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Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue

At my First Communion my religion teacher asked me to read a prayer-poem by Mary Dixon Thayer that had become popularized by the now Venerable Servant of God Fulton Sheen. She worked with me for weeks helping me to memorize it, annunciate each word clearly, and practice that sing-song-y cadence that all poems seem to have. The poem is called Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue, and it simply asks for Mary to teach us how to pray to Christ because, after all, she is His mother; and if anyone knows how to talk to Christ, it’s His mother!

I’ve recalled this prayer off and on since then. I don’t remember all of the words, but I do think this experience was where my curiosity about this wonderful woman began and when I first started leaning on Mama Mary in my faith journey. I never really realized why. I guess when you’re 8 years old, you don’t always have words to explain what you’re feeling. As I’ve gotten older and my curiosity about my curiosity got the best of me, I spent some time leaning into the stories of the Bible where she is present. I’ve realized that Mary is the perfect example of how I am meant to show up! In times of celebration, anxiety, joy, and deep sorrow Mary is there teaching me how to show up in that time and place.

We see Mary a handful of times in the Gospels, but I want to focus on just a few. Let’s start with the Annunciation. Luke tells us the story of Mary being visited by the Angel Gabriel. During their brief conversation, Mary gives herself completely to God through her “Yes!” She says, “May it be done to me according to your word.” Mary shows me how to show up bravely when God asks me to do something. My first inclination is usually to panic and to hide. Mary shows me how to dig deep and find the courage I need to just do the thing.

... Lesson 1: Just show up!

And here’s what gets me y’all! In the very next passage, in all of the upheaval that “yes” just caused her, what does she do? She goes out to serve and celebrate with her cousin! There are so many things that Mary teaches me in these verses (The Magnificat, for one.) But mostly she reminds me that serving God is almost always about showing up for others… even in our chaos, even in our mess. Show up for others and praise God in the process. Mary didn’t let the worry of burdening Elizabeth with her troubles or wondering if Elizabeth wanted her help stop her from being there. She saw a need and a reason to celebrate, and she stepped up to the plate. No questions asked. She showed up for her cousin, and in so doing, Mary brought Christ to Elizabeth and Zechariah, praising the Lord the whole time.

... Lesson 2: Even in all of the messiness of life, show up for others and praise God while you’re there.

When I read the story of Jesus being lost, I sometimes chuckle because I see myself so clearly in it. I’m metaphorically lost in this world. I’m filled with anxiety and like Mary, I’m looking in all the worldly places for the thing that’s missing. All the while that “thing” is Christ, and where is He? He’s in church. Yes. I know that Christ is in all of us. God is in everything everywhere, but when I’m truly searching, I know I can find His physical presence in the Eucharist. What else I’m reminded of is that if I continue to stay in His presence (i.e., going every Sunday for a visit) I tend not to feel as lost and anxious. And one more thing in this story gets to my heart. Luke tells us that Mary doesn’t understand what Jesus meant when He said, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” but kept all these things in her heart. Y’all this is so BIG! Even when we don’t understand God’s ways, we still need to seek Him out and spend time in His presence.

... Lesson 3: Show up for Mass. You may not know why, and you may feel lost, but remember His commandments and show up for church.

The Wedding at Cana. I love this one! You all know the story where Jesus turns the water into wine because Mary told Him to. The wine isn’t the reason I love this story, although I do wonder how good that wine must have tasted! I love it because Mary shows us how important it is to celebrate with your friends. She most likely didn’t know that Jesus was going to perform His first miracle there. She simply was making sure she was there with her friends.

... Lesson 4: Show up, celebrate with your friends, and bring Christ with you when you do. Because when you allow Jesus access to the party, miracles can happen at any moment.

As much as we need to find joy in our friendships, we also need to be there for people in times of sorrow and tragedy. Mary probably didn’t want to show up to the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus, but because Jesus needed her there, she mustered the strength and joined her suffering with His, as an offering for Him. Simeon had already told Mary at Jesus’ presentation in the temple that her heart was going to be pierced. I can’t imagine anything else piercing a mother’s heart so terribly as watching her child be falsely accused, ridiculed, tortured, and brutally murdered. Many times I have not shown up to things where others were in need because I told myself that I wasn’t strong enough to handle it. Mary is the greatest example of what it means to show up for others in times of agony and grief, and she proves to me that if I lean on God as she did, I can handle it.

... Lesson 5: Show up for people in times of grief and sorrow. It may be uncomfortable or painful, but the ministry of presence is a powerful healer.

Bonus Lesson: There are many passages where Mary can be found, but she doesn’t speak. There are even a few instances where we are told Mary watched, listened, and held what she experienced close to her heart. The lesson here is that sometimes showing up is simply about being a witness of God and His works. So just show up. You don’t have to do or say anything. You just need to be there as a witness of His greatness.

Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue

Lovely Lady dressed in blue ------- Teach me how to pray! God was just your little boy, Tell me what to say!

Did you lift Him up, sometimes, Gently on your knee? Did you sing to Him the way Mother does to me?

Did you hold His hand at night? Did you ever try Telling stories of the world? O! And did He cry?

Do you really think He cares If I tell Him things ------- Little things that happen? And Do the Angels' wings

Make a noise? And can He hear Me if I speak low? Does He understand me now? Tell me -------for you know.

Lovely Lady dressed in blue ------- Teach me how to pray! God was just your little boy, And you know the way.

Wishing you Love and Light!


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