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Navigating the Interior Life Wk 4 of 6

April 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

Navigating the Interior Life Week 4 of 6

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Mother Mary

Many persons delude themselves maintaining that they reach union with God without having continuous recourse to our Lord who is the way, the truth, and the life. Another error would consist in wishing to go to our Lord without going the-good-portion-picturefirst to Mary…Protestants have fallen into this last error. Without going as far as this deviation, there are Catholics who do not see clearly enough the necessity of having recourse to Mary that they may attain to intimacy with the Savior. Blessed Grignion de Montfort speaks even of “doctors who know the Mother of God only in a speculative, dry, sterile, and indifferent manner; who fear that devotion to the Blessed Virgin is abused, and that injury is done to our Lord by honoring too greatly His Holy Mother…” They seem to believe that Mary is a hindrance to teaching divine union. According to Blessed Grignion, we lack humility if we neglect the mediators whom God has given us because of our frailty. Intimacy with our Lord in prayer will be greatly facilitated by true and profound devotion to Mary.” – Navigating the Interior Life, p. 58 (paragraph 5 of Marian Devotion and the Spiritual Life) – quoted from The Three Ages of the Interior Life, by Father Garrigou-Legrange.

Mary, My precious Mother. What a prideful fool I was for so many years, not realizing that by snubbing you, I was slighting your Son.

Like Adam in the Garden, I defend myself by pointing a finger elsewhere, declaring, “It wasn’t my fault.” Throughout my years as a protestant, I question whether I had ever even heard your name.

The first time I actually remember hearing your name with any significance was at a rosary, the night before a funeral in 1994. I was in RCIA at the time, and planned to become Catholic. But I must admit, that night shook me a little. I listened politely to all 50+ Hail Marys. I heard you called by name at least 106 times that night – rather disconcerting for someone who had never paid the least bit of attention to you. I knelt politely as the rest of the visitors prayed, rosary beads dangling from their hands. But privately, I felt this to be a rather “cultish” activity. I wanted no part of it.

In no way do I mean to offend, but you held no place in my heart at that point in my life. In Christmas scenes, you were the figure on the donkey, being pulled along, virtually baggage on the long journey toward your son’s birth. With the animals and shepherds, you (and Joseph) were merely “background” for the nativity scene. When my eyes were focused at all, they were focused on Christ.

Interestingly, they were never that focused. Until I met you.

When I think back to our first personal encounter, I am ashamed to admit that I had been Catholic for several years. Until then, I felt that to befriend you would entail “crossing a line” that I was unprepared to cross. I was Catholic. But I wasn’t THAT Catholic.

In the end, the fact that you were a fellow MOTHER carried weight. One desperate night, when my oldest son was five years old, I found myself kneeling outside his room, fumbling with a rosary book and bawling uncontrollably. What about? I don’t even remember. But I do remember that I recognized my absolute helplessness that night. To this day, I have never prayed so passionately in all my life. If you were anyone else, I’d be embarrassed by my behavior. I was like a drunk who drools all over someone they just met. I had never even looked at you twice, and then BAM! I gave you everything I had!

Still, I felt I had nowhere else to go.  Christ wasn't a mother, and somehow turning to you just seemed right.  So I did.  And I begged you to raise my children to become saints, in spite of me.  I hadn’t the first clue about motherhood and didn’t trust myself with the task of leading those three precious children to heaven. I consecrated each of them to you, and asked that you “do with them what you will.”

After that – my first “solo” rosary – I felt an indescribable peace.

You’d think I would have loved you then. But we still weren’t very close. Instead, I became that annoying neighbor who never comes to visit unless she needs a cup of sugar. I called when I wanted advice. Or just someone to talk to about my children. I knew you were there for me – you provided several signs. But I only sought you out when I needed something.

At some point, I recognized that you were special. Unfortunately, this was an intellectual and not a heartfelt acknowledgment. You found your way into my planner, positioned near my other prayer time. And I did begin to pray a rosary here and there. Sometimes every day – but those small puffs of resolve never lasted.  Regardless, I know you were there, waiting in the shadows, wanting always to lead me to your Son. You must have wept for all the struggles I endured alone, desiring only to hold my hand, and guide me gently along The Way.

You must’ve know that in my stubborn pride, I might never come around on my own, because a few months ago you bypassed my hand, and grabbed hold of my heart. There is no evidence that you will release me any time soon.

By God’s grace – perhaps by your intercession – the Hail Holy Queen began to resonate with me. I suppose you could just chalk it up to the fact that I’m getting older.  Regardless. I began to see this vale of tears for what it is. Not Utopia, as I had assumed in my 20’s, but a Land of Exile, merely preparation for my permanent home.

So, a few months ago, I began to visit with you. Daily. And the more I came to visit, the more I wanted to be with you. And the more I wanted to be with you, the more I felt you molding me into the image of your Son. Through your patience and kindness, you are teaching me to love Him and to be pleasing to Him in ways I never would have considered before.

You’ve led me to pray the rosary more often. Not simply once a day, but throughout my day. You’ve led me to read about St. Catherine Labouré, and origin of The Miraculous Medal I've worn for years.  You've led me to read about St. Louis de Montfort and his beautiful devotion to you.  About consecrating my life as a slave to Jesus, through you.

There are so many beautiful Marian devotions. I've read about many before, but now am reading with new eyes.  And a new heart.  Rather than textbooks, your stories are beginning to read like love letters, and I'm so eager to read them all.

I am now THAT Catholic. And I desire nothing more than to offer myself to your Son through you.  Mother Mary, please continue to walk with me on this journey, for surely through you, I will find my way to your Son.

[Note: I hope it’s appropriate to quote a quote of a quote from our book, but Burke’s chapter on Marian Devotion really hit home for me – particularly the above quote from Three Ages of the Interior Life]


For Discussion:

1. Does Marian devotion have a role in your interior life?  If so, please share.  Do you struggle with accepting Mary for any reason?  If so, what are your hurdles?

2. Open discussion: Feel free to comment on any topic from this past week's reading.

Reading Assignment:

Week 4 – 4/02  p. 85-114

(E-Readers: Navigation on the Narrow Path through the end of The Three Ways of The Spiritual Life)

Webinar Discussion 4/13 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM Central

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About Vicki Burbach

Vicki Burbach is a wife and homeschooling mother of six children ages four to sixteen years who relishes the calm inspiration of spiritual reading amidst the roller coaster of life. A passionate convert to the Faith, Vicki is an avid reader who started the book club so she could embark with like-minded bibliophiles on a spiritual journey through some of the greatest Catholic books ever written. She is author of the new book How to Read Your Way to Heaven - A Spiritual Reading Program for the Worst of Sinners, the Greatest of Saints, and Everyone in Between. You can also find her at

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