I’ve got a confession to make. Recently I’ve had Mary envy. Looking at other blogger’s pictures of their statues of Mary, I’ve been wanting one of my own. However, the budget’s been tight recently and I just can’t justify the indulgence.
So I prayed, entrusting the matter to Our Lady. I told Mary, my most generous mother, that I would love to have an image of her to place in my home to remind me of her care and concern, to remind me to model my home on hers in Nazareth. I told her that if she wanted me to have a statue of her, she’d have to help me get one, trusting that if I really needed it, a statue would turn up.
And you know what? Today it did.
One of the odd perks, I guess, of Dom working for the Archdiocese is his being invited to the “open house” this weekend. Which is basically like a garage sale of stuff from closed parishes. Except that it’s not a sale; the items are free to employees who will give them a good home. There was furniture like chairs and desks, file cabinets, steamer trunks, a headboard. There were candle holders and even a few ancient televisions and computers, and there were lots of statues, crucifixes and framed pictures. Including a couple of slightly battered and chipped statues of Our Lady of Grace.
So here’s what I got from Mary for Mother’s Day:
One statue of Our Lady of Grace, left hand slightly chipped. Doesn’t she look absolutely beautiful on top of the bookcase in the corner of my living room? The flowers at her feet were a door prize that Sophie won at the wedding shower we attended last weekend. Her birthday was the closest to the date of the shower and so we got to take home the centerpiece from our table.
A small plastic Madonna to preside over my kitchen sink. She’s slightly yellowed on one side of her head; but when the sunlight shines through her, you can’t tell. She glows. And if she gets knocked off the sill into the sink, she won’t break. I love the lines of this small piece.
An assortment of crucifixes. A Catholic home can never have too many crucifixes, I say. And I’d been wanting more. At least one for every room of my house because I love to look at a crucifix while I pray and I never know where I’m going to be praying. And because I love to hear Bella say, “Jesus on the cross.” This was another matter I entrusted to Mary some time ago. And see the abundance with which my generous mother responded. They are old and battered, well loved. I like that. I got more than I currently need because I’m not sure how many rooms the place we’ll be moving will have.
This house blessing in a battered frame caught my eye first because of its soft colors. I love the wording of the prayer. It just called to be hung in my home.
I have a soft spot for this kind of plain wooden chair. Sturdy with clean lines. Tomorrow they’ll come in handy when we have the whole family over for Sophie’s baptism. And they’ll be much nicer than folding chairs when we have extra people over for dinner. I wish we’d had room in the car for more; but I had to ditch a couple of chairs to make room for this final find:
Yeah, a prie dieu. Pretty awesome. I’ve wanted one since before we were married and I know Dom had hoped to be able to get it for me. Now he has. Right now it’s in the garage. We don’t have a place for it in this tiny apartment; but hopefully I’ll be able to have a little prayer corner in our new house. It needs a bit of love. I’ll need to make a new cushion to kneel on and probably want to re-cover the cushion on the top too.
All in all a very exciting morning. It was fascinating and a bit sad to see all the other pieces: the old tabernacles and the giant statues, candelabra and even a rack of vestments the pews and prie dieus stacked up on top of each other in the nave of the closed St William’s Church in Dorchester.
But by far the most fascinating thing I saw today was hidden away in a back office. Kathleen, the woman in charge, had been having a great time holding Sophia while we browsed. (Isabella threw a tantrum at first when a strange lady picked up her sister, but eventually got over it.) A veteran mother of four, she was even non-plussed when miss Sophie had a giant diaper blow-out staining the back of her little onsie. And at the end of our visit, after I’d changed the third diaper, she made me an offer of their back office so I could nurse Sophie in private. I would never have thought to ask and it was so very kind of her to anticipate my need before I even realized it.
While Sophie and I were tucked away in the office, I glanced over the top of the desk and saw an old paper with Latin writing. I’m one of those people who can’t not read anything put in front of me. Curious, I picked it up and tried to decipher what it was. It was an “authentic”, a document verifying the authenticity of a relic. (Here’s an example of one for a relic of St. Ignatius.)
In this case, the relic was encased in the slab of marble that I hadn’t originally noticed beneath the paper. An altar stone. The relic in question? Well I saw the words “ligno” and “crucis” and “Jesu Christi”. Yep, a piece of the cross. Shivers up my spine. I gently replaced the paper and then picked it up again to verify what I’d read. Then I kissed my fingers and pressed them to the slab. Then finished burping the baby and went out to rejoin my family and drive back home with our van full of goodies.