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by Rev. Mark Connolly

All of us grew up in the Catholic tradition with the awareness that May and October were special times set aside to honor our Blessed Mother. All of us grew up hearing about Fatima and Lourdes. So many of us know about the miraculous medal novena devotions, novenas in honor of Mary, rosaries in honor of Mary and how our formality was to link us to Mary, the mother of God.

When you think of this woman who had to take flight, have her baby born in a stable, escape into Egypt, see her son die on a cross and then guide and direct the form of the Church after Christ's death, you cannot but be amazed at her strength. It is a unique story of an amazing woman.

You can understand why the great architects, the great painters and great sculptors of the past have honored her in their work - Mary, the friend of the poor; Mary, the teacher of modesty and purity; Mary, the consolation of all. There probably is not one emotional sadness that she did not experience. St. Bernard, St. Augustine, St. Thomas all wrote about her beautiful simplicity, her deep faith and her devotion to continue the work of her son on earth.

October and May were set aside to remind us we have a great heritage from this great woman of Nazareth. To implement what she taught, to expose her value system and in doing so make this a better place in which to live. That would be what Mary would be asking us to do in our time. Tintoretto, Raphael and the great painters of the time have, by their canvas, given us a great memory of this woman of Nazareth. They were that enthralled by her.

None of us will ever paint, none of us will ever build a Church bearing her name, but all of us have the opportunity to bring into our lives what she brought into the lives of the early apostles - faith, love and trust. The closeness we have to Mary is one of the greatest treasures we can have in this life. St. Bernard said it beautifully when he said, she can anticipate our petitions and will never deny our requests.

Mary is the treasure that God has given to all of us. It is up to us to show that devotion to her.

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