Take Her Into Your Home

Why Mary?
“Take Her Into Your Home” 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!

Those weird Catholics and their pagan ways, worshiping Jesus’ mom.

We’ve been accused of worshiping Mary on more than one occasion. You know what? Accuse me, brothers and sisters, if that’s the easiest argument you can make against the Church.

But I am sorry you have not seen the beauty in regarding Mary as your mother. She’ll love you from her place in the Communion of Saints.

John the gospel-writer was my least favorite of the four when I was growing up because of what I interpreted to be arrogance. “The Beloved” bugged me by seemingly hoisting himself above the rest. It didn’t help his case when I realized I was standing for ten minute long gospel readings during the John calendar years.

However, this year I realized what beautiful contributions John’s gospel made to our faith, including a strong explanation of love for Mother Mary.

On the Cross

(I don’t own the rights)

Jesus was suffocating.

Hanging on a cross, with a body that has been brutally beaten and drained of blood after scourging, makes one’s muscles collapse. He had to push up on his feet, just to reach for breath with his arms stretched wide and pinned to the wood with nails.

Imagine having to adjust yourself against the nails driven into your feet and hands, just to breathe.

Any words He spoke were spoken with purpose and many of them were to fulfill the Scriptures, as the gospel-writers address. One of the lengthiest speeches He gave from His place on the cross, He made to John and his mother, Mary, at His feet.

“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” –John 19:26-27

John referred to himself as “the disciple,” instead of “the beloved,” in this instance. He humbled himself in this moment of Jesus’ pained speech.

Those who stand at Jesus’ feet, looking up at the suffering Lord and looking to His resurrection are disciples. We are at His mercy and He has bestowed the grace of this sacrifice on us. Jesus was talking to all of us.

Mary gave birth to our Savior, she deserves deep respect and reverence. Jesus said so. 

Is it because she’s a woman?

The confusion about why we revere Mary as we do is understandable. Jesus said He is the way and we emphatically agree.

God didn’t exclude women from His plan. In fact, they were female hearts that Jesus trusted with the first revelations of his divinity and his resurrection.

Martha and Mary are iconic characters that teach us how to be followers of Christ. The woman at the well was the first to hear Jesus explicitly call Himself the Messiah. The woman who touched Jesus’ cloak had an overwhelming faith that actually drained Jesus of energy. Mary Magdalene’s conversion led to her discovery at the tomb. The angel revealed to Mary Magdalene that He has risen!

We need the examples of the disciples to build the Church. We need to learn from those whom Jesus taught directly and why He chose who He chose. We need to listen to His words and the traditions He passed onto his disciples instead of redefining them as we see fit.

And in accordance with His words, we need to revere Our Mother.

Less is More

Week Four: Patron Saints

“Less is More” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

This is the fourth post of a Lenten 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!

A few months ago, Jen Fulwiler created and shared a “Saint Generator” that randomly conjured a saint’s name and brief bio for users. She suggested we say a prayer and adopt the resulting saint, giving him or her a little test drive with the impression that we were meant to “get” that saint.

Drum roll, please, I thought. CLICKSt. Thomas More. Hrmpf.

Don’t misunderstand: he’s a fascinating, intelligent, wonderful man we can all look to for sound words of wisdom. But I already knew about him.

I wanted to get a random saint I’d never heard of and converse with them over their bizarre life. “You had how many animals? And with how many swords did they impale you? Cool!”

Most of my English literature classes in college revolved around the Reformation, so I have read Utopia, heard the story of St. Thomas More from the mouths of secular professors, and danced politely in a discourse with my fellow students about the split from the Church.

St. Thomas More was old news. Or so I thought. In preparing for this post, I realized how my chosen patron saint and this randomly selected adopted saint relate to a recent revelation.

Elizabeth Anne Seton

Like so many things about the beginning of my faith life, I sided with convenience and routine during my confirmation preparation. There is something to be said in support of ritual. 

Even prayers we invent as we lay down to speak to Jesus before we sleep have a pattern to them, all Christians can agree to this. Standing in a circle, holding hands with strangers or acquaintances so that we can join in unity with the words of the Our Father (Lord’s Prayer) is a ritual.
Many of you might have chosen your patron saints for spiritual reasons. I picked Elizabeth Ann Seton because we shared two names (cue Anne of Green Gables speech about Anne with an “E”).
Statue of Elizabeth. (I don’t own the rights)

My name, as the Church recognizes it, is Elizabeth Anne Elizabeth Ann Seton Hillgrove. I received books, medals, and pamphlets all about the life of Elizabeth Ann Seton and what did I know about her after two years of study? 
She was the first American-born saint, her husband died of tuberculosis, and she was the patron saint of widows, against the death of children, and against in-law problems. Dang, I picked a morbid one.
It’s possible she will help me with one or more of those (please, with the latter), but the fact that she was a convert from Episcopalian faith begs more of my attention today. This woman faced more tragedy and up-current swimming than many people half as busy as she was.

Her husband died in Italy, where they had traveled to nurse him back to health, and she found herself an Episcopalian widow surrounded by physical reminders of the Catholic Church.

Soon she was inspired, uplifted and felt called to convert, though she would soon be without finances. Her conversion alienated her from the family upon whom she would ordinarily be able to depend.

Liz meets More

Eventually, St. Elizabeth founded the Sisters of Charity and became the first American-born saint at her canonization in 1975. I don’t think I knew she was a convert when I picked her for my confirmation, but I’m glad she was.

My “I have this log in my eye…” post addressed my impatience with Protestants. I have a problem and I need God’s Grace to reverse it. It’s no coincidence that I have faced anti-Catholicism, now I resent it, and both my patron and adopted saint dealt with both sides of the same see-saw.

St. Thomas More (I don’t own the rights)

The intersection of my patron and my adopted saint affords me something to reflect upon. How to stand up for the Church, how to attempt intelligent discourse among people with whom I disagree, how to be willing to offer up my suffering or how give my life in martyrdom.

This seems like a coincidence, and of course I’m focusing on this aspect of their similarities, but recognizing the connection between my saints has opened a can of worms. They weave themselves into my day. I’m still learning what this connection means, but I’m doing so with a simple approach.

I just suggest that you recall your patron saint, say a prayer, and click “Show Me My Saint” on Jen Fulwiler’s Saint Generator. See what kind of connection is waiting to happen in the Communion of Saints.