The main place of worship at Nashotah House is The Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin. Perhaps this is why so many of the graduates of the House have such a love for the Blessed Virgin, myself included, to such an extent that there are even jokes about it.
One joke tells of a priest that dies and finds himself standing before Peter at the Pearly Gates. The priest tells Peter who he is, but Peter says that he’s not on the list. “What do you mean. I faithfully served the Church for over 50 years! Please check again.” Peter checks, but comes up with nothing. “Would you please go get Jesus, so that I can talk with him?” Peter obliges, but even Jesus says he’s not on the list. The priest protests again, giving a litany of the things he has accomplished in service to the Lord, hoping something will spark a memory. At one point he says, “I went to Nashotah House,” at which point Jesus holds up and his hand and smiles. Jesus says, “That explains everything! Come on in. Your a friend of Moms.”
For the most part, except for the high churchmen of the Episcopal / Anglican church, the Blessed Virgin Mary is politely forgotten. The more Protestant churches during the Reformation basically demonized her. Statues of her were burned or hacked to pieces after they had been paraded through brothels. Question: “Why?” As Martin Luther stated, “Mary suckled God, rocked God to sleep and prepared broth for God to eat,” but for the most part she has been pushed aside. As one theologian put it, “We drag Mary out at Christmas and then pack her safely back in the crèche box for the rest of the year.” However, Holy Scripture is a testament as to why this shouldn’t be:
The visitation that we read about today
The nativity and the visitation of the Magi
Present at the dedication with Simeon and Anna
Present at the first miracle
She found Jesus in the temple
She was at the foot of the Cross with John
The list is impressive.
From these events and the related scriptures, it is very clear that Mary’s role and position is being elevated, not only by Scripture and the Church, but by God. I don’t press anyone into believing this, but I have to ask the question, “If Mary appeared in the Gospels so many times and was so significant to the life of Our Lord, then shouldn’t she also be important and significant in our own lives?”
Consider this, at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified scripture says, “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” Many scholars agree that in saying to John, “Here is your mother,” that Jesus was speaking to us all and declaring his mother, Mary, to be the Mother for all believers.
I’m not naive enough to believe that we are all of the same opinion on the significance of the role of Mary, but I do believe that we should be able to recognize in her something worth aspiring to and should also see her as one, like all the other saints, who can assist us in our daily lives.
She is known as the Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Bride of Christ, Mother of Mercy and by so many other heavenly titles. Today is one of many feast days that the Church sets aside to celebrate her, so I encourage you to consider her not only as an example to follow, but as the mother of us all. She is full of compassion and mercy. It is good to speak to her and to call out to her as one of her children, for in the time of your deepest need, she will embrace you in the same manner that she embraced the very Son of God.