The poet Dante, in his Paradiso, is guided by the Lady Beatrice, a woman whom he carried a love for his entire life into the realm of Paradise. Now Dante had only met Beatrice twice in his whole life. They were never “together” in the modern sense of the term, yet for Dante, it was his love for her that he idolizes as the saving grace the rescued him from the despair of planning his own death to the vision which eventually leads him to experience the ultimate meaning of life in the love of God.
For years I strove to work out my salvation in a religious orientation that was at best oblivious too and at its worst hostile to Mary, the mother of Jesus. I was told the Catholics “worshipped” Mary and that anyone who paid her more attention than recognizing her as the submissive maid of the nativity story was in danger of engaging in idolatry.
Now, I have learned so much more about this amazing woman whom the generations have called blessed. Now, I join with others for morning prayer in which the “Angelus” is prayed. I have learned from the Scripture, Jewish history and customs, and through the experience of the church that Mary is worthy of our attention, worthy of our love, and one who, I believe, interdicts for the church from her place in heaven.
Reexamining the person and character of Mary, for me, opens one to a deeper understanding of the love of God. It opens to all who desire a closer walk with God a new opportunity for reflection and to a deeper understanding of opportunities others who have preceded us in the faith discovered when they were open to Mary’s contemplative and relational realities in their lives.
I am so glad I have discovered the Angelus. And, as Dante was appreciative of Beatrice, I am more and more appreciative of Mary, the mother of God.