antonetti_sherryA few years ago, a friend of mine lamented the troubles she faced with her only son.  Hearing her anguish about his schooling, his behavior and how hard it was to parent him, I handed her the rosary I had in my purse.

"But I’m Jewish." She responded, looking at the beads.

"So talk to her, from one Jewish mother to another."

We had a good laugh and she took the beads and draped them over her menorah. She even said it helped.

Mary understands so much of what causes our hearts to soar or ache.   She understands the immense difficulty of following God’s call, and the only response appropriate.  Mary understands being poor.  She understands having no place to go and needing shelter.  She faced the locked doors of the world and showed that love could make any place warm and welcoming, even a stable.

The blessed mother knows the nature of an unplanned pregnancy better than anyone before or since..  She can speak to the pregnant woman who worries.  She can speak to those who face the pending suffering and possible death of their child..  She also recognizes exactly why the newly expecting woman is frightened.  She knows the cross.  She knows the whole path to Calvary.  She understands how when faced with the opportunity to love and sacrifice, or close off and avoid being cracked open by God, how many of us fear becoming that more sacrificial, more loving person that serves God first.

Many people including my friend don’t quite understand why Catholics love this woman so much.  But I see Mary and see how relevant she is, how timeless.  We can see so much of our own lives in this simple woman’s whole story if we just look.  This Queen of Heaven understands how the world can be physically and emotionally against the simple tasks of living. She and her husband fled to Egypt so she knows the life of a stranger in a foreign land, and the pain of the unwelcome stares at the immigrant.   Mary has known poverty and simplicity and scarcity.  She has known the domestic life and the demands of the day that trumped becoming a person of power or influence or wealth, and yet by living that life so completely, she met known kings of the world and the King of the World.

The Mother of God is so reachable, so knowing of the great things which cause any of us pain.  She holds great sympathy for the family searching for a lost child, as she held that moment when she could not find her son, and greater understanding of how hard it is to watch one’s child suffer, or cradle them in death.  She has known the quiet house feeling of the widow and heard the gossip of those who watched her son speak and act and did not believe.   So for me, Mary has known all the little and big ways in which a soul can be pierced by sin and yet withstood it all.

She calls us and tells us how best to follow Christ in his ministry.  "I am the Lord’s handmaiden. Let it be done to me as You have said." is the response to God’s call however it comes.  "This is my son.  Listen to Him. Do what he says." Mary knows a life suffused in love is what God wants for us as well: through moments of joy, in times of sorrow, in those events which seem luminous with love and those that transcend all we could explain.   Mary understands the simple beauty of birth and the great agony of death and all the moments in between.  She shows how to be present in all occasions.   The Rosary reveals all the rich full moments of this humble Jewish woman’s life and how they reflect a true ardent relationship with God.  God calls, and the answer supposed to always be a willing "Yes."

I still have a rosary in my purse my friend once draped over her menorah.  I gave her one to keep for herself.  Mary is there for those times when we have a problem that seems beyond solving, beyond coping, beyond understanding; so talk to the Blessed Mother.  She’ll listen, she’ll understand and she’ll help reveal how to find Christ in all things.

Copyright 2009 Sherry Antonetti