Sunday, March 22, 2015

How a speeding ticket was the answer to a prayer

Let me start by saying that this Lent has been really, really hard. Not in specific penances I picked. Not in physical circumstances. But this Lent for me, more than any others has been a constant battle to surrender my will.

It started on Ash Wednesday. I normally really enjoy attending Mass. I look forward to it all day when I'm going in the evening, or surrender some morning sleep time if that opportunity affords itself. And Ash Wednesday has always been one of my favorite days of the year. The mark of a fresh start. I was excited for Lent this year, and had chosen over several weeks what things to put in place for this particular Lenten season- what spiritual growth I was going to work on, what small sacrifices I could make, and what type of almsgiving would be my focus for this season.

Ash Wednesday this year though found me in a sour mood... internally struggling all day even to convince myself to go to Mass. Fasting... but doing so without a cheerful heart. Not a good way to start the season. And it continued this way... I would catch myself mourning the loss of some small thing, a soda or coffee, or that 4th tab on my internet browser, or some such thing and rather than offer up that sacrifice, dwell upon it.

I went on a retreat that first weekend of Lent and I renewed my resolve a bit. But I still failed. On a daily basis, I was realizing over and over again that my heart wasn't in the right place at all.

During this time, I'm also renewing my consecration to Jesus through the Heart of Mary on the Feast of the Annunciation. This will be my two year anniversary of consecrating myself to Mary. This year, I'm using a daily devotional book published by Montfort Publications. It has broken each day down quite nicely with the reading, a reflection from St Louis de Montfort and then a question or two to ponder and the prayers for the day.

This morning, the topic concerned obedience. Particularly, St. Louis De Montfort pointed out that Christ was obedient to His mother for thirty years. For thirty years, He obeyed His earthly parents and lived a quiet life with them in the family when He could have been performing miracles and converting the world through sermons and works! Clearly, His ways are not our ways. He spent the bulk of His time here on earth as the simple son of a carpenter, dwelling with his family in a home full of love. Being obedient to Mary, Joseph and to His Heavenly Father.

The question for today that got me? "Are you obedient? Or rebellious?" Oooooh. Yikes. I have never found obedience easy. Especially obedience rooted in faith, without the answer to my incessant "why". So, I asked God to grant me the desire to be obedient, and for the Blessed Mother to pray that I may have the strength to follow her example of obedience to God. That was at 7:00 in the morning.

Fast forward to 9:00 am, and I'm on the side of the road, with flashing lights behind me. The sign said one number, I chose to ignore it because "clearly I know better than the sign, right?" Not so much.

What had really taken place though didn't hit me until I was meditating on the rosary this afternoon. The Joyful mysteries. Which I realized today, all deal with obedience. The 4th mystery, when Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the Temple, has always struck me as a beautiful sign of their obedience to the Law. Even as they are holding God Himself in their arms- an excuse if ever there was one to ignore the ritual, they follow it. And in doing so, allow for the Law to later be fulfilled. But the other mysteries, too, I realized today all centered on obedience- Mary's yes to God, her immediately leaving to visit Elizabeth- becoming the first evangelist, her then bring Christ to the world through the nativity, and lastly, the obedience of Christ when, after as a 12 year old, adult male, He is found in the Temple, He returns to be obedient to His parents.

Not once, do any of these examples ask the "why"? Nor do they question the importance of obedience.

So how does a speeding ticket fit in? Because that ticket, in a small way is teaching me obedience. Following the speed limit on an empty road might seem arbitrary to me. But that doesn't mean it is. There are, chiefly, good reasons for that limit to be in place. Safety reasons. Respect of Life reasons. And while for some reason, it's easy to convince myself that a speed limit isn't really much of a law... it is still just that. A law. And a just law. Christ said to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" and that certainly pertains to far more than taxes. So... I may not know the why. And I may not like the rule. But I will be obedient to it. Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it! Help me to be obedient in these small things.

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