Into His Marvelous Light
(through Mary’s Seven Sorrows)
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9)
In 1992, the year that I returned to the Catholic Church after being separated from it for almost thirty years, I went through ten months of counseling with a Dominican sister to help me come to that decision to “come home.” Part of the process of that counseling was a powerful beginning of the healing of my heart and soul from the wounds of four abortions that I had had as young woman.
As I stated, it was a very powerful beginning in which I actually experienced the presence of God loving me. When I ended my counseling relationship with Sister, I immediately had a strong sense that God was calling me to share the story of my spiritual journey—the story of His infinite Mercy—and I began to write it. When I shared the first couple chapters with two Catholic friends of mine, they immediately said, “No, don’t ever share this with anyone else!” I knew that they wanted to protect me from being condemned by others, and I was afraid to share it with anyone else.
However, I continued to experience a deep inner sense that the Lord wanted me to share my testimony with others. Yet I was deeply conflicted about it, so I prayed and prayed, asking the Lord over and over again if He truly wanted me to share my story with others.
One night I had a dream that I was kneeling at the end of Mass, making the Sign of the Cross very reverently, bowing my head before the Lord. Then I looked to my left across the aisle from me, and I saw a monk. His name, I knew, was Brother Raphael, and he was looking at me very intensely. Then, in an instant, he was standing behind me, saying, “Be in the world in the truth of your life. Christianity is your master.”
Since these words came at the end of the Mass, I saw them, when I pondered the dream, as the “dismissal,” which is also the “sending forth” of us as disciples to share with others what the Lord has so generously given to us—Himself! I believe that the Lord was communicating to me that the way to love and serve Him was to “be in the world in the truth of my life, who is Jesus Christ; not to be concerned about what the world thought of His plan for me.
For many years I struggled to write a book about my spiritual journey. At first I would write a couple pages and then throw them away, sure that my writing was not any good, and ashamed to share the story of my life with others.
My healing journey continued, and the more I healed, the more I was able to accept writing about and sharing the story of my spiritual journey with others. I would go for months without writing, but I stopped throwing away the chapters.
A few years ago I completed my first spiritual autobiography, and I submitted it to several Catholic publishing companies, but none of them were interested in publishing it. One editor was kind enough to write and say, “Don’t stop writing,” even though, she said, they were not publishing that kind of book at that time. The spiritual director that I had at that time said, “Well, maybe the Lord just wanted you to write it for your own healing. Let go of it now.” It was disappointing, but I let go of it, giving thanks that I had received a lot of healing from the writing of it.
Then in the last three years the Lord started communicating to me again to write a book about my spiritual journey. “Why would I do that?” I thought, with some irritation. “No one would want to publish it.”
Recently the Lord has become more urgent and intense in His direction to me to write the book. One morning, when I began to pray, an image came of Ecce Homo, Jesus standing—mostly naked, bleeding from large gashes all over his body, crowned with thorns—before the crowd who had gathered to condemn Him. His hands were tied, and He said in a frustrated tone: “My hands are tied!” My heart sank, because I guessed correctly that I was the one who had tied His hands. “Your hands are tied about what, Lord?” I asked Him in my journal. He answered: “It is important that you share your testimony…Share it in every way that you can share it. I am speaking through you. You are My voice.”
I called my spiritual director, and he reminded me that St. Teresa of Avila (a saint that he and I both love) wrote her Life in obedience to the Lord and to her spiritual director. “I admonish you,” he said, “to obey the Lord’s command to you.” The word admonish got my attention and reminded me that obedience to the Lord is not an option, if I want to love Him in more than just words. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”
As I pondered all of these things it occurred to me that I (as well as my two Catholic friends who had strongly “counseled” me not to share the sins of my past with others) had been like St. Peter in the following Scripture:
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you." But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men." Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 16:21-25)
And, so, “here I am, Lord,” finally beginning again to write the story of my spiritual journey, in obedience to You and to my spiritual director. You will decide what to do with it. I’m sorry that I kept Yours “hands tied” for so long. It seems to me that you are in a hurry for me to share this testimony, so I plan to send it to my spiritual director, one chapter at a time, and, when he approves it, I will send each chapter out to the little handmaids and others and post it on our website.
Father also communicated to me again that my writing is primarily for the sake of the Little Handmaids of Our Sorrowful Mother, the women’s prayer apostolate that the Lord, through Our Sorrowful Mother, called me to found in July, 2010. Again he referred to St. Teresa of Avila, who had written her spiritual writings primarily for the sake of her Carmelite sisters. He told me that the little handmaids need to be “fed,” as all souls need to be fed.
So, little handmaids, my beloved sisters, I am writing this account of my spiritual journey with the hope and prayer that it will feed you: your souls and your hearts. I trust that God will call any others that He has in mind to be fed by it.
“…we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations…” (Romans 1:5)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
148 The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that "with God nothing will be impossible" and so giving her assent: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word."12 Elizabeth greeted her: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."13 It is for this faith that all generations have called Mary blessed.14
149 Throughout her life and until her last ordeal15 when Jesus her Son died on the cross, Mary's faith never wavered. She never ceased to believe in the fulfillment of God's word. And so the Church venerates in Mary the purest realization of faith.
May we, my sisters, in union with Our Sorrowful Mother and her Suffering Son Jesus, grow in obedience of faith…for the sake of His name among all the nations”!
Jesus and Mary’s little handmaid,
Little Handmaids of Our Sorrowful Mother
And Mary said, "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." (Lk 1:38)