Moments of Love with Mary
– The Spiritual Letter Box –
Contradiction in the Apostolate
I am a grandmother coming to you to seek a little consolation. I have had six children and can affirm that I have never known hardship since my husband has always been a good worker, strong, lively and straightforward. My children are on their own, being all well married.
In the course of my life I have given a certain amount of my time to different associations. It has been in these groups that I have experienced deceptions of all kinds, to the point where I simply gave up everything to live in peace at home.
Now that I am free, being alone with my husband, and having a certain talent for organization (I say this without any boasting), I have decided to devote my time to different good works, especially in the Army of Mary which has just been founded in my parish. Well, I was experiencing too great a happiness; and I will have to pay for it again!… We have a good group composed of the young and the not-so-young. I am the oldest but I am not for all that the least alert. There are 32 in the Center and everything is going smoothly. We have undertaken a number of projects and everyone is happy.
Can you then explain to me how it happens that we are subject to the most surprising criticism from persons who know nothing of our meetings since they have never attended them?… This time I am certainly not dropping out. We have dedicated ourselves to a good cause whilst everything is going wrong elsewhere.
I can assure you that it would be very easy for me to answer back, something I have done in the past… But in the Army of Mary we must overlook the faults of others while rooting out our own. This makes sense, but it is not always easy to do. Apparently that is one of the principal conditions to belong to the group.
Also, I can assure you that the cutting retort which came so easily to my lips in other times has now changed to a more charitable consideration of others. This has brought me a profound happiness which I have never experienced before. Isn’t it true that the more we give ourselves to the interior life the more beautiful it becomes? I can tell you that we are never too old to learn! My gratitude to the group which had the courage to make a foundation amongst us.
If you were the confidant of our Animators you would soon find consolation and encouragement, for criticism is not lacking anywhere in the apostolate or in any other field of activity. Should we be surprised when we come across it? No.
First of all, permit me to congratulate you for your devotion to our Marian cause. When the duties of our state of life become less pressing, there is nothing better to fill out our days and bring us genuine joy than giving ourselves to a Work. Besides, it is in giving that we receive. Moreover, serving others for the love of the Lord and His Mother bears fruit in eternity.
You seem to have a good grasp of the program of the Army of Mary. First of all, personal interior reform! We must not be scandalized by unfavorable reactions or criticisms from others, for the roots of pettiness are deep in the human heart. Even in our own! How often do we not have to repress certain feelings which arise when we least expect them? And repress certain outbursts, and have to make an effort to make a gesture of renouncement, of friendship, of gentleness?… Each day is marked with many occasions for such an exercise, repeated over and over; but through them we acquire those wonderful virtues which lead to perfection.
We must strive to go on building and to ignore contradiction. We must always remember that it is necessary, for God permits such shadows in order that good may acquire its full value. Look upon criticism as a grace which perfumes our works and multiplies their merits. In this life, the finest works can be perverted, here where evil watches alongside good. Moreover, contradiction and contempt keep the apostolic soul humble. Humility is the most necessary of virtues if divine Works are to succeed, for “humility is the ground upon which all other virtues rest.” Blessed Father Kolbe, beatified last year, said, “When a work is of God, it must be persecuted even by the good.” Before any work, however good it may be, can be brought to a successful and efficacious conclusion, it must first know criticism even from those who should be its defenders. Before they are won over to it, they are its most vehement adversaries. We need only remember Saint Paul; a wonderful example that is being repeated again today.
So let us go forward and not be concerned with those who would throw up obstacles and lay traps for us. They are always the first to stumble and trip over them and they only provide us with a zeal which makes us advance more quickly.
It is the hour of Mary! “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph,” she said in terminating her message at Fatima. Her message has been heard and lived by the humble souls that have faithfully followed her maternal counsels. Thus, today these Marian souls are brought together by the Army of Mary which takes them into its ranks.
The proof that the message of the Mother of God has been heard and lived is in the growth in quality and numbers of the Army of Mary Centers whose expansion is truly remarkable.
This process of renewal is the work of Mary our Mother. It was she who prepared these souls in silence, in the shadow of the cross, at a time when Satan seemed (and still seems) to be be victorious.
It is for us now to remain the docile, humble and charitable instruments on which Mary can rely at all times for the extension of the reign of God through her maternal intercession.
(Review, “L’Armée de Marie”, volume II, no. 4)