As we now look forward to 2014, I remain in the revelry of Christmas. At the core of this celebration is my joy over the certainty of my decision to entrust myself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who gave birth to our Lord Jesus Christ. Last November 21, 2013 during the feast of the Presentation of Mary, I entrusted myself to the Blessed Virgin Mary for the fourth time. Two of my dear friends, Shannon McAvoy and Charie Mosqueda, also consecrated themselves to Mama Mary on that day. The sisters at the Presentation of Mary Discernment House here in Saskatoon, Canada, namely Sr. Evelyn, Sr. Lucy and Sr. Cindy, made it more special by incorporating a ritual of entrustment.
Why the Marian consecration and why I had done so not only once but four times? Why do I call her ‘Mama Mary’ as probably many Filipino Catholics do? The childhood memories of showering the statue of Mama Mary with flowers every afternoon after our daily catechism during the month of May remain vivid. I remember being awed at how God, who created me, the sea, the sky and everything around me, has chosen Mama Mary so that His son Jesus Christ will be able to grow inside her tummy. I also wondered one hot summer afternoon if Jesus would like to have some of my mother’s homemade popsicles and could I give Him some? At five, I came to understand that Mama Mary is someone I should be thankful for because without her, Jesus Christ will not be born and be healthy enough to save us. I remember thinking that Mama Mary must have given Jesus lots of vegetables, fruits and so much love because He was able to bear such pain and be up there on the cross for us. Since then, I sang, “O Maria Reyna sa Pilipinas (Oh Mary, Queen of the Philippines) with all my heart understanding that she is our queen and, most importantly, our mother too.
But upon growing up, I realize that trying to follow Mama Mary’s way of simplicity, humility and obedience in my everyday life is quite daunting. It does not help that the world we live in constantly bombards us on how to be vain, prideful, slanderous, selfish, conceited, and willful to the flesh. Glorifying our selves rather than God is the way of the world. Many of us tend to say that we believe in God but do not fear Him at all. Others have even come to conclude that they do not need God as there is no proof that He exists. Many also scoff at the idea of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Some of my friends in college and in my professional life were scathing in their views that her example of meekness perpetuates the idea that women are weak and thus another manifestation of patriarchy. Inwardly, I flinch when I hear them malign or belittle the Mother of God. But my intellectual influences on historical and dialectical materialism, and relativisms stalled me from defending her or my Catholic faith and left me confused. There was a time that I had grown distant from the Blessed Virgin Mary. But I keep on asking questions (or should I say it was the Holy Spirit feeding me questions to ask) which I believe was my saving grace. One time, I summoned myself to ask her, “How come I do not know you anymore? I want to know you again. Can you help me to know and love you once more?”
So upon my fourth entrustment to Mama Mary, I have come to fully appreciate her strength and gentleness in relation to the sufferings and pains of our world. She patiently bore the discomforts of giving birth in an alien land in the process of seeking status in line with Joseph’s ancestry. This reminds us of the many non-status immigrants and refugees or internally displaced persons who had to flee their land because of strife and poverty. Many women had to give birth in tents or in evacuation camps without proper medical attention. The Blessed Virgin Mary is a mother to an innocent, tortured and “salvage” victim just like the many mothers of tortured sons and daughters, and desparecidos who fought for the truth in Latin America, Philippines, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
To me, what is most exciting about my rediscovery of Mama Mary is that she is a very extraordinary warrior who continually defeats evil, not with swords or arrows, but with her weapons of humility and gentleness. She is the new Eve and the only woman who has the perfect enmity with the devil because she was conceived without sin. Lest we forget, Jesus Christ was sent here to counter evil and Satan not with the haughty, egotistical and prideful ways of human kings and nobles, but through love and humility. His mission was to let the blind see, the lame walk, and set free those who are in spiritual bondage. This means us. This means me and I need healing.
Mama Mary also showed me that it is never about us. But it is always about God the Father, and saying yes to His will. And being obedient to His will also means that our hearts will be pierced just like Mary. To be of the world, one gains acceptance but to break away from it and follow Christ means derision and persecution. Mama Mary remained faithful to the promise of Christ’s resurrection and the descent of the Holy Spirit that empowers anyone who believes in her son Jesus Christ.
One important thing I’ve learned from my family back home is that Mama Mary is our intercessor just as she had demonstrated during the first miracle of Jesus Christ in a wedding at Cana. All you have to do, an aunt once told me, is to give your full trust to her and ask her to be your mother too. It was when I specifically asked the Blessed Virgin Mary to become my mother again and entrusted myself to her that I was able to say that my life has never been the same again.
In what way did my entrustment to Mama Mary change my life? I would be tongue-tied in answering that because it is mostly in the little things that, if added up, leave one in awe and wonder, and move one’s heart to praise, “Thank you, Lord”.
My trust in the Blessed Virgin Mary is also linked with my faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God the Father. In entrusting myself to Mama Mary everyday, I am asking her to give all my joys, works and sufferings of the day, my heart with all its travesties and affections, my body with all its senses, my soul and its darkness – for her to give these to the Holy Spirit so I may be formed and be united to her son Jesus Christ, who is humbly obedient to the Father. This is practically everything that I am and possessed, and I am giving it to her because I know my offerings are painfully penurious before God’s majesty and glory. But if I offer it through Mama Mary’s Immaculate Heart, they will be offered and presented with much richness. I am also assured that my offerings, no matter how lowly they are, will be of help to someone in need in China, Congo, and anywhere else in the world because she has that unique vantage point in heaven where she is able to know who needs special graces at a particular moment just as it was at a wedding in Cana.
Indeed, why do I have such trust in the Mother of God? This is simply because, at the foot of the cross, Jesus Christ entrusted me to her.
(Penelope Sanz is currently attending the University of Saskatchewan in Canada for her doctorate studies)