Today, the last day of May, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Visitation, recalling that Mary, just after she had conceived the Redeemer of the World, “set out and traveled to the hill country in haste” to her cousin Elizabeth, who was with child. She became, in Mother Teresa’s words, “a carrier of Christ’s love.” God gives every woman a womb, a fist-sized muscle that “carries” a child for nine months, and as the child becomes quite burdensome, the muscle stretches and grows stronger. Our Lady carried the Redeemer of Humanity over rough roads and steep hills to her cousin Elizabeth, and she bears the burden of her Son still, from heaven. In sculpting his famous pieta, the marble figure of Mary carrying the body of her crucified son from the Cross, Michelangelo made Mary’s dimensions larger than life (she would be six feet tall if she stood, much taller than the Christ in her lap). He also depicted her at about age 25, youthful and strong enough to bear the burden of Redeemer, who said “take my yoke upon your shoulders, for my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
The Collect for today, as I pointed out to Mother Teresa’s sisters at morning Mass, echoes her command to the Missionaries of Charity to “be carriers of God’s love.” The prayer begins “Almighty, ever-living God, who, while the Blessed Virgin Mary was carrying your son in her womb….” A woman carries her children physically in the strong muscle of the uterus, but for the rest of her life, she carries her children in her heart, helping them bear the burdens of the day. We men, we priests, must help the women in our lives carry those burdens. We must be knights of Our Lady, and knights for all ladies.
One June 29th I will mark 30 years of my priestly ordination. It will also be the 70th year of Pope Benedict’s ordination. But closer to home, my parish will celebrate two other ordinations: Fr. John Chung is ten years ordained, and Fr. Mark Taheny is 25 years ordained. We will celebrate all three of our anniversaries together, on June 26th, at the 4:30pm Mass in the parish, at which the rector of our seminary, Fr. Mark Doherty, will preach. A reception will follow in the hall, a potluck. I’m inviting you, if you can make it. There is no cost, but folks must reserve at our parish website (www.starparish.com) and as a bonus, we will celebrate the first week anniversary of the first man to be ordained from Star of the Sea in 30 years. Cameron Pollette, who grew up a few blocks from the parish, will be ordained on June 19, and will concelebrate the anniversary Mass on June 26.
In lieu of the customary gifts to priests on their anniversaries, we three priests are asking folks to make gifts to Stella Maris Academy, our newly-opened school, at which 75% of students in our inaugural year will be on tuition assistance. I hope to see some of you on June 26—see our parish website for more details.