On January 1st, we were each invited to start the new year 2018 with the Mother of God through celebrating her Solemnity – what a clear message for us! This celebration of Mary the Mother of God is THE first day of the year. How seriously have we taken that invitation to begin this year in a new way, in a different way, with the Mother of God?
70+ college students in our Austin Diocese took it very seriously! These students, from UT and several other universities, gave up the last precious week of their winter break to go on mission with the Mother of God, and bring the Blessed Mother and Her Son into the streets of inner-city Austin.
One of the unique experiences of the missionaries was the real, warm presence of the Blessed Mother throughout the mission. We often think about Mary as an idea or an ideal, or relate to her as if she was a symbol. The lesson these missionaries took home in their hearts was that not only is the Blessed Mother a real, warm person – but she has mission on her heart for us – a standing invitation to participate in the mission of her Son!
Ana was one of those missionaries. She’s a UT freshman studying psychology with dreams to be an Occupational Therapist. She had to this to say about her experience:
“One of the things I truly emphasize and will never get tired of saying is that “No one can resist Mary’s love. Her love fills your heart and overflows to all those around you.” And that’s basically what I was able to experience this week as well. I and so convinced to say that Mary will bring you to Christ. And that we should never be afraid of loving Mary more than Jesus does because you will never be able to. I was so happy that we could literally bring her with us wherever we went (MTA) (…) you could truly felt that’s she was with us. My relationship with Mary continues to grow and the more I know about her and pray to her, the more exiting it gets.”
This is the kind of attachment to the Mother of God that Fr Joseph Kentenich invited all people to encounter. He put it this way: “We think of the person of our dear Mother of God and it comes to our awareness that the Mother of God is not merely a beautiful idea. She is not merely a presence in her heart. No, she is real. She resists in the otherworldly, in the supernatural order that we know so little, that we see so little, that we see so little in the light of faith. There she exists as a real person, as a ‘you’, as a personal ‘you’ that we face. She faces me as a personal ‘you.’ She is a person with a warm heart.”
I think what he says is so true! In our modern world, we don’t have a lot of practice living in the supernatural world – it’s hard for us to see how everything in the natural world is totally transparent of God! But the Blessed Mother is precisely the one who wants to help us with that – because she is the perfect, harmonious intersection of human nature and the divine – by God’s design!
And how do we see this happen? How do we experience her? It’s very simple – the results of the missions, the bonds that were forged between the students, and the encounters with the people they served showed fruitfulness beyond anything that merely natural means could explain. Another missionary, Felipe, put it this way:
“I think that bringing the Blessed Mother to our volunteer shifts gave us a unique personality that these places do not encounter often in other volunteers. Our service to the community was not part of our job, it was not required by our degrees, it was an honest and free “yes” to the Blessed Mother’s calling to be missionaries. And by accepting this call our actions became very intentional works of mercy, which were offered up for our capital of grace. The beautiful physical representation of our spiritual of our spiritual offerings really motivated the missionaries to trust Mary. We were assigned incredible tasks throughout the week that at times did not seem feasible. But we were always able to accomplish them, no matter how ordinary, by intentionally doing them extraordinarily because we realized we were not alone. It was very evident to me that people noticed we were, in fact, instruments of the Blessed Mother. We had
meaningful encounters with people at the service sites that were intrigued by our pilgrim MTA, we were able to hand out prayer cards to accompany them just as the Blessed Mother had accompanied us.
As a group leader I realize that we were not only missionaries in bringing home to Austin, but also pilgrims in finding home with God in ourselves. The encounter with Christ in the Eucharist at the beginning and end of every day gave us the strength to trust the Blessed Mother as she led us on this incredible journey” – Felipe
What a powerful witness!! And we are each invited at the start of this year to consider our mission, and how the Blessed Mother wants to accompany us on our every day mission in life. Fr Kentenich continues saying:
“Oh, we do not forget that the Mother of God has the mission to help generate and educate the children of God. She has also helped generate me, that is, the divine life in me, and she has the mission to educate me for heaven, to educate all our children and me to greatness of the eternal God. We should be like him, should be a reflection of the eternal God and the dear Mother of God.”
May we begin this new year 2018 in a heroic spirit of missionary zeal, and ask God what he has in store for each of us! May these students be an inspiration for us all – and may the Blessed Mother accompany us each day!