Well, it’s here. Tomorrow we begin our yearly observance of Lent. The following are some reflections I offered to our parish Sodality about walking with Mary during Lent. I hope you find them edifying:
Peace! I’m writing with gratitude and encouragement for your good works in our parish of St. Francis Xavier. As we enter the holy season of Lent, the witness of your devotion to Our Lady takes on special meaning for our community. Walking with our Lord toward the Cross and Resurrection, we so need for Mary to be with us at each step of the way.
In life’s general challenges, we might think of Mary during the hidden years at Nazareth. Nearly every painting made of our Lady shows – to the surprise of most viewers – a serious or even sad look on her face… even as she holds the Christ child in her arms. The cross was part of her existence even then. Recall Simeon’s prophecy, “and you yourself a sword shall pierce.” (Lk 2:35). So even through the events of daily life, perhaps even before Jesus himself grew to understand the sacrifice that would be required of him, Mary had to bear the weight of a shadowed future. We can be assured that Our Lady will be sympathetic to our pleas as we deal with the cross in daily life.
In the actual and most intense moments of challenge, when we walk with Jesus up the via dolorosa on the way to Calvary, the one face in the crowd we know we can count on is Mary. She is the Mother who never forgets her child and in a uniquely maternal way shares with us the pains of our sacrifices. It is precisely in that sharing, in that solidarity that we find hope; we are not alone.
Finally, after the sacrifice has been made, as we gather in the Upper Room with the Apostles, we learn from Mary how to wait… how to wait patiently, faithfully, upon the coming of Resurrection Life and Light. How often would we completely collapse were it not for the warm embrace of a loved one saying, “it’s OK, just a little longer and everything will be all right.” Such is the love our Blessed Mother gives in that quiet time after the immediate pain has passed and all we can do is wait.
All my prayers and encouragement go with you this Lent as you direct our parishioners and neighbors to the maternal embrace of Mary directly in prayer and mirrored in the life of our Holy Mother the Church.
Your parish priest,
Fr. De Rosa