The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Something about Mary

A favorite joke: St. Peter is giving Jesus His monthly tour around heaven. Jesus notices there are some new faces who clearly don’t belong there. He’s understandably concerned. “Peter,” says Jesus, “I know who these people are, and some of them aren’t supposed to be Up Here. What’s going on?”

Peter stops and sighs. “Well, they come up to me at the front gate, and I turn them away. So then they just go around to the side door, and Your mother lets them in.”

Mary is like that.

When no one else will let us in, the Blessed Mother is there, opening the screen door and telling us to wipe our shoes and hurry, before the flies get in. Mothers tolerate their wayward children in ways that no one else will. They are there with a hug and a tissue and, sometimes, a good swat on the head when needed.


But there is something about Mary. We see her differently—theologically, of course, and literally.

Down through the centuries, we have embraced and celebrated different images of Mary. She is the beatific handmaid, the suffering servant, the first disciple, the purest of virgins. She is the fair-skinned Madonna of Michelangelo, and the dark-skinned pregnant peasant of Juan Diego.

More recently, she is also the sorrowful Palestinian of Mel Gibson—a woman with blood on her face, dirt on her hands, and every care of the world written on her brow. It is that image of Mary that has moved so many recently—and for good reason, I think.


This is a Mary who shatters the image so many of us Catholics grew up with— the mysterious, placid Lady in Blue of the holy cards, night lights and plaster shrines. The Mary of “The Passion” has lived a hard life. She has been a single mother in a poor village,raising her son in a perilous time, under foreign domination, but with a steadfast sense of God’s plan for her, and for her child. She has been terrorized, and terrified; she has toiled and shed tears. And still, she refuses to surrender to defeat.

This is a Mary for every mother who has worried over her children, sacrificed for them, and watched them suffer a terrible and agonizing death. This is a Mary for the mothers of AIDS victims, and the mothers of dead soldiers, and the mothers of Somalia
and Rwanda and Calcutta. She is a Mary for our time.


As we begin this beautiful month, we will turn again and again to the Mary we know and love, in the many ways we see her. She will be honored, crowned by schoolchildren, sung about, and hailed on countless beads clutched in countless hands around the world.

And we will continue to go to her with our prayers and petitions. We know that she will be there—to listen, to comfort and, just maybe, to help us in the
side door.

Originally published in the bulletin of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Catholic Church, Forest Hills, New York.

Comments read comments(6)
post a comment

posted May 4, 2008 at 10:41 pm

According to every reference I’ve checked, the month of May was named for the Roman goddess Maia, goddess of spring and growth and plants, mother of Mercury by Jupiter. What evidence can you present that it was named for the Virgin Mary?

report abuse

Deacon Greg Kandra

posted May 5, 2008 at 12:15 am

I think you’re right. Thanks. Good catch. The only evidence I have is anecdotal. I’ve taken out the offending clause. Blessings,Dcn. G.

report abuse

Just another mad Catholic

posted May 5, 2008 at 7:29 am

Does anybody really care? I’m guessing that rhymseswtihplague is a prot fundie who takes a post hoc, ergo propter hoc view of history. If the Early Christians (they were Catholic !) simply said Ok we’re gonna honer the mother of God in may instead of this false god does anybody really give a crap?

report abuse

MAWIW Council of First Nations:

posted May 5, 2008 at 9:36 am

MARY is MAY, GOD is GOOD,and if you want more proofDevil is evil

report abuse


posted May 5, 2008 at 11:07 pm

My, my, Deacon G.’s response to me comment was done without rancor, while jack’s is rude and confrontational. I’m guessing that jack is a Jesuit wannabe who paid attention in Latin class but walks around with a great big chip on his shoulder.

report abuse

J J Martanovic

posted February 5, 2013 at 4:47 pm

The Blessed Mother will help you……just ask her like you would ask mom.

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

This blog is no longer active
This blog is no longer being actively updated. Please feel free to browse the archives or: Read our most popular inspiration blog See our most popular inspirational video Take our most popular quiz ...

posted 10:42:40pm Dec. 12, 2010 | read full post »

One day more
A reminder: "The Deacon's Bench" is closed! Please enjoy the archives! ...

posted 11:26:20pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Meet Montana's married priest
Earlier this week, I posted an item about Montana getting its first married priest. Now a local TV station has hopped on the bandwagon. Take a look, below. ...

posted 10:29:55pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Big day in the Big Easy: 10 new deacons
Deacon Mike Talbot has the scoop: 10 men today were ordained as Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. This group of men was formally selected on the day the evacuation of New Orleans began as Hurricane Katrina approached. The ...

posted 6:55:42pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Gaudete! And let's break out a carol or two...
"Gesu Bambino," anyone? This is one of my favorites, and nobody does it better than these gals: Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Staade. Enjoy. ...

posted 1:04:10pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.