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Mary and Me: A Protestant’s Search for Mary.

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Even as a teenager, I recall being fascinated by Mary.  If I were a Catholic, that might not seem so strange, but as a life-long Protestant, it might appear a bit more peculiar. I used to go to St. Bernard’s Catholic Church with one of my best friends, Rosemary, when I was in high school. We’d walk into the church wearing our ‘tent’ dresses, our white lace mantillas on our heads, and our Mary-Janes tap-tapping on the granite floor as we walked down the aisle. The Catholic church, far more imposing and ornate than my simple  church, took my breath away. Always there was a hush over the church and I remember loving the chanting of The Hail Mary when we knelt to pray. As a card-carrying Baptist, that was supposed to be wrong and yet it always felt so right to me.

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I’m no longer a Baptist, but rather an Episcopalian–or Catholic Lite as comedian Robin Williams calls it. I’m preparing to go on a Marion Pilgrimage with my daughter and I decided I’d like to come to terms with my relationship with Mary, comparing how I feel about her now to how I might feel  about her after our pilgrimage. In my previous travels, I’ve felt compelled to purchase pictures, icons, or figurines depicting Mary and Jesus. My attraction has always been between Mary’s relationship with her son Jesus as Mother and Child. Confronting the agony she suffered at the death of her Son is much harder for me to face. When I see the love between the Mother and Child, I have to believe that Jesus would have a very special place up in heaven for his Mama.

When the angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and that her child would be called the Son of God, she gave the most courageous answer imaginable. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke  1:38. Let it be–such a brave answer for a young woman with such great faith. She spoke those words nearly two thousand years before Sir Paul McCartney came up with them!

I find the fact that Mary comes to people in apparitions when the world seems at its darkest hour to help, guide, and console those remaining on the earth to be of enormous comfort. This spiritual pilgrimage we’re going on leaves me feeling apprehensive. What if I don’t have a spiritual experience? What if I do? Will traveling to sights of healings and miracles affect my life personally? How will this pilgrimage affect my relationship with my daughter? She is Catholic–I am not.

This is a pilgrimage to holy shrines of Mary. Spirituality or discernment isn’t something I can will for myself.  I have many questions but then I think of Mary’s brave words–let it be.  And I decided that’s exactly what I will do.

Thank you for stopping by.

Bren

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