I love lists . . . maybe a little bit too much.
I don't so much like reading them; I'm more into list making. For me, making a list is the third step in the complicated process of how I deal with stress.
Step 1 is really simple: I freak out and start panicking.
Step 2 is where I calm down by wasting time. This is my favorite step, and there are several options, such as: Netflix, iPod apps, and a little slice of paradise I like to call 'the internet.” I'm especially good at these first two steps.
Finally, after panicking and wasting time, I eventually make a list so I can take care of one thing at a time. As I start getting things done, momentum builds and all of a sudden the list doesn't seem so impossible.
To-Do: Become Holy
Way too often, my relationship with God can seem like an overwhelming list of things I need to change. I am stressed out enough by the 10 things that I have to get done today, never mind the 400 things that I need to work on to become a better follower of Christ.
This whole month of May, we are invited to take time to honor Mary, the Mother of God. Can you imagine how stressful her 'to do' list could've been? All God was asking her to do was care for His Son! (Feed Him, teach Him everything, and protect Him because He depends on you. No pressure at all, right?)
What’s Her Secret?
How did she do it? How did she manage to remain focused on God while she had the most unique and challenging role in all of human history? And how could I possibly be anything like her, when I get stressed out by the everyday pressures of my comfortable life? Her Immaculate life was so unlike my own awkward existence that I had no idea where to even begin if I was going to try to imitate her.
Then someone told me about St. Louis DeMonfort's 10 Virtues of Mary. This 'Top 10' list is taken from what we learn about Mary from Scripture. Rather than just being 10 more reminders of how pathetic I am compared to Mary, I love this list because I know I can pray and work on growing in these virtues one at a time.
The 10 Virtues of Mary
- Ardent Charity: Letting her love for God be the driving force behind every decision
- Profound Humility: Knowing who she is before God, nothing more and nothing less
- Universal Mortification: Seeking to lay down her life and her will at every moment
- Constant Mental Prayer: Always being aware of God's presence
- Blind Obedience: Following God's call without counting the cost
- Divine Wisdom: Always begging for God's Spirit to guide her
- Surpassing Purity: Having a heart immaculately clean and unstained by sin
- Angelic Sweetness: Radiating joy and peace to everyone she encountered
- Lively Faith: Constantly seeking God's will and never settling for complacency
- Heroic Patience: Always trusting that God was on the move; having more faith in His plans than her own
Don't be overwhelmed. Choose one virtue at a time; maybe it's one that you really feel drawn to or just one that you really struggle with. One of the coolest things about Mary is that she is not just someone from history; she is still our Mother today and she is always praying for us, supporting us, and leading us closer to her Son.