THE MONTH OF MARY
I’m always one that remembers dates and anniversaries. I drive my family crazy with my “photographic memory” of events and the meaning behind specific moments in time. I’m not sure what it is about my specific DNA that delights in the divine alignment of things, but I notice when things land as well as how and where. I don’t like maps or perfect plans and I have the most drive- everyone-crazy free spirit about my own timing of showing up and arrival to the point of blaming it all on LA traffic or the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, there is also this particular analytical mind set within me to seek the divine imprint on everything around me that totally contradicts some of my genetic make-up.
The Church is rather specific about setting apart and dedicating “time” to saints and sway and calendaring the invasion of divinity and the bigly stuff – feast days, holy days of Obligation, Advent, Lent etc. God is even more specific with time, and in the Bible time and place are methodically chronicled.
This month of October is dedicated entirely to Our Lady, the mother of God and Queen of the Most Holy Rosary. It’s her month. All of it. And I guess that means that for us there is even more efficacy when we lean into her motherly heart during this time. We celebrate in a particular way the feast of Our Lady of Fatima on October 13 and we are leading up to Advent where we look at the miraculous elements contained in the Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel foretold to Mary that she would be the Mother of Jesus Christ.
I have my own October surprise story around Mary and the Rosary and each year this month I look back at what she’s done for me in full expectation that she will finish what she started. I’ve always been a devotee of the Holy Rosary from the time of my teen years and that devotion, though frequent, grew over time to a daily commitment with more grace and spiritual maturation.
When I moved to Palm Beach in 2005 I was called into a family of prayer that became the parallel blessing during my time of service to the Church. So while I was full of this missionary zeal that compelled me to serve the Church, God at the same time wanted to heal all the broken pieces of my life. To help with this process, I was spiritually adopted by this extraordinarily anointed Haitian family who took me on as their own spiritual daughter and sister. To this day, they stand with me in the most selfless way to usher in God’s plan for my life. I have never known as much self-sacrifice and love as the love I’ve experienced from this household of faith which became a school of prayer. I have learned the most about myself and the character of God.
Every Friday night I was part of their cenacle of prayer – a school of the Holy Spirit that was largely Marian, wholly orthodox and very charismatic. Every night was different from the week before, yet the same pillars of faith were central – the Rosary. Divine Mercy. Mass. Instruction. Laying on of hands. Every Friday night I was generally the only white face among this truly pious family of faith, some migrants traveling over an hour to attend and give Christ their Friday nights. Some of the elements were common to me and some were foreign or being reintroduced as the Lord truly wanted all of me and not a compartmentalized version of my Catholic expression to the world. In other words, God was calling me to live my Christian witness day in and day out and not just when convenient or on only on Sundays. I believed that I had been a fearless witness throughout my young life, but God wanted a higher level of commitment and a bolder, more honest witness. Every Friday I was stretched in my ability to bend, have my will broken, have my heart enlarged, be transformed in patience, and not let my sacrifice go unwasted.
Everything about my time in Palm Beach seemed countercultural and this was some of the most radical, and yet I needed so much of what they had – true willingness to let Christ mold me, greater devotion to sustain me through scandal and the particular call on my life at that time, to bring me the healing that I so desperately needed from being banged up in the secular world and in the dysfunction of broken family life and for the formation and strengthening for the climb to the next level.
It was during my season of every Friday night prayer with this beautiful family that one vivid October night during our recitation of the Holy Rosary, I felt a heat move through my entire body. I had never experienced anything like this before. It wasn’t super dramatic, but it was real and I knew it was the power of God. He was doing something inside me, interiorly and through the Rosary. I didn’t need to know what He was doing but that He was operative. The next morning Mathilde called me and said, “during the Rosary the Lord showed me that you are to pray a 54-day Rosary novena.”
At this time, I was praying the Rosary daily or praying it at night and falling asleep half-way through, but just the SOUND of praying 54 days in a row sort of freaked me out! Could I, do it? FIFTY. FOUR. DAYS. REALLY? She went on to tell me how miraculous this novena was to break chains and that I should pray this for my husband, not for a new job or geographic cure (to leave Florida). She was firm like a tough mother. That was a prayer I could get behind and I started it immediately on that October Saturday night. I googled the devotion and found the origin was in Pompeii, Italy and the story fascinated me. You pray 27 days in petition and 27 days in thanksgiving – confidently as though you already got your answer. Mary’s got my answer. Act as if. I was down.
A whole 55 days later, one day after the Rosary novena ended, I was contacted by an acquaintance who invited me to join her in film work. She said she could not sleep the night before and was praying the Rosary, that the Lord spoke to her and said “You have not, because you ask not. If you ask her she will come.”
I was like “Jesus, I prayed for my husband and you are giving me a new job? Really Jesus? You are so funny.” I knew that somehow this prayer – this 54-day Rosary novena – the miraculous powerhouse novena and this “move” of God on the 55th day was leading me directly on the path of my future husband and to not question God. This company was not long-established. I was going to work virtually (whatever that meant) and I was going to leave the job that I largely wanted to run from amid difficulty but had grown in so much love with that my heart was split open when it came time to leave. It didn’t seem like anything I should do on the natural level, but in the supernatural level, I knew that I just prayed for 54 days straight and even to the point when I might fall asleep, I’d stand up to finish the Rosary .. because I was not going to fail at this 54-days or miss what God had for me.
I wept when I gave my notice to my bishop. It was one of the hardest and saddest days of my life. I grew to love him as a spiritual father and yet there was this pull on my heart to move to where my husband would be. Wherever that was. The Rosary novena was the lasso that catapulted me to new places and spaces for this anticipated encounter. As much as I loved the Church, I never felt called to be “lost in it” – I always wanted marriage and the passion of love and romance and the fruit of that – a family. My bishop knew that I was not called to religious life and was praying for my vocation as well. On I went.
I don’t think there is a coincidence with timing, even when timing seems out of alignment or delayed. When I look back at God’s hand on my life and his particular imprint of timing, I am sometimes in awe of His ability to reach in and arrange every detail – He’s always on time – never early, and never late.
I’ve learned over time to lean into divine timing and the anointed space and places, repetitive prayers and cries to a mother that move the heart of God to let him loosen my feet and open my heart to be available, vulnerable and positioned for His Divine Will knowing that He has the perfect timing, even amid a delay or interference, He has the capacity to do it better, bigger, in a more meaningful way than I could ever expect or plan for myself. Such was Mary’s Fiat. Such was her trust. Such was her blind faith.
Our Lady represents the central figure in the Gospels who blindly accepted God’s declaration over her life to be used for His glory. Our Lady is the hidden and unknown one who has favor rest upon her because she fellowshipped with Him. Our Lady let God take her by the hand and lead her even when all had the appearance of scandal upon scandal when she alone had the knowledge of what was foretold and a glimpse of the presence of Divinity. Our Lady trusted when the angel Gabriel foretold her destiny and she didn’t understand “how could this be?” Isn’t that the case with us. He tells in small doses, gently lifts the veil, and begins to move in us, for us and we don’t understand in our blindness how could something so great be done unto us, for us, through us, and yet, in God’s mysterious design, He is the God of surprise and fulfillment. When we let Him lead and have His way, there is an abundant blessing awaiting us.
My October surprise is this supernatural gift of the Rosary, beads of love that transported me in a deeper way through the Gospel – and ever closer to my own destiny and vocation of sacrifice and love.
This month is not over yet. Lean into the Mother of Surprise, the Mother of all Grace and Divine sway and let her share with you a portion of the Holy Spirit fire that overshadowed every aspect of her life.
Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us+
Praying for you+