St. Louis-Marie de Montfort writes in his True Devotion To the Blessed Virgin Mary, Nos. 106-110, that her ten principal virtues are: deep humility, lively faith, blind obedience, unceasing prayer, constant self-denial, surpassing purity, ardent love, heroic patience, angelic kindness, and heavenly wisdom. Nine of those are easy to understand as virtues, but blind obedience?
Hidden away in a hotel room in another state, she chided herself for even buying it, never thought she would be the kind of girl to need such a thing. Her chiding turned to self-loathing when she saw the results on pregnancy test. Positive. Adrenaline effused throughout her body, filling her with an urge to run away as fast as she could until she had flown herself into another dimension, and simultaneously paralyzing her as if her skin and bones had just turned to stone. She was 19, the oldest of all grandchildren on both sides of her family, with a promising future in college and expectations of success.
Now she was just another statistic, a stupid girl too eager to feel loved and desired, too heady with popularity to do the right thing under pressure. Oh, it had been mostly innocent, she told herself. She had walked on ice near the “Danger Thin Ice” sign, taken an obvious risk, aware of the possible results, but she had walked on thin ice before and been fine. Now, there would be no denying that she was a failure after all, useless trash. How could she tell all the people who trusted her to be good?
She tried to tell herself that it would be alright, and somehow was guided by courage to take one step, and then another, out of the bathroom, blindly into a world forever changed. But the courage quickly vanished. She could almost feel the demons clawing into her, assuring her that it was too late, that she had failed, that the best thing to do was get rid of it before anyone knew. She tried with all her might to be the reasonable and calculating young woman she had grown to be, but the voices in her head were relentless. Days later, when the pressure was unendurable, she exploded. Something had taken hold of her, and she abandoned her self-control.
She locked herself in the bathroom of her home, where the God-forsaken stick lay hidden, and when the cruel lines on the stick still showed her nightmare to indeed be true, she let go of all her sensibilities, and panicked. She could already hear the laughing, the taunting, the gossip behind her back, the judgement. It was as if she had headphones plugged in to the whole world, a world that would hate her, and so she began to beat herself to shut them up, or appease them, she was not sure which. Maybe it was to punish herself so no one else would have to. She beat her legs and arms until they were bruised and swollen, she banged her head but felt nothing, then something turned her head to the hair brush, and she grabbed it and began to beat her belly. She hit harder and harder, her fury building to quiet the rising voices. She screamed back louder and louder, pummeling her mid-section as the taunting grew and grew. Pain, pain, escape! At least physical pain is a pain with limits.
When her parents came running and pried open the locked door, she fought until there was nothing more to do. Crumpled into a spineless ball, she wished she could die as they carried her to the hospital. Numb and defeated, she somehow resigned to go on with life, a little faith in something she did not yet recognize. What happened in the coming days was unexpected. The family that had always loved her, loved her still. The people she thought would taunt her, did no such thing. She thought she even saw joy, joy at the new life growing inside her. Could it be?
That little life flickering inside at first was too faint to comprehend, but then it grew, and so did the maternal flames of love. The teen mother remembered her grandmother’s words on the day of high school graduation. “You’ve got your whole life ahead of you now. Try not to have a graduation party, a wedding shower, and a baby shower all in the same year. It’s too many ‘Thank You’ notes to send out.” It had been funny because her grandmother had married her high school sweetheart (and lifelong love) and that is exactly what she had done. Although that is not what girls do anymore, her grandmother’s witness to life had been full of love and happiness, in spite of hardship and turmoil. The young mother knew she had a family, full of wisdom, that loved her and prayed for her, and again, in some mysterious way, she just…went on.
With blind obedience to the love that was shown her, to the laws of nature, to the laws written on her heart that told her it was good and right and beautiful to love a child, she was granted sufficient grace, not knowing what the next year, the next day, or even the next heartbeat held. She loved her little girl, she raised her little girl, and even though for many years she wandered in confused darkness and made horrible choices, eventually, with glimpses of light along the way, love led on. As it did, things got better and better, clearer and clearer.
Decades later during a period of exercises in preparation for a consecration to the Virgin Mary, that mother would read the words of the devout St. Louis-Marie de Montfort, who nurtured a devotion to the Blessed Mother, a devotion so strong that he believed all perfection consists in being “conformed, united, and consecrated to Jesus” through God’s creature most conformed to the Savior, his Mother. The saintly teacher taught that devotion was to give all to Christ through her, our body and senses, our soul and faculties, out material possessions, and our spiritual possessions, any good we possess at all is given to that which is Perfect Good. Just like all the other virtues, Mary had the virtue of blind obedience most perfectly of any creature, for she loved a child in a world that would not understand, among a people that would crucify him as she watched, she loved a child that would conquer death and silence all demons. Though she would never fully comprehend the mysteries of faith that came into the world through her body, Mary was most blindly obedient.
Now a mature and grateful woman with a grown daughter, a wonderful mother herself, the once young and confused mother smiled peacefully, with a tearful tug in her heart. The declaration of “blind obedience” would almost certainly bring ridicule today, but she understood with great clarity what it meant. She had always called her first daughter her Ray of Light and now she understood why. At times when nothing else made sense, her love for that precious gift from God was what kept her going.
Watch and listen to Ray of Light…
Sometimes I wonder
How I’d ever make it through,
Through this world without having you
I just wouldn’t have a clue
‘Cause sometimes it seems
Like this world’s closing in on me,
And there’s no way of breaking free
And then I see you reach for me…
When I see you smile
I can face the world,
You know I can do anything
When I see you smile
I see a ray of light,
I see it shining right through the rain.
Every single one of us is blind to the future, and as we make choices in life between good and evil, as we face temptations, as we so often fail and get up and try again, as we face our biggest fears, we can either embrace a blind obedience to what we know is good, true, and beautiful, and trust that somehow grace will be sufficient to sustain us, even when it is hardest; or we can let the demons delude us into pretending that we know more than we know, into futilely trying to control that which we cannot.
How awesome and marvelous to realize that in those moments of brokenness when we feel most despicable and the pieces of our lives do not seem to fit together, when we are sure that we cannot go another minute — if we obediently try even a little — grace is poured upon us like immense rays of sunlight by the Author of Good, the Spirit of Love and Truth, the Spirit Who Renews the Face of the Earth, as if a finger from Heaven reaches down and guides us along even though we do not see it.
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