The following is my column scheduled today at Patheos, so all the links bring you back there. I’m sharing it in entirety here because of its Marian subject matter for the last day of May.
During my stay-at-home years with our young family, my husband’s job kept him out of the house and away, often.
We spent six months praying for a new job.
While we did, his company asked him to facilitate an acquisition of a new start-up in Massachusetts, for his New York-based company. It was becoming clear that this might necessitate a move for our family. It was not the answer we were looking for — we were praying for a new job, not a new address!
About a week later, while waiting for Bob to come home from the airport from yet another trip to the Bay State, I was praying the rosary. I was meditating on the Joyful Mysteries — the Visitation — when “Mary set out and went with haste to… the hill country, where she… greeted Elizabeth.”
It was right there; I just knew we would move.
These things can be hard to explain, but there was a flood of peace that accompanied this prayer — this new job was the answer to six months of petitions raised heavenward. I was struck by how my usually stubborn and slow-to-accept-change heart was inexplicably opened by this simple contemplation of Mary on the move.
Mary’s swift yes to God’s will brought a move to Mary’s life. Her visitation with Elizabeth was on the heels of giving her yes, her fiat, to God’s invitation at the Annunciation to receive His Son into her womb, into her heart, and into her life. (See Lk 1:26-38)
Here is what I’ve learned, since then…
First, a move of the heart often yields a move to action.
When God invites us to do his will, changes occur in us and around us. God’s will is always for our good, because He loves us. Just like he loved Mary.
My saying yes to the invitation to move would change not only my locale and our family domicile, it would also change me. I would be saying yes to new people, places, and things. I would be moving way beyond my comfort zone. And the mother in me would be called upon to create a new home and comfort zone for my husband and small children. I took Mary and her example with me.
Second, wherever Mary goes, she brings Jesus.
Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth is about so many things. (See Lk 1: 39-56, also the feast day on May 31). It is the first missionary journey of bringing Christ to the world. It is the powerful of revelation of Christ’s presence in our midst. It is the reunion of family, of sisterly kin separated by geography and age. It is the generosity of women coming together to support each other in their faith and in the mission they have in their families and in the world. It is a celebration of life in the womb, of maternity, and service both to mother and child and the rest of the family. It is the making of a home, a welcoming place not only for mothers and fathers and children, but decidedly, for others as well. It is about recognizing the good and mighty things that God has done for us.
And, yes, that Jesus is in the middle of it all. As Mary brings Jesus to all persons and places, we should too.
So we moved our family north, and I was determined to keep Mary’s sensibilities among mine — to keep Jesus present in each phase of our life, to make prayer a priority in our family rhythm, to have signs and symbols of our faith in our home.
More than that, I strove to make our faith conversations and actions relevant in our weekly activities. To share Jesus with others, both in our new home, and in our involvement to serve in our church, school, and town has not always been easy, but it has worth it. We’re not experts at living the Christian life, but we’re relying on grace to save and forgive us when we fail.
Now, the children are grown and I am looking back now at almost twenty years since I prayed The Visitation and suddenly knew that I would be on the move with Mary. I’ve prayed that mystery of the rosary hundreds of times since. Much to my surprise, even though I’ve tried to live its message, you might say the Visitation has been visited upon me, over and over again.
The Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary this week, on May 31, is a good time to ask oneself: Who brings you Jesus? And, who do you bring Jesus to?
Who brings me Jesus?
My husband. I’m not ashamed to say that the single and solitary love of my husband has been God’s way of showing me His Face for over thirty years. In a world full of suffering, and we’ve had our share too, I see and know there is a greater grace that pervades it.
My children. Over the course of over 25 years of parenting, I’ve seen my children bring me Jesus through their smiles and little heartfelt prayers, to their helpful chores done in the name of the love, to their own adult professions of faith and service to others.
My friends. Countless friends have gladdened my soul with their visits in my home and elsewhere. In recent weeks, they’ve been at bridal showers for my daughter. In days gone by they’ve stood by during my years of study for my Masters, or patiently sat beside me as I waited in cancer ward queues for check-ups and blood work. Others have filled my joy tank with weekend escapes to ski, camp, or explore new cities. A few have made religious pilgrimages with me.
My priests and my local Catholic church. Every week I am privileged to receive the Blessed Sacrament — Jesus! — or receive his mercy in reconciliation, thanks to the priest at our church. I’ve been anointed before surgeries and I’ve been consoled when grieving a loss. I’ve been part of a parish of neighbors and townsfolk who are growing in the Spirit together and where we can serve those in need of love and support in our region.
Mary. This spiritual mother has changed me for the good of all who know me, and I talk a lot about her in my book, and here and there. St Louis de Montfort once preached, “The salvation of the whole world began with the ‘Hail Mary.’ Hence the salvation of each person is also attached to this prayer.”
For these visitations and for so much more, I am truly grateful. They move my heart as I contemplate Mary’s feast day this week.
And you know what happens when a heart is moved — we are moved to action.
How about you? Who brings Jesus to you, and who will you bring Jesus to next?