Healing Heart

By Sr. Carole Ruland, MHSH

(This post is part 2 in a six part series on “To Love Like Jesus: A Spirituality of the Heart”.  Each week, we will post a reflection based on the Litany of the Heart by Wendy M. Wright.  To read the Litany, click here.  As Women of the Heart, the Mission Helper Sisters invite you to pray and reflect with us during the next 5 weeks, as we publish one reflection each week on this rich and inviting spirituality).With us, ponder:

What would it mean to love like Jesus?
What would it mean to have a heart like his?

Healing Heart

 Lately, I have been praying with the Scriptures, to gather some of the events that express what Jesus’s Heart called him to do and to be in the world of his time.  The Gospels show us how Jesus touched the lives of the people when he walked the earth.  We are called to love and reach out to the people of today. “Spirituality of the Heart” is expressed in many different ways.  The love Jesus showed during his life on earth is our spiritual challenge of today and tomorrow in a world that needs the love of God.  We are challenged by Jesus’ life to be unconditionally loving, caring, compassionate, healing, forgiving, transforming, inclusive, and merciful.

Matthew 11:29-30 tells us: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.”  The bible tells us that when Jesus saw the crowds, his heart was filled with pity for them.  He healed those who needed healing!  He fed those who were hungry!

 We, too, often find ourselves in the midst of situations that need someone to reach out to help people.  In my hospice ministry with the dying, I felt like I was opening myself and receiving the gift of following in the footsteps of Jesus.  In turn, I was given more peace than I ever could have expected. 

We may not be able to do what Jesus could do, but the warmth in our own hearts can give some support to others.  And, when we are able to help another, we can let the love of God touch us as he did in his life.  Even a “hello” has power to lift spirits, and produce smiles. 


Mission Helpers Celebrate Our Jubilarians!

Part 1 of 2

At the annual gathering of the congregation in June, the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart celebrated the jubilees of seven Sisters.  Ranging from 25 years through 75 years, collectively these women have devoted 375 years in  joyful service to the people of God.

In this first of two installments, we profile Sr. Princess Mary Dawson, Sr. Celeste Burgos, Sr. Clare Walsh and Sr. Susan Engel.

Sr. Princess Mary Dawson – 25 Years

Sr. Princess Mary was born and raised in Philadelphia and began to think about religious life during her high school years at West Catholic Girls High School.  There were Sisters from various communities at the school, and she began to visit them and participate in prayer days and weekend retreats.

She visited the Mission Helpers and felt more “at home” with them than with other communities.  She joined the Sisters for a two-week Vacation Bible School program in Hattiesburg and Lucedale, Mississippi, and became even more interested in joining the Community.

“I saw the Sisters in action there—having fun and sharing our love of God. I was particularly taken by their hospitality and acceptance of the people they served—they were down to earth and just themselves no matter what they encountered.

Sister Princess Mary joined the Mission Helpers in September 1992. She trained as a Medical Assistant and worked in healthcare in Altamonte Springs, Florida, before becoming a teacher’s aide at a Child Care Center there.  She has also served as an advocate for the elderly homeless and was a residential caregiver in Boston and in Baltimore.

She says that her most meaningful ministry so far is the one she has had since 2012 at Catholic Social Services of West Alabama, where she manages the food pantry and assists in many other services to the poor.

“This ministry has helped me grow in so many wonderful ways,” she says. “It is my responsibility to ensure that there is enough food and other supplies to share with the poorest of the poor who come to us.

“I am privileged to be able to serve these sisters and brothers, and I feel blessed daily because I feel valued here.  I am serving God where it really counts.”

Sr. Celeste Burgos – 50 Years

Sr. Celeste was born in Puerto Rico and joined the Mission Helpers in 1967.

In her early years she worked in parishes in Hispanic communities in Florida, Arizona, Baltimore and New York, followed by five years as an assistant for Catholic education to the Archbishop of Venezuela in Barcelona and Caracas.

In 1984 she was called to ministry with the Hispanic community at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston.  As director of religious education and pastoral associate to the Hispanic community, Sr. Celeste spent more than 22 years teaching religion to children and young people, conducting RCIA programs and preparing deacons and laity to teach religion at all levels.

Since 2007, she has been the Pastoral Associate and Social Services coordinator for the Hispanic Community at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where she serves the critical needs of the growing and underserved Hispanic members of the parish.  Most of the 250 families are undocumented and are very wary of seeking help from official agencies; instead they turn to the church and to Sr. Celeste.

She conducts bilingual catechetical programs for pre-school through confirmation; oversees the liturgies at the church, works with the choirs, and often sings at weddings and quinceaneras.

As the only Spanish/English translator in the community, she frequently serves in an advocacy role, communicating with immigration lawyers and other local officials on behalf of the Hispanic people.

In looking back over 50 years of service, Sr. Celeste believes that she has learned as much from the people she has served as they have learned from her.

She has a B.A. in Theology and a master’s degree in Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry.

Sr. Clare Walsh – 50 Years

Born in Stoneham, Massachusetts, Sister Clare grew up in Wakefield, just north of Boston.  She went to public schools, was active in the CYO and taught religious education while in high school.

She thought about religious life but didn’t want to teach.  “I didn’t want to be in an institution,” she says, “and I wanted to be with lay people.”

A magazine advertisement for the Mission Helpers caught her eye—the featured Sister—Sister Felicia—“had a warm, open and loving expression.  Also I was impressed that they were a Community without walls—no institutions.” She entered the Community in 1967.

Early ministries in religious education and faith formation took her to North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and upstate New York. In 1980 she returned to Boston and joined the staff of the New England Medical Center, serving as Director of Pastoral Care for eight years, and helping develop and co-lead the Ethics Consultation Center for 19 years.

Feeling that she was being called to something else, in 1999 she enrolled in the Jesuit School of Theology, earned a Master’s Degree in Spiritual Direction, and served for three years at the Center for Religious Development, a Jesuit training center for spiritual directors.

After serving on the founding committee of The Jesuit Collaborative, in 2005 the Jesuit Provincial asked Sr. Clare to be the Provincial Assistant for Ignatian Spirituality and the Associate Director of the Jesuit Collaborative where she served until 2015.

Today she teaches a practicum in spiritual direction at Boston College; she also offers spiritual direction and directs retreats in the Ignatian tradition.  Recently, she felt a “nudge” to do something that she had no formal preparation for—fundraising to support the Mission Helpers’ commitment to the Asylee Women Enterprise.

“For 50 years I have loved loving God and being loved by God,” she says.  “And I am so grateful that God has surrounded me with my Mission Helper sisters, women of the heart, as well as loving family and friends who do this so well.”

Sr. Susan Engel – 50 Years

Sr. Susan was born in Hollis, New York, and joined the Mission Helpers in 1967. At the time she was a buyer for an upscale women’s clothing store on Long Island, where life, she recalls, “revolved around the clothes you wore, the people you knew, the places you went and the things you owned. I wanted something else.”

She spent a volunteer year with the Mission Helpers among the poor in North Carolina.  “Those Sisters were happy, full of life and did an unusual ministry,” she says.  “They had the freedom to roam.  And they did.  They went out and worked among the people.”

In her first 18 years as a Mission Helper, Sr. Susan lived in 9 different states doing faith formation at the diocesan level and a summer in Germany giving workshops for a Master Teacher Program, sponsored by the Army.

In her last 32 years, as Pastoral Associate, at Annunciation Parish in Rosedale, Maryland, Sr. Susan’s faith has been influenced and shaped by the joys and sorrows in the lives of parishioners; by the 8 talented pastors and skilled staff with whom she has worked.

During those 32 years, Sister has also served as a Counselor at the Archdiocesan Counseling Center and is currently on staff for the Baltimore Marriage Tribunal.  While fulltime in the Parish, Sr. Susan also served the Mission Helpers as Vocation Director, Novice Director and Treasurer.

“Fifty years ago, she says, “religious life, the Catholic Church and Society were vastly different than today.  None of us ever knows what lies ahead, but how fortunate I am to have met the Mission Helpers and spent all these years among an amazing group of women I call Sister. We are still roaming around out among the people of God!”

Sr. Susan has a B.A. (Summa Cum Laude) in Philosophy and Theology from Loyola College and a Master’s Degree (Summa Cum Laude) in Behavioral Science from The Johns Hopkins University.

ANTICIPATING EASTER – A Holy Week Reflection

By Sr. Donna Fannon, MHSH

What are you doing this Saturday?
          Are you filling Easter Baskets?
                   …planning the Easter meal?
                             …decorating the Church?
                                      …cleaning the house?

Is there any time left for quiet reflection on the Paschal Mystery and the death of Jesus in particular?

Can you imagine yourself being with Mary Magdalene, sad, heartbroken, empty, in the garden wondering where the body of Jesus is?  Can you engage in a conversation with her about the difference Jesus has made in her life…and in yours?  Can you just be silent and grateful for Jesus’ friendship over the years?

Image result for mary magdalene at the empty tombPerhaps the tomb is too close.  Maybe you see yourself in the Upper Room with the disciples, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the others in fear of the Romans.  How does the silence speak to you there?  Whom might you choose to engage in conversation?

Or maybe you find yourself with the travelers on the Road to Emmaus, having found hope in Jesus and now in shock that Jesus has left them dejected and hopeless and lost.  Have you ever felt that way?  How does Jesus’ appearance (and vanishing) speak to you and strengthen your hope?

Related imageEach of these stories can offer us opportunities to contemplate the full spectrum of human emotion and experience, and they all have a joyful (and challenging) ending.  Each one invites us to be real (yes, Jesus did suffer and die for us), to ponder: what does this mean in my life; how do I follow someone who died and is risen and is present everywhere?

This Saturday—Holy Saturday—can you take some time to contemplate and put yourself into one of these scenes, imagining a conversation, then asking God to help you integrate the experience into your life?

  • What did you notice?
  • What do you appreciate about Jesus’ presence in your life?
  • What are you grateful for about being called to be a follower of Christ?

This Holy Week, prepare well and enjoy many Easter Blessings.

Litany of the Love of Christ

 sunrise easter

In our loneliness, the love of Christ embraces us

In our desire for love, the love of Christ overwhelms us

In our brokenness, the love of Christ heals us

In our emptiness, the love of Christ fills us


 In our longing for community, the love of Christ gathers us

In our hesitation to reach out, the love of Christ missions us

In our need to minister, the love of Christ provokes us

In our desire to serve, the love of Christ compels us


 In our witness to the Gospel, the love of Christ speaks to us

In our enthusiasm for the mission, the love of Christ impels us

 –Tim Brown, SJ

Happy Easter!
He is Risen!
On behalf of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart,

Sr. Loretta Cornell, MHSH

Reflections of a Baseball Fan

By Sister Dolores Beere, MHSH*

I am a baseball fan!  To be more specific, I am a Baltimore Orioles fan—an ardent Baltimore Orioles fan.

From the time I was a very young child I listened to baseball games on the radio with my mother and father.  They were both great fans. I remember one warm summer night in particular.  We were sitting outside on the front steps listening to the ballgame.  It went into extra innings and it got very late, but my mother was determined to listen to the end. When it was over she told my father to take her to the hospital, where she gave birth to my sister.  But she heard the end of that game first.

There was a Baltimore team before the Orioles that played in an old ball park on 28th Street.  My father took me there when I was about seven years old.  I loved it.

Later I went to games at the old Memorial Stadium, and, more recently at the new Camden Yards, where I was once hit by a ball during pre-game warm-ups.

While I love the game, I can’t say that baseball is a “religious experience,” but I think it’s a very spiritual thing when the players use their God-given gifts to bring so much enjoyment to people.  They have a calling.  And that’s to play baseball.  Cal Ripken was a good example of this.  He loved the game; he was a good sportsman; he was called to play baseball.

And, like Cal Ripkin, a lot of the Orioles are very involved with worthy local projects; they give back to the community, and especially the kids.  They’re role models.

For the players who take drugs to enhance their playing—that’s not using their God-given gifts, that’s just greed.

My ministry in Detroit lasted for 16 years, and I followed the Detroit Tigers, but I never became a fan.  In fact, one year I went to the season opener between the Tigers and the Orioles and cheered (loudly) for the Orioles.  We won.

I enjoy baseball—every single day, winning or losing.  One year they were zero for 21—not one win in 21 games!  But I was with them.  This year, I think they have a shot at the World Series.  That would be great.  But, it’s still early in the season, anything can happen.

I’ll be rooting for them, no matter what.

*Sister Dolores, who will be 90 in October, recently celebrated her 70th year as a Mission Helper of the Sacred Heart.  But, she’s been a baseball fan longer than that.


“I Will Go, Lord, Where You Lead Me…”*

Mission Helpers Celebrate 325 Years in God’s Service

By Loretta Cornell, MHSH, President

On Saturday, June 9, we celebrate Jubilees—one of the most joyous occasions we Mission Helpers have each year.  It gives us the opportunity to reflect on the lives and ministries of women who have been called by God, and who have responded…

“…I will go Lord, where you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart.”* 

Each of this year’s six Jubilarians has lived the words of the hymn, “Here I Am Lord.” They have gone where God has led them; they have held God’s people in their hearts.  And, they have done much more.

Together they have spent 325 years in God’s service.  Directly or through the many hundreds of people they have trained to teach, these Sisters have introduced God and Jesus and the Church to thousands of youngsters.  They have re-introduced religion to parents and adults and guided non-Catholics on the path to the Church.

And, Sister Dolores has done it all in sign language, too!

They have cared for the children of immigrants and have brought religious education to the children of men and women in the military.  They have been by the side of the dying and grieved with those they left behind.   They have lived and worked with those who have developmental disabilities, ministered in AIDs hospitals and helped refugees find sanctuary.  And, collectively, they hold 10 college degrees.

They have done it all and we salute them:  Sisters Dolores Beere and Maureen McKenna, 70 years; Sister Barbara Wills—who has also been the keeper of the Community’s Archives for the last 36 years—60 years; Sisters Martha Pavelsky and Rita Lynch, 50 years; and Sister Julianne Hau, 25 years.


They have, indeed, gone where the Lord has called them to go.  And, as Sister Maureen (70 years) says, “God has held us by the hand every step of the way.”

We hold each of them in our hearts.

* Hymn, “Here I Am Lord;” Lyrics by Dan Schutte, S.J.

Pomp and Circumstance – A Reflection on Graduations

By Sister Donna Fannon, MHSH

Last week I and other members of my high school graduation class of 1962 served as honorary marshals for this year’s graduation ceremony.   This was the first time I had returned to my high school, and it was quite a treat to reconnect with some of my former classmates, share memories of the past, and wish the Class of 2012 well.

The school auditorium seemed a lot smaller than I remember it, and the library is much more high tech, but the students seemed pretty much the same—all excited to be going off to college, hoping the current economic situation will turn around, having some misgivings about being on their own and wondering what the future holds for them.

Graduation is often called commencement—a beginning. When I think of beginning something new, I am also reminded of the necessity to let go of something in the past.  We cannot fully embrace the new unless we let go of what has been. Yes, the new has joys and blessings of its own, but these cannot be realized unless we let go of the past and live in the present.

Graduation is a wonderful metaphor for the spiritual journey. At each stage we rely on what we have learned in the past, but we are called to use that life experience in creative ways in the present.  We have all learned that we cannot relive the past, but we can rely on lessons we learned in the past to face new and challenging situations.

From a spiritual perspective, we can remember God-with-us in the past and know that God is with us now. We also know that what is happening in our lives now will offer us wisdom in the future.

Questions for reflection:

  • What are some things you have had to let go of in your life journey?
  • Who are some of the people that helped you negotiate major life transitions?
  • What is something you need to let go of now?
  • What memories do you cherish?
  • For what are you grateful?
  • What grace do you need from God to move forward now?


By Sister Barbara Baker, MHSH

Once again we approach a significant moment in the life of our church—a moment when that special gift of the Holy Spirit fills all with new life and an invitation for a new beginning.  Jesus’ appearance, once again, from out of nowhere, in the midst of a scared group of followers takes them up short.  Jesus stood among them and said “Peace be with you.”  He tried to reassure them that indeed it was HE who had recently ascended to the Father.  Once they realized the truth, they rejoiced.  Jesus addresses them again and says “Peace be with you.”  He has returned to them to send them forth as commissioned ambassadors to spread the Good News.

There are tensions and divisions within the community.  Each received a special gift from the Holy Spirit and could not rejoice in this because of jealousy and comparisons with the gifts others received.  They didn’t realize that the gifts were to be shared with others for the good of the community.

Paul reminds us that our bodies are the same—each part has a role to play and no one is more important than another if it wants to be whole, healthy and in harmony.  So, as we approach this great feast of new birth perhaps we could look at our hearts to discover the fire or lack of fire within us for life and service to one another.

For Reflection:

What is the “special gift” that God has bestowed on me, and how do I share the gift with the community no matter what my age?

In this time of uncertainty about our future, how and where do I see the Holy Spirit guiding and leading us to a new place with new fire and energy?

CRAB FEAST – CRABS!  All you can eat! Plus crab soup, barbeque, Pit Beef and Ham, Ice Cold Beer and Sodas.  Games of Chance! Find out more and get tickets early. Mission Helpers Crab Feast_FLYER pdf. Or call:  410-823-8585 X 247.  Benefits the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart.

Mothers Day Reflections

By Sisters and Friends of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart

Loretta’s Mother

I could always pick my mom out in a crowd of moms.  She was the one with the prettiest hair—all white. My mother had 11 children and she treated each one of their needs.  She was named Mary Rosalie but went by Rose and what a Rose she was!

I can remember one time asking her, “Why aren’t we normal?”  She laughed and said, “We are.”

She taught me a great lesson when I was in the second or third grade.  I volunteered her to make a cake for my class.  She got all the ingredients and the cook book and she put them in front of me and said, “You are going to make this cake.”  I learned to make a cake from scratch and to never, ever volunteer my mom for anything again without her permission.

Mom had a deep faith, a great prayer life and trust in God. These were the best gifts she gave our family.  She had a good sense of humor, a compassionate heart and a love for all people.  She was involved in church, social action, civic and community associations.  She taught us to reach out to those in need, to invite people to the table, and to see Jesus in each face that we met.  She also had a devotion to the Blessed Mother and would have us pray the Rosary on our knees or in the car.  I chuckle when I remember this because as my Dad drove faster and faster, Mom’s voice became louder and higher in pitch.  It went like this:

Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

Hon, slow down!!

I can’t help but smile.  I’m not sure if she thought it was the hour of our death, but sometimes it sure felt it.

Our Mom loved us and she let us know it.  Because of her witness of love to God, Mary, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I am a better person.  Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

–Sister Loretta Cornell, MHSH

Darla’s Mother

My fondest memories of my mother are of the times we have spent together, just the two of us.  I was six years old before I was blessed with a baby brother, so I have always had a close bond with my mom.  My husband, son and I have been blessed to have had my mom (and dad) living under the same roof with us for the last 25 years, so the bond between all of us is even stronger today!

To this day it is her love for her family and our one-on-one times that I will remember, and cherish, for the rest of my life.

–Darla Benton, daughter of Millie Stuchinsky

I first met Jesus, really met him, when Sister M. Anonymous dismissed me, a precocious second grader, from my First Communion class and forbade me from receiving Communion with my classmates, including my identical twin sister.  Despite my mother’s representation to “Sister” and my parents to “Father,” I was not permitted to return.

I remember, as if it were yesterday, sitting under the willow tree in our backyard, anxiously awaiting my parents’ return from meeting with the pastor.  After what seemed an eternity, my mother appeared, bearing a plate full of toll house cookies and a glass of milk.  She sat on the grass next to me. I can still retrieve the scent of White Shoulders.

In a voice filled with tenderness she said, “Honey, you are not going to receive Communion with your class.  That is Sister’s decision and we must respect that.  But Dad and I believe the reason is bigger than Sister.  We believe that Jesus wants you to himself on your Communion day because he has something special to say to you.”

Immediately, for this seven-year-old, raw disappointment was transformed into a sense of being special and anxiously awaiting what Jesus would say to me. To this day, I believe that my relationship with Jesus was born from my mother’s words.

–Sister Clare Walsh, MHSH

Rosemary’s Mother

Mary Burke Maguire is a wonderful and loving mother.  We (her children) feel it is both a privilege and an honor that she lives at The Villa in Baltimore.  The Villa is a retirement community of religious women—Sisters of Mercy and the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart.

It is fitting that she spends these years of her life in such a community.  Mary Maguire is one of the holiest women I have ever known.  Holy in the sense of God first in everything she says and does.  Our mother bestowed on us faith, hope and love that know no bounds.

–Rosemary Thompson

Mariel’s Mother

My mother was beautiful.  My friends always said that they had never seen such a beautiful woman.  It was not her physical beauty, however, that impressed me the most. We had many religious items that graced our home; these did not impress me the most.  What truly influenced me throughout my life was Mom’s steadfast faith.  Through many difficult times, Mom trusted unwaveringly in God and set an unforgettable example for all of us. Even at age 80 she continued to attend daily Mass.  I remain forever grateful to her for having encouraged me in my decision to become a Mission Helper. Mrs. Helen Rafferty, mother of Sister Mariel.

–Sister Mariel Rafferty, MHSH

Among my favorite memories of Mom is this: I was seven or eight, my sister 12 or 13.  We had a big doll the size of a two-year-old child.  She wore real baby clothes.  Neither of us played with her anymore, but she was one of my prized possessions.  One day in the cold of winter my mother said, “You don’t play with that doll anymore. How about giving it to Rosie up the street?  She may not have a doll.”

I immediately tensed up and got possessive, but my mother reasoned with me.  “You have other dolls, but Rosie doesn’t have any.  God wants us to share what we have.”

After a while she wore me down and I agreed. I took the doll to Rosie.

Sometime later I was at Rosie’s house, and I was hoping to play with the doll.  But Rosie said, “My mother threw it in the stove.”  I was horrified and sickened.  That doll was as big as a baby who could walk, and I pictured a child being thrown into the flames.  I must have left right away because my next memory is of running home and bursting into the house crying.  Mom asked what was wrong and I sobbed, “Rosie’s mother burned the doll up in the stove.”

Mom always had a calm way about her. She thought for a moment, then said, “Maybe she needed to do that because they didn’t have wood for the fire.”  That stopped me for a second, but then came another onslaught of crying and I sobbed, “But it was MY doll.”

Mom triumphed again.  “No, it wasn’t your doll.  You gave it to Rosie. When you give a gift, it’s not yours anymore and you can’t tell people how to use it.”

My mother taught me many little lessons like that, and I’m grateful for every one of them.

–Sister Kathleen Lehner, MHSH

I have so many memories of my mother, Theresa Gertrude Hubich Bunn.  I remember her sitting on the side of my bed and teaching me to pray “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” and “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, bless the bed I lie upon, four angels to guard my bed, two at the foot and two at the head…”

I remember lemon meringue pies so delicious that I picture heaven including pie, coffee and watching the sun rise over the ocean.  I remember walking toFortMcHenryin our Easter outfits and hats on sunny Easter afternoons.  I remember Uncle Wiggley stories and if the sky doesn’t turn green and trees don’t grow upside down, I will tell you more memories next year.

–Sister Susanne Bunn, MHSH

Donna Fannon’s Mom

Some of my favorite memories of Mom center around being “always ready for a ride” and “dressing for the occasion.”  Until recently, Mom has always been ready to go on an outing, but only with the proper attire.  This photo was taken at the Red Lion Inn a few years ago. My sister and I took her there for a spring getaway.  For us it was a time to relax, but for Mom, it was an event.

Mom continues to greet each day as something worth dressing up for.  She had the same outfit on this week for a visit to the doctor’s office for a routine blood test.  “After all,” she said, “one never knows whom we will run into on the way.”

I find a great lesson in that, especially as I try to be prepared to meet God at any moment along the way…and be ready to respond.  Thanks Mom.

–Sister Donna Fannon, MHSH

A Mother’s Day Reflection on the Mother of Jesus

By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky

Is it uniquely Catholic to speak of Mary, the mother of Jesus, as “the Blessed Mother”?

In what sense was she “blessed”?  I think of a French word that looks similar—blesse—but gives us more to ponder:  It’s a word that means wounded.

Now that is accurate.  Mary’s involvement in God’s plan was profoundly wounding.  Reread the first four chapters of Luke’s gospel, plus other mentions of Mary further on and see how obscure, terrifying, horrifying Mary’s life was at times.

If you’re a reader who can plow through some poetic excess, A Woman Wrapped in Silence by John W. Lynch might yield surprising insights into Mary’s and Joseph’s trials.

Their boy was not an easy responsibility.  Like most offspring, he made life “interesting” to an extreme extent. Parents who look on anxiously as their children navigate life’s tricky passages might find it helpful to reflect on those rough spots and converse with Mary.

A Wounded Life

How blessed exactly did she feel when her 12-year-old went AWOL in Jerusalem, or when his buddies sent word for her to come and get him because he was “talking crazy”?

Thinking along these lines about the Blessed Mother helps me to understand why my mother and so many other women (and men) raising children today still turn to Mary for inspiration.  Her life was anything but a holy card in pastels and gilt.  Even though she herself was sinless, the sin-pervading the world touched and wounded her life repeatedly, and she, like us, had no choice but to live it out moment by moment with no idea how it would end.

Sound familiar?  If you intend to follow God’s plan for living, reckon with what that might require of you, and pray for Mary’s courage to stick with your commitment!

Note:  Sisters and friends of the Mission Helpers post their reflections on their mothers on our Mothers Day Blog, Sunday, May 13.