Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Blessed Virgin

I was just putting out the garbage when I noticed the Blessed Virgin Mary standing alongside the dumpster. No, I wasn’t having an apparition. It was a plaster statue. Mary’s left hand was gone, and she looked a little the worse for wear.

When I attended St. Vincent Ferrer School in Brooklyn, we, like many other Catholic schools, devoted the month of May to the Blessed Mother. Once a year, children would make little altars at home. I’d drape a little table in my bedroom with a light blue tablecloth and set my personal statue on it. On the wall above my bed was a framed prayer called “Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue.”

There are some who think that Catholics pray to statues when they see people kneeling with clasped hands before a statue of Christ, or Mary or Joseph or one of the other saints. That’s not the case. It’s not idolatry. The statue is just a reminder of to whom we’re asking for help or thanking.

Each May, St. Vincent Ferrer held special devotions to Mary. My sister and I still talk fondly of the hymns we sung during the processions to the altar. And, we still know the words to “On This Day, O Beautiful Mother” and “Bring Flowers of the Fairest.” One girl was always chosen to place a bouquet of flowers on the head of Mary’s statue. It was an honor. I was never chosen for that. I seem to remember it was always Carolyn. I wonder if Carolyn remembers.