Lend Me Your Heart

 In Family

Summer is for family, food, and fun. It is also a perfect time for family reunions.

As I head back from our family reunion last weekend, I looked at my own family from the different vantage point that comes with age, experience, and having kids. I was able to take Mary up on her offer to “lend me her heart”.

On day 18 of my Marian consecration, I learned that only Mary can love with a pure heart, that she will “lend us her heart” to enable us to love as she does. Many have a relative who is difficult or has hurt them, I have some, too. But I borrowed Mary’s heart. I was able to have very positive interactions and appreciate all of the great things about my family rather than focus on the warts.

With my mother and the remaining living 14 siblings and offsprings coming from all over the U.S.–from New Jersey to Chicago to Phoenix–our family reunions are mammoth gatherings that come together about every decade. Just keeping up with who actually is in our family can be a challenge, particularly when meeting in a public venue.

With Mary’s heart, I was able to move past the more devout Catholic aunt who alluded several times to the discrimination of women in the Church because of no women priests, etc., and appreciate the humor of hearing my uncle tell juicy stories about our family as we wandered in the cemetery adjacent to the small country church the siblings attended when growing up on the farm.

With Mary’s heart I was able to see many individuals and families doing right and worthy of copying.

My uncle who lost my favorite aunt to cancer six years ago has responded with a deep devotion to his faith and a wonderful commitment to his kids and grandkids. He and his granddaughter started a tradition of a granddaughter / grandfather annual trip. He has been compiling a diary with pictures documenting their travels he plans to give her when she is eighteen.

Becoming acquainted with the large family of ten kids who grew up and all live in the Chicago area was an insight into the joy of generosity; all the kids are close and their children are developing deep bonds with their cousins. Although it was great to see my favorite cousin the last day of the reunion, it was sad to hear her third marriage failed and she was now on her 4th relationship. The wounds and legacy of broken families that she grew up in unfortunately often pass down to many generations.

So it was a mixed bag.

But with Mary’s heart, I can love them the way God wants me to do, accepting the good and the bad in them as I accept the good and the bad in myself.

Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip: Borrow Mary’s heart the next time you are with extended family.

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