Why Mary Matters

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St. Teresa of Calcutta, who wrote into the Rule for the Missionaries of Charity that her Sisters “should use every means to learn and increase in that tender love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament,” once said, “I make a Holy Hour each day in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. All my sisters of the Missionaries of Charity make a daily Holy Hour as well, because we find that through our daily Holy Hour our love for Jesus becomes more intimate, our love for each other more understanding, and our love for the poor more compassionate.”

I had the opportunity recently to pray a Holy Hour with some Missionaries of Charity stationed in the Detroit-area. All four of them were originally from India and three of the four couldn’t have been taller than five feet. They graciously welcomed us into their chapel which was a simple, cozy living room in a building located in an inner-city neighborhood. The Blessed Sacrament was exposed and the Sisters prayed Evening prayer and a rosary before entering into a half hour of meditation.

Towards the middle of the rosary the doorbell rang. One of the sisters answered the door and guided a young, blind girl into the room. The Sister sat the young girl down next to her and went back to kneeling on the hardwood floor, gaze fixed on Jesus in the Eucharist. The young girl must have had some sort of autism because she constantly reached out to touch and re-touch the hem of the Sister’s habit (reminding me of the passage from Matthew’s Gospel, “People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed” (Matthew 14:35-36).)

The window at the back of the room was open and we could hear the neighborhood kids playing outside. Every once in a while the kids would laugh and the girl would turn her body in their direction, laughing as though she was in on whatever was happening. Whenever she got distracted she would reach back and grab hold of Sister’s habit to find her bearings. When her body turned too far to the side and she began making noises, the Sister would gradually nudge the girl’s knee, causing the girl to turn back towards the Blessed Sacrament. The Sister would then go back to adoring Our Lord with a smile on her face.

As I reflected on the beautiful sight before me, I couldn’t help but think of the role Our Blessed Mother is meant to play in all of our lives.

A traditional analogy compares the relationship between Mary and Jesus to the moon and the sun. Though the sun is always shining, there are times (most notably at night) when we are not able to see it. However, we have faith that the sun is shining when we see it reflected off the moon. The moon produces no light of its own, it merely reflects the light of the sun in order to bring that light to us in the darkness. In a similar manner, God is always present to us but there are moments when that truth appears questionable. Instances of “darkness” cause us to wonder whether we have been abandoned. In those times we can turn to Mary, who perfectly reflects the light of her son, and ask that she guide us to Jesus and comfort us while we wait.

What I saw in this Sister was a clear example of Mary’s motherly guidance in our lives. She took the hand of a blind girl and led her into a room where the presence of Jesus was radiating in a special way. I imagine that she whispered into the girls ear, “Jesus is right in front of you, I promise. Let’s sit here and let Him love us.” The girl may not have been able to see the “Son” shining, but she frequently grabbed hold of the Sister’s habit which, like the moon, reminded her that she was not alone in the darkness. The Sister would nudge the girl when she started to stray too far from Jesus, just as Mary attempts to lovingly nudge our hearts back to her son when we’ve wandered too far off His path. Then the Sister would go back to adoring Jesus in the Eucharist with a smile on her face; the same gaze that Mary must have as she looks upon the face of her son in Heaven.

This is why each of us needs to grow in our relationship with Our Blessed Mother. She knows and loves Jesus in a deeply intimate way; a way only a mother can know and love her son. The example of obedience, trust, and faithfulness she portrays in the Gospels give us all something to emulate. We need her prayers as we strive to follow God’s will and seek to know and love Him more and more each day.

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

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