When I began my walk with Jesus I didn’t understand why I would need anyone else’s help me because in my head Jesus was the only One I would ever need. I spent time conversing and building a relationship with Jesus and with the Holy Spirit. On my first-ever mission, I had to give a teaching in Hindi, a language I barely understood or spoke. I just clung on to the Holy Spirit and desperately sought any help I could get. The team members prayed the Rosary and for the first time in years, I decided to join in. I rationalized by telling myself that I was just saying Scripture out loud, so it’s fine, and I am not moving away from Jesus, as I am just professing the Word of God. As I prayed the Rosary I felt a certain peace and contentment that eluded me.
A few months later I decided to do something more than just giving up things like meat etc so I took it up in prayer and I felt inspired to visit my friends and pray the Rosary in their homes. This seemed illogical to me as I wanted to help people develop a relationship with Jesus, and to know Him, not Mother Mary. But as I continued to pray I had various instances that began changing my heart:
Once as I sat before the Blessed Sacrament and asked the Holy Spirit how to deepen my relationship with Jesus, I had a vision of two men with their hands on my shoulder as I knelt. They were showing me a bridge to Jesus’s heart sort of like a shortcut and that bridge was Mother Mary! At that time, of the two men, I could recognize only one – St. Don Bosco. The other man had a beard, wore something brown and had wounds on his hands as Jesus had. At that time I didn’t know who it was until someone spoke about St. Padre Pio and showed me his picture. This was the answer for how the Saints and Mother Mary could help deepen our faith.
Another occasion that changed me was a sermon where the priest explained how he was notorious even though he was in the seminary and often got into trouble. Once he went too far and was about to be expelled from the seminary and at that time he could only think of running to the statue of Mother Mary, hold onto her feet and cry, for he was too ashamed to face Jesus. I don’t know why but this sermon has been engraved on my heart. Fast forward a couple of years and I found myself in a similar situation – after having a big argument with my father I refused to do anything for him including ordering dinner for him. I was so hurt by what he said that I let my emotions get the better of me. Later on, I felt paralysed with guilt and shame. I felt miserable for many days. But by that time I had developed a relationship with Mama Maria as I liked to call her. Along with praying in tongues, I decided to add the Hail Mary prayer a few times hoping that Mama would help me. I took this inspiration from two of my favourite saints – St. Padre Pio and St. Gerard Majella who prayed many Hail Mary’s throughout the day. As soon as I finished about three to four Hail Mary’s, I shed a few tears and felt ready to do what I had failed to in the past – repent and make restitution.
One of my brothers in the community had advised me to develop a devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows, that it would help me to be more compassionate. As I continued to look to Mama for help, especially in the area of lust, I found that she would help me get up and keep going each time I fell. In due time she also helped me with my hurts and unforgiveness.
Throughout this time I had a back problem and couldn’t kneel for more than a minute without falling over. During one of my household meetings, my household servant spoke about how Mama kneels alongside us as we pray the Rosary. This made me think that all the doctors I had been to never gave me any hope of getting rid of this pain. All that they did was restrict me and ask me not to bend, or to kneel or to ride two-wheelers. I took this up as a challenge and decided that whenever I would pray the Rosary I would kneel just like Mama. I had a tough time at first but over time I was able to kneel for longer periods without falling over and the pain decreased. I still have odd instances where I feel pain but from having chronic pain and issues with the sciatic nerve for over four years I was now able to move freely. I give all the credit to the intercession of Mama.
Another great lesson I learnt from her is silence. There was a time when I lamented and complained to Jesus about a friend’s mother who was in pain and unwell. He showed me, Mama, holding His body which was taken down from the cross in her hands and He said, “She did not complain.” It is now a constant reminder to me not to tell God how to do His job.
During a Confession, a priest once asked me why does God give us grace? He then guided me that as St. Paul had written God gives us the grace to fight temptations. And who better to fight alongside us than Mama, for she is ‘full of grace’!
St. Ambrose once consoled St. Monica (mother of St. Augustine) saying “The child of so many tears shall never perish”. If an earthly sinful mother’s intercession can give us one of the greatest transformations ever seen, how much more the tears of the Mother of God!
I constantly struggled with unforgiveness and though I may not show it there were times that I send my blood would boil – if someone treated me unjustly or if someone broke my things. It came to me as a great surprise when someone punched me after he almost fell trying to overtake me from the wrong side and one of my friends broke a pair of my favourite earphones in anger and these were the first few times in my life that I didn’t react immediately, burst out later or harbour a grudge against them! I searched for an answer why I was now able to deal with these situations without losing my peace, I discovered that it was due to the Consecration to Jesus through Mary which involved 33 days of preparation. Though I felt nothing while I went through it, the result of it was me becoming far more patient and understanding than I was ever before.
St. Josemaria Escriva said:
“Before, by yourself, you couldn’t. Now, you’ve turned to our Lady, and with her, how easy!”
I had lost a dear friend when I was young and I always used to pray for his soul fervently ever since I attended the CLS. I decided to turn to Mama for help. After a few days, I sensed she told me “Leave him to me”. From that day on I know that he is in her hands and I have nothing to worry about.
To conclude I would like to share a quote by St. Maximilian Kolbe:
“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”