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Ten Minutes with Mary

“You look like Mother Mary,” Rob told me as my long hair peeked out from my hood. I didn’t feel at all like Mary. I had only gone on this street walk because I was forced to. My “yes” was cold and begrudging, unlike Mary’s.

We were visiting San Antonio for the SEEK conference and doing street ministry while there. I had been cold all day, and it was now five o’clock, freezing, and getting dark. I reluctantly headed out with my street partner, Trey, and two volunteers; we found Rob, who I had met earlier that day. We started talking to Rob and the conversation turned to our Blessed Mother.

I never had a close relationship with Mary. Maybe it was feminine competition, but I thought she probably judged me and disliked me because I am so imperfect. If she had never sinned, how could she relate to me? Why would she like me?

Several months ago after a friend’s recommendation, I began to spend ten minutes each day speaking with her. These ten minutes usually seemed to drag on. But gradually I started to speak to her spontaneously throughout the day. I started going to her when things happened in my life even before I went to my earthly mother. She was becoming someone I knew.

“Why do Catholics like Mary so much?” Rob asked. We explained that just like a mother knows their child best, so Jesus’ mom knew Him best. Wheels started turning in Rob’s head. “So it was really Mary who defeated the devil,” Rob said in a moment of realization. “I want to know her better!”

We prayed together and Rob humbly begged God for the opportunity to get to know his heavenly mother better. I asked him before we left if he’d ever had a rosary. “No,” he replied, “What is a rosary?” As we fumbled through our pockets, Trey pulled out his old, worn wooden rosary.

This wasn’t just any rosary. Every missionary gets one at the start of their year, and it’s made from a special rose-colored Brazilian wood that slowly darkens with each use as the oils from skin stain the wood. He had also attached his own crucifix that had been touched to the Jordan river and other holy places in Israel. The beads glistened a dark mahogany after three years of prayers.

I wanted to cry out, “No, don’t do it Trey!” I knew how special this rosary was for him. But he carefully placed it in Rob’s hands and explained gently the significance of the cross and all of the holy places it had been. Our fingers barely worked due to the cold, but we wrote down the words to the Hail Mary and practiced it with him, preparing him for this special encounter with his long-lost mom.

We left the city the day after, so I don’t know how Rob’s new friendship with our mother is going. But I’m grateful for Mary reaching out to me so that I feel more confident leading others to her.

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Makena is a second-year missionary from Denver, CO. This Denver native enjoys wiener dogs, kombucha tea, painting, and rolling down hills.


Waiting

My mammy is very good about sending me letters and small parcels of tea bags and chocolate from Ireland. I get excited when I know she has put them in the post, but it takes nearly two weeks for my precious goods to arrive! So I just have to wait. And I dislike waiting just as much as the next person. We will do anything we can to distract us from the difficulty of waiting. It’s easier to wait when we have something to keep us busy and take our minds off the present time that seems to be dragging on.

Is this what we’re experiencing now that December is upon us? The weeks in December seem longer than any other month of the year. We wait for Amazon to deliver, for lights to go up, and for the day that it becomes acceptable to wear our Christmas jumpers. We become busy with preparations to help pass the time.

In this season of Advent, we have begun a time of waiting. While waiting for Christmas day, we must make important preparations; not just putting up lights or buying the right gifts, but preparing our hearts. We can look to Our Lady who spent an entire pregnancy preparing for the first Christmas day. Like any pregnant mother, she knows what it is to wait. It is Our Lady who knows how to welcome the baby Jesus into a home, but even more so into our hearts. Jesus is coming and He needs a home made ready for Him. He wants to be born within each of our hearts, even if right now it seems like a messy stable. We can prepare as we wait for His birth if we allow Our Lady to help us. Walk with her and St. Joseph on the road to Bethlehem and allow Jesus to grow within us. Rest in the womb of Mary as Jesus did and allow her to form our hearts into a place fitting for Jesus. Allow Mary to prepare our hearts like she would have prepared the manger for Jesus to lay in. Allow her to hold us close and experience her love.

But how can we allow Mary in to help prepare us? Start by praying the rosary. Be the inn keeper that said yes to Mary and Joseph. “Yes, I can give you a place to for your baby to be born; it’s not much, but it’s all I have.” Jesus will meet us where we are, wherever our hearts are and with whatever we have to offer Him. He sees us along the road right now and is giving us a few more weeks to prepare for His arrival. Don’t become distracted to make the wait seem shorter, but rather prepare with and through Mary.

O come, O come Emmanuel.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-11-24-48-pmAnna Rose is a first-year missionary from Northern Ireland. She enjoys a good cup of tea, praying the rosary, and confusing Americans with Irish sayings!


Open Your Ears

“Sorry, I don’t carry any cash or change on me,” I said as I walked by a friend on the street, trying to hurry to my Holy Hour.

“You need to open your ears! I asked if you had any good words from the Bible you’re holding,” David said.

Stunned at my misunderstanding of what I thought David said, I fumbled over my words and can’t even remember what I shared with him. Whatever it was, it sparked a conversation. I tried my best to get out of this conversation at first because I was so focused on the Holy Hour we were going to have, and I didn’t want David to “steal” any of my time in prayer. As I was trying to hurry the conversation along, I realized how stupid this thought process was, and it dawned on me how stuck in my own plan I was, even with something as good as Adoration and prayer. I realized God was trying to speak to me, but I was only wanting to hear it when and where I wanted.

David and I continued to talk, but I began to invest myself in this conversation and be truly present. He was really interested in prayer, so I asked him if he wanted to come in and pray a rosary with me. David tried to make some excuses, but in the end he said he had nothing else going on and he would give it a try. I was frantically looking for a guide to praying the rosary so he could follow along, but the words were too small for him to read. I asked if he would like to just listen to me pray the rosary out loud, and instead he suggested I say a sentence and he would repeat the words I said. Right as we were beginning the rosary, he stopped me and asked if we could hold the rosary together and join our prayer. For the next half hour, David and I prayed the rosary together. I would say a line, and he would repeat. He offered the rosary for the repose of the soul of his relative and that God would have mercy on their soul. He begged God to forgive him and reign down His mercy on him. After David prayed a rosary with me, he stayed for Mass. His tears fell at the foot of the Eucharist, shining on the seat of the pew in front of us.

David got it. It wasn’t about him, it wasn’t about his decision to pray, it was about the Father’s mercy for him. Something David didn’t deserve, something none of us deserve. This mercy is a gift. As we were sitting there, he didn’t understand what the Eucharist was and had no clue what was going on during Mass, but none of that mattered. David understood God’s love for him, a gift that brought a grown, tough man to tears.

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-2-01-40-pmBlake Brouillette is a second-year missionary from Hastings, NE. He enjoys spike ball, giving pep talks, talking about Nebraska, and savoring all 23 flavors in a Dr. Pepper.