Who Else Wants to Hear a Story about Mary’s Care For Us and People We Can’t Stand?
In Mary’s Immaculate Heart, all things about Our Lord are magnified. She truly does make it easier to understand the essences of God and the form of the mysteries of our faith. That’s not a cliche! Let me illustrate by talking about that one thing we all know: that guy you can’t stand.
Everybody has one. You know who I’m talking about. I bet you have one in mind already (well, maybe more than one! LOL). If not, here’s some ideas: it could be the one that smarts around and always seems to ask things you don’t want to discuss. Or, maybe it’s the way they make mouth noises for no apparent reason. Or, maybe it’s that busybody that always trying to get into your business and meddle, because they have some idea about how they think you should do things.
Why does God send them into our lives? Fr. Hardon says it’s because God wishes to teach us mercy. That’s nice. I can hear things like that with my mind, and order a nice outline material to go around it, and resolve that I will do what Father Hardon says when he taught the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius, namely, God sends creatures into our life for only four reasons:
- to enjoy;
- to sacrifice/surrender;
- to remove; or,
- to endure.
The first two are easy to figure out. Enjoying is straightforward — a good friend, a nice meal, etc. Despite the counsel of some Catholics, we are actually allowed to enjoy things! (Thank God!). God puts other things into our life because we are meant to sacrifice them. Maybe it’s that extra money you came across, and God would like you to support your favorite nonprofit! (hey! if you read this far, I need to ask, right?) :-) The example from the Gospels is when Our Lord instructs us that if someone asks for our cloak, give them our shoes, too. Sometimes you have something and God asks you to give that something away.
Just Because You Don’t Like Them, Doesn’t Mean You Get to Remove Them
It’s the other two classifications that are a little more involved. Removing a creature is necessary when its only purpose leads us to sin. Period. I don’t need to illustrate examples here. We live in a world that seems hell bent on providing these to everyone. However, I need to contrast removal with creatures we are meant to endure. Says Fr. Hardon,
“The secret is to see God behind this. God does want, this is part of His will, that there be creatures in our lives that humanly speaking cause us pain. And they may be, I can’t prove this, they may be the creatures that you most love in life. Oh no… Oh Yes! But what a difference between being discriminating and knowing which of these creatures God wants me to endure. And then of course I’ve got the motivation. It’s God’s will, whether I like it or not has nothing to do with it. God wants it, I may not like it but I want it. Question – can we want what we don’t like? You better believe it. We want with our wills. We like with our emotions.”
You see how that works? That guy… the one that has that slimy cheese grin that you know makes artificial vanilla flavor seem gourmet, yes — suck it up. God sends them to you to learn mercy! So, I can put that stuff together in my mind. I can assemble the rest of the advice and teaching from Fr. Hardon and the Exercises, and I can read about saints and realize that God wants me to treat that person well. He doesn’t want me to show disgust on my face. He doesn’t want me to slice them with an insult. It doesn’t matter how clever the insult might be, either… no. I can with my mind make a resolution to smile and keep my mouth shut (even with superglue, if need be).
Then, that guy shows up and the rubber hits the road. All it takes is for them to start the mouth noises… instantly, it all goes out the window! I’d like to think we all struggle that way.
How then, does Mary help?
Think of Mary’s exchange at the Annunciation. She never asked the one question we are never to ask God when He asks us to do something. When Gabriel came to her, she did not ask “Why?” She didn’t compare her plans to that announced by the angel, and explain that she wasn’t available. Instead, she asked the angel to be sure she understood the message. Because she was betrothed, and had made a vow of virginity, having a child in the ordinary sense would mean going back on her word. You might even say she was testing the angel. Mary knew that if the angel was asking her to break her vow, that the angel would not be from God. In her heart, once she tested that angel, and understood what God asked of her, she said “fiat!”
The contrast between Mary’s acceptance of God’s will and how messy my thoughts are when God asks me merely to endure somebody for a moment really highlight to me how far from holiness our own emotions and passions can take us! (careful: the passions are those passive impulses we get — not merely the things of dusty harlequin novels and late night cable TV). Too bad we can’t remove them! And how lightening fast! Seriously. I can be in the middle of making a resolution to be better and already be tempted by the passions to do the contrary!
But, Mary takes it to the deep waters very quickly. She teaches us to swim these deep waters. First, as a good Mother, asking for her help will yield supernatural grace… i.e. supernatural power… i.e. superhuman powers to be better than these impulses. This is why we need to always follow her example to pray. Pray always! We must. Not only did Our Lord tell us to do this, but Mary does as well!
And, consider this… if that person is there to cause us pain, as Fr. Hardon said above, then who better to help us than Mary! After all, it was her heart that kept her close to her Son during his passion.
But, what if I Screw it up? If I am Meant to Endure, Won’t They Walk All Over Me?
So, let me share a personal story. One time I was fighting with the disposition I ought to have with one of those people who was really trying my last nerve. We talked about the people above — the ones that just get on your nerves by their very being or nature. What happens when it’s not only one of those people but they are intentionally pushing you? I had somebody like that. For whatever reason they were really pushing me. I thought I knew why and had a good grasp on it. I tried to reason with them. They said things that were stupid and betrayed their purpose. This went on for a while. And some people, once they get on a bent like that will try over and over with new means to get under your skin. I wasn’t sure what to do. There’s all that intellectual stuff above, but reading all that is no replacement for prayer. You have to ask God, “God what do you want me to do?” He’ll tell you.
I hear things like that from people over the years and I always have this echo in my mind — I’m no mystic. I’m not. So I always think I am making up what I want to hear for what God wants of me. (there’s a whole other topic to cover on this little point alone — Fr. Hardon talks about it a lot). At the end of the day, if you come to God and try to converse with Him, and He gives you a resolution, like Mary, you say “OK, let it be done.” So it was with the person. I finally asked Our Lord, “Lord what do you want me to do with them? should I admonish them? insult them? or endure them?” I knew He didn’t want me to insult them, but I like to ask Him sometimes so He knows that’s what I’m thinking! I was resolved: endure them.
I did me best. I kept asking for Mary’s help. I began offering my rosary for them. (St. Kolbe says to do this of your enemies). Then, a funny thing happened in that case, they had something bad happen to them, an injury or sickness, and they had no time to worry about provoking me. I actually felt bad for them!
Now, I don’t want you to think I think that God smote them. (I secretly cheered that possibility). But it was all tied together and the calamity certainly had the effect of changing the entire circumstance. Part of me wondered if I was supposed to have admonished them instead, and because I didn’t, God did. Either way, I did what I thought God asked of me, and instead of me making it all work out, God made it all work out. In the end, that’s what Mary taught me — do what He tells you. All too often, I want to handle it myself.
Mary’s heart makes it make more sense, though. She endured. She understood that God asks of us things that we want to ask why? Things we don’t want to do. And, like a good Mother, she makes it easier to do.
Maybe that person was an enemy, and had I not adopted a heavenly attitude adjustment, we’d still be fighting. I don’t really know. I do know that Mary’s help changed the situation, but it was because Mary taught me better to do what God asked me to do.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!
What about you? Has Mary brought you to understand what God asks of you better? Have you asked her?
Have you had a situation like that where Mary turned a whole situation on its head?
This article, Who Else Wants to Hear a Story about Mary’s Care For Us and People We Can’t Stand? is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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