The Blessed Virgin’s Birthday
When my children were in elementary school, they would often find a cake waiting for them at dinner on September 8, the birthday of the Mother of God.
Once I discovered I could have a friendship with Our Lady, I liked to make her a birthday cake and celebrate with my family. We did not pray the rosary together at that time but the cake reminded my husband and my children that I was grateful for the gift of knowing the Mother of Jesus better.
As a convert, there were many things I missed from the Catechism. At 23 I had chosen to join the Roman Catholic faith after returning to live with my family in a smaller community. The seeds of Catholicism had been planted over the years and I wanted a more spiritual life.
A young American priest had come to our diocese and he gave me private instruction at the rectory a block away from our home. I was baptized on March 19, 1967 on the feast of St. Joseph.
The surprise gift that God gave to me was meeting a tall handsome single man about three weeks later who was a quiet, devout Roman Catholic. We fell in love and were married eight months later by the same American priest at my parish.
Conversion instruction in the late 1960s was not as organized as it is today. Many important items were missed, including devotion to Our Lady and the Rosary. But God worked all that out several years later.
A chance encounter with a train conductor who handed me a ring rosary and strongly suggested that praying the rosary would help my life, were all a part of the relationship that now fills my everyday life.
The following year I met Our Lady through a life-size statue at a retreat house. The words of the Magnificat were presented to me as my special reading during the three days of silence. That statue in the garden drew me into a heart-centred dialogue and our friendship was born.
We never know where or when we will be encouraged in our walk of faith. Our responsibility should be one of openness to God’s plan and of course, to His will. He finds many ways to surprise us throughout this journey.
Without the friendship of the Mother of God, I could never have handled the sudden death of my only son, John, at the age of 43. That day my daughter Lisa Dawn became an only child, losing not only her brother, but her closest friend.
She had taken charge of keeping watch over him at the age of 3 when we brought him home from the hospital. He loved her with that brotherly love that offers protection and devotion, despite the fact that she was the older sibling.
Knowing Our Lady suffered so much more than any of us while watching Her Son Jesus crucified, gave me the courage to accept and trust that God knows best. He decided when to call John home.
The words of the Hail Holy Queen prayer that we pray at the close of each rosary offers anyone who is suffering the loss of a loved one, a special consolation:
“Our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, Most Gracious Advocate thine eyes of Mercy towards us and after this our exile, show unto us the fruit of Thy Womb, Jesus.”
May the souls of those who have gone before us continue to comfort and be close to our souls as we travel the road home to Jesus. Amen.