Are You Married, or Mary’d?

One of the fondest memories I have of my wife happened when we were first dating.  

We were watching a soccer game at a local park and while we were waiting for the second half to begin, we went back to the car to grab water bottles so as to quench our thirst on the hot summer day.  

She had her Bible sitting on the passenger’s seat and, in an effort to woo her, I turned to one of the more beautiful passages from the book of Proverbs called “The Ideal Wife” (Proverbs 31:10-31).  After reading it aloud in her native Spanish, I felt like Don Juan swimming in a pool of tender (cheesy), heartfelt and truly spirited love.  She (or God) must have felt the same way, because a year later we were married.  

Married.  That word, in fact that whole passage about “The Ideal Wife,” took on new meaning four years after we made our vows.  It wasn’t until then that I realized that to be married is to be Mary’d!

Let me explain using Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s words:

“She [Mary] is forever a ‘traitor’ in the sense that she will not accept any devotion for herself, but will always bring anyone who is devoted to her to her Divine Son. As those who lose devotion to her lose belief in the Divinity of Christ, so those who intensify devotion to her gradually acquire that belief.” (Taken from Archbishop Sheen’s book, The World’s First Love)

You see, as I searched for perfection in a woman, I sought the Ideal Wife from Proverbs 31.  But little did I know that such a woman already existed, Mary, and I was really searching for her.

So when the Psalmist writes about this perfect woman in the following ways,

“She secures her provisions from afar,” 
Who better did this than Mary who wrapped her Babe in swaddling clothes?
Who better does this today than my wife who carries that same Babe within her soul swaddled in the virtues humility and wisdom?

“She distributes food to her household,”
Who brought us the spiritual food of the Eucharist to satisfy our deepest hunger? God through Mary.
Who helps bring physical food to our table to nourish our bodies and strengthen our souls? God through my wife.

“She reaches out to the poor,”
Who but Mary would I want to take me by the hand to meet her Son?
Who but my wife has already united three, Jesus, her and me, through the sacrament symbolized by the infinite circle that wraps around my ring finger?

And the list goes on (so does Proverbs 31)…

I see my wife with one eye and God’s perfect mother with the other. If God truly is love, and if I as a Christian am to imitate Jesus’ manifestation of this virtue, then surely my love for His mother should be no different than His love for her.  At the same time, my love for my wife should be no less, especially since she too is a “traitor,” like Mary, in the sense that she takes my love and brings it to the sacrificial and sacramental fountain of God.  

This is why I make less distinction between the two as I live out my vocation, for I am not only married, I’m Mary’d!


The World’s First Love by Fulton J. Sheen

 

Front CoverVery few books have the ability to envelope one’s mind and soul as much as Fulton J. Sheen’s, The World’s First Love.  I must admit that for the past few months, the majority of my time has not been dedicated to the Guardian Angels of Education.  Rather, it has been dedicated to savoring the spiritual food that this book presents.  On every page it seemed like there is something delectable to chew on, to ponder, and to fall more in love with in regard to Our blessed Mother.  
It has been a month since I finished this book, and as I write this post, I am still enamored with the vibrations of Sheen’s words.  His sheer love for our Spiritual Mother is painted in the eloquence of his words that so beautifully describe her. In this book, he describes Our Lady’s role our tireless spiritual companion and he calls us to recognize her importance amongst the backdrop of modern society.  
One of the arguments he makes is that the roles of both men and women have changed  since the promotion of a equality amongst genders.  He claims that since men and women are becoming more and more “equal” in the economic and social senses, the rearing of “real men” and “real women” has been affected to a point that little honor is given to either of the sexes.  He argues that women and their innate nurturing dispositions are the foundation of functional society.  Like Mary, their ability to foster boys and girls into “real men” and “real women” is pivotal to the survival of our race.  Without strong women, both men and children lack direction and love.
As I stated before, this book is filled with so much spiritual “meat” that every page requires the reader to ponder in their hearts the meaning of Mary’s role in their lives as well as her importance to Christ’s plan of salvation.  It is the best book I have read in many years and I recommend it to anyone who has questions about Mary or the Catholic Church in general.

Live Jesus in our hearts forever!

The Rosary, a Christian Teacher’s Best Resource

For a very long time, the Church faithful have received many graces in the contemplative prayer of the Rosary.  For those who are unfamiliar with it, the Rosary looks a bit like this: 
Each bead represents a repetitive prayer that is said (normally out loud) which creates a certain tone of “background music” that is perfect for putting yourself in the presence of God.  Each set of 10 beads is meant to put yourself into a scriptural moment of Jesus’ life.  Each day, these Biblical moments change from the Joyful times of His birth, the Luminous moments of His teachings, the Sorrowful times of His death,  and the Glorious moments of His resurrection.  In short, the Rosary is a very effective way to ponder the life of Jesus so that we can then imitate His virtues in our daily lives.
Christian Teachers (not just Catholics either) have everything to gain from this method of prayer because it brings clarity to our spirits and reason to our vocation.  At the end of each day, we know full well whether it was Joyful, Sorrowful, Luminous, or Glorious.  A well prayed Rosary helps us unify such sentiments with the life of Christ, thus unifying His love for us with our love for Education. 
It just so happens that October is the month of the Rosary.  I would encourage the entire Guardian Angel community, Catholic and Protestant alike, to take some time and pray the Rosary this month.  You can dedicate it to the salvation of your students, the success of your school or for whichever other intention you desire.  For more information on how to pray the Rosary, check out Tomsdomain.com. It gives a good explanation that will take you through the step-by-step process. 

If you do not have an actual Rosary, do not worry.  The website will lead you through with just a couple mouse clicks.  Even if the site wasn’t available, your fingers are just as good of a Rosary as the actual beaded strings.  Also, as a quick word of advice, don’t worry if the repetitive prayers seems more like a mantra then a spiritual moment with God. 
The more you contemplate the scriptural mysteries that the Rosary provides, the easier it is to go deeper into the setting in which Jesus presents Himself to you.  Don’t be afraid to let Him take you by the hand and guide you through His life.  You’ll be surprised just how much you’ll learn about your own.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever!

To the “Mothers” of Education

There are very few people who would argue that the field of Education is dominated by females. According to the statistics, women make up around 70% of our nation’s teachers. These chosen women have the distinct blessing to educate the students of our nation that make up 24% of our total population.

As they demonstrate their love for their students in the classroom, it is not uncommon to hear them refer to them as their “kids.” This maternal term of endearment makes today’s reflection the perfect start for our Mother’s Day weekend celebrations; for these women truly are the foundations of our classroom families.

But, these daughters of God were not always in the position of educators. Michael J. Sedlak, an Educational researcher from Michigan State University, describes the early years of our nation’s schools:

“During the Colonial era, and through the mid-nineteenth century, the vast majority of teachers in America were young, white men. There were, of course, some female teachers: women in cities who taught small children the alphabet, for example, or farm girls who managed groups of young students during a community’s brief summer session. But when districts recruited schoolmasters to take charge of their winter session scholars—boys and girls of all ages—they commonly hired men for the work. Convinced that good deportment was synonymous with good learning, community leaders believed that women lacked the stature—physical and social—to win or impose the authority and discipline essential to an efficient school.”

Sedlack goes on to describe how religion played a part in the establishment of our school systems and how women were able to benefit from this spiritual calling:

“… During the Colonial era, male-dominated pedagogy had assumed that children were sinful and possessed an inherent inclination toward evil that had to be controlled with force and intimidation, at least until they were old enough to experience a genuine conversion. ‘Christian nurture,’ as the new doctrine came to be called, increasing rejected assumptions about innate sinfulness and encouraged a view of children as capable of moving gradually toward the conversion experience that signified salvation… [Then] new pedagogies surfaced to enable teachers to fashion an educational environment that could nurture and guide children instead of controlling them physically or frightening them with images of eternal damnation. The personalities and dispositions of women were assumed to be particularly suited to performing this nurturing function.”

“…by 1850 a majority of the nation’s teachers (particularly in the Northeast and Mid-west) were women. The ‘feminization of teaching,’ as this trend has become known, continued through the early twentieth century, by which time roughly four out of five teachers were women. Virtually all teachers in elementary schools—where the greatest expansion occurred—were women. The remaining male stronghold—the high school—was still a small rung on the educational ladder; it was not until after the turn of the century, when teaching conditions began to improve and secondary schooling became increasingly universal, that men began to return to teaching. By the 1930s an overall gender ratio of 70% female to 30% male was achieved; it has remained constant since then (Clifford, 1989; Rury, 1989; Sedlak & Schlossman, 1986).”

So there you have it, a brief history on how God was able to bring women into one of the greatest positions in helping build and maintain God’s Kingdom. Through their maternal instincts, care for youth and spiritual strength, they have made more silent impacts on the lives of their “kids” than one can fathom. For that reason, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our female teachers around the world and wish them a happy Mother’s Day.
May Jesus live in our hearts forever!

References
Sedlak, M. W. (1989). Let us go buy a school master: Historical perspectives on the hiring of teachers in the United States, 1750-1980. D. Warren (Ed.), American teacher: Histories of a profession at work.
Sedlak, M. W., & Schlossman, S. (1986). Who will teach? Historical perspectives on the changing appeal of teaching as a profession. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation
And others found online at http://wakingbear.com/history.htm