Oh, my dear reader. This part will be extremely emotional for me. I know I keep saying that.
But this has been an enlightening experience for me to share. See, my goal is to show how the Saints have truly moved… pushed me, and I will say this with a childish smile at my patron, that’s right, St. Joan, I know you’re reading this as well, dragged me back to God.
I can already picture you slapping your knee in laughter. But we’ll get to you later, St. Joan.
Today I want to talk about how a Mother led me back to a heavenly family and introduced me to my heavenly sister, St. Therese.
A Mother and her lost child
It’s true. I was a lost child. I was utterly scared of coming back to God. Even going to adoration, still uncertain of the future, troubled by many pressing concerns, I had nowhere to go.
Of course, as Catholics, I was taught we could go to Jesus! Indeed, I could have. Yet, I was scared.
I had this doubt within my heart. How could I go back to Jesus, whom I have shunned for so long? Of course, I prayed in adoration and was still afraid.
I was that lost child, that prodigal child coming back home. I came running back home, yet I feel like that part of the story is for us to continue. I’m sure the son was relieved to have returned.
But I think that son would have also struggled. He would have felt the shame of his leaving. Shame for turning his back on his family. In fact, I think the son couldn’t even understand how the Father could have openly accepted him back after leaving his home.
Just as Jesus carried the lost lamb back to the herd of 99, I struggled to immerse myself in the Lord’s love fully. But, again, it was that shame and lack of understanding of who God is.
Yet, I think He knew that. I was that hesitant child who wanted to be in the room with the family, yet I didn’t know how to participate, having been gone for so long.
Someone took notice of that. Mary. It’s one thing to have the Heavenly Father push you towards him. It’s almost intimidating. I mean, think about it—the creator of the universe. Yet, God is calling you back to Him.
What happens when a child is scared? Well, that’s when the mother comes in help with those fears.
To be honest, I don’t know where I would be without her. Ever since picking up that little bookmarker, I knew she was watching over me. She was silently pushing me, encouraging me with her prayers. But, she has a much gentler touch that my soul needed.
It was about a month after coming back to the church. I was going to the adoration chapel. My prayers were the vocal prayers and spending time with readings, but I was diving deeply into my prayers. My prayers were still not coming from the heart. They were focused on surface concerns, not the wounds and fears that were deep in my heart.
I was struggling to open my heart up, and I was getting frustrated. I felt so tense and just unable to express myself. It felt like a wall.
I remember leaving the adoration chapel just so wholly frustrated. Then I saw a little blue book. Total Consecration to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort.
Not knowing why I picked it up and started to read it. The idea behind this spirituality was coming to Jesus through Mary. That I would give everything to Mary, and in turn, Mary would lead me to her Son.
It was such a unique principle. I knew Mary was the Queen of Heaven, but that seemed like such a high position. Why would she care about little old me? I was a nobody.
I was wrong
Reading St. Louis de Montfort’s book, I realized that she had an interest in me. That bookmarker proved it. It was almost like her waving towards her lost son.
And I was so glad I took notice.
So I started 40-day preparation for the total consecration. You might be wondering why? Why would you do that?
Well… I was learning about Mary. Moreso, I was developing a relationship with her. I felt like I could open up myself to her, little by little, and she was waiting patiently, nodding and listening as I spilled my guts out.
It was like she hugging me dearly and telling me, “Don’t worry, Jesus knows, but I’ll go tell Him.” That was such a relief.
Then I realized why I was giving some of my concerns. I was also giving her my achievements. It’s like a child bringing home a piece of macaroni art. You can’t tell what it is, but you don’t care. Your child gave it to you, knowing that you would love it.
So I gave Mary all my macaroni art, I gave her all the flowers I could get, and she just smiled and took them. This was when I started to develop the habit of praying the Rosary, which was almost like giving her a crown of Roses.
On the day of my Consecration, I was never, but she kept telling me, “I know you’re scared, but it’s all right, I’m here with you.”
And sometimes, all you need is a little push from your Mom. I made my general confession, I received communion, and I prayed the consecration prayer.
It was an odd feeling as I pondered Mary as I looked up at her statue. Here the lost little child who ran right for his mother’s mantle. She draped it over and embraced me tightly, not letting go. Nor I, her.
It had been a few months after my Consecration, and I felt like I speak to the Lord, and when I felt too intimidated by that, I could always talk to Mary, knowing she would patiently listen.
However, something was lacking.
Deep down, I could feel a restless stirring in my heart—something like a seed that wanted to grow. I knew the Church, I was consecrated to Mary, but I had no way of finding God. There was no real way for me to grow.
Mary knew, I’m pretty sure, that I was getting frustrated. That was when I came across little St. Therese, the Little Flower.
Now, I don’t know how much you know about her, but you know I say she was giant in Heaven in my other posts. Her words carried heft to them, but I didn’t realize this. I was looking for a way to grow in holiness. The first thing that came up was St. Therese.
I was curious because I always thought you needed to be a giant in order to be holy. Great deeds, you know?
Oh, St. Therese was going to smack me with some knowledge. “No, you ninny!” I can picture her tapping my shoulder.
See, St. Therese wanted to be a missionary. In fact, she wanted to be a martyr and give her life in professing the Lord. Yet, she was a sickly child, and this wasn’t the path that set for her.
No, God had a much grander design for this little flower.
St. Therese went through periods of inner turmoil, something I could deeply relate with. She had a loving family and a God that loved her very much. Yet as a child, she suffered from a spiritual cross known as Scrupulosity.
So what is Scrupulosity? It’s the fear of committing a sin when no sin was committed. This fear is crippling. Someone going through Scrupulosity would know it. Have you ever had a crazy outlandish and dark thought? Ever thought it was a sin?
Well, because you rejected the thought, it’s not a sin. It’s just a crazy thought. Yet to the scrupulous person, that thought is a sin. It doesn’t matter if you rejected it or not. It then leads to a vicious cycle of having intrusive thoughts one after and another.
It feels like a literal whirlpool sucking you down. As I was going through this unending cycle, St. Therese met me. I read blogs about her childhood and how she suffered through the same thing. I immediately felt a connection form in the snap of the finger.
I started to pray to her, asking for her help. “St. Therese, I don’t know why I am having these thoughts. I don’t want the Lord to think these things are what I believe. I feel like I’m drowning. Please help me to understand.”
Now, I won’t say it lightbulb moment. No. It was a gradual process. See, I feel like she was trying to tell me, “I know, Ed, I’ve been there too. So stick through it. God uses these moments to help us to cling to Him tighter. You’re being purified through this cross.”
I swear, it was like she was holding my hand, day by day, as I heard these dark, depressive thoughts. I kept praying my prayers, kept to my adoration, and kept talking to St. Therese, and over time, I felt like my heart was being purified.
I went to counseling, I took medication, and while these might have helped put a bandaid over the problems I was going through, it was sticking to prayer and adoration that helped.
Now I want to say; I believe counseling and medication are beautiful tools to use. However, sometimes we need to bring in a third-party, unbiased opinion to help us gain new perspectives on how we think and believe.
And sometimes, we do have chemical imbalances that require medication to help create a balance, but I believe medication should be seen as a tool, not a crutch.
Of course, I had setbacks, but with each setback, there St. Therese was offering her hand for me to get back on my feet, with Mary standing behind her. Now I realize, behind Mary, was Jesus.
It was a literal family.
After I made it out of that trial, I think it took me about six months, give or take, I felt like a new person. A happier person. A person who wanted to love the world.
Yet, I didn’t know how to. Again. St. Therese had my back. I came across her autobiography, The Story of a Soul. I recommend it to anyone, and everyone should read it. Even if you aren’t Catholic. It’s an inspiring story!
Here she found the easiest path to holiness, as she said, “an elevator to Heaven,” for she was far too weak to climb the ladder.
The Little Way.
The Little Way was her idea of achieving holiness through the small, ordinary things that we do, say, and think about in our lives. To her, holiness wasn’t just great deeds, but it was also doing everyday things faithfully for God.
It slapped me across the face. St. Therese offered me the blueprint; she provided me the spirituality that I needed and craved. This Carmelite Nun, I think, truly did save me. It was through her words that instilled that motivation to grow in holiness.
I just needed help putting it into practice. So that is where Part 4 will be coming into place. Saint Joan, I know you have been waiting patiently for this part.
Yes, it would be Saint Joan who would drag me along, pushing me ahead, then run alongside me.
All because Jesus and Mary saw I needed help. They had their little flower shower me with some genuinely heavenly roses. But I needed to plant those roses, and Saint Joan would help me with that!