SETTING THE STAGE WITH THE BLESSED MOTHER
“The prophecy and the promise of faith, whose fulfillment was awaited by the whole people, the Israel of divine election, and the whole of humanity: This was Mary’s mystery. Joseph did not know this mystery. She could not transmit it to him, because it was a mystery beyond the capacity of the human intellect and the possibilities of human language. It was not possible to transmit it by any human means. It was only possible to accept it from God – and believe. Just as Mary believed.” – Saint John Paul II
What is going on with time? Is it me or is it flying like a speeding bullet? It seems like two nano seconds ago I was planning a spontaneous Christmas trip to Mexico, wrapped in the season of grace, lights, beauty, adventure, divine encounters – and flash forward and it’s May 2018. They say time flies when you are having fun (and busy). But I’m really conscious of time, seasons and above all His appointed timing.
Enter May. I’ve always loved this month. There’s a little more to love on the east coast because after long winter days it seems like “suddenly” there is an explosion of newness. Your mind cannot imagine after winter days, snow, shoveling, gloom, and that London-like dramatic weather that color could pop and you could get a spring back in your step. By February wardrobes switch to minty greens, pale pinks and those icy pastels to get in the mind set that better days are coming. But by May everything is in full watercolor bloom. In California “spring” is still something that occurs even though it’s in a constant state of bloom here, there are new blooms and flowering that, although a little less dramatic, that signify the reality of a changing season and help with the concept of marking time.
The spring I am familiar with in Boston reveals a beauty that lies underneath – one that emerges on a schedule that perpetually surprises as if you couldn’t remember what a magnolia looked like or a cherry blossom, peony, daffodil, or a tulip. And then all of the sudden they have arrived in all their glory as if they were there all along – colorful, vibrant, poised and decorative. When did they bloom? They were not there and then suddenly flowers. An explosion of flowers. Their arrival marks the season of spring and a rebirth of things anticipated and hoped for. The signs of spiring point to Heaven, not just making way for longer days, pretty pink lipsticks, lighter clothes and outdoor activities but, become an outward sign of an inward reality of what happens in a soul – in a season of a life when God begins to unfold His plans and in His appointed time. (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Even in the natural God shows us that timing is everything.
This month is dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God as a season where we put all things under her mantle, increase our devotion and approach her intentionally knowing that this is a month of her sway, a month that the Church has consecrated to her Motherhood for efficacious results. It’s also the month dedicated to her spouse Saint Joseph. The month kicks off with his feast on May 1, dedicated to Saint Joseph the Worker. And if I want to drag in other saints who are special to May, I will point out Ven. Fulton J. Sheen’s birthday is May 8. Saint John Paul II was beatified on May 1 and his birthday is May 18. And precious Saint Philomena has a special day on May 25. I could go on. Each of these however has a particular love and relationship to Our Lady. They are heaven’s most fierce and powerful intercessors. (While everyone is all wound up on Star Wars, I’ll just be over here waiting for the heavenly flood of Marian May miracles).
Why do dates matter? Why is timing important?
What we know about Heaven is there is always the grace of place and time. God is strategic, creative, and the master designer and orchestrator of the human story. God ordained places in history for His manifest presence to visit or be experienced – be it Old Testament or New Testament. I like to call it the “grace of the place.” God ordains timing for His will to be realized in our lives as well. He’s not just a historic creator of the Universe and historical events and miracles, but alive and continuing to exact His will and plan in human hearts.
In the age of on-demand technology that has groomed us to not be able to wait for literally anything to unfold, the ability to understand the graces of God’s timing and place can be very countercultural. I minister to a lot of young people who grapple with whether their prayers are being answered or not, or if they should change course because the vision has not yet been realized and things are taking too long.
How to wait in an age of the instantaneous? How to believe that Heaven will break through, suddenly and strategically.
We serve a mighty God who is busy behind the scenes even when we cannot see fully what he is doing. On a recent retreat that I gave featuring my new book Fulton J. Sheen, I shared about this a little bit when witnessing about intercession and answered prayer. I invited the retreatants to consider a theatrical performance, how much goes into the show before the curtain can open. There’s the script, casting, memorization of the lines, rehearsals, set design, collaborators, producers, costume design, music, make-up and hair, technical accoutrements and so on. Literally the stage has to be set. The audience cannot see the stage being set and isn’t privy to all the hard work and preparations, but there are long hours, toil, sweat and intentional preparation and plans. The curtain cannot open until everything is perfect. This is what Heaven is like. This is who God is for us when it comes to the grace of place and time for His will to be manifest. Do you want the curtain to open before everything is ready? (Song of Solomon 8:4)
Our Lady knew about the grace of a place and the grace of timing and believing in the hidden and unseen power of God. This is why she is the perfect model for us in our Christian journey of faith as we strive to live in His will and walk by faith not by sight. This is what your May can be about as together we intentionally position ourselves under her Queenship.
Saint Luke shares the details about the Annunciation by recalling “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth.” Time and place is important in history. God uniquely selected Mary from the beginning of time from Nazareth to be the bearer of the Son of God who would take away our sins. A big God stoops down into a village, to a virgin maiden, one who was hidden and unknown. Mary had been consecrated in the temple as a little girl, cloistered in His love in preparation for a mighty destiny, chosen for such a time as this. No one may have regarded Mary in this small village but God regarded her and saw her. None of her waiting was a waste. None of her preparation or sacrifice was a waste. It bestowed on her the highest favor of God. (Luke 1:26)
Mary also grapples with the hidden things of the Father. After the angel greets Mary with this announcement of conceiving Jesus in her womb she declared, “How can this be? I do not know man?” (Luke 1:34) How many times could we say, how could this be? How will this happen? How will the desire of my heart come to pass? I don’t see anything happening. Mary had to look with the eyes of faith and believe what Angel Gabriel foretold to her. It was so. (Hebrews 11:1)
Mary shows us how to live in the favor of God by having fellowship with Him and by being set apart. She lived under the law of Heaven in an extraordinary way, thus the favor of God rested upon her. Then in His appointed time, the manifestation of her destiny is realized.
May shows us that if we position ourselves under her mantle of grace and model her life, we too can live a radical destiny for Christ. Even when things seem impossible. Even when we are hidden and the least likely candidate. Even when all odds are against us. Even if it seems our time has passed. Even if no one else but us has received revelation.
You never know what a day will bring and you never know what a “May” day will bring. I stand in anticipation of all He has for me, come what May.
Praying for you+