|photo credit: RScrip Studios|
I've been in the position of President of Roses for Our Lady for the past three years and I'm quite ashamed to admit that leading the organization is often not the joy-filled position that it should be, but rather, one where my perfectionism, fear and anxiety consume me and keep me from enjoying the blessings that come from serving our Lord and our Lady in this role. I don't feel as though I gain any real spiritual benefit from our special events because I spend too much time being stressed about it. My consolation is that those who attend are feeling the joy and peace that come from devoting time in prayer to honor our Blessed Mother and to worship our Eucharistic Lord. It's not until after a special occasion is over, and I look at the photographs, that I am able to see the beauty in it and feel some measure of joy in the role I play in serving our Lord and His Mother in this way.
On October 6th, Roses for Our Lady celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary with a Mass and outdoor Eucharistic Rosary Procession by candlelight at the lovely St. Margaret Mary Parish on Milwaukee's northwest side. The nearby streets happened to be in a mess of construction and the weather was cold, windy and gloomy with the threat of rain hovering in the skies. Our outdoor procession truly was an occasion of "sparks through stubble" as the flickering candles in the hands of the faithful, against the backdrop of orange and white construction barrels, brought the beauty of the Lord to a less than attractive outdoor setting.
As I walked near the front of the procession to set the pace and to show the lead server the route that had been set, my nerves were at an all-time high with the worry of a break in the clouds releasing rain upon our group as the foremost of my worries. The route had been planned so that our procession would turn around in the parking lot of a nearby nursing home, allowing the residents to come to the windows and pray with us as we passed. My sister had been taking some pictures and I noticed her turning into a nearby driveway and suddenly, panic set in, and in the dark, I lost my way and thought that we were passing the turn-around and going too far. I veered into the driveway, bringing the servers and the men carrying our Lady's vara with me in a sharp turn to the left. Later, when I looked at the pictures that my sister had taken, I saw that she caught me on the camera at the very moment when I panicked. Have you ever seen a picture of a spooked horse, eyelids pulled back to reveal eyes wide with terror? That's how I looked in that particular picture. Not a pretty sight. As it turned out, we turned too soon; we had not yet arrived at the nursing home, but had turned around in the parking lot of an apartment building. In hindsight, that turned out to be a blessing, because had we continued to the nursing home, our procession most certainly would have been caught in the downpour that fell just after we returned to the church, and in fact, the entire evening turned out to be fabulously beautiful through the loving efforts of so many wonderful volunteers and fabulous clergy.
When I consider the fear that grips me over my desire to bring honor to the Blessed Mother through my responsibilities with Roses for Our Lady I reflect upon how God had bestowed great responsibilities upon the Blessed Mother herself. When the angel came to her on that dark, late night, with news of the Child that was to grow within her, wouldn't it have been considered normal for her to feel more than a bit of fear? But she bravely accepted the words of wonder that were spoken to her. She took on the task, not only of an ordinary mother, but of the Mother of God. She leaned heavily upon her knowledge of God's great love for her, and trusted in the mystery of salvation in which she had been raised to believe. And she carried out her responsibilities, not just for three years, but for 33 long years, patiently enduring great difficulties and sorrows leading up to her Son's crucifixion and death. Never once did she falter or complain or allow fear to bring her to her knees begging God to remove the cross that was laid upon her own back. She carried it strongly and resolutely, determined to serve God with all of the love, joy and gratitude that dwelt within her heart. The beautiful example of the Blessed Mother is one I need to remind myself of over and over again. May we all learn to trust in God and to face our fears through the grace-filled knowledge of our loving Mother's strong witness; for she truly was a spark of love that darted about through the stubble of sorrow, never faltering or fading away but forever shining bright.
Here are a just a few of the pictures taken by the very talented Bob Scrip from RScrip Studios for Roses for Our Lady's celebration of Our Lady of the Rosary...