She Held All This in Her Heart

"She held all this in her heart" by Maria Morera Johnson (

Copyright 2018 Maria Morera Johnson. All rights reserved.

Since my husband and I retired and moved to a new state, part of my plan to get to know the area includes mini-pilgrimages to new churches. That quest led to Saint Ignatius — an elegant large church filled with golden-hued stained glass and warm wood.

It was in this quiet and welcoming space that I recently attended Mass and Adoration. My gaze was supposed to be on the Lord, but my eyes kept wandering over to the alcove next to me where a beautiful statue of Mary and the infant Jesus stands.

The lighting and gold tones in the stained glass cast an amber glow in the alcove, and I found myself focusing more on Mary in the corner than Jesus front and center in the Blessed Sacrament. I’ve often heard that when we wander in prayer, the Blessed Virgin Mary gently nudges us and redirects our focus.

I found little consolation in that; my gaze kept seeking her. I thought, what am I supposed to be seeing here?

I looked at the monstrance, a cross with a starburst and the Blessed Sacrament ensconced safely in the heart of it. Then, I quickly looked back at Mary holding Jesus close to heart. That’s when I realized she stood in front of wooden panels that — by accident or design — created a cross behind her.

The foreshadowing of her Son’s Passion was almost too much for me, as my gaze quickly alternated between that beautiful image of innocence, and back to the Real Presence. My heart was filled with sorrow, consolation, gratitude, and love.

It seems like Christmas is barely over, and here we are in Lent. One minute I’m contemplating the Incarnation, and the next, the Passion. And yet, as this simple image showed me, I can’t contemplate one without the other.

Copyright 2018 Maria Morera Johnson


About Author

Maria Morera Johnson, author of My Badass Book of Saints, Super Girls and Halo, and Our Lady of Charity: How a Cuban Devotion to Mary Helped Me Grow in Faith and Love writes about all the things that she loves. A cradle Catholic, she struggles with living in the world but not being of it, and blogs about those successes and failures, too.


  1. That is very touching. I can absolutely see the cross behind her and in the picture she and baby Jesus are centered right on it, it is always so sad to me because I think of holding my children and loving them and protecting them, but ultimately knowing that we can’t keep them safe forever, there will be crosses for us all to bear, but like with Jesus, we can put our faith in the resurrection. Thank you for sharing this reflection.

  2. Yes, we cannot and should not hold our children back from the Cross, from the suffering they alone must endure and persevere through. Soooo much easier said than done! But thanks be to God that we have Mary’s example. There is a beautiful new order or nuns here in Charlotte, NC, the Daughters of the Virgin Mother. They are under the direction of a priest who tells them about their role in praying for and supporting priests and seminarians. He told them something like this, “Mary blocked the exit from the Cross. Your job is to block the exit.” And that’s our job as wives and mothers, right? Our job is to keep everyone Heaven bound! Thank you for sharing this beautiful image.

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