May 21, 2021

Worship and Evangelization Outreach / Jennifer Burger

At home or at work, Mary is always near to us

Jennifer BurgerIt is probably safe to say that anyone reading this has at least one, and likely a number of images, statues or icons of the Blessed Virgin Mary in their homes. I do, and while some have been given as gifts, most are items that I’ve picked up somewhere. Except for one or two, most are not prominently displayed or seen but are sitting on a bookshelf, windowsill, dresser or nightstand. Chances are you’ll also find smaller images of Mary in drawers throughout my home.

I’m not sure what this says about me as a person: Am I a compulsive shopper? A hoarder? I’m not sure what this says about me as a Catholic Christian either: what is the point of having these Mary items all over the house if I am passing them by on most days without notice?

To be honest, these questions do not plague me, for my simple response is that I like having Mary around and knowing she is near.

I can say the same about my work environment. I work at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis, and obviously we have many statues and images of Mary throughout the retreat house as well as on our grounds. Unlike my home, these statues and images are prominently displayed and are not only visible but very accessible. Yet, in the busyness of the day, it is common to walk by and not even notice them.

One such icon is the statue of Mary that is displayed in the main entrance vestibule. She sits on a shelf attached to the wall, and except for special occasions when she is given honor and celebrated at Fatima and moved to the chapel or other worship area, she keeps watch in this small space.

It wasn’t until a recent celebration when the statue was moved to the chapel that I really took notice and I was captivated by her. She is beautiful!

What I saw was not just the physical beauty of the artist’s interpretation of Mary in the statue, but I felt her beauty. Her features are unassuming, yet gentle and knowing, and her gaze is somewhere between heaven and Earth. I could feel the love in her heart for me and for her son Jesus, brought together in her folded hands in prayer. If I had to describe the role of Mary in the Church in imagery, this would be it.

I like that this Mary has a place in our vestibule. I like knowing that when guests and visitors walk through our doors, she is there to greet them and bless them, even if they don’t see her or know who she is. I like knowing that when our staff comes to work, she greets us and blesses us, too.

She is one of us. She belongs to us and to everyone who walks through our doors, and to the Church.

And whether we “need” or even know her or not, whether we have a deep devotion to her or only turn to her in times of great need as intercessor and for miracles, she is there, in our ordinary lives, in those small spaces in our lives, in our coming and going, always ready and available to open her heart and unite us with her son Jesus. For this, I am truly grateful.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

(Jennifer Burger is office manager and registrar at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis.)

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