A letter to Our Lady - Madonna Magazine

A letter to Our Lady

Margaret-Mary Flynn 25 November 2020

Dear Mary,

There was a while there when I thought Christmas wouldn’t make it this year. We went into lock-down, and we stayed there. We stayed there so long that we almost forgot what it was like to be ordinary. Why dream of family gatherings when you couldn’t even visit your Mum and Dad? Or your grandchildren?

And yet, I knew you would not let us down. Christmas, after all, is really your special feast. Easter belongs to the Resurrection; but Christmas belongs to the Incarnation, and that depended on you. Every woman who gives birth knows as she does so that the world will never be the same again, because this child has been born. Jesus, as with every other baby who ever was, enters into our world fully, marvellously completely himself. Known down to his tiny toes, yet also miraculously new.

And you and your beautiful Joseph gazed at this little swaddled bundle, so newly arrived by starlight, as his wide, dark eyes gazed deep into yours, and knew that from now on there was someone else in this world whose life was more important to you than was your own. Forever.

One thing we know about you, Mary, is that when you set out to do something, you follow through. Whether it is a visit by an angel, an assent to a heavenly request to bear the child that will save the world, a visit to your Cousin Elizabeth to care for her, a journey to Bethlehem to give birth in a stable, or a secret midnight escape to save the Babe, you do it. 

Scripture and legend don’t say so exactly, but I’m sure you have a gorgeous smile, too. You have a lovely way with you. Meeting you in the Temple, Anna and Simeon feel safe to speak of deep things to you. The servants at Cana are easy in your service. Even Jesus does what you ask on that occasion. He hesitated – but knew you were right, and the wind under his wings, as good mums are for their children.

And you don’t hesitate, as with all good mothers, to remind your chosen helpers of their responsibilities. St Juan Diego, chosen by you as your messenger to the Bishop of Guadalupe, failed in his mission several times. On one occasion, he hoped that by taking another route around the back of the mountain, he could avoid having to meet you at your usual place. You met him on the back road anyway, asking for an explanation of a job not done.

It is in the ordinariness, the simplicity that shines in the stories told about you that people recognise you. Whether it’s shepherds or kings, wise or simple folk encountered, there is always welcome and kindness. So many of the stories told about you are about shelter and rescue. You have many lovely titles: Queen of the Angels, Star of the Sea, Rosa Mundi, Mother of God, for example. And you have many names: Immaculata, Assumpta, Monserrat, Dolores, Guadalupe, Lourdes and Fatima are only a few. 

In many places, people feel they have a special relationship with you. In mortal peril, they prayed to you, and have received miraculous deliverance. So, you become their Lady. An ancient icon of you is revered by the Polish people. As Our Lady of Czenstochowa [chen-sta-ho-va] you have become a cherished part of their identity and faith especially in dark times.

You have the grand titles celebrated in the Litanies, such as Mystical Rose and Ark of the Covenant – and you have many titles given you by humble seekers of your aid. Pope Francis’ favourite is Our Lady Untier of Knots, for example. Our Lady of the Southern Cross, especially for us. Our Lady of Good Counsel, Our Lady of Hope, Queen of the Rosary, Comforter of the Afflicted, and Star of the Sea all celebrate solace and guidance sought and received down the centuries. 

And you travel with your children, just as you did with Jesus, keeping an eye out for them, and finding them when they stray. They have taken you with them in their journeys all round the world. When they get there, they make a home for you and your Son, and the images they make of you are like themselves in feature, because they see you as family. 

I wonder how many have found their way home to their heart’s peace through the random gift of a Rosary, such as the bereaved father played by Martin Sheen in the movie, The Way? 

It took many years for me to find my way back. And now, after so many months when the consolation of Mass and the sacraments was not available, it is this gift from you, the Rosary, that lies under my pillow, and nestles in my handbag, keeping me connected.

This Christmas, many will need a place to take a broken heart. Many will be wondering if it can ever be the same again for them. A few Christmas miracles would not go amiss, dear Lady of the Way, if you have a moment to spare. 

Yours in hopeful confidence,