This is a time of waiting. I had an email from a former diocesan bishop, and he wrote it well: now you begin a waiting period to see whether you are called to go or stay. Either way, it is always an honor to be nominated.
Waiting, of course, while things continue to be very busy in the parish. We transfer our celebration of the Feast of St. Mary the Virgin (August 15) to the Sunday nearest the beginning of public school. Since we are in the middle of four school districts, this can take some doing.
On that Sunday, we have one big Eucharist. We offer Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, respectively, at the times scheduled for our other Sunday Eucharists. With fear and trembling, of course, that someone will come really, really needing Eucharist at 8 or 5.30.
The day is all about Mary, all the time. We use the propers for Mary’s feast day. We have a big, big blessing of back packs, students, and school staff at the offertory. We hand out tags for the back packs, a new one each year. On one side is some great art and our childrens’ prayer: Good morning, God, this is your day. I am your child; please show me your way. AMEN
I can’t remember where I found that prayer, but we’ve been praying it for several years. Parents tell me that they pray it with their children before they drop them off at school. I know it’s the first prayer that comes to my mind when I wake up in the morning.
Another important thing we do on Mary’s day is to sing. When Mary went to visit her kinswoman, Elizabeth, soon after finding out that she was pregnant, Scripture has the words of what we call the Magnificat as her response to Elizabeth’s prophetic greeting. More scholars than not believe that what Mary said was in fact a familiar hymn. I picture Mary not saying the words, My soul glories in you, O Lord, but singing the words. If they were indeed a familiar hymn, then Elizabeth, I believe, would have joined in, too. To celebrate Mary’s Day, we sing everywhere in the liturgy that we can–and then some.
This year to celebrate Mary’s Day, we have party favors. Do you see the blue bags on the piano? Those are “bags of grace.” The outreach ministry put together lovely blue bags for each of us to take home. In the bags were a book mark, a list of local places to get practical help, a bottle of water, peanut butter crackers, pretzels, fruit cup, Vienna sausages, and other tasty items. Being Mary’s Day, when God especially invites us to lift up the lowly, each of us were invited to take our bag and share it with someone who might need a literal lifting up.
Finally, to honor this extraordinary Jewish mother, we have a meal. After the meal of Holy Communion, we leave the nave and walk to the Holy Family Center. The Children’s Chapel is filled with good things to eat, and we conclude our celebration with a great feast.
It is a very, very good day.