[caption id="attachment_172148" align="aligncenter" width="1180"] Image created by the author in Canva.com using free elements.[/caption]
Days have slipped into weeks, which has slipped into months. Mid-March, our chapel stopped hosting live services. A couple of days ago, I realized that we had gone a full month, and are close to closing out a full second month of not having access to the sacraments. My oldest had prepared, and is prepared, for his First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion – which will occur at an undecided future date. Our religious education program switched from mainly face-to-face classes to entirely virtual, closing out the end of the program year in mid-May. This is face of life these days – these are the cards we have been dealt, and I know my family is facing the same set of circumstances all throughout the country. To be honest, it helps to know I am not alone in these unique experiences. I know there is solidarity to be found, even in these oddest of times.
Before we know it, the “Month of Mary” will have come and gone. It will be filed away as one of the longest months to date of 2020. Mary Crownings have either been suspended in churches, or families are opting to try their hand at doing them in private at home. Day dawns every morning, and we slip into our regular routines, which may or may not include thoughts of the Blessed Mother.
But May is not over yet!
In Luke 2:19, we are reminded, “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” And, in today’s weird world, there are few other words which resonate so deeply.
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Like the women of the Bible, who all faced their own trials, tribulations, and challenges, each of us are living in a time which will shape us. These trying days have the opportunity to break us … or have an opportunity to make us great Catholic Christian women.
And, the path toward greatness is found in the humility, meekness, and the witness of the Blessed Mother as she reflected on all the things “in her heart.”
What does it mean to reflect on our experiences in the heart?
We are a society of instant gratification. We desire “instant everything” – instant solace, instant comfort, instant accolades, instant attention. We want what we want, precisely when we want. And yet, God doesn’t quite work on our individually preferred timelines.
Simply answered, to ponder all things in our hearts is a challenge issued to each of us to take our desire for instant gratification directly to the Lord.
Pondering things in our heart encourages us to place our worries, cares, concerns, proud parenting moments, pleasing experiences, and excitement to the foot of the Cross and offer it immediately to the Lord.
Pondering in our heart requires us to take a pause and ask us for the motivation behind our actions.
The world feels topsy-turvy and so extremely difficult right now. Yet, just as Esther was encouraged in Esther 4:14, so too, have we been created for an opportunity to be great during this time.
We have the tools in front of us to be great:
- We have the vast support and example of the greatest saints – holy men and women who have lived through their own share of tough times with an eye on the eternal prize of salvation and eternity in heaven.
- We have the complete, entire, and unedited Sacred Scripture – brought to us by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, determined to bring us unabridged access to God’s Word.
- We have devotions, traditions, and sacramentals that, throughout history, aim to bring us deeper into relationship with our Creator – from Holy Water in bottles on our home altar, to blessed salt and candles, to the Holy Rosary, and so many more opportunities to bring faith into our daily lives, options seem endless.
- We have inspiration by current men and women who are living the same experiences while encouraging us to live our most faith-filled lives, as they create, write, and encourage those wading through these times.
- We have the recommendation of the power of both prayer and fasting to help bring us closer to God – whether we do it daily, twice a week, or simply once a week – those time-honored, “little-t” traditions are routinely touted as ways of bringing people into a deeper relationship with God.
- Virtual everything – virtual Mass and virtual Adoration allow us to make spiritual communion every single day, and allows for us to soak up the words of inspiration from so many holy priests who are trying to shepherd their flock from a distance.
The true question to ponder, though, is whether or not we are fully utilizing the tools available to us during this time?
We definitely don’t have to use all of the tools, all of the time.
Yet, as we face the challenge to be great men and women of faith, we must constantly assess where we are, and how we can do better.
With some people having access to the sacraments again, there is vast opportunity to ponder things in your heart … in the physical presence of Christ through Adoration, Mass, and reception of the Eucharist.
With those who still don’t have access to the sacraments, there is vast opportunity to ponder things in your heart … with the tools meant to bring Christ more visibly present in our daily lives.
Yet, at the end of the day, the true challenge in today’s instant gratification world is to remember to ponder your experiences in your heart …
Take a time to savor those moments, to contemplate those moments, to reflect on all the moments in your heart … before taking them to others.
[caption id="attachment_172149" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Copyright 2020 Anni Harry. All rights reserved.[/caption]
As we close out the “Month of Mary,” I invite each of you to join me in taking time to ponder … to pray … to reflect on the experience of this time, in the same vein that our Blessed Mother would ponder, pray, and reflect.
Take the experiences to Him …
Offer the experiences to Him …
Enter deeper into His embrace through all the tools present at your disposa l…
As the days slip into weeks, that slip into months, take some time to thank Him for the trust that you are created for such a time as this …
And reflect on these moments in your heart.
Copyright 2020 AnnAliese Harry
About the Author
AnnAliese Harry is a proud Army wife to her husband Chris, and a mother to their young children. She has a BA in History, a Masters in Social Work, and has worked with disabled veterans, troubled teens, and in early childhood intervention therapy. AnnAliese volunteers with several military chapel communities and serves as a lector, EMHC, Adoration coordinator, and Catholic Women of the Chapel (CWOC) chapter president and vice president. She blogs about Catholicism, parenting, and military life at A Beautiful, Camouflaged Mess of A Life. Follow her on Twitter, on Instagram, or on Facebook.