Mary all around the monastery

For most of my life, Mary was pretty much a prop for good stories about Jesus.  It wasn’t until after I was ordained, and began to face more deeply what it meant to be a woman called to serve God, that I began to search Scripture for tips, and ended up doing quite a bit of study about Mary.  When my son went through some hard times in his teens and early twenties, Mary became a companion for me, one mom with another.  I believe that all those who have gone before us intercede, in some mysterious way, for and with us in heaven, and I expect that Mary has a special affinity for moms with challenging sons.

It’s no real surprise that I became rector of a parish named for Mary, and that when I became a Benedictine oblate, that I made vows with the sisters of Our Lady of Grace (one of many, many names for Mary) Monastery.

On Saturday evenings, it is the practice of the sisters to end Evening Praise with a hymn to Mary, the Salve Regina, whose ancient words are sung in Latin. Most Roman Catholics are very familiar with it, and high Episcopal churches may add it to their liturgy.  I don’t think I’d ever sung it until I started coming to the monastery eleven years ago.

Queen, mother of mercy:
our life, sweetness, and hope, hail.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To you we sigh, mourning and weepingin this valley of tears.
Turn then, our advocate,those merciful eyes toward us.
And Jesus, the blessed fruit of thy womb, after our exile, show us.
O clement, O loving, O sweet
Virgin Mary.
 

There are images of Mary all about the monastery.  It makes me wonder what inspired someone to place each particular image of Mary in each particular space.

Tree Stump Mary standing guard on top of the last bit of a chopped down tree next to the monastery.

Mosaic Mary in the midst of a garden.
Near Her Son Mary as one of the Stations of the Cross that surrounds the Sister’s cemetery, 
and On Her Lap Mary as another Station.
At the Foot of the Cross Mary next to John the Beloved Disciple is in the very center of the Sister’s cemetery and the surrounding Stations of the Cross.
Our Lady of Grace with welcoming arms to all at the entrance to the monastery.
Stained Glass Mary at the entrance to the chapel of the Benedict Inn, the guest house of the monastery.
Stairwell Mary watching over our going ups and coming downs.
And Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Mary who is there to bless our meals.
Blue being the preferred color of Mary, perhaps the Mary I’ve been most grateful to see this retreat Full of Grace is Blue Sky Mary; it makes Mary’s words sing in my heart:
My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

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