September 2020 Allocutio
Trust Her Completely
Fr. Paul Churchill
During the first total lockdown resulting from the growing spread of Covid 19 earlier this Spring I had a particular experience. Many others, based on their accounts, had a similar experience. What I found was that some sins I had forgotten about or some embarrassing incidents of the past came back into my mind. And I felt at times that I was being shown the worst side of myself, that I was a greater sinner or more stupid and inept that I had imagined.
As I reflect on this experience a few thoughts occur to me. Did the lockdown, by removing my normal activity, provide an opportunity for these repressed memories to come back to the fore? This in turn leads to the question whether my active life is a form of defence to block out awkward or difficult events in my life which need healing and if so what other matters might I be repressing? Was this also a sign that our past history is locked away in us and if so is this a foresight of what may be involved in my personal judgement and even hint at what purgatory may be about since it is clear I have not properly dealt with some parts of my past?
But there was one other effect of this experience. It was humbling. Between the sins in various forms, and those acts and words showing my embarrassing stupidity and lack of competence, I realised all the more that I am my own worst enemy. The words of Our Lord come to mind “Without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).
This has been compounded for me all the more by another experience. I am currently preparing to move office and in that task have been going over old files having to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. And in that work I am reading reports I made nearly 40 years ago. I cringe occasionally with embarrassment as I read what I wrote as a neophyte lacking both knowledge and experience. Even if sometimes I was proven right, in other cases I got things spectacularly wrong. Again it is humbling.
But what I see in all this is not a cause to be depressed but to see it as grace. The saints have spoken about how God showed them more and more the horror of their sins. And indeed to be shown how limited and vulnerable we are only makes us turn more to God and to rely less and less on ourselves. It helps us to see, given our risky judgment, that we need to ask the help of others, to seek guidance and advice and that, not least of all, in our relation to God.
One definite person we must turn to in this unveiling of our truth is Our Lady. She is the most humble of all souls. As she said, “He looks on the low estate of his handmaiden” (Lk 1:48). She has no fancy ideas about herself. She, despite her sinlessness, knows how small she is. At the same time, in her Magnificat, she expresses in full grateful humility the goodness shown her, “He who is mighty does great things for me” (Lk 1:49).
So when you consider that we know little, make mistakes, misjudge, try things we are not up to, prove ourselves often as inadequate and inept and then add to that our sins, we need to be very humble. Like little children who know how vulnerable they are we need a good mother. Let us turn to Mary with her compassionate eyes and heart and seek her help and protection and guidance. She knows we need help.
At the Last Supper Our Lord, knowing that his disciples were going to enter a moment of moral collapse, provided for their future by promising them the Spirit of Truth. I strongly suspect that after his Resurrection Mary saw that they still needed that one thing, the Spirit of Truth, and got them together to pray. She had been the receptacle of this Spirit earlier herself and she wants them to receive his gift. Let us turn and ask her for that gift in our lives so that we may know our own truth, how nothing we are without God’s help.
But in true and full humility we must also keep in our hearts that we can come good, no matter where we have been. “He who is mighty has done great things for me”. These words can become ours. Why? Because, as the angel said to Mary “Nothing is impossible for God” (Lk 1:37). I am not impossible to God. My worst sins are not beyond his mercy. All things can be turned to good for those whom God loves and who love God (Rm 8:28).
So if you wake up spiritually in some way and realise your life has been full of selfishness and fraud and you appear to have no grace, do not despair. Turn to Mary and ask her help. Do not doubt that she will help you. Why? Because she is the best of all mothers. Which is why Jesus gave her to us all as our mother. With a mother’s great love she will pick you up and bring you to the Inn of the Holy Spirit who will change you. We can trust her completely.