Every time I do the Total Consecration to Mary, something happens to my eyes.
It doesn’t happen right away, but about half way through the 40 days of prayers I begin to see everyone differently. Don’t worry inhabitants of Phoenix, it’s not like crash, boom, bang, and Christina can see your SOUL. I ain’t no Padre Pio folks!
The Blessed Mother opens up my eyes to see how beautiful people are. And I mean everyone – not just the people who society defines as beautiful. (Which to be honest, I’m not even sure what that is anymore because no one qualifies when inspected under the lens of perfection.)
In seeking to understand Mary’s heart, and become more like her, I keep crashing up against the reality of God’s love reflected in the people around me. We were made by the hands of God. He willed every one of us into existence. You may have heard this before but God is love. That’s what His essence is. God created you because He was so in love with the idea of you (Jeremiah 1:5). You’re still here because He loves you so much He wants you to share your brand of “awesome” with the world.
Love, love, love – everything springs from love and comes back to love.
When I look at the people around me, whether it’s the homeless woman pushing a shopping cart down the street, or the tired father putting a dollar in the collection basket at Mass, or the teenage girl walking into church carrying a milkshake (which is as good of an idea as bringing your bird collection to Mass)… I can’t help but think of how beautiful and how beloved they are in God’s eyes.
If my first reaction is to judge someone, I pray my second reaction is always to remember this truth.
Mary knew that beauty wasn’t found in superficial ways. During one apparition, she said, “I am beautiful because I love. You, too, are beautiful when you love.”
I don’t think you’re beautiful only because God created you that way. I think you’re beautiful because there’s love in your heart. It doesn’t matter if your heart is the size of the Grinch at the beginning or at the end of the movie – you still have a heart.
And I know you use it.
I know you care about your family even when you slam the door.
I know you love God, even when you’re mad at Him for something.
I know you care about the well-being of others even if you trash-talk them sometimes.
Those are the little things, the little acts of love that God sees and understands. Those are the things that define you, that make your whole being beautiful. That doesn’t make up for our sins and failings, and it certainly doesn’t excuse them… but it means there are shreds of goodness even in the midst of our brokenness.
The definition of beautiful isn’t an absence of sin or blemishes; it’s the presence of love. Beautiful is not about having arms like Michelle Obama, but like Mother Teresa.
Mary sees what’s truly beautiful in you, because that’s what God sees. And sometimes, just sometimes… that’s what I see, like when I’m more tuned-in to Mary’s heart during the Marian Consecration.
I just wish I could run up to everyone and say “Hi, I’m Christina! What’s your favorite color? Do you know how beautiful you are?” … and probably follow that up with a great big hug. But I can’t. Because life isn’t a movie and those people get arrested.
So this is the best I can do…
Hi, I’m Christina. Do you know how beautiful you are? God made you out of pure love, and He sees even the tiniest act of charity you do! My prayer for you is that at the end of the day, when you’re exhausted and tired of having to deal with everything that’s going on in your life… all the decisions, and stress, and heartbreak… that in those moments you won’t feel dejected and ugly because of the ways you failed, but you’ll feel hopeful because of the few times you chose to love. I pray you’ll feel beautiful, whoever you are, because you can feel God’s loving, adoring gaze and hear His whisper that says, “Keep going, my beautiful and beloved child. Keep loving.”