So New Year's day takes on a new significance. In the Catholic world, it's the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. In Protestant speak, its a day to honour both God & Mary: God, for giving us His son through Mary & Mary, of course, for saying "yes". I was out of town, so I made plans to visit the local parish. My best friend went with me & I was glad for the company. I admit I felt a little off kilter... The place was maybe 1/3 the size of my parish, moderately full & not really all that exuberant. Thankfully, the missal was familiar as its the same one we use in my parish. They deviated from the printed responsorials however, so I felt a little lost. The arrangements of the "Gloria" & the "Alleluia" were also different. The words were the same, but the melodies seemed foreign. I suppose each congregation can switch things up as they see fit. The Priest didn't circle the altar with the book of the Gospel & no one knelt while the bread & wine were being consecrated, but everything else was pretty much the same, with the addition of a congregational "Hail Mary" in honour of the special day. I remember thinking the visiting priest was very smiley. It kind of bugged me at first, but then I reasoned that the Mass is a celebration, so why not smile? We just don't tend to associate happiness with reverence I suppose... everything has to be so formal, so rigid, so fear-filled. Or does it? My understanding of reverence was definitely challenged.
But back to Mary. Honestly, I think the meaning of the day was lost on me, but I can't deny that Mary seems to be making more of an appearance in my life. It hasn't been at all what I expected... I haven't seen apparitions, witnessed any weeping statues, heard voices or found her image staring back at me from a grilled cheese sandwich, but somehow, she's begun to feel familiar to me, like "one of the family" I suppose. I've felt very much like a child in this process... almost like I'm staring at this strange lady from afar, this relative who I've heard of all my life. Suddenly, there she is! I duck behind the wall of my uncertainty... But as I've learned how to pray the Rosary, watched how she spoke with the angel Gabriel, rejoiced with Elizabeth, traveled to Bethlehem & beyond, I see how Mary endured so much for the sake of God, for this baby, Jesus. She threw herself into this thing 100% even though she probably had no clue what was actually going on or what would happen next. Sometimes I feel like I catch her looking up at me, flashing a knowing smile. There's a twinkle in her eye... its Jesus, reflected... & it makes me want to know her more.