If you’re like me, you learned as a child that the Holy Spirit is a dove. This is the traditional symbol for the presence of the Holy Spirit in Scripture and religious art. I held this image for much of my life. The image of a dove isn’t one that I could relate to unlike the images of God the Father and Jesus which are human in nature. As a person who is not a big fan of birds, the Holy Spirit was a distant entity of the Trinity for me. That was until about 2007 when I read the book, "The Shack," by William P. Young. While this is not a theologically accurate book, it is an interesting piece of fiction that made me grapple with the very content that I was teaching my fourth grade students at the time, and my own understanding and appreciation of the Holy Spirit. The concept of the Holy Spirit was prevalent in the religion curriculum as it related to the sacraments of initiation. I needed to spend time with students engaging in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This was the perfect storm for a conversion moment – a compelling novel, new understanding of the Holy Spirit, and moral responsibility to teach the Truth. Working through all that was before me, I developed a deeper, more profound connection and relationship with the Holy Spirit. It is less about the dove and more about the fire. The fire that descended upon the disciples at Pentecost and burned in their bellies to give them the zeal and fortitude to carry out Jesus’s mission for all time. Every morning, I now ask the Holy Spirit to be with me and guide me, to grant me the gifts of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and courage to do what the Lord needs me to do. I can do all things through God, the Holy Spirit, who strengthens me. I have come to appreciate that the Holy Spirit is the power. The Holy Spirit is the force. The Holy Spirit is the energy brought out through love of God and love of Jesus.
I am finding myself angry these days. I don’t normally make it a practice to be angry as it is, in my mind, a wasted emotion. Good rarely comes of it. However, I am angry. When I have a moment, I try to get at the core of what is angering me. I think it is the enormity of speculation surrounding us. Speculation that is taken as fact. Speculation leads to gossip and rumor. I find these things very dangerous for a person’s psyche and mental and emotional well-being. There is very little right now that is making sense to me; fact is blurred, logic has been lost, contradiction is the norm. I try to stay the course – essentially lowering my head and moving forward with what facts are in place –and do what I need to do. Speculation is driving me nuts! I am hanging on to what isn’t changing to keep me sane and to stay grounded. My heart hurts. My head hurts. I’ve had enough of this change.
While I could just stop there and wallow in my own pity, I’m not going to. Anger is a vice. It’s corresponding virtue is patience. I am, we are, being called to virtue. Patience just happens to be one of the virtues that is hard for me. I want things done yesterday. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense why this situation is angering me. I want to get on with it, and I can’t. I need to have patience. Patience with God’s plan. Patience with God’s time. This all leads back to the
concept of total surrender. Just when you think you are there, you are not there. I went to one of my spiritual sages, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, to put myself back in check. I found this nugget:
To surrender to God means that we offer him our will, our reason, our life. We do this in pure faith, even if our soul is in darkness. Truly, trials and sufferings are the surest test of blind surrender. Surrender is also a sign of our true love for God and for souls. If we really love others, we must be ready to take their place, to take their sins upon ourselves and to expiate them through penance and continual mortification. We must be living holocausts for those
souls who are most in need.
I have created a special place for Mary in my life. When I was in fourth grade, my mom introduced me to the events of Fatima. When she told me of how Mary appeared to the three small children; Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco, I thought it was the coolest thing ever! I wanted to have that happen to me. To see and hear and talk with Mary. In person. I prayed for it. When I would tell my friends, they thought that was silly all except for one. She and I would talk about what that would have been like. Wouldn’t you be scared? I didn’t think so because it was Mary. Why would anyone be scared of Mary? As I grew older, I wanted, more than anything to be like her. I studied everything I could get my hands on to learn what she was like. I continue to gravitate to books about the apparitions because I simply can’t know enough about Mary. She fascinates me. She amazes me. As I grew and came to better appreciate Scripture and the role of Mary, as well as our faith traditions and rituals that involve Mary, I paid closer attention to how to include her in my life as an advocate and intercessor. Mary knows what it is like to love, to suffer, to feel joy, and to have profound loss. She knows how to abandon oneself completely to God. I want to do that, I want to be completely at His will. She has become my best friend because she has the answers for what needs to be done. Prayer with her is very consoling. She will take my worries, my prayers, my fears, my wonderings, directly to the heart of Jesus. Jesus WILL listen to his mom. Why not go right to her? This is why I have consecrated myself to her and why I have consecrated our school to her.
What does that mean to consecrate yourself to Mary or to Jesus or to God? To be consecrated means to pledge full and complete dependence. We consecrated our school to Mary in October 2016. In doing so, we have said that we will not do anything without it being the Lord's will. When big decisions have to be made, it will be prayed for. When policies are to be written, it will be prayed for. When a direction needs to be taken, it will be prayed for. We will always make an intentional place for Jesus and Mary in our school. This is why our daily prayer ends the way it does, Mary, Mother of God, pray for us. St. Dominic, pray for us.