Welcome to the Our Lady of Charity Book Club! We're reading Our Lady of Charity: How a Cuban Devotion to Mary Helped Me Grow in Faith and Love by CatholicMom contributor Maria Morera Johnson. I am convinced that Our Lady of Charity helped me during a recent car crisis. Let me explain. On my birthday, filled with revelry and absent-mindedness, I left the emergency lights flashing on my sedan. All night long. When I sauntered out to the vehicle the next morning, the wonder car needed a miracle — or at least, a jump start. The battery had died, which meant an early-morning rendezvous with a mechanic. What I had not realized was that, when my particular model of automobile loses battery power, the car radio also dies and must be reset, using a special code that is kept more secret than many national security issues. I did not have the magic code — therefore, I had no working radio. I thought I would lose my mind in the silence. But I took a cue from author Maria Morera Johnson, writer of the insightful Our Lady of Charity: How a Cuban Devotion to Mary Helped Me Grow in Faith and Love. In Chapter Four of this incredibly astute book, Johnson relates how she used to spend a great deal of time in her car. “I probably talked off my virgencita’s ears in those carpool days,” Johnson writes. During my radio-free weeks, my car likewise became my prayer cell, where I discussed all manner of matters with the Blessed Mother and our beloved Jesus. I actually came to enjoy the quiet — no offense to the pop music princesses who normally inhabit my driving world. Johnson sums up quite nicely what commuting with Christ and His Mother can mean: “These trips, these journeys, were opportunities to share the road and walk with the Lord; they were as much about the time spent with him as the destination I wanted to reach. Jesus wants us to walk with him. He wants us to invite him into our lives, to make him a part of our every day.” But it wasn’t only in silence that I established a connection to Johnson and her musings on Our Lady of Charity. It was also in the remembered sound of my high school Spanish teacher’s accent. For the woman who introduced me to the beauty and lilt of the Spanish language hailed from Cuba. She had sought exile in the United States, leaving family and friends behind. In encountering her, I encountered another land, another culture, and another aspect of the Blessed Mother. For we never began a Spanish class without reciting the Hail Mary in the language we adopted for 45 minutes each day. And, in encountering Mary, we also encountered Jesus. As Johnson writes in Chapter Three of her book, “Encounter. Isn’t that what the Blessed Mother wants for all her children? To encounter her Son?” For me, the encounter has sometimes come during conversation with other people — like my beloved Spanish teacher. At other times, the encounter has occurred while alone — as in the silent sanctuary of my radio-less car. Either way, Mary has consistently led me to Jesus, whether in the form of Our Lady of Charity, the Immaculate Conception, or Our Lady of Lebanon. And in turning to Mary, I discover the sweetest messages this side of Paradise.

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:

  1. Can you recall an encounter you had with the Blessed Mother that led you closer to Christ?
  2. What are some innovative ways you can find to expand your prayer time?
  3. Have you ever “opened your heart” to a pilgrimage? What spiritual treasures did you find along the way?
Order Our Lady of Charity from Ave Maria Press and save 25% with coupon code CHARITYBC. This offer expires August 31, 2019.

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Copyright 2019 Maria V. Gallagher