The “Mary” factor

Upon reflection, all of us could identify “MARIAN” personalities in our lives. They would need to be like Mary, the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church. A “tick the boxes” list of “Marian candidates” might include:

• “treasures and ponders” Jesus in their lives

• is a “slave” of the Gospel

• is totally open to Grace and direction of the Lord

• supports family life in all its joys and challenges

• seeks after the lost

• stands alongside the suffering and dying

• gathers the scattered and confused

• is a leader in prayer and surrenders to the Holy Will of God.

One person who I have encountered in my pastoral work ticks many of these boxes.

It was in my first parish as a parish priest. One of the youth died tragically. I visited the family in the first hours after the sad news was made public. I encountered understandably, a situation of shock, disbelief, anger and blaming. A day later, I visited the family again. The serious rifts present in the family over many years began to surface. There were arguments, shouting and low communication levels amongst the gathering of the large extended family UNTIL……… Grandma arrived!

Grandma simply had a natural strategy with three approaches. First, she hugged the angry until they cried in her big embrace. Secondly, she made sure the quiet ones had their say too. Thirdly, she held the family together in some sort of unity in their fragile time.

She certainly helped me prepare the family for the funeral and burial of their loved one. I was so grateful. I marvelled at her grandmotherly skills.

She reminded me of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. I reflected on this remarkable grandmother when I thought of the days after the Resurrection and before Pentecost.

The Disciples were gathered in a locked room, all filled with fear.

I like to think that Mary led the first Christian retreat here. I meditate that Mary may have re-assured those filled with fear and guilt, that she called for their Faith in the Promises of God. In those hard times, I could imagine that she held the embryonic Church in her loving arms until the Holy Spirit gave birth to the Church.

Let us all be like Mary too.

Let us welcome the Marian dimension in the Church.