Wednesday, August 22, 2012


As we honor Mary as our Queen, we share recent reflections from Father Abbot.

Meanwhiles are usually times of storm of one sort of another; a time of being disconcerted, surprised, lost and confused, questioning, searching, being caught off balance. I began to reflect on Mary’s life and all the meanwhile moments she must have lived through. What was Mary doing when the Angel Gabriel showed up? She was probably going about her daily routine and chores. "I am a virgin, meanwhile I am pregnant. My cousin Elizabeth, is too old to bear a child, meanwhile she is also pregnant. I go to visit her to give her a helping hand, meanwhile she starts extolling me with praises. I have accepted and acknowledged God’s active presence in my life and in the life of the child in my womb. Meanwhile I must go on an arduous journey to Bethlehem and end up giving birth in a stable. I bring my newborn to the Temple, and meanwhile I am told that a sword will pierce my heart. When my son is twelve we travel to Jerusalem for the Festival, and on the way home we realize he is not with the caravan. We head back to Jerusalem. Meanwhile we find him in the Temple teaching the elders. As he matures into adulthood he goes off on preaching tours, meanwhile I begin to hear rumors, such that I wonder if he has lost his mind. His preaching and teaching anger the authorities, and so he is condemned to die. Meanwhile I receive his tortured body into my arms."

How did Mary get through all the meanwhile moments in her life? She pondered things in her heart. She was a woman of prayer, prayer rooted in God’s word. God’s word was never far from her daily lived experience. The Magnificat, Mary’s poem, attests to this. It is original and at the same time it is a fabric woven with threads from the Hebrew Scriptures. Mary was always at home with God’s Word. Her familiarity with God’s Word enabled her to remain open to God in all the meanwhile moments of her life, those moments when her life and God’s life encountered one another. Thus, Mary really knows how to speak with us, speak to us and invite us to know, to love and to live the Word of God.

We are all learners. But there are moments, fleeting but very real, when the Word of God and the word of my life (especially in those meanwhile moments) echo one another. The word echo captures something of the dynamic and transient dimension of these moments. For these moments cannot be grasped or translated literally. But there is a reality to such moments that cannot be denied.

Because Mary is with God and in God, she is not remote from us or remote from all the meanwhiles of our life. She is very close to each one of us. Being in God, who is closer to us than we are to ourselves, she shares in the closeness of God to us. Being in God and with God, she is close to each one of us, knows our hearts, can hear our prayers; can assist us in all our needs.

Photograph of the Abbey Salve Window by Michel Raguin.