My nose is perma-clogged, apparently another lovely side effect of pregnancy, so sleeping is a bit more daunting - I'm up frequently and have a hard time getting back to sleep. As Mr. O left early for work this morning, he sweetly said "please go back to sleep; you're sleeping for three!" (including himself in the number) Isn't it wonderful to love and be loved? When I reflect on all my smallness of soul and my battles with my own selfishness, I am amazed by the love of my husband - and by the God who planned it all, who knew what was coming even while I was asking for other, poorer substitutes.
Yesterday, I had two particularly grace-filled experiences. Although we thought we'd missed it, we rushed to a nearby parish - and the Father was there, waiting in the confessional. Thank goodness he was! I needed that soul-cleansing and he was such a lovely Dominican confessor; the perfect combination of a detailed exhortation to rid myself of a particular sin and a humble penance.
Then, last night, we had a lovely dinner with friends and a great priest, Fr. John Gallagher. He inquired of me what, as a convert, made me comfortable with Mary. I thought and thought; I clumsily referenced my pilgrimage to France and my relationship with Mr. O, who has such a great devotion to her. But I talked myself round to a central point: marriage and pregnancy. That has made all the difference in the world. In the Protestant traditions that I was a part of, being anti-Mary made sense, because I had no link to her - she was a perfect model of virginity, motherhood, spousal love, and homemaker. As Protestant traditions divorce the family from the center of their churches, embracing divorce and contraception, Mary must necessarily be bumped aside - she can have no place in a church where the family is not honored, as she is the center piece of the Holy Family. As the family breaks down, and motherhood is no longer revered, she must be a footnote to the story of Christ; her greatness is necessarily devalued because the hearth is devalued in our own world.
Leighton "Mother and Child"
But being Catholic and then creating my own family suddenly gave me fresh insight and a hunger for Mary: I saw the sacredness of this vocation, and the need in all people for a home with a mother. Afterall, "she [Mary] is more mother than queen!" (St. Terese of Lisieux) - and Christ was formed at her knee. I have realized the gift it is to keep a home, to encourage others to come and rest in it, and I have seen the destructive power of a home that is not a place of love, prayer, and service. The more society puts the home and family in its proper place of reverence and respect, the greater Mary will be honored!