What did it feel like for all those who came to visit the Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima as they came day and night to be “under her mantle” during the six weeks that she was so present at my home? It’s a question that I would ask if I were reading this story. I decided to give you a little birds eye view of a little family of three and what their experience turned out to be like.
A young mother and her sweet son pictured above were one of the first to come and sit before Mother Mary and be covered with “her mantle.” Before Amanda opened up the book, He and I, for a reading, we prayed a decade of the rosary together with her son, Ethan, and spoke about the Blessed Mother and her own son, Jesus.
Giving Amanda the book after finishing our prayers, she randomly opened up to a page that had the date of June 22nd. Tears immediately welled up in her eyes as she was reading from the passage. She shared with me that this date was her husband, Matt’s, birthday.
Amanda explained to me that Matt was missing his dad who had died two years ago. He wasn’t quite feeling the connection and was definitely in a place of sorrow and pain. I know that is why Mother Mary called Amanda and Ethan here, but now she would call forth Matt as well. It wasn’t a hard invitation for me to extend to Matt since he grew up with my youngest son, Nick. They attended both Catholic Grade and High School together and have remained good friends all these years. So, the answer came pretty quickly! “Yes,” Matt said, “he would come.”
I remember it was a hot summer Friday evening when they arrived. Little Ethan was tired from a full day and had fallen asleep in the back seat of the car on the way here. Not wanting to disturb him, the three of us decided to sit out in the front of the house chatting and keeping watch for a little head to pop up! Time passed quickly and before we knew it, Ethan awoke and Amanda took him into the house. Matt and I stayed outside continuing our conversation:
“How do you pray and what do you say to God?”
These were questions that were posed by a young man whom I knew since he was a little boy.
I looked at him and answered quite simply,
“How are you talking to me?”
“That’s how God wants us to talk to Him!”
He wants a relationship with us, He wants to know everything that’s on our mind, our hearts. . .our questions and concerns and even our pain and complaints. He wants to know that we love Him and most of all He wants us to know that He loves us immeasurably.
Matt shared with me that he felt the disconnect with his father’s loss and wanted very much to feel something in his heart once again. My own heart ached for him but I knew he would not be disappointed by Mother Mary nor her Son Jesus that evening. And he was not!!!
Matt was so open and so anxious and, I guess curious as well, to go inside my home to be before her statue. We took our places and we began our prayer together. The house seemed to be so very warm and I tried to give Matt an out of being covered with the mantle by draping it over the chair rather than over his shoulders. Matt was having “none of that!” He was in this for the long haul. I knew then that he would not be disappointed by giving his “yes” once again to Mother Mary. She would show him the power of her love but more importantly, as she does in every situation, she takes her children by the hand and leads them to her son, Jesus as she was about to do that evening with Matt.
And so she did. . .
After praying altogether, I handed him the book, He and I, and Matt opened up randomly to the following entry:
February 11th – Le Fresne Church
“They say that God is all kindness, and He is. You be the same with Me. What a beautiful exchange! And how welcome each little thoughtful gesture will be. . . You’ll understand later on.
Get used to walking in the dark like the blind. Trusting My hand to guide you. You couldn’t insult My heart more than to doubt it. My dear child, so little and frail, say to yourself again and again, “Where would I be without my great Friend? He is everything and I am nothing.”
Just humble yourself when you stumble and fall. Remember I paid the price, stumbling and falling Myself on the terrible road to Calvary. Let that encourage you in love.
Haven’t we said that love alone matters, that the only tragedy in life is not to love God?
Hope to help His cause with all your feeble resources.
Make it your wish never to work for your own ends.
Lose sight of yourself altogether, even of your inner self,
wishing to remember nothing unless it be your infidelities so that you may regret them.
And wherever you are, practice the presence of God. It will help you to love Him, to have heart-to-heart talks with Him.
Since I am there, throw yourself joyously into My arms.
Oh, this joy of yours. . . don’t forget it; it enhances your love.”
The above words that I have bolded are the words that jumped off the page to Matt. As he read them aloud that evening to his wife, son and myself, it was a very emotional and moving time for all of us as we sat and listened intently. The reason that these words so powerfully affected Matt, was that he had heard them once before. When Ronnie, his dad, lay in his hospital bed getting ready for his journey to the “eternal,” he gave Matt a road map to life. In that “map” he voiced similar words written above to Matt’s ears and heart. Matt felt his connection with his Dad that evening and even more so. He would attend Sunday Mass that weekend and receive the Eucharist, becoming one with the Body of Christ and being united with the saints in Heaven. One saint being his father, Ronnie, who connected with his son, Matt so powerfully that summer evening in the living room of my own home before the visiting statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
And I leave you with one line that speaks volumes to me personally and hope that it resonates with you as well as you finish reading this posting:
“And wherever you are,
practice the presence of God.
It will help you to love Him,
to have heart-to-heart talks with Him.”
Ethan and His Mom
©2018 Anita Guariglia
Photo Credits/Anita Guariglia
“He and I” by Gabrielle Bossis
Page 137 – February 11 – Le Fresne Church