I have always thrived on new adventures. As I am unafraid of flying and always seek to visit new places, I am undaunted by exploring a far-away land where I may not speak the local language. Even six years ago, when I traveled to South Korea as an English teacher, I was more filled with joy at the thought of new horizons than I was bothered by worries. Yet, when I accepted a teaching job situated in the heart of New York City, I was filled with excitement, but also a profound sense of dread.
This move was unlike my year-long stint in Korea or my month teaching in China, where I knew I would eventually return to living in Kentucky. However, moving to New York was probably permanent, as my fiancé and I will more than likely settle in the New England area after we are married. I came to understand that I thrived on temporary adventures instead of permanent, life-altering adventures.
Consequently, as the date of my move to New York City approached, I became increasingly anxious, wondering if I had accepted the right job or if the move was even smart to begin with. I wondered how I would function without my family living mere yards up the road. Though my fiancé would be only 30 miles away, I wondered if I would have to resign myself to a life of loneliness between the long school days. But, in a timely way, Our Lord reminded me that even in a city, hundreds of miles from my biological family, I would not only have a family through His Church, but also through consecration to Mary.
A Home on Every Corner
As I prepared for my move, I continued my regular practice of engaging the daily Mass readings and devotionals. One devotional writer, from women’s ministry Blessed is She, eloquently described our home as where Jesus is. This place is ultimately heaven after we die in friendship with Christ, but while on Earth, our home is also where Jesus is present in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. With this seed of joy planted in my heart, I realized that my home is in any one of nearly 300 Catholic churches in New York City and the surrounding area. I would never truly be alone.
To take this sense of familial bond a step further, I was reminded of my consecration to Mary, which I had made on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 2017. On the day I flew from Kentucky to New York, I was delighted to discover a brown and a green scapular, mailed from an international friend, in my mailbox before I left. This brought me great comfort, reminding me that, as I traveled to my new home, Jesus and Mary would also go with me.
Mary in the City
However, within my first few days in the city, I was overwhelmed by unpacking and adjusting to my new surroundings. No amount of scapulars in the mail would help me unload suitcases as I waited for my air conditioner to be installed. Though I called home often to talk to my mother, it wasn’t the same as if I walked up to her front porch and talked face to face with her about the work of making my small apartment a home.
In this little instance, no real problem in the grand scheme of life but difficult in the moment, the Holy Spirit reminded me that now was the time to lean more upon the supernatural love of Christ and my consecration to Our Lady. Through the loss of the geographical proximity to my family here on Earth, I was pushed more towards holiness and Heaven.
St. Louis de Montfort, perhaps the strongest advocate for consecration to Mary, writes this:
“Our entire perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ. Hence the most perfect of all devotions is undoubtedly that which conforms, unites and consecrates us most perfectly to Jesus Christ. Now, since Mary is of all creatures the one most conformed to Jesus Christ, it follows that among all devotions that which most consecrates and conforms a soul to our Lord is devotion to Mary, his Holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to her the more will it be consecrated to Jesus Christ.”
It was in my little sufferings that I found Jesus, guided by His Mother. When I was frustrated that I had packed so much in my suitcases, that my air conditioner wasn’t installed as quickly as I wanted, and that feelings of missing home crept into the back of my mind, or when I felt like all of the overwhelming feelings of moving were too much, I thought of Mary and her many sorrows, including the temporary loss of Jesus in the temple, His crucifixion, and His burial.
Admittedly my tiny inconveniences were not as hurtful as watching my child die an unjust death. However, I was missing those I loved, as Mary may have felt during the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt, or again when Joseph died and when Jesus left home. Through my consecration to Mary, I knew I was not only in the company of Holy Mother Church, but also under the mantle of Our Lady. By the imitation of Mary, I grow closer and closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, even in the depths of New York City living.
Trust is Not Disappointed
Already I can see how Jesus and Mary have indeed been taking care of me. A little over a month after my move, I can attest that my transition was smoother than I could ever have anticipated. All of my belongings were stored away neatly, and eventually my air conditioner was installed. In the afternoons before my job training started, when I began to feel lonely, I remembered that in the church across the street, Jesus waited for me in the Tabernacle. I remembered my Rosary beads and my consecration, knowing that Mary was ready to help me become more like Jesus.
Yes, even in the city, where life is fast and sometimes more burdensome, Jesus is there. And where Jesus is, His Mother is never too far behind.