chose one or two things, and then Leonie turned to little Therese, who with perfect Theresian audacity, took the basket and the entirety of its contents, declaring simply, "I choose all!"
So yes, I too choose all! All the Saints as my favorites, even the ones I don't know yet, and - here is where we return to my pickle - apparently I'm choosing, too, all the good things I might do while I kill time before I get to join them in Heaven.
You see, somehow or other in the last week or so I've said yes to a number of wonderful things. Things to do. Things for me to do. Things I am now committed to doing and which make me wonder if I should be, more likely, committed!
In particular, the latest thing I'd consented to was the one worrying me most, and that's where Our Lady comes in. Both to help me stop worrying and (would you believe it? truly a pickle!) as part of the very commitment I was worried about.
The backstory is that a few years ago, and two years in succession, I had fun doing the preparation for and consecration to Mary presented in Fr. Michael Gaitley's wonderful book 33 Days to Morning Glory. I was thinking of doing the preparation and consecration again this year, when I decided that was probably too much. Especially since my thought was that, during the 33 days, I could write reflections here as I felt moved to do so, helping Marcel in his work as an apostle to the apostles of Mary.
It's one thing to decide not to do something. It's another to stick to that decision. And when, not long after my internal, "Nah, I'd better not add this to my plate," I received an email letting me know that Catholic Exchange had just republished an article of mine, and the article turned out to be on doing the Consecration (you can read it HERE), I decided it wasn't my decision to make. So I sent out the word that yes, I would be doing the preparation and consecration again, and (contrary to what I'd just decided not to do) yes, I would be writing about it, as I felt so moved, here at Marcel's blog.
Then, as happens after many a good (if waffly) decision, panic struck.
Not the rest of the world, as far as I know, but panic struck me!
What was I thinking?
The truth is that I wasn't thinking, I was merely trying to do what it seemed Mary wanted me to do.
And then I wasn't thinking, and I wasn't trying, I was worrying.
And then, thanks be to God, Mary took over.
Not only did she reassure me this morning when I woke too early, but this afternoon I quite randomly picked up a book on Marian consecration (not Fr. Gaitley's book, not St. Louis de Monfort's book, but another one. Don't ask. I'm a book magnet!), and since it's all Saints' Day, another of my saints was looking out for me.
Which is how we come full circle to the lovely oval portrait of Our Lady of Confidence at the top of our post. Have you heard of her? (I mean had you heard of her before I mentioned her name above?)
I found out about her from the very man who brought her to the United States, namely Fr. Nicholas Maestrini, P.I.M.E. As a boy he'd been at the Roman Seminary (connected to St. John Lateran) which trained young men for the Church's diplomatic corps. He ended up leaving to join P.I.M.E. and fulfill his dream of being a missionary, but while in Rome, Nicola learned to love Our Lady of Confidence. Pope St. John XXIII loved her a lot too because she kept him and all the other seminarians safe when they had to leave the Roman Seminary to do compulsory military service during World War I. She kept them all safe, even in that awful war which prematurely ended the earthly lives of so many promising young men.
Fr. Maestrini (years after his Roman seminary days which were themselves a few years after the future Pope John XXIII's), after serving as a missionary in China for 25 years, came to the U.S. and brought Our Lady of Confidence with him. That was around 1955, and no, he didn't steal the original! But he brought a copy and his devotion, and Our Lady of Confidence accompanied him and many others through the years. P.I.M.E. in the United States still holds an annual novena in her honor!
To my joy and surprise, as I opened the Marian book today, I found myself looking at the words "Our Lady of Confidence." It turns out that Pope Saint John Paul II spoke at least twice in the presence of Our Lady of Confidence in Rome. The book reported that in her presence he said:
"The pious invocation 'Mater mea, fiducia mea' [My mother, my confidence] so dear to all those who have been formed in this Seminary, contains the deepest and fullest sense of our relationship with Mary, who is praised and venerated precisely by means of such regard of confidence, esteem, and hope."
But what I read next is what I especially needed to hear, what brought me the blessing of my dear Fr. Maestrini and the encouragement of Our Lady. Having returned again to the Roman Seminary, this time on the Feast of Our Lady of Confidence, Pope St. John Paul II spoke of the wedding feast of Cana as follows:
"What were the newlyweds feeling in their hearts at the moment that the wine ran out, as they approached the Mother of Jesus? Confidence, precisely. They had confidence in her. They had a spontaneous confidence, a confidence that said: 'She can help us.' Why? Maybe they did not think it, maybe they did not know it, but they felt it: 'She can help us because she is the Mother, and being a mother she can understand us, she can understand our difficulties and this is the first step to helping: understanding the difficulties. And then, after having understood our difficulties, she will be able to help us.'
"They were not thinking about how she could help them, but they were convinced that she would help them. So in the Gospel about Cana in Galilee, one discovers human confidence and at the same time the Mother of Confidence, because Mary did not disappoint the newlyweds, but rather did what they wanted: she helped them . . .
"If we have confidence in the Mother of Christ as the newlyweds at Cana did, we can entrust our worries to her, as they did. We can also entrust to her our decisions, the interior torments which sometimes afflict us, we can entrust all this to her, to Our Lady of Confidence, that is, the the Mother of our trust. I place my trust in you, I wish to dedicate myself to Christ, but I entrust myself to you, just as the newlyweds did. They did not go directly to Christ to ask for a miracle, they went to Mary; they entrusted their worries, their difficulties to Mary. In so doing, they naturally wanted to arrive at Christ, they wanted to provoke Christ - if one can say so - and his messianic power. And thus we too, in our vocation which is a path, a spiritual walk toward Christ, in order to be Christ's, to be an alter Christus, we too must find this Mother of our trust and we must entrust ourselves to her in order to entrust ourselves to Christ, to dedicate ourselves to Christ, to give ourselves to Christ. We must entrust ourselves to her because there is but a single course, and if we turn to her we turn to Christ, just as the newlyweds turned to her and arrived at Christ."
That was a long quote! But here is what jumped out at me, both earlier and now as I type it for you too. I love when Our Holy Father says:
"If we have confidence in the Mother of Christ as the newlyweds at Cana did, we can entrust our worries to her, as they did. We can also entrust to her our decisions, the interior torments which sometimes afflict us, we can entrust all this to her, to Our Lady of Confidence, that is, the the Mother of our trust."
I was worried, and I was afraid I'd made a decision I'd regret, and it caused interior torment - all that our beloved John Paul was saying! He had my number exactly! But then the solution? So simple. We can entrust everything that worries us to Mary, even as we are learning to entrust our very selves to her. "Totus Tuus," as JPII's motto stated; as he said daily; as he taught us to say.
But on the off chance you missed it (it was a very long quote), the part I liked the very best was this:
"They did not go directly to Christ to ask for a miracle, they went to Mary; they entrusted their worries, their difficulties to Mary. In so doing, they naturally wanted to arrive at Christ, they wanted to provoke Christ - if one can say so - and his messianic power."
Yes, Holy Father! You sure can say they wanted to provoke Christ, or at least it seems quite fair to me to say this of someone - like Marcel! I love it! What was Marcel doing when he complained to Mary about Jesus not doing His share of the work? He was, through her, provoking Him, even to the point of provoking His messianic power.
May I make a suggestion? (Wow, it's sure fun to have a blog. I can ask these questions and whether or not they're rhetorical, I get to answer them all by myself! I think I can and will make a suggestion!)
I think we should follow our little brother Marcel and provoke Jesus (through Mary) and His messianic power. To be perfectly honest, it was a very long quote, and I myself went in and out of comprehension as I read it earlier and typed it out later. But some of it hit home, and now I'm really getting into the swing of this entrustment. I think it goes like this:
We ask Mary for everything because we know she'll ask Jesus for us and thus we are able to provoke His power (which darned if He doesn't seem to be fine with not using!). Next thing we know, she tells us to do whatever He tells us to do. He tells us to fill the jars - with water, nothing fancy or expensive - and then He, with messianic power, turns it to wine. I'm not a big fan of wine myself, but it's the principle of the thing. Jesus fixes everything! He gives us our part, but it's a small one, and then He fixes it up perfectly. Being God, that's only fair. And if He seems to be distracted, not fixing things fast enough (according to our measure), let's not hesitate to run into Mary's arms and complain!
Complain, entrust, beseech - I think these have much more in common than we might have suspected. And since complaining comes so easily, I'm going to stop worrying - I bet entrustment will come easily too! And beseeching? I'm a natural! If you've forgotten, we have a prayer we like to say here that simply beseeches Jesus to save the whole world!
Won't it be wonderful when we are celebrating the feast of all the Saints in heaven? I mean when we will be in heaven too, celebrating our feast together with our brothers and sisters who are already there?
Until then, let's entrust ourselves to Mary. If anyone can get us through the cobwebs, it's Our Lady, and if she has trouble, she can get little Jesus (and His messianic power) to help. All things are possible with God!
I'm planning to renew my consecration to Mary on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, on December 8th. The preparation begins this coming Monday, November 5th. I hope you'll join me! I'm going to be using Fr. Gaitley's book, 33 Days to Morning Glory, because I love it. The readings are short and the prayers even shorter. Although you may find it simplistic at first, as the days progress you'll be blown away by the beauty and relief of entrusting everything to Mary. In particular, Fr. Gaitley does a wonderful job of adding insights from St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Mother Teresa, and St. John Paul II to the original ideas of St. Louis de Montfort on this whole consecration business.
And Marcel? Adding his insights will be my job. I'm going to trust Mary to help me, she who said so many words to our little brother about how he should pray for her future apostles (us!), and how much he would do for them (for us!) from Heaven. He's there now, celebrating and provoking, laughing and playing, but not forgetting to help us too. I can't wait to see what he'll have to say in these coming days!
Where I live, we're nearing the end of the Solemnity of All Saints - which means that by the time I get this posted, the day will have already morphed (for most of the world, and soon for me too) into the beautiful Feast of All Souls - our brothers and sisters in purgatory. May a glance from Jesus free them for Heaven and His arms, and may Our Lady greet them with her warm embrace!
As for those of us left on earth:
Draw me, we will run!
We love You, little Jesus, a lot!
Mary, our Mother, our confidence, kiss Jesus and Marcel for us, and happy Solemnity of All the Saints, of which you are our very favorite!
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