Okay, you’re probably sick of me by this time. After who knows how many reflections, homilies, spontaneous words, tours. Just bear with me, we’re almost there. You’re on your last day in Rome. I can’t close without talking about Mom, the mother of all of us.
Last and not least is an understatement. Many Legionaries have the habit of mentioning her last, and one of the seminarians the other day compared her to a “landing strip”.
In reality, the Blessed Mother is much more. She has accompanied you from the beginning. Most of you left on the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe. She was present at the ordinations, during each day in the rosary, Mass, homily, and so on. But at the end, we remember just how important she is in our lives so that she can continue to care for and guide us closer to her Son.
The Blessed Virgin has been present on every step of my path even when I wasn’t aware of her quiet, gentle, and loving presence. I was born September 15, 1981, and I can remember looking up my patron saint for the first time: Our Lady of Sorrows, and there was this strange photo with Mary with seven swords sticking out of her heart. “That’s not fair,” I thought to myself, “everyone gets Mary as a mother. I got gypped. I don’t even have a patron saint!” Little did I know that from the first moment of my existence, Mary was claiming me as her own.
Later when I joined the Legion of Christ, I found out that it is devoted to the Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Sorrows. I made my first profession on September 8th, Mary’s birthday. I professed my perpetual vows on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and here I am ordained on a Saturday, her day of the week. She has always been there guiding me with a maternal hand and leaving signs of her love. There haven’t been any moments where I’ve had a vision or seen the sun dance, but in no way has she been less present.
In the Legion, our devotion to Mary consists primarily in two things: loving her as a faithful son and imitating her virtues. I haven’t been a perfect son, but I’ve done my best. We speak to her daily in the rosary. All of our centers have a grotto, and we greet her when we up in the morning and say goodnight before going to bed. There have been many tough and difficult moments, but she is always accompanying me in my crosses and joys and showing me the meaning of everything in her Son.
As for her virtues, she is truly a complete treatise of Christian life. Perhaps the most significant ones for me have been her prayer, silence, and obedience in the hidden life. I joined the seminary to be a priest, a missionary, an apostle, a Legionary to fight for Christ, but it takes time. Until now, I have spent all my time in a seminary forming myself and helping others to form themselves into Christ. There haven’t been earth shaking events, worldwide recognition, or many external signs of success. But that doesn’t it make it any less important or fruitful. We just have to look to Mary in Bethlehem and Nazareth.
She has been my mother and model, one I have seen very clearly reflected in my own mother and numerous other women that have supported me on my path. She sustains and supports us with her unconditional love. Now in Rome we can be sure that she is closer than ever.
I always like to contemplate the Pietá. There she is! In every Mass she gives us her Son in a new Bethlehem and Calvary. She gives him to us in the Eucharist. But she also accompanies us. It is only in Christ’s cross and above all his resurrection that we can make sense of the cross and suffering in our own life. It is she that will help us to keep our eyes focused on Christ despite the wind and waves and take us by the hand even if we fall. How can we be better sons and daughters? Maybe it’s just saying a Hail Mary or bringing her a flower. What virtues of Mary inspire us? Humility? Obedience? Charity?