There were certain rituals that I did as a child when going to Sunday Mass. Crossing myself with holy water upon entering church, genuflecting to the Blessed Sacrament before entering the pew my family sat in, and lighting a candle in front of the statue of Our Lady to name a few. There was always something special about each of these little rituals, but the time spent in front of Our Lady’s image always stands out most in my memories. It was as if I was standing with a person who knew me better than I knew myself.
There are people in our lives who know us well. Parents, siblings, spouses, best friends, and others, whose relationship with us is founded on love, respect and mutual interest in making each other a better version of themselves. Their counsel, encouragement and challenge moves us to new places where we flourish in life and grow in our personhood. The active presence of these special people gives us hope and fill us with love. Maybe this is what I felt about Mary, standing before her image in my parish church. Her presence in my life gave me the hope to move forward in faith and her love gave me courage to trust God more, especially as I discerned the call to be a Servite Friar. I feel the same about Mary’s presence now, as I did as a child.
I have always loved to hear the stories about Mary in the Scriptures. Her ability to welcome the Lord’s word through the Archangel Gabriel inspires me to welcome the Lord when He breaks into my life. Mary’s presence at the Cross of Jesus inspires me to have courage in helping others. Mary’s constant faith teaches me that faith is ever necessary for a joyful and fulfilling life. Her presence in my life reminds me that being the best person I want to be starts and ends with faith in the love of the One, who is ever present, always loving, and deeply caring for me, for you, for us all. I love being in Mary’s presence. She always has something to teach me.
Fr. Don Siple, OSM