Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Prayer of Mary and Marianne

Greetings fellow Network of Lovers! I had an experience Wednesday night that brought an incredible joy to my heart. It was our yearly African American Celebration here at St. Joe’s Seminary and the choir from St. Felicitas came to sing and worship with us. After mass and dinner, I was talking with several women as they were getting ready to leave, a mother and daughter named Mary and Marianne. It started with a simple thank you from me to Marianne. She had been one of the solo vocalists during the service and I told her that she had a wonderful voice. I really had enjoyed the entire choir and the music and Spirit they brought to our little seminary home. Marianne thanked me, but not with a typical “thank you.” Rather, she began to talk with me about staying the course, about being true to myself, and ultimately walking with Jesus. She said I need to allow Jesus to touch my soul. I was struck by her passion, her gospel message­­---words of wisdom coming from someone I had just met. The words from her mouth were profound and prophetic. It was as if she had an eye on my very heart and was able to speak a kind of encouragement that I so often need. I felt touched by her friendly ministry toward me. I suppose I could have rejected her message on the spot and thought her to be a bit too pushy or intense for my taste. Sometimes, our hearts aren’t open to someone who is willing to really preach to us in a way that strikes a chord deep inside. However, rather than reject Marianne’s message, I fortunately felt compelled to accept her words at their core: indeed I---we---need to be touched in the right way–––in a sense, I need to be held by the outstretched hands of a loving God. Marianne told me that if I pray intimately to God on my own, to listen to the silent stirring of God in my heart, that I will feel the eternal presence of the creator. She told me I am following in the footsteps of a wonderful teacher–––her mother Mary finished the sentence for her–––the Son of God. Marianne said I need to stay true to the ministry I want to pursue–––and yet, how could she know that these words were going to touch me so? Part of me wants to simply shrug Marianne’s message off and forget about it, to move on and make her just another friendly face. But–––that does not seem like the right thing to do. Her words touched me. Her hand holding spoke volumes, her embrace was a spiritual moment–––a mystical moment in my little world. Marianne is not just another friendly face. For five minutes, she showed me a glimpse of the face of God–––of spirit turned flesh, turned radical reality. Before Marianne and Mary left, I told them to please pray for me. I hope to see them soon in person and I look forward to being with them in prayer. With the way Marianne sung, I can only imagine the way she prays, hears and feels God to be something incredibly divine. She is a part of our beautiful network of love, a network that knows no boundaries. And I think of a song the All Saints Catholic church choir in Milwaukee sings, the church I had the opportunity to work and live at this summer. The lyric I am thinking of goes something like this: “Yes God is real and so I can feel Him deep in my soul.” Marianne–––she helped me for a mystical moment feel God in my soul. I look forward to her prayers of encouragement as I journey on this long and winding road toward priesthood. Peace and blessings to all my friends! With love, Your friend bob : )

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