I have never shared this before, but Mary once granted me a very unexpected favor. And although it happened about 15 years ago, it has only been during the past month that I have come to completely understand the message.
In my parish church, the statue of Our Lady of Grace stands in the back of what we affectionately call “Mary’s chapel.” The chapel is to the left of the altar, and is one of the first seating areas to fill up before Mass.
On the day my son was baptized, I tenderly carried him, now graced by God’s Presence, to the feet of the One Gabriel once called Full of Grace. Kneeling before the larger than life marble statue, I presented my infant son to Mary, asking her to take him as her own, to accept my consecration of him to herself. My heart was bursting with joy, and I was so happy to give my son this gift of special protection by the Holy Mother of God.
My little boy’s early years were filled with visits to the Blessed Sacrament, learning to say the rosary, and stories of the Saints. The only thing he wanted for his First Holy Communion was a “real bible” — which my sister, his godmother, joyfully gave him. He would sit up in bed and read from it almost every night in those days, declaring the Sermon on the Mount to be his favorite chapter.
Yes, he was precocious; he was beautiful; he was talented, but he was also strong-willed and rebellious.
The beloved bible ended up in a drawer. And one night when he didn’t come home from a highschool dance, a blue glass rosary cut into the palms of my hands.
He eventually came back to the house, but he never really came home again.
On the evening of his Confirmation, I was at the foot of Mary’s statue once more. “Mother, I re-consecrate my son to you. I don’t know what has gone wrong, but he needs your help. Maybe I didn’t say the words right the first time. Please hear me now, and accept him as your own.”
During the difficult years that followed, I would often attend the 6pm Mass. It was very crowded,which enabled me to secure a standing spot, wedged between the candle stand and Mary’s statue. Often I would place my hand on her foot or the hem of her garment.
I was grateful to be a short distance from those filling the pews. Desperate, I needed to be alone with God.
One night, a lady came and knelt before Mary shortly before Mass ended. We were facing each other, and although she did not notice me, I was captivated by her eyes fixed on Mary’s face, and her lips moving silently in prayer. She was obviously praying intensely about something. I didn’t mean to intrude; it all happened so fast……
Then, as if watching a movie, I saw what I can only describe as a “copy” of Mary’s statue stepping out of the original statue. This copy appeared more transparent than the original, but resembled it in every other way. “Mary” came within reach of the prayerful woman and took her hands and held them in her own most pure hands. The woman seemed not to notice anything. Mary looked directly into the woman’s face, and appeared to be listening most attentively to her prayer, as though she were the only person in the world.
Within seconds, without my knowing how, the image was gone, and the woman got up from the kneeler. I thought of stopping her and telling her what I had seen. But I didn’t, and I have often regretted this.
As for me, I was struck by the obvious love and tenderness Our Lady showed to this woman pleading for her intercession. I wondered how many times Mary had held my hands or embraced me — like the night I clung for dear life to my blue glass rosary.
Yet, throughout many painful years, I have often wondered why it seemed Mary had not rescued my son from so many poor choices. I had given him to her when his soul was spotless and newly sealed with the Sacrament of Baptism. Surely she could have surrounded him with angels, or kept him beneath her own mantle. Had she not understood?
And I had trusted her completely. So total was my trust when I presented my baby boy to her that all that happened in those later years was ever so much more painful, because it was so very unexpected.
My son is now a man, and he no longer wishes to rebel. He is working hard to repair his life. But sometimes, repercussions from the past still catch up with him. This month has brought to light a few things I had not known before.
And this is the rest of the gift. Mary has visited my heart in secret. And she has reminded me of what I saw 15 years ago, and she has said, “As you saw me take my daughter’s hands in prayer, do you not know that I also took your son into my own arms when you offered him to me?”
Why hadn’t I ever thought of it that way — my little son pressed to her Immaculate Heart, his tiny cheek kissed by those purest lips that kiss the Son of God?
She has made me understand that the crosses had to come. But that I should not pray like one who has banished all dreams and asks but little for her son. Rather, she has led me to pray that he will one day do great things for God. And so I do pray this way now — so full of hope, and expectation, knowing that she has always been with him, and with me.
And I remember, when She didn’t understand, and when the way before Her was obscured and unknown, She found joy in Gabriel’s words, “….for nothing is impossible to God.”
And Mary shares these words with me and takes my hands……..