In these or similar words ...

Dear Mary,
I haven’t spent a lot of time talking with you since I was a child. Now, doing this retreat, I want to move closer to your son, and I find myself wanting to get to know you. In the past weeks as I’ve been praying, I have been picturing your life and the way you lived it with Joseph and Jesus. I see the way you taught Jesus, and as I watch you struggle with being a parent and dealing with married life, I find myself able to connect with you more.

I want so deeply to receive the grace and courage to live my life the way Jesus did. Please ask Jesus to accept me in my struggle to serve him. I can see the many ways I cling to my pride, arrogance, and independence from God. I always think of independence as a very good thing, and yet when I try to be independent from God, it’s really my way of trying to be God. Go to your son, please, Mary. Ask Jesus to help me to accept my limitations, to embrace them as sources of grace in my life. My struggle for perfection won’t bring me closer to God, but my struggle to accept my flaws might.

Hail Mary, full of grace . . .

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Oh, Jesus,
I turn to you in such humility. I am so drawn to the kind of life you led on earth, but it seems impossible for me! I am so caught up in the subtlest kind of struggle: a few honors or awards here or there are nice, but they’re never enough. I want more honors, more recognition. I have restructured my life to fit the opinion of the world, and slowly I have drifted away from the kind of life I want to lead.
I ask myself, What can it hurt? At first it’s just some applause, some people telling me how wonderful I am. But then I read the retreat guide for this week and I know what is wrong — how subtly the world has changed my viewpoint. Suddenly I am the honors and awards, and if they stop, what will become of me? I have lost myself in this career climbing, out of balance life. It’s not that my job is bad or even that the honors are harmful; it’s that I have lost my perspective. Dear Jesus, ask God to help me to resist the things in this world that keep me from the humility and poverty of a life like yours.
Jesus, may all that is in you flow into me . . .
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Loving God,
You put your son on this earth to become one of us — for us. Help me to watch how he lived and pattern my life after his. I know that with my arrogance and independence I want to do this myself, but now, at least for today, at this moment, I know I can’t. Please, God, give me the grace to imitate Jesus in all things, even those that frighten me. I’m not even looking at the dramatic things like torture and crucifixion, but at the way he simply put the needs of other people ahead of his own. Dear God, I want to live like that but I am sometimes so far away from it.

Be with me in my struggle. Let me only seek your approval for my life. Let me become aware of the quiet ways in which I am seduced away from following your son to becoming a slave to the world.
Our Father, who art in heaven . . .

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