December 8- the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, which means today is the day we, as Catholics celebrate Mary, the Mother of Our Lord, being conceived without sin. Today we honor Our Lady mindful of her peace, her meekness, her holiness, and her obedience.
The morning found my house looking anything but peaceful, meek, holy, or obedient. Mass was at 8 am and I had the job of rousing the children and getting them all ready- dressed, hair brushed, shoes on, and out the door in time. My children, much like their mother, are not morning people. I started the process of waking them at about 7:20. “We have to leave for Mass in half an hour,” I warned pulling up the shades in their dim bedrooms and tugging at their covers to awaken them. It was a frigid Florida morning with temperatures topping out at 43 degrees, so surely stripping them of their comforters would get them moving. Yet, my oldest uttered not a sound, she simply pulled the blankets back up to her chin and went right back to sleep. My second child yelled from his bed, “It does not take a half hour to get ready for church!” and also lay back down to slumber. The 8 and 6 year olds did get up but for a few minutes wandered drowsily around looking lost, and the little one, my two year old, blinked her eyes in a daze as I took her out of her cozy crib and to the bathroom to fix her wild hair. Two little ponytails, a bag of oyster crackers to take along for nibbling during Mass, ruffle bottom tights to go with her long sleeved shirt and green plaid jumper, little shoes buckled on her little feet and my toddler was all ready to go. By that time, the three middle children had also found their way and gotten themselves ready. It took three more tries and, I admit, a bit of yelling, to finally get my oldest up though. She dragged herself out of bed threw on some clothes and yanked the hairbrush through her hair, presenting herself in the family room just minutes before we really had to leave. The scowl never left her face, even as I thanked her for finally obeying.
Mass of course, was beautiful- peaceful and holy and a true celebration to honor both Mary, and her son Our Lord, Jesus. “Peace be with you,” the priest said (and with your spirit)..... and for an hour it was.
Back home to rush and get the children fed so we could get the oldest to her math co-op by 9:30. Everyone needed hot chocolate to combat the “freezing” weather and everyone was staaaaaarving for breakfast, so we tripped over each other in the kitchen to get something in our bellies before jumping back in the car and setting off for math. We set off, steaming to-go cups in our hands, toast crumbs on our chins, to fight the traffic on the way to get one child to class, then back home for the rest of us for an hour or so of our own work before going back out to get their sister from her class.
As I was contemplating the chaos of life, in light of the beauty of the Feast we celebrate today, it occurred to me how blessed we are to have the Queen of Heaven watching over us. How, like Mass was a moment of peace and tranquility in the craziness of my busy morning, Mary is a beacon of peace in the world. She is, for me, the perfect example of meekness and obedience. Whenever I turn to her she always offers me a bit of peace and serenity. When I go to her in prayer, she gives me rest and quiet stillness and her intercession, always leading me closer to her Son, the Prince of Peace. When I pray the Holy Rosary, honoring her and remembering her in the prayers, she fills my heart with overwhelming peace.
God knew we would need a mother interceding for us from Heaven, He knew we would need her example of holiness, He knew we would need her peace, especially in the madness of preparing for Christmas. This feast celebrating Mary, the Immaculate Conception, is so perfectly timed-- a little reminder of peace and of what matters most, in the midst of the busiest (sometimes craziest) time of the year.