Tuesday, June 11, 2013

There are have been so many graces, but here is the first one...

It was one year ago on May 13th that I began my consecration to the Blessed Mother. I chose the 13th of May because it is rare a consecration would begin on that day, since the important detail is that your consecration ends on a feast day of the Blessed Virgin... and last year I took advantage of beginning on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. She is near and dear to me mostly because of the experience I had during my pregnancy with Gabriel... which I am happy to share in another post...

So, she never does allow us to outdo her in generosity. She has continued to bless me and give me many special graces during this month where I am celebrating my anniversary to giving my whole life over to Jesus through her. Just a few graces include a random visit to the chapel at EWTN, which we did not intend to do at all, Patrick's graduation from Vanderbilt, a new lake house which our family will spend many summers enjoying, but a place I also believe will be a place for many to find Christ. And lastly a recent detox, which I am almost certain rid my body of a parasite, which has been plaguing me for a few years now... my life is truly changed because of it. I have been in a constant state of struggle with my stomach for as long as I can remember. God is good. So, let me tell you how the month long anniversary began... it is the first grace of all the others...

I was on my way to the park about mid April and got pulled over by a cop car. What a humbling experience with your kids in the car. I have warned them time and time again that the police officer would get them if they were not buckled, didn't stop crying or didn't go to sleep at nap time. And now, look at me. I wasn't speeding. So, what did I do? I was being stopped because my back taillight was out. We meant to fix it but we were away most of the weekend running a retreat so put it off till the next week. It wasn't until he got out of his car and walked closer that my heart stopped beating and my breathing got heavy and I started sweating. I was not certain that my license had been renewed after I had turned 30 the week before. Patrick and I had a conversation that went something like, I will do it for you, ok, but if you really don't have time just tell me what website to go to and I got it. So, did it get done? We would find out soon. Nope. I was driving my three kids around without a license. Not only did the officer hold me there for 45 minutes but he proceeded to take a picture of me, take my prints and give me a court date. What was happening? I am going to court, I thought. No. I had to explain to my kids what had happened and that I wasn't a bad guy and that he wasn't taking me to jail. Then he let me go. We missed our play date at the park and ate our chick fil a picnic in the living room that day. Patrick came home to fix the light and renewed my license online about 30 seconds after I got home. Now, I had a court date. It was the Monday morning after graduation and on the feast of our lady of Fatima. This was the anniversary of the day I began my consecration to the blessed mother last year. I am not sure what she had up her sleeve but I wasn't being receptive to finding out.

What happened on Monday when I went to court was for me another reminder of the way God infuses his grace into my life. He never allows us to outdo him in generosity. It is a great mystery to me how he takes the simplest prayer, the lowliest person, the smallest opening in our hearts and moves mountains. So, let me tell you what happened. 

I arrived like the officer told me to at 6:30am, which meant I woke up at 5am, drug my kids out of bed and over to Jenny's house and Patrick, Adam and I drove downtown. I was third in line and thought, this is going to be a breeze. No prob. Just show them my renewed license and be on my way. They let me in, booked me, took my mug shot, and spent 20 minutes trying to get my prints. The officer ran my fingers and hands over the equipment about 25 times each... With no success and finally gave up and stuck with the partial prints he had. My hands were too dry to get prints. All those dishes did me in. He said he had never seen that before in his life. Afterward my hands were numb and swollen from the amount of times he pushed my little hands over the machine, shoving, pushing, pulling, spraying my hands to get something to work. I finally was told to go to courtroom 1A. I headed down there with Patrick, realized it didn't open till 8am and sent Patrick to get me food. By 8 I headed in, sat like a sardine in the middle of a bunch of smelly people and waited. No judge. 9:30 rolls around and the room is filling up. Still hadn't called me. I snuck into the bathroom stall to eat because they would've taken my food. And then proceeded to nurse Adam in the stall as well because there was nowhere to sit anywhere to nurse. Patrick stood outside the courtroom door to make sure I didn't miss my call and so I wouldn't be placed at the bottom of the pile. I sent them home. I knew it was going to be a long day. 

I waited as patiently as I could. Hours went by. The room continued to fill up. They continued to call names, but not mine. The judge was in and out. The people were restless. The room was tense. I prayed. I was so frustrated. I decided to take advantage of the moments I had there, alone and still. I prayed the rosary. I wished I had a book. I prayed some more. I made really good resolutions. I missed my kids. It was so hot in there. I prayed more. And then, I began to receive lights from God. A year ago I had consecrated myself to the Blessed Virgin, promising her that all of my prayers, sufferings, and everything else would be hers to do what she would like with. In that moment, she told me about the poor souls in purgatory. They awaited the just judge. It was hot. It was crowded. It was a time of impatience. This is what it will be like and you do not want to go there. The judge began to call people up and explain to them that they were there because of their own choice, their own doing. He sentenced them with all sorts of crazy things, from essays, to never going to a wal mart again in their entire life, to taking away their licenses and sending them to jail. What was I doing here? I continued to pray. I just wanted to go home. I knew at that moment that that desire to be home was the desire everyone feels in purgatory. They just want to be where they belong. I saw the sorrow in their faces. I saw the regret. I saw that they did not know that anyone loved them. Charges were called out. Trespassing, simple possession, theft, indecent exposure, disturbing the peace, driving with a suspended license. The consequences hurt. What was I doing in the same room? I did not want to be in there. I was given a newfound desire for Heaven, for skipping purgatory, for pulling myself closer to Christ, and most especially for praying for the poor souls in purgatory. It was all very real to me being there. It was scary. And it was a moment of grace.

It took 5 hours for them to call me up, ask for my renewed license, sign some paper and say, "thank you, Mrs. Bentley, your case has been dismissed, you may go now." I ran out of there as fast as I have ever ran out of anywhere. I called Patrick and begged he come to get me right away. I told him to call me so I could tell him where I was. I wanted to run. I have no sense of direction so I took off in the middle of downtown, heading nowhere. I wondered if I could be smart enough to find my way to St. Mary's so I could pray a while, but was certain that it would be locked.  As I continued on my way, I started to hear the bells ringing. I followed them. I ran faster ad faster! And found the church. It was open and when I walked in, Mass was beginning. I called Patrick to let him know I would be going to Mass. I sat down and cried. What a long morning! What a long run! And now, Mass! The moment I knelt down, I looked up at Mary and she made it clear that I had to go to court, so she could get me alone with her Son. I cannot remember the last time I was able to go to Mass alone. She reminded me that Our Lord would not be outdone I generosity and that He certainly remembered that I had consecrated myself to her. 

To put the icing on the cake, Fr. Baker was there to celebrate Mass and his homily spoke of the message of Our Lady of Fatima. How her appearance and her story and her message reminds us that as old fashioned as the modern world thinks the spiritual life to be, that truth shows it has meaning and influence on the temporal world. It matters. Prayer matters. It is real. We can not underestimate it. It was a huge grace. My favorite feast day. The day I began the consecration. She answered a pray for me that I have had in the depths of my heart so often lately... which is a deep desire to be alone with The Lord just for a moment in the silence, and most especially in the Mass. Thank you, Mary.