Friday, August 22, 2003

Queenship of Mary

Today is the feast of the Queenship of Mary and I can’t help but think back to a week ago when we were in Cleveland, Ohio standing in the streets of Little Italy awaiting the procession of the statue of Mary’s Assumption. While there was quite a mixture of religion, culture and even some superstition mixed in with the event, it nonetheless stood as a remarkable sign of faith.

What do we ultimately trust in? The procession of a statue of Mary points to trust in Jesus. The statue of Mary is like a great sign of hope being paraded through the streets announcing to all that life after death is a possibility and that Mary is the first to share in the Resurrection of Jesus.
You would think that after 9/11 such acts of religious belief would be on the rise. Personally I think I was more disposed to the procession, in light of the fact that we had been without power from the time we had first arrived in the Cleveland area until almost daybreak on the Feast of the Assumption. We had spent a vigil in a very apocalyptic setting, calling to mind the fragile human nature that we all share.

Today’s Office of Readings offers a reading from Isaiah 30:10-14 that struck me could be an indictment of our culture which seeks to replace God with a lot of little “idols”.

These are rebellious people, deceitful children,
children unwilling to listen to the LORD's instruction.
They say to the seers,
"See no more visions!"
and to the prophets,
"Give us no more visions of what is right!
Tell us pleasant things,
prophesy illusions.
Leave this way,
get off this path,
and stop confronting us
with the Holy One of Israel!"

It is the line that says, “Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions” that strikes me as so pertinent to our times. People want to be affirmed, they want to live in “fantasy land”. The rest of the Isaiah passage offers the frightening prognosis for such people:
"Because you have rejected this message,
relied on oppression
and depended on deceit,
this sin will become for you
like a high wall, cracked and bulging,
that collapses suddenly, in an instant.
It will break in pieces like pottery,
shattered so mercilessly
that among its pieces not a fragment will be found
for taking coals from a hearth
or scooping water out of a cistern."

I think back to the procession in Little Italy and the faith of the Cleveland Italian community drawing people from around the city for the “feast”, God must be pleased with them, what about us?