A series of books, over the course of the last five years, have made their way into my grasp and played a pivotal role in the writing of The Practice of the Presence of Mary: To Live and Die with Mary. Some of them I did not even finish, but I would read a sentence and instantly was struck. I knew Our Lady intended to show me; She wanted it used for something I did not even know She had in the making. A dear friend of mine from Canada put it best when she said the book is not my own, it is Mary’s; I was merely the pen. It is exceedingly interesting, because whatever happens… whether I am called to keep this blog open, or even the Etsy shop for that matter, in a detached way, I honestly do not care if I am called to give them up. All of that is very secondary. Yesterday we celebrated the founder of the eremitical life: Saint Paul the FIRST Hermit, who, entered the desert at age 15 and lived past 100 years of age. To some this sounds like a complete waste, but to those who know its value… it was a life of selfless pure love of God! How many times, during community life, I would say to myself: “I do not want to be anything but a bride of Christ, but something is missing; I believe I could be on fire for love of God if the community aspect was taken away”. I thought I was a freak, a misfit! Why cannot I fit in? Because hermits are not meant to fit in.
They are set apart, not for the world, but entirely for Jesus and Mary. Of course, at that point, I honestly thought hermits were a myth. Of course, there are a lot of hermits, or rather “recluses” in the world, but they are not the holy type. These “hermits” use expressions such as “I hate people” and stay in all day watching Netflix in their sweatpants. This is in no way giving glory to their Creator. Everyone is quick to jump on Our Lord’s public life; after all, we are celebrating His first public miracle today in the Latin Mass Calendar. But have we failed to forget His hidden life of thirty years? Or how, before His mission began, He went to the desert for 40 days to fast? What about the times He separated Himself from His apostles to go up the mountain and pray to His heavenly Father in secret? In a radical way, ever since Mary’s book has been published, in all truth, I believe there is nothing more I can really say- whether in a blog post or what have you. I know for a fact that, since 2019, all the blog posts that I have written these last two years have paved the way for The Practice of the Presence of Mary. The two devotions, nearest to my heart, of the First Saturday and practice of Mary’s presence has indeed been published. Blog posts, upon looking back, seemed to have been training lessons given by Mary.
The First Saturday Meditations in fact, are set up like a blog post. At this point, writing more, oftentimes seems fruitless; I would rather pray in secret that this one poor work, published entirely for Our Lady’s glory, reach every human heart, rather than write more books or blog posts relaying a different message. So many times, I never knew why gaining approval, for a life I so ardently desire, has taken so long but it has all become so profoundly clear that through experiences of sufferings, since I have left the Carmel of JMJ, have formed my character and taught me self-denial.. and have led to the writing of this book. Our Lady is so good, so tender and so patient.
Ever since leaving the enclosure, I have had to live in the world without being a part of it. Something has changed:
Indeed! There is no going back. Many say: “but you are winning souls through your art and writing”, but in my heart of hearts, I know that it is the prayer and sufferings of the hidden children of Mary that do far more than the human eye or mind can fathom. That is the life I desire. Who is there to serve Our Lord directly? Who is there so make a home for the Immaculate Heart of Mary? The earth is plenty, but the soil is thin. Send me, Mary. I shall go labor in the vineyard where no one can see me. I desire to do the work that gives glory only to You alone. In short, a work that is seen as the lowest, because no one wants to do it. Saint Louis de Montfort said that the true children of Mary are never really born until their deaths. There is nothing tying me to this vale of temporary tears, none whatsoever but the fact that the Church is entering the passion in which the catechism warned about “before the sanctuary is restored to its rightful state”. Saint Paul says that the Body of Christ has many members and offices, but not all the offices are the same. What is your office? Seek it! Embrace it! Kiss it! These are evil times, but what an honor to suffer for Mary in a way Our Lord has reserved for a specific era of saints. It is with powers and principalities that we fight our battles.
Part of this battle lies in the mind. In the second chapter of The Practice of the Presence of Mary I expand on how important it is to hold captive our minds. One of those books that made its way into my hands was Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. If I never began reading this book, recommended by one of my dearest friends, I would have not read how Saint Paul proclaimed:
I took captive every thought, in order to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor 10:5)
This tied in so perfectly with “discipline your mind” from the famous moving picture Somewhere in Time. How do we do that, you may ask? In this post I am merely including these author’s exact words on how to do so:
Our minds and thoughts are important reflections of the image of God. No other creature on earth has our thinking ability. We are the only creatures called to love God with all our mind. (Mark 12:30). Establishing boundaries in our thinking involves three things:
1.) We must own our own thoughts. Many people have not taken ownership of their own thinking processes. They are mechanically thinking the thoughts of others without ever examining them. They swallow others’ opinions [or care far too much about what esteem they are held in their eyes] and reasonings, never questioning and “thinking about their thinking”. Certainly we should listen to the thoughts of others and weight them; but we should never “give our minds” over to anyone. We are to weigh things for ourselves [we cannot go to a spiritual director for EVERYTHING; thus, we have Saint Ignatius’ Discernment of the Spirits– we are called to cultivate and use our mind] in the context of relationship, “sharpening” each other as iron, but remaining separate thinkers.
2.) We must grow in knowledge and expand our minds. One area in which we need to grow is in knowledge of God, [His Church, His Mother and His Saints] His Word. David said of knowing God’s Word, “my soul is consumed with longing of for your laws at all times. Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors”. (PS. 119:20:24). We also learn much about God by studying His creation and His work. In learning about His world, we obey the commandment to “rule and subdue” the earth and all that is within it.
3.) We must clarify distorted thinking [this is the most important]. We all have a tendency to not see things clearly, to think and perceive in distorted ways. We rarely see people as they really are; our perceptions are distorted and our own preconceptions of who we think they are, even the people we “think” we know best. We do not see clearly because of the “logs” in our own eyes (Matt. 7: 3-5).