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