Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Reflections on the Feast of the Annunciation

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation!  The founder of our Pauline Family, Blessed James Alberione, placed his ministry under the protection of Mary, Queen of Apostles.  As a Pauline, it seems only fitting to write about our Lady on this feast day and reflect on my “annunciation” moments and how they changed my relationship with our Blessed Mother. MARY’S YES! MARY’S TRUST
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

At the Annunciation, although troubled by the invitation to be the mother of the Messiah, Mary said “yes” and cooperated with God’s plan for her life. We are all faced with situations when God’s messages are troubling or confusing. Like Mary, we might ask, “How can this be?” We might hesitate to say yes because we are afraid. I often have to remember the angel’s last words to Mary: “Do not be afraid” (Luke 1:30). Mary’s yes always reminds me that “with God all things are possible.” (A light but small personal story: Thinking back to when I was invited to write for this blog, I thought, “How am I going to get out of this?” Well, here I am and happy that I said “yes.” A wise friend told me, “Do not be afraid.”)

RELATIONSHIP My thoughts of Mary are usually of her role as the mother of Jesus and the joys and sorrows she experienced. While preparing for this article, however, I thought more about my relationship with her and her role in my life. Being a cradle Catholic and attending 12 years of Catholic school, Mary was always there in the Rosary, May crownings, novenas, etc.; however, after two surprising experiences, she started to play a bigger role in my life and my relationship with her changed. She became a confidant, a companion, a strong intercessor -- my Mother. UNEXPECTED EVENTS Shortly after my father passed in 2001, we were driving to visit our daughter in college. While thinking about my dad during that drive, I had an image of our Lady telling me he was OK. The vision was of her face and neck. Didn’t think too much of it; however, everything changed when I arrived at my daughter’s apartment. Her roommate asked me to go with her to purchase a new light for her Blessed Mother night lamp. Of course, I asked to see it. The lamp was of Mary and the exact image I had of her earlier in the day! About 12 years ago, I started to pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe and asked her intercession for my daughter to have a child. At the time, I did not know that she was the Protector of the Unborn – a God incident right there! Well, a few months later my daughter told me she was expecting. One of the first persons I shared this wonderful news with was a Daughter of St. Paul. When I told her that December 9th was the baby’s due date, she told me that was the first apparition of our Lady to Juan Diego! My grandson was not born on December 9th but on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12! These events drew me closer to Mary and I continue to be in awe when thinking about them.

 Mary Help for Hard Times

Sharing our stories is one of the best tools of evangelization.   As commented by another Cooperator on this blog site recently: “I love reading about other people’s authentic moments of faith.”  I  do too!
 A favorite book published by Pauline Books & Media is Mary, Help in Hard Times.  Along with prayers, reflections and devotions, people share their personal stories of answered prayers through Mary’s intercession or events in their lives that helped to grow  their devotion to her.

One of my favorite stories in the book was written by our current National Director of Pauline Cooperators, Sr. Jacqueline Jean-Marie Gitonga, FSP.  Sr. Jackie shares her testimony of how her Marian Consecration using 33 Days to Morning Glory by Father Michael Gaitley, MIC was life changing.  Through this Consecration, she was encouraged to invite Mary into her home and open herself more completely to her.  Mary became someone she could relate to in everyday living!

If you are not familiar with making a consecration to Mary, I encourage you to do so.  I completed St. Louis de Montfort’s Consecration to Mary and Fr. Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory and recommend them both.  As confirmed by Sr. Jackie, these Consecrations help to deepen our devotion to and further our relationship with Jesus through Mary. 
Let’s turn to Mary and ask her to accompany us in our journey; be confident that she will take our problems to Jesus. I pray to have the same openness in my life as Mary did -- with trust and faith. 
Mary, Queen of Apostles, pray for us!

Maryann Toth has been a Pauline Cooperator since 2008.  She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Richard, is the mother of two daughters, blessed with four grandchildren and semi-retired as a Credit/AR Manager.  She serves as a Eucharistic Minister and lector at her parish and volunteers at a local Catholic hospital.  Helping at book exhibits and JClub presentations are her favorite activities as a Cooperator.  She currently serves as a Lay Provincial Team Member with the Daughters of St. Paul.


Association of Pauline Cooperators said...


Beth Lengel said...

Awesome article....touched my heart! Thanks for sharing.

Rae Stabosz said...

She trusted the Father. She will show us her Son. She is the purest purely human temple of the Holy Spirit.

Thank you, Maryann. I've remembered something I knew and then forgot. Your words brought it back to me. Thanks, Girlfriend. Let's drink wine in Rome again some day, even if it's the Rome of the new heavens and the new earth.

Maryann Toth said...

Thank you.

Maryann Toth said...

Thank you, Beth.

Maryann Toth said...

Thank you for all of your kind words and continued encouragement, Rae. Yes, drinking wine in Rome again would be awesome. What a wonderful Cooperator pilgrimage we enjoyed together!