With Mary through Advent – to our Schoenstatt Bethlehem
We want transform our heartshrines, homeshrines into spaces where love, healing and mercy can be tangibly experienced. Father, your Shrine Heart of Love, Healing and Mercy! Then our encounter with the Child in the Crib will be truly a deep and meaningful one! This week the focus is on our EARS –listening the way Mary did –the way our Founder did. .
MY Queen my Mother, I give myself entirely to you and to show my devotion to you I consecrate to you today my eyes, my ears , my mouth, my heart –my entire self without reserve, as I am your own my good Mother, guard and defend me as your property and your possession, AMEN.
At the beginning of each day we pray our Consecration prayer and read the short reflection. At the end of each day I place a sign in the crib of all attempts to live each day in the spirit of this consecration prayer (successful and unsuccessful attempts could be symbolized through bits of straw in a crib)
Sunday: Let me be tuned in to God’s wishes
REFLECTION: Mary heard the Angel of the Lord’s message – her heart and ears were attuned. She picked up the signal –she is truly a “God hotspot’ just as we have WIFI hotspots to allow us to pick up signals for our mobile phones. Staying close to Mary means that we can pick up “God signals”. Mary does not say much but we know that she listened and pondered. We are told through scripture that God does not ‘speak’ as we may imagine but his voice comes through a gentle breeze and we need to be alert to the stillness of His encounter. Listening to God and to those around us needs to be cultivated especially in today’s world where we rush from one thing to another. Today I want to find some quiet time and listen to God’s voice in my soul. That evening I will place in the crib that quiet time that I set aside to listen to my soul.
Monday: Lord let me learn to listen with Mary’s ears
REFLECTION: Our founder wrote to a priest: “Strive consciously for the art of listening, that is to say, of listening and hearing what is unsaid and for the art of animated listening”. Listening with the ‘third ear’ or with the heart takes practice –it means that I turn my whole attention to the person talking to me and take in not only what they say, but how they are saying it and the circumstances in which they are saying it without judging. Today I want to give my whole attention to whoever wants to tell me something without being distracted. I want to encounter the other in the ‘sacramentality of the present moment’. Listening in such way can be truly a healing experience for the other. I shall place in the crib that evening my attempt at trying to ‘really listen to the other person’.
Tuesday: Let me guard against listening to negative talk
REFLECTION: In the course of each day we hear many things some of which are uplifting whilst others are not. Listening to gossip or negative talking can be a temptation for some. Training our ears is just as challenging as training our eyes and mouth! It is not easy to swim against the stream especially in the workplace where the conversation and the language being used leaves much to be desired. Extricating oneself from such company can be a challenge. Today I want to avoid listening to anything that does not ennoble or enhance one’s dignity. That evening I shall place in the crib one attempt at avoiding negative talking.
Wednesday: Let me help someone to listen
REFLECTION: How often have we not encountered the anguish of someone who says:- he or she does not listen to me! You may have the opportunity to help your neighbour to listen to his or her son/daughter. Obviously there should be some kind of trusting relationship before you can enter that space and assist. Creating spaces for dialogue and listening is a Godly-task. There are opportunities at home, in the workplace, in the movement to bring people together so that they can truly listen to each other. Today we are so caught up with fast paced technology and rapid communication that we actually do not really ‘encounter’ the other but zoom past one another. Relationships are known to break down because we have failed to listen to each other. That evening I shall place in the crib an attempt to help someone to listen to how they may be coming across or an attempt to help them to listen to someone.
Thursday: Let me pray for those listening to confession
REFLECTION: The sacrament of reconciliation is also a sacrament of listening with the ear of Christ-of being able to listen with a heart of mercy. This sacrament is not always understood and I know many who struggle with it. Some feel judged or cannot comprehend that it is Christ himself who is listening and taking them in. This needs grace but also needs confessors who are able to mediate through their listening the love and mercy of Christ himself. Some listen with anxiety –what will the confessor’s response be?- will he judge me? will he give me the third degree? That evening I shall place in the crib my own anxiety about confession or my gratitude for being blessed with a confessor who mediates a merciful, loving, listening attitude.
Friday: Let me thank for someone who healed through their listening
REFLECTION: Mary must have listened to discover that ‘they have no more wine’ and wanted to address this situation through her Son’s intervention. She then instructed the servants’ to listen to whatever he told them to do. Our founder said “whoever wants to paint my portrait has to represent me with my ear on the heart of God, my hand on the pulse of the times”. We all know someone who at one stage of our lives or the other took the time to listen to us. It could have been a teacher or a sister or priest –someone who ‘took us in -’ gave us the time to unburden or to share some trauma or difficulty. We experienced their listening as healing. They helped to make us ‘feel whole again’. When we reflect on those experiences then we realize the healing power of merciful listening. Unconditional listening is a facet of unconditional love. Let us name one of these ‘listening angels’ in our lives and place them in the crib that evening –in gratitude!
Saturday: When my ears are not so sharp let my heart be attentive
REFLECTION: I guess we have all been guilty of not listening properly and have experienced the unhappy consequences. It is then important to ‘make up’ especially if misunderstandings have damaged relationships. We know how easily words can be misunderstood or how we tend only listen to one part of a sentence and not the other especially in heated arguments. But we also know how hard it is to lose our hearing or to be in company where they are talking without noticing that we cannot hear. Listening in such circumstances can be a real challenge. Tuning in to people’s feelings thus becomes important. That evening I want to place in the crib my gift of hearing and ask the Christ-child to fine-tune my ears so that I can listen with my heart !!!