Mary’s vapor rub

Mary, Our Guide
“Mary’s vapor rub” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

I picture Mary in heaven cleaning up toys, dislodging tiny G.I. Joes from the toughening pad of her foot, slowly acquiring a nursing/psych/spiritual guide degree, with stretch marks to match her under eye circles, like mothers around the world. If I could pick anyone to give me vapor rub for my soul, it would be her.

The world is the toy room, bruises, scrapes, and boo-boos show up on her children’s souls, and her children around the world cry to her at night, stirring her awake.

Her soul magnifies the Lord for centuries so that He can reach more people who notice her motherly influence on their lives.  She is our mother, our comforter, and God’s message deliverer.

The house in which I grew up loved her everyday. I knew the Hail Mary prayer as well as the Our Father, we had several pictures, rosaries, and one statue of her in the “fancy room.” My parents needed her guidance in their lives, so they were happy to invite her into their homes.

When I was young, we went on a trip to Emmitsburg, MD, a small town where people said they saw Mary. I remember aiming the film camera at every corner of the house and grounds where she had allegedly appeared, praying that she might appear in the photo after development.

(I don’t own the rights)

I don’t know if that sighting has been made “official” by the Vatican, but the faith of my childhood was overwhelmed by the beauty of the possibility that I might see this woman I had called Mother throughout my life.

Shortly after that trip, when I was in fourth grade, I woke up one morning with a white pain in my right hip. I rolled off the bed, onto the floor and quickly learned I couldn’t stand up because of the pain.

It was as if I had not awoken and I was in a dream wherein I could try with all of my dream-like strength, but the body to which I was tethered could not move.

Fear overwhelmed me and heaving tears came down my face as I crawled into the bustle of the hallway where I knew my parents would notice their first born daughter, scared and in pain.

With their help, thanks be to the Lord, I could stand and walk with the pain still searing in my hip. Doctors did tests, people prayed, I repeated my own name during the prayers for intercessions at Mass, and I watched my parents whisper with worry.

They thought it was Rheumatoid Arthritis and that I would be in a wheelchair by the age of sixteen.

The morning that we were to get the test results from the doctor, my mom rushed in my room with damp cheeks and an encouraged voice and clasped around my neck her mother’s Mary metal on a silver chain. She said Mary came to her in a dream and told her it would be good news from the doctor and not to be afraid.

For the first time in days, her head was actively floating above water. Mary, whether it was her or just the comfort that my mom knew she could find in her image, provided my mother with peace of mind. She rubbed the vapor jelly on her soul, reminding her that she was not alone.

(I don’t own the rights)

The renewing dream was correct and the doctors concluded that I had contracted streptococcus in my hip joint. I needed some antibiotics and a few weeks for the pain to subside.

I doubt I knew how serious that episode could have been; I was excited to miss school for that appointment.

Mary provided my mother with the magnifying reminder that anxiety is the opposite of grace. The episode awoke the faith in my parents and my sisters and I grew and learned from it.

The comfort and wisdom that Mary used to assure Jesus that it was time for his first miracle guides us today. Because we know she lived life as a mother, she lost like a mother, and Jesus declared her our mother while on the cross, she leads us to a path to Him when we need it.

Half measures

Week Five: Issues with the Church

“Half measures” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

This is the fifth post of a blog post series called “Bright Maidens.” We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion!

Oooo scandalous. The Bright Maidens are going to share their issues with the Catholic Church! If you were hoping for a crew of young women calling for female priests, contraception (if this is you’re guess, please read this), or a revolt on the Holy See, you will be disappointed.

Though we have some eyes to roll and some heads to shake at the several times in Church history, we contend that Christ founded the Catholic Church and the Holy Spirit has been her unfettering guide. We’re the Bright Maidens because we’re not what the secular world expects of young women who grew up in the Catholic Church.

(I don’t own the rights)
What does growing up in the Church require? 

Is this the right question to ask? Many parents run down the concrete answers to this question like it’s a honey-do checklist. Baptism, religious education, Reconciliation, Eucharist, Confirmation, *ding* Catholic microwave says you’re done!

Rather than determining how to bring their families closer to God, they go through the motions. Perhaps these parents don’t understand the teachings or they disagree with them, but they want to give their children structure and checklists. I’m sure some worry about suffering the all-consuming condemnation from their own parents or in-laws if they neglect the checklist.

It would be a smaller travesty if their apathy and unwillingness to research and ask questions about the faith only affected their children. However, these parents are mixed in with all parents and assigned to elementary, middle, and high school religious education classrooms.

The parish plops a little “Ask Me Anything” button on their chest and identifies them as the authority in the classroom of eager children following their Holy Spirit-guided noses. Apathetic teachers, volunteers, or parishioners teach children by example and those who answer questions incorrectly misinform entire generations.

Until about three years ago, I thought my faith was just for me. I was meant to bundle up, tie a polar bear coat around it, and pray quietly in an igloo, holding my knees to my chest.

(I don’t own the rights)

Saying “Praise God” when I felt the urge would brand me a Protestant Jesus freak. Rebutting an insult on the faith with anything more involved than, “It’s okay that you believe what you believe and I believe what I believe. We’re both right to us,” would be over the top and somehow non-Catholic.

Somewhere along the way, Catholics started keeping the zeal for Christ to themselves. The darkness in that cave seems to dissolve any zeal left over from childhood.

We forgot it needs to be in the light and breathe. We’re called to bring it to light and pass it around. In forgetting this, we created more of the apathetic parents who teach their practices.

Queue the battle drums call for more involved grassroots efforts in our parishes! We need to make sure kids know this is what it means to be Catholic.

Many parents are busy and can say they have too much taking up their time to learn the answers to the questions they never asked.

“In our time more than ever before, the chief strength of the wicked, lies in the cowardice and weakness of good men… All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy-going weakness of Catholics. Oh! if I might ask the Divine Redeemer, as the prophet Zachary did in spirit: What are those wounds in the midst of Thy hands? The answer would not be doubtful: With these was I wounded in the house of them that loved Me. I was wounded by My friends, who did nothing to defend Me, and who, on every occasion, made themselves the accomplices of My adversaries. And this reproach can be levelled at the weak and timid Catholics of all countries.” —Pope St. Pius X, Discourse at the Beatification of St. Joan of Arc, Dec. 13, 1908

Take the time. Catch yourself on FIRE so you can show the Church’s children how to be on FIRE for Jesus. We make up the Church He founded!