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 | By Father Andy Laframboise

Picking Dandelions

Dandelions growing all over our yards is a familiar summer sight. As a child, I remember picking dandelions to bring to my mom. I proudly picked them and proudly offered them. My mom joyfully received them as if I had just picked a dozen roses.

A dandelion is, of course, a weed. But my mother’s love transformed it into something more. Gifts are transformed into something far greater when received by one who loves us— but they can only be transformed if they are offered.

For his pontificate, St. John Paul II took the motto Totus Tuus (totally yours) to express the entrustment of his mission to Mary. “From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s will in all things. From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary we learn to love Christ, her Son and the Son of God,” he said.

Marian devotion is so important in our faith. This image of the dandelion helps me make sense of what Mary can do. When I give her my simple dandelions, she can transform them. This image helps us enter into the mystery of the Eucharist as well. At the Mass, we bring forth simple gifts of bread and wine, “the work of human hands” and we offer these to the Father, asking the Spirit to come down and transform them into the Body and Blood of our Lord.

Is it hard to pray? Is it hard to grow in virtue? Do you feel as if you have little to offer, as if what you have will make no difference in your life, in your family, in the world?

Often, we feel that what we have to offer is a weed or an imperfection that we think we would be better off without. Not always. Even St. Paul learned a beautiful lesson from Jesus about his weakness, “My grace is sufficient for you. Power is made perfect through weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). The Lord Jesus can make all things new. I encourage you to have Marian devotion part of your life of prayer. Many families have drawn close to the Lord through the praying of the rosary or other Marian devotions. With every “Hail Mary,” we are entrusting our simple gifts to the hands of Mary, confident that her love will transform them into something beautiful for the King of Kings. Mary teaches us how to gaze upon the face of Jesus. She teaches us how to persevere as a disciple of Jesus. From the cradle to the cross, her entire life is given to the Lord.

On Aug. 15, we celebrate Mary’s Assumption, body and soul, into heaven. This is our patronal feast for the Diocese of Saginaw. As we reflect on the fruits of the Synod, discerning how the Lord is calling our Church to journey together in discipleship, let's ask Mary to teach us how to gaze on Jesus, how to follow Jesus, how to be open to the will of the Father and docile to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. In the Magnificat publication, there was a beautiful reflection from Caryll Houselander, a mid-20th century British artist and spiritual author. She said, “Too many anxious Christians today think that their efforts to preach and teach and enter into outward activities can do more to save the world than the surrender of their souls to God, to become Christ-bearers. They believe that they can do more than our Lady did, and they have not time to stop to consider the absurdity of this.”

When you find yourself frantic because of a full calendar, a life full of problems, or anxious about decisions that you need to make, remember to make this act of surrender. Pick the dandelions. Give them to Mary. She’ll help you receive the love of the Lord.

Father Andy Laframboise is pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in Reese and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish in Vassar, and director of priestly vocations. He holds a licentiate in Sacred Theology in Marriage and Family Studies from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.