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.
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.