Very early, I prepared my coffee to take with me to the garden where I like to pray. I have named it “the garden of Maria,” not only because there I have the image of our Lady of Fatima, but also because it’s my place for silence and contemplative prayer. Every time I enter the garden, I find lemons and tangerines that have fallen from the trees. I usually pick up the lemons because they are ripe and ready for preparing lemonade; the tangerines, in contrast, are usually rotten so I leave them on the ground. Today, however, I noticed a tangerine that was not spoiled, so I picked it up, put it on the table that I have in front of Our Lady, and began to pray.
I sat in one of my two chairs and invited Jesus to have coffee with me. I stayed there for some time, praying the rosary, as I silenced my thoughts and senses. I talked to the Lord about my many frailties. I asked Mother Mary to fill me up with her graces. Several questions came to my mind, so I asked her, “What do I do, Mother? I have so many things that I have not been able to free myself from — weaknesses that are so burdensome — and I don’t want to be that person.” How many times I’ve said that I want to be different, that I want to be better, but I continue to fall on the same ground. How will I reach heaven? How will I be saintly if I continue in this way?
All of a sudden, I was aroused from my thoughts and prayers by the sight of the tangerine on my table. I felt the impulse to remove the peel and eat it. That was especially strange to me, since this is not one of my favorite fruits. While I removed the peel, I had the realization that that peel symbolized God’s protection – His love that surrounds me and keeps me safe. Then I came to those threads inside that I have always found bothersome because I have to take them off in order to eat the pulp. These threads, I knew, symbolized my weaknesses, the ones I need to continue working on and trying to eliminate. Like my weaknesses, those threads cannot all be removed. Just as they are part of the tangerine, my weaknesses are a part of me and my humanity. Next, was the pulp. I took a bite and perceived the flavor of the mature and sweet fruit in my mouth. As I enjoyed it, I came to understand that the pulp represents my essence. It’s the place where my God has put His eyes — my soul. It’s what God truly sees in me as He peels back the layers. I understand that my entire being is surrounded by the love of God — all of me – even those things I don’t like about myself. I suddenly feel loved by God. I feel valued and respected by Him. I feel a little shame too, but the love I feel is greater!
Finally, as I get to the last slice of the tangerine, I notice that this part is rotten. I ask the Lord, “What is the meaning?” Then I come to understand that this is what is left in obscurity in my soul. It’s not only those little threads that bother me, but the deeper feelings, attitudes and thoughts that truly damage my soul; rotten it. Because of this, I need to be conscious of what’s really important and work to achieve the cleansing of everything inside of me that does not belong to the Lord. If I don’t do this, damage will continue to progress and rotten the entire fruit, and probably even affect those fruits with whom I share my life.
From this experience, I learned that we should not get bogged down with little things. We need to pray, fight, persevere and dig deep, letting God do His will on us, so that one day, these fruits occur plentifully, for the glory of God, for the good of the souls and for our own sanctification.
Maria Cristina was born in Santa Marta, Colombia to a Catholic family on the day of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. From this gift from Heaven and through the example of her mother, she took a deep love for the Blessed Virgin Mary to whom she has consecrated her life together with her husband and her two children. She knows that Mary is truly her Mom who helps her in every aspect of life.
At the age of 32, Maria was diagnosed with breast cancer and she began a life full of physical suffering, but it was also a life with much grace and many blessings. It was then, in those moments of loneliness and isolation, that she was able to experience the Love of God and hear His Voice deep in her heart. The miracle of healing occurred and since then Maria has dedicated herself to serving the Lord. She does this by sharing her testimony with others in order to bring hope to suffering souls and by leading and participating in different activities such as retreats, Catholic financial ministry, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and activities that help those most in need. She knows that nothing comes from herself, but that everything she does is a product of Divine Grace. Maria is confident that Jesus lives in her house and that He will never leave!