Despite growing up in the Church I never had a strong personal connection to Mary. I wore a scapular, I carried a rosary, and I knew that in my own spiritual life Our Lady’s prayers and intercession had gotten me through some tough times, but their was still a disconnect. I had devotion to her, but I didn’t feel that maternal love, and I didn’t know why, until the summer of 2011.
In summer 2011 I did a summer mission called Impact. As part of the formation for Impact we had to do something called discipleship with a member of the mission staff. I was blessed to have a CCO staff husband named Quin as my discipler, and Quin, bless his heart, soon realized that the best way to disciple me was to be blunt. In our second discipleship session Quin came by to pick me up and saw me chatting with one of the girl impacters on the porch. Being blunt he asked me about it, and I told him that it was cool I had no interest in this girl in a romantic sort of way, although I thought one of my housemates might (FYI they just got MARRIED!!!!!!!), I just liked that when I talked to her I didn’t get the sinking feeling that she was going to completely screw me over like the majority of girls had done in my life so far. Quin suggested I do some soul searching.
Flash-forward a few weeks and after long walks with the Holy Spirit, I realized that my problem with having a relationship with the saints, and with Mary, as well as with living people, especially girls was that I had a lot of severe trust issues, and on the vigil of Pentecost I finally decided to ask for help. In the Cathedral of Our Lady I asked the Holy Spirit to come and burn away all of these hang ups, and I could tell that He was trying, and I could tell that part of me was still resisting, and then He gave me quite a novel idea, ask for help. As my friends Adam and Joel laid their hands on me and prayed I felt a sense of peace and love I had felt twice before, upon my initial acceptance of the love of God the Father, and on my choice to be in a personal relationship with God the Son.
The words of Christ echoed through my mind “It is finished” and I knew that to mean that I, at least in that moment given my heart over completely to God, and at that moment I gained a huge desire to have a total loving relationship with His mother, my mother Mary. I decided to put my trust in my impact brothers and sisters once again and opened up to them about my struggles with certain aspects of the faith including my Marian devotion, fully expecting to be given a talk on the rosary or the scapular. Instead I kept hearing one word “Montfort.”
I’d always been told that Louis de Montfort was a hard read. That his complex Mariology was almost indiscernible to anyone without a PhD in theology, and that had put me off reading him. Once I opened the page I realized that nothing could be further from the truth. St. Louis may have a high style of prose, but his message is simple: Give yourself to Jesus totally, regardless of your gender, your age, your vocation, just give yourself to Jesus. It’s a simple choice, not an easy one, but Jesus knows that and he’s given us an example to follow and a way to get to him. His Mother Mary.
Reading St. Louis I realized that Mary in her immaculate state loved me more than I would ever know, simply because when Jesus told her on the cross to “Behold thy Son” she saw my face as clearly as she did the beloved disciples. I still struggle with intimacy to a certain extent, but I’m not afraid anymore because I know that Mary is holding my hand. She’s the perfect woman and she’s helped me to trust women, and to love them as sisters in Christ, by teaching me to see her in them so that I can see her Son in them. I’ll be beginning my annual pilgrimage with St. Louis de Montfort on July 13th, so that I can renew my consecration on the feast of the Assumption. If you haven’t made this journey yet I’d like very much for you to come with us as we travel to meet Our Lady, and Our Lord.
Liam Farrer is a regular reader of Faith and Peanut Butter even though he is a guy. He is a 24 year old Grad student who specializes in Catholicism and Culture in the Middle Ages (and yet ironically prefers the ordinary rite of Mass). He really likes Ignatian Spirituality, Arthurian legends, and Musical Theatre. If he could every be on Broadway he would want to play Jarvert.
He is pictured at right with one half of your F&PB duo!