Converts often have a reticence about Mary. After my conversion, Mary fit theologically into the overall picture of the faith for so many reasons. As one Church Father noted, "You cannot have God as your Father without Mary as your mother." Of course. On paper "she works." Now as a person, she's another matter.
Like any person, time has to be invested in the relationship to build a foundation of love, trust, and understanding. This Easter will be my 29th as a Catholic — call me slow, but the foundation is finally in place. Years of rosaries, meditations, spiritual reading, theological formation, and, most importantly, personal prayer have allowed the relationship to blossom and deepen into a wondrous friendship. The abstract understanding of "new Ark of the Covenant" and "mediatrix of all graces" has warmed into the honest-to-goodness joy of knowing that she is "my
Therefore, this Holy Week I can't help but wonder beyond all my observance of the profoundly beautiful liturgies that lead to and mark the Passion — where was Mary?! What could she be doing at this intense time as her Son's earthly life comes to its climactic close? How could she be enduring this sword of all swords, piercing her heart and making its attempt to shatter her peace?
Once again — silence. Just as she is so quiet in the biblical accounts, she is all but absent in this pivotal week. But we know that she's there, most likely in Jerusalem already. Just as she and Joseph brought the Holy Child to the feasts each year, she made the trip alone this time. Alone or probably with her circle of women friends, mothers of key figures in the ministry of Jesus and those who provided for Him and His disciples over the years.
I picture now this subdued and apprehensive band of prayerful women. They know at the depths of their very beings that something powerful is about to occur. They've seen the anger, the threats, the attempts to silence and stone Jesus. They recognize the stirrings in the hearts of their sons. They also know that it is for them to withdraw and let the events pass; but rather than wring their hands over feeling "isolated" or "marginalized," they will pray intensely for the will of God to prevail, whatever that might be. Following the lead of the Mother of Jesus, they will all observe the demands of their Jewish faith at this important spiritual time while joining their every word and prayer to the intention at hand — the fulfillment of God's plan of Salvation.
I know her circle of women is focused; they are hidden — but not inconsequential. Every step of Christ is paved with Mary's prayers, His very flesh yearns for souls and thus so does hers. She models for us where our hearts should be and on what our thoughts should be resting. Amidst the tumultuous events of the week — when the very sons of the women in her circle betray her own Son — they will all remain fixed in prayer, in an attitude of forgiveness, and with hopeful eyes on their loving Father, Who will bring them all to the Resurrection in His own time, the time ordained since before any of us were.
Her prayerful silence and support mean more to me than ever this year as the Church continues along its path of purification. She is mother and refuge for all who weep and suffer, she is strength for those who find themselves weak or faint-hearted. We have found Mary and it is with her that we must be. A blessed Holy Week.