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My Journey with Mary

Mary is a remarkable woman! I have grown in my affection for her over the years.

When I was in grade school, in the 1950s and 1960s, the May crowning of Mary was always the highlight of the year in my parish. Being a girl, this was especially a big deal for me because girls were excluded from most church activities such as choir and altar serving. But the May crowning procession was different. There, an eighth-grade girl was chosen to crown Mary and was accompanied by four First Communion girls. This was the tradition until my class. My class was told that none of us was worthy of such an honor. Instead, a second-grader would crown Mary. I was devastated!

Because of this, Mary became unreachable, untouchable, and being like her was unattainable. I felt this way for many years until, as a Dominican preacher, I met Mary in a brand new way through Luke’s account of the Annunciation. In praying that passage, I met a woman who was actively engaged in her relationship with God.

Mary was not, in this encounter, silent, passive, or submissive but open, listening, speaking, and questioning. Mary was alert, attentive, interacting, puzzled—alive! Mary was never told “Be quiet,” “Don’t question,” “Just say yes.” Mary was invited to be the Mother of God and was free, as we all are, to say “Yes” or “No.” Mary chose to say “Yes,” not because she knew what it all meant but because she knew she could trust the One who was asking—just as the One who was asking could trust the one being asked.

When we sense God is calling, asking, and inviting, may we be open, engaging, questioning, alive, and graced to trust the One who is asking, because the One who is asking is trusting us.

Anne Scanlan is a member of the RENEW staff, serves on the Why Catholic? team, and is an exceptional liturgist.

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