Mary at the center of our lives
The month of May makes me recall a beautiful memory I have from my childhood — a hymn: Tis the month of Mary, the loveliest month; to the Dearest of Virgins let us sing a new song. In many homes, a statue, a picture, a rosary evokes her presence. Let us call upon her motherly protection, given the human drama we are presently experiencing.
It all began in a very mysterious fashion. A visitor from the heavens, and voilà, Mary pregnant by the Holy Spirit. A quickly arranged marriage to a Joseph dazzled by angels in his dreams. A birthing in a stable on loan from sympathetic farmers. A hasty retreat into Egypt because of a cunningly deceitful king taken to attacking newborns.
In the face of these events, Mary does not panic. She feels deep joy within because she says YES to life and she trusts in God.
How heartening is Mary’s reaction! Because COVID 19 threatens the unaware and attacks the elderly, we have need of caregivers willing to confront the danger. Let us pray for these brave ones. “Mary, bearer of life, enlighten the brave and ourselves to commit to life, to protect life, to save life.”
What follows is calmer. It is the everydayness of the Holy Family residing in Nazareth. Imagine Mary the housewife, the cook, the educator who teaches Jesus the alphabet, how to count, social customs, the psalms… and Joseph in his workshop introducing him to his trade of carpenter.
Many parents find themselves in the same sort of situation as the Holy Family. Like Mary and Joseph, a teacher requires great reserves of imagination, patience, generosity, humor, and creativity. Jesus’ parents might become models for today’s parents. Let us pray for them, “Mary and Joseph help us to create a liberating atmosphere for our kids, allowing them to discover their talents, their gifts — what makes them unique and what’s original about them.”
Having grown to adulthood, Jesus finally takes his leave. Mary cannot hold him back. Thus begin her days of disquiet. From time to time, she hears news from the gossip network about her son’s wayfaring, how he is applauded by some, criticized by others. The high religious authorities keep him under surveillance and are even looking for an excuse to kill him.
When she learns that Jesus is going up to Jerusalem for the Passover, she herself goes there. She experiences within herself her son’s torments: arrest, trial, whipping, crucifixion… and she is there at the foot of the cross where she sits beside her only child until his last breath.
Like Mary, we see today unselfish personal caregivers remaining with people suffering psychologically, emotionally, physically, and alongside those who are dying. Let us pray, “Mary, teach us the supportive art of simple presence.”
As she receives into her arms the disfigured body of her son, the Mother of Sorrows gives herself over to the will of God. But hope springs eternal. The Spirit of Pentecost will put her in communion with her son living within the glory of the Father. In dying on the cross, Jesus will have destroyed death and opened the gates to eternal life for every human being.
These days journalists are telling us that after COVID 19 our world will no longer be the same. But, that’s really hard for us to imagine how. And just so, we cannot describe the afterlife. In faith, all that we know is that Mary and Joseph are awaiting us with their offspring, Jesus our Savior. Yet already, this risen Jesus is nourishing us with the bread of life eternal. Let us pray, “Mary, you are deep in our hearts, because you are the mother of Him who abides within us.”
Bernard Lacroix, CSC