Ave Maria

I think it was around January when a friend mentioned something about this Marian retreat she did that “totally changed her life.” I thought at first that it was the the actual retreat, where you go somewhere to be away and to listen to talks. But it was just a little book: 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley. You read a chapter a day, and at the end of 33 days, there’s  a consecration prayer, and voila!

“Get ready for miracles!” she said, her eyes sparkling excitedly.

I don’t have a strong devotion to Mary. I mean, I know her, I believe in her and I honor her. There was one Lent where I prayed the rosary everyday as a part of my Lenten prayers, but come Easter, I stopped. I only really pray the rosary when I have to – like when we pray it in the family – or when I was really, really afraid (or heartbroken).

I don’t mean to be so flippant. I think my not having a devotion is not because I don’t believe in her intercession, but because I didn’t understand her – her role, what she can do, and why she’s important. I thought I could grow in my Catholic faith without her. But after I heard my friend talk about Mama Mary and the retreat, I decided to get myself a copy of that book. After all, what she said made sense — who else can teach us how to love Jesus than His very human mom? There’s nothing to lose, anyway, and I have to admit, the miracles thing got me curious. What kind of miracles, really?

And as if it was a sign, the 33 Days book arrived at home in less than two weeks after I ordered it online, way early than when my Book Depository orders usually come, and just in time for me to start the retreat on the next recommended date.

Again, what do I have to lose, right?

At the end of my 33 days retreat, the day I finished the book, I wrote this:

I was trying to think of ways to review this book, because 33 Days to Morning Glory didn’t feel like the regular book I would review. For one thing, I never thought I’d actually do this until a friend told me about this retreat. Another is that how can I find the words to explain how reading this in the past 33 days have changed me, helped me get to know Mary and her role in my life through St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, Blessed Mother Teresa, and Blessed John Paul II?

Let me say this instead, because this is the only thing I could think of now: there were miracles, big and small in the past 33 days that I could only attribute to the fact that I knew Mary was praying with me. There were crosses that were made sweeter, and I know that if I had encountered them on my own, it would have crushed me. But having Mama Mary by my side made it different, easier, even. She held my hand and stood by me as we looked at Jesus at the Cross, and taught me how to accept His love and to love Him back. Who else could teach us how to love Jesus with our human heart other than Mary, his mother? I don’t know why it took me this long, but I’m glad I got here now.

I woke up excited this morning, because I remembered that it was 25th of March. Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation, where we remember how Mary said the most beautiful “Yes” to the Lord, and through the Holy Spirit, she conceived Jesus. Today, like her, I also say yes to God — I consecrate myself to Jesus through Mary. :)

So how has it been, ever since I said “Yes” and was consecrated? I wish I could say it’s completely wonderful and all is good and dandy, but the truth is, it’s not. It’s hard. And sometimes frustrating. Sometimes I still feel sad, and lonely, and I still say and do bad things. Things go my way sometimes, but sometimes they don’t. I still get tired, and there were days when I just want to lie down in bed and do nothing.

In short, life is still pretty much the same, with all the happiness and difficulties that comes with it.

But it’s also not the same. Because there is something nice in knowing that someone is praying for me. You know how good it feels when you know that your friends have you in their prayers? It’s like that, but still more. There is a certain grace in knowing that the Mother of God is praying for me, and she wishes to bring me closer to her Son, if only I let her.

Perhaps if there was a biggest miracle that had happened in the past months since I embarked on the 33-day journey, it’s this: two years ago, the 25th of March was a significant date for me, one that is connected to the circumstances that led to this post. I counted every 25th as a celebration of sorts, and when it can no longer be significant, I had to stop counting. And it’s not easy to stop counting.

As I woke up on the last day of my 33-day Marian consecration journey, I realized with a start that my consecration date fell on the Solemnity of the Annunciation – March 25. I had to laugh when I realized what it all means. I’m sure it’s no coincidence now that the book arrived at the right time, so that my consecration date was on the 25th. I’m pretty sure Mama Mary had something to do with it. :)

#100happydays Day 53: Today, we celebrate the "yes" that truly mattered. Happy Solemnity of the Annunciation! 🙏 And happy consecration day to me. :) To Jesus, through Mary. 💙

It hasn’t been easy, but it also hasn’t been completely hard, either. Like what I wrote up there, the crosses are still the same but they are made sweeter because Mama Mary is there, and she’s holding my hand, and she wants me to be closer to her Son. It’s been full of grace, and joy, too, and I do not want to have it any other way than this.

Happy birthday, Mama Mary! ♥ Thank you for always praying for me, for us. Thank you for your motherly love. Thank you for saying yes to God. :) I love you!

Christmas Eve

I don’t know about you, but I always feel a certain kind of magic in the air the moment Christmas Eve rolls around. It may be because it’s the last morning that I have to wake up at a very early hour for Dawn Mass1, or because it’s a non-working holiday and I can finally (sort of) rest, or because I can finally open the presents waiting for me under the tree2. Or maybe, maybe it’s because Advent is all about waiting, and Christmas Eve somehow feels like it’s the end of all the waiting for this season. Christmas is tomorrow, friends!

But can you imagine this: what if it’s just Christmas Eve…forever?

I’d talk about Groundhog Day here, but since I haven’t watched that movie (Don’t hate me!), I’ll go for something a little more familiar to me. There’s this Sweet Valley Twins book with the same idea, where Jessica was stuck in Christmas Eve for several days because she was so self-absorbed and ruined everyone’s Christmas. The only way she can get out is if she makes it right on that day, and eventually, she did break that time loop, with a bigger heart for Christmas and everyone else around her.

How frustrating it must be, to keep on waking up on the same day, never reaching that day you have been waiting for.

Even more frustrating, is how sometimes we thought we did things right, but end up still stuck in some kind of Eve, never arriving to where we wanted to be.

Sometimes, it feels like life is like that. We wait for something for a long time, and then when you thought it’s already here, it turns out it’s not. And you end up having to wait some more. And more. Sometimes we want to give up on waiting, so we do things: we try to make it come earlier by celebrating earlier, we distract ourselves with other things that require less waiting. Sometimes, we pretend it doesn’t matter. Sometimes we get tired of the waiting that we just give up.

Sometimes, it feels like we’re stuck at the Eve and we would never get to the Day.

But the thing about Christmas, and Christmas Eve, is that we are assured of the promise that Christmas will arrive. That the Messiah will come. No, wait, scratch that — that the Messiah has come, and He is born, and that God is already with us. All the waiting, the anticipating, and the frustrations come to a halt when Christmas morning comes, because Jesus is born. The prophecy has come true. God’s promise is here.

Emmanuel. God is with us.

I think one of God’s reminders for us today is to trust in His faithfulness. It may seem like we are and we have been waiting forever, like we’re stuck in some sort of Eve all our lives. But remember Christmas. Remember that day when God came down to the world for us, and became one of us. We have been waiting for a long time, but we have a God who is true to His word, and with Him, our waiting is never wasted.

Image source
Image source

O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death’s dark shadow put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

Have a blessed and joyful Christmas, everyone!

  1. Misa de Gallo []
  2. At least, this year, I promised not to open any present until Christmas. It was kind of sad that I didn’t have any more presents to open last year when Christmas came, so now I’m working on my EQ. :P []