By ARCHBISHOP WILTON D. GREGORY, Commentary | Published October 6, 2016 | En Español
Father Joel Konzen’s leadership class at Marist always provides me with a happy encounter with some of our kids. They get a chance to have direct contact with the Archbishop, and I get a firsthand glimpse at some of the things that our youngsters may be thinking. It’s a win-win situation for both of us. Last week’s class was no exception.
One of the young men in the leadership class asked me, “What is the place of the Blessed Virgin Mary in your life?” Not a bad question for a youngster in a Marist school! I told him that I am “a Momma’s boy!” I know that mothers all have a unique and enduring love for all of their children, but because it was a guy who asked the question, I gave him a guy’s response. From the smiles that appeared on the faces of many other young men in the classroom, I don’t think that I was the only “Momma’s boy” present that morning.
My relationship with the Blessed Mother is a source of great consolation, serenity and support for me. And the ordinary way that I encounter the Mother of God is through the rosary.
I carry a rosary in my car that was a gift of the Korean Catholic community at the Korean Martyrs Parish. I like praying the rosary when I am on the road out in some of the distant places in the archdiocese where the open road lies ahead. With no traffic snarls to distract me, I find time to speak to my Mother.
October is the month of the Holy Rosary, and lots of people will take some special time to speak to our Mother. The rosary is uniquely a Catholic prayer—and a prayer that brings us into direct contact with Mom! Just to see a rosary dangling on an automobile visor is a pretty good indication that the driver may well be a Catholic.
A gentleman at our recent 50th and 60th wedding Jubilee Mass asked me to bless his rosary—it was not a new one, but a rosary that he was planning to take with him into the hospital where he was facing serious surgery. He wanted to bring Mother along to comfort and strengthen him during and after the procedure.
The almost mesmerizing pattern of the repetition of the Hail Marys of the rosary allows us to reflect on the mysteries of our redemption that are captured in the 20 different decades of that prayer. The titles that we give the Blessed Mother are clear indications that people everywhere have found solace in praying and speaking to the one who is Mother for us all.
Pope Francis has made a custom of visiting Santa Maria Maggiore, the patriarchal basilica dedicated to the Blessed Mother, to thank her for the successful trips that he has made as a part of his papal ministry. He has also highlighted one of the until now lesser known titles of the Blessed Mother that holds special significance for him—Our Lady, the Undoer of Knots—a devotion that harkens back to a German painting from 1700. Perhaps Pope Francis finds great comfort in knowing that our Mother will help him to untie many of the “knots” that he confronts daily in his Petrine ministry. I don’t think Pope Francis would be offended to be called “a Momma’s boy,” and everyone knows that St. John Paul II would certainly delight in that title!
The young man who posed that question to me in Father Konzen’s leadership class set off a happy reflection for me—one that fits perfectly the October tradition of honoring the rosary of the Blessed Mother. As I was leaving the class another young man stopped me to say good-bye. I asked him if he was “a Momma’s boy.” He grinned and said, “You betcha!” I think that there may be a lot of us out there—especially in October.