Last night, I gave my talk on Mary and I think it went well. I’ll never really know, because I don’t dwell in the hearts of the pilgrims to understand the affect, if any, I had. I laid out a picture frame with my favorite picture of Mary, a white candle, and my statue of her. I brought my iPad to show the pilgrims a scene from The Passion of the Christ as well as a book to read from.
I didn’t have a very concrete plan, because when speaking of Mary, you have to come from the heart, not the head. I think that having an outline works, but you have to be able to “speak Mary” to get others to “feel Mary“. I started with a prayer from A Book of Marian Prayers given to me by Loyola Press. (We also were able to get one for every pilgrim with a very generous discount from Loyola Press) for the Immaculate Conception:
Father of all holiness, by the foreseen merits of Jesus her Savior,
you preserved Mary his Mother from all sin,
even at the moment of her conception.
By her unceasing intercession,
may the Church be holy and without blemish
and stand rejoicing in your sight
when Christ comes in glory
to judge the living and the dead.
We ask this thought the same Christ our Lord.
Then I began reading some notes about Mary’s importance as the Mother of God, Mediatrix, Mother of all, the New Eve, how there could be some confusion about the timing of it all. Wouldn’t it be a little anachronistic for Mary to be Mother to someone that predates her?
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Jesus is the Word made Flesh. He chose Mary specifically for this purpose. She is part of the Divine plan.
I talked about how it must have been for Mary, to be greeted by an angel. How there is a misconception that angels are sweet and cherubic – they are fierce and to be feared. They are sent by God. Can you imagine the brightness of standing before an angel? The fear it must have invoked in her?
Catholic Digest writes:
Contrary to popular thought today, the appearance of an angel is not an event marked by sentimental sweetness and happiness. The biblical characters always demonstrated a respectful fear when an angel appeared. They knew that angels did not come to make life more serene, cheerful, and contented; usually they turned life upside down. The angels always do more than simply manifest their presence. They demonstrate God’s power and often point people’s lives in a different direction.
Among the many functions of the angels in the Israelite and Christian traditions, their role as intermediaries is crucial. They are constantly crossing the divide between God and humanity, bridging the gulf between heaven and Earth. Because they are in direct touch with God, angels reveal God in their very essence. They help people on Earth to perceive divine power in the world and prepare them for ever-deeper experiences of God and ultimately for union with God.
I wanted the pilgrims to put themselves in her shoes. I wanted them to understand the humble parts of Mary, when she says:
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.
Her question, “How can this be?” doesn’t show that she doubts God. It shows that Mary is human. If an angel in all of it’s might appeared to you and said you have a key role in man’s salvation history, your response would not be, “Where do I sign up?” But, “What? Who, me? Surely not!” It’s this glimmer of humanity in Mary, her approachability, that I felt called to impart to the pilgrims last night. I wanted them to see Mary as their Mother both real and spiritual. At this point, I read a passage from this book by Ann Spengler, titled, Women of the Bible.
I was supposed to give a personal witness as to how Mary changed my life, but after reading this, I knew I had to share it with them. Please go here to read the passage.They cannot be downloaded. I highly recommend getting this book instead. It’s reflections for 365 days for all of the women in the Bible. I don’t have any ties with the author or publisher – well maybe I do, if you consider God the read author and publisher! My husband got me this book on a whim last year while out with the boys. I didn’t read but a few pages – because I always have so much to read. As I was looking to put this presentation together, my eyes fell onto this book. It’s like Mary wanted to be known in this way last night, on the Solemnity of her Immaculate Conception.
After reading this to the pilgrims, I decided to play the scene from Passion. I turned off the lights so the screen could be seen. All that was on, was the flickering of the light and the glow of an iPad that didn’t want to connect to the hotspot! So in the dark, I decided to sing the Ave Maria (as requested by my Deacon) instead. I could notice that most eyes were still closed from the reading so when I began to sing, I took it as a good sign.
Deacon TC added some helpful information about Marian feast days, and expanded on my notes from the Catechism that I’d referenced.
The hotspot connected and we were off to watch. Again, I wanted to show that Mary, Immaculately Conceived, and without sin, was still human. She, at first, doesn’t want to see the pain and torture Jesus goes through. As a parent, a sister, a friend, would you? It’s too much. Aren’t we that way? We want to run and hide. We don’t want to see it. But, she knows, she remembers her Fiat. Her yes, to God.
And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.
This reminded me of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when he pleads:
And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
He too feels it’s too much, but remembers that it’s God’s will, not Jesus’. Not Mary’s, and not ours.
In the end, I wanted Mary to be for us a companion. She is a Mother, a Daughter, a Wife, a Friend. A true companion. An approachable saint, the first saint. One who struggled, feared, was pained, suffered loss and had real human emotion.
And God used her anyway.