This book has helped me understand freedom and love, desire and fulfillment, femininity and masculinity. I never realized how much I needed Mary till I read it. My Protestant heritage did not set up Mary to play a role in my spiritual life. As a new Catholic, I accepted Marian dogmas and devotion; I even defended them, but I didn't really love them till I read The World's First Love by Fulton Sheen.

In Mary I find my vocation as a person. God could work His will through her because she had humility.

My soul doth magnify the Lord / and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior / because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid.
And she could be perfectly glorified in her Assumption and Coronation because she had no self-glory. She gave everything she was to God, fulfilling her human purpose. This morning, I woke up with hope, because even though it may seem impossible for God to work His perfect will through me, I know He can because He's done it before -- with Mary.

My vocation as a person is to give glory to God, and none to myself. Then my spirit can truly rejoice like Mary in her Magnificat.

In her I find my vocation as a woman.

"She has the vocation of generating life, either in the flesh or in the spirit..." - Chapter 6 - The Virgin Mother
She gave physical life to Our Lord, and she gives spiritual life to the Church as its mother. We are "her offspring, those who keep God's commandments and bear witness to Jesus." (Revelation 12:17)

My vocation as a woman is to give life, which is to give Christ. Mary gave Christ as no other could have possibly done!

"The key to understanding Mary is this: We do not start with Mary. We start with Christ, the Son of the Living God! The less we think of Him, the less we think of her; the more we think of Him, the more we think of her; the more we adore His Divinity, the more we venerate her Motherhood; the less we adore His Divinity, the less reason we have for respecting her." - (Ch. 5)

Gifts of 2010

A year ago, spending the first few moments of January 1, 2010 in the candle-lit chapel, praying and singing with my sister and our friends, asking God to sustain us in the new year.

Many days (and nights) of ice-skating on the pond with my family - racing, jumping, misusing hockey sticks, spinning, falling, and laughing.
Passing by the Church every day after class, often stopping and encountering the supernatural graces of adoration.

Enjoying chapters of Moby Dick every night (for a goodly time), being awed, amused, and better educated on whaling ships. Enjoying Martin Chuzzlewit after that and getting my much-loved annual dose of Dickens.

A Lent without music. A Holy Thursday Mass and constant adoration with my father and sister until midnight. A fervent and glorious Easter Vigil.
High school graduation, 18th birthday, first job. The opportunity to increase my solidarity with humanity by working a cash register and a drive-thru. Praising God that I could find a job in the employment wasteland of my hometown.

Sitting in the heat and light of the sun on the community college lawn, closing my eyes to the music and choosing Deas Vail every single time.

Meeting a Dominican sister in the Dairy Queen. A few months later, getting a letter from halfway across the country, explaining that she had met a friend of mine who gave her my address. Beginning a treasured correspondence.

Taking a roadtrip with my sister, listening to (m)orning by Mae as we drove into a sunrising sky. Meeting our family at the campgrounds, getting caught hiking in the rain to find shelter in a cleft and pray a rosary.
Stargazing late into the night with Future of Forestry's Traveler's Song repeating on my iPod.

Picnicking for my sister's birthday. Picknicking with my cousins. Picknicking often on the college campus with newly made friends.

Making use of the school's tucked away meditation room and rediscovering the mysteries of the Gospel with what became a daily rosary.

Eating Swiss cheese, talking to fish, watching childrens' movies, burning popcorn, playing outdated board games, re-enacting ET, and swaying in unison with my first roommate in the freshman dorm.

A global issues class that blew my mind twice a week.
A Psalter's concert that brought Psalms to my lips for weeks afterward.

Moongazing with a stranger on the campus lawn and talking theology for hours into the night, losing favor with campus security. Having the widest range of philosophical discussions I've ever had in any one semester of school.

Watching my little siblings get older. Conversing with the 2-year-old whose default answer to any question was "applesauce." Playing and laughing with them.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of both sets of grandparents! Savoring reunions and reminiscences and thanking God for my rare family heritage!

And the biggest gift of all: meeting my sister Maria on Christmas Day.

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