Recently I came across a photo on Facebook of a Blessed Virgin Mary statue that had settled in the front yard of a property that had been ravaged by an EF5 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. On May 20, 2013, a top-of-the-scale cyclone had carved a path of destruction that was 17 miles wide leaving 24 people dead including seven children. According to the Associated Press, the resulting acre after acre of twisted metal, mangled wood, bricks, paper, and personal belongings upon clean-up will make a pile reaching more than a mile high up into the sky.
Of the many images that have been circulating the internet, the one that struck me is that of the Blessed Virgin Mary knelt down in prayer. Trash and debris are tossed in the background around her. Some say that this was a plastic figurine from a Christmas Crèche that somehow had lost its place from someone’s storage and in the midst of the tornado got sucked up and transplanted into the remains of someone else’s front yard. Whatever the statue’s origin, it still causes me to reflect on her place in our lives.
After 9/11, I remember seeing an interview of a Catholic survivor of the World Trade Center disaster. He said that he had prayed Hail Mary’s. Not being Catholic at that time, I remember thinking, Why in the world would anyone do that? I had no clue. I did not notice the gentleman’s name – but his simple and profound petition to the Blessed Virgin made an impression on my mind and heart of which I would meditate on for years to come. Upon seeing the plastic image of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Moore, Oklahoma, I found myself reflecting again. It is also interesting that there was another statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary that remained after Hurricane Sandy on the Jersey Shore. Some say these statues are pure coincidences. I say it doesn’t matter. The circumstances are enough cause for reflection and can bring us to Jesus. In an age where a televised bump, knock, or mumbled EVP that sounds more like a cat crying or a toilet flushing in a dark abandoned building can cause some ghost hunting people to believe in spirits, I think that a preserved statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary that has been tossed by a storm is not too big of a leap for one’s faith.
The Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary today recalls her visit to Elizabeth. Mary’s appearance causes John the Baptist to leap in the womb of her cousin Elizabeth. No one can see the baby Jesus, but by faith they know He is there. The Gospel of Luke 1:39-45 states:
“Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
What strikes me is when Elizabeth says, “And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Mary brings Christ to Elizabeth. And doesn’t she bring Christ to us? Doesn’t she bring Christ to those in Moore, Oklahoma? To those who were in Hurricane Sandy? To those who were in the World Trade Center during 9/11? Doesn’t she bring Christ to each one of us in our daily lives?
The image of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Moore Oklahoma might just be a plastic statue from someone’s storage. But then again, Catholic Churches are made up of just bricks, wood, plastic, and mortar also. However, there is something deeper here that cannot be grasped by physical sight but rather must be approached by faith. Much like when the little host that looks like a cracker, becomes the Body of Christ when the priest pronounces the words of consecration during the Mass. These things are approached by faith which is a gift from God.
What does a plastic statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary have to do with our lives? She reminds us of Him. She brings Him to us. As the Mother of Our Savior and the bearer of Christ, she has everything to do with our lives in bringing us to Jesus. Even if we feel we have little faith. Especially if we have little faith.
The Memorare is a prayer that has been attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux during the 12th Century. It is a wonderful little prayer that reminds us that we have an advocate in the Mother of Our Lord.
REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.