By now, each of us, man and woman alike, must feel like a slave to every person near and dear to us, and maybe some not so near and dear to us. Preparation for the biggest family celebration of the year can wear one out yet, the first Christmas—in fact, our very redemption from sin—began with the simple words, “I am the handmaid of the Lord.”
It’s worth contemplating. Before Mary submitted herself to the Will of God, she submitted herself… to God alone. She declared herself to be His handmaid, His servant, His alone. This was Pope St. John Paul II’s, Totus Tuus, the apostolic motto of his papacy and it means, All is Yours. It is from the Latin prayer of St. Louis de Monfort to the Blessed Mother, “Totus tuus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt.” In English it says: “I belong entirely to you, and all that I have is yours.” That is what Mary is declaring to God when she responds to the angel, “I am the handmaid of the Lord.” Pope St. John Paul II, St. Louis de Monfort and other saints recognized that the greatest gift they could give to God was the gift of self—totally and without reservation—like the Blessed Mother. They also realized that the easiest way to give themselves totally to God was through the Blessed Mother’s Totus Tuus.
This is not easy, especially now as preparations for this big family celebration come to a head. All the rushing around, wrapping of gifts, fixing of special dishes for the great family meal, while also responding to the daily demands of life, can leave one feeling like a dish rag, totally wrung out, wanting of energy. Maybe you’ve found yourself thinking, “I have given all I have in preparation for this, the greatest of family celebrations. I have nothing left and I know that my family will not appreciate all I have done because they won’t know all that it took and all that I gave to make this day possible.” This feeling applies to men and women alike. None of us is exempt from the pressure we place upon ourselves this time of year. Yet, there is no law that says my family celebration has to be better than last year’s or that my house has to be lit up with the newest of decorations or that my gifts have to be perfect. I bring this on myself, for love of others, yes, but my work and my efforts are still wanting if I don’t do it all for the Glroy of God—if I can’t say with Mary, “Totus Tuus.”
When the accolades and thank you’s come, try praying silently—or out loud—“Praise be Jesus Christ!” If I can do all with the spirit of Totus Tuus then I will give to baby Jesus the perfect gift.
After all, it is His birthday.