As we celebrate the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God, I want to talk about the Gospel and how she hears this news from the shepherds. The good news about who will be lying in the Manger and how this angel had made known the message to him, but then there is this phrase where it says, Mary kept all these things in her heart. She treasured everything she knew about Jesus and kept it in her heart.
I know that all of us, at least me, we like keepsakes. We want to keep things that help us to remember a good time, to a good person in our lives. So, I brought a couple of keepsakes with me. The first one is from my Aunt Libby, my mother’s sister. This was a little pin that she used to wear all the time of an angel. My mother and her two sisters (all of my mother’s siblings have died), but she was the most recent death.
My grandmother was in our home for a while, but she got Dementia and Alzheimer’s, then she went blind in one eye and then went blind in the other. My mother and her sisters would still dress her up every Halloween. One year they dressed up as angels; that was one of my favorite memories. My grandfather, my father’s father, always wore a metal scapular. He never ever took it off. Even when she showered, when he slept, he always kept that metal scapular on his neck. After he died, that was the one thing I really wanted, and I treasure that gift from him.
I had a good friend Rita, who died. She was a friend from my first parish. One of my favorite memories of them was going through that drive-thru Zoo in Sandusky. They had a monkey cage there, and I was so enamored with the monkey cage that it almost made me last for Mass one time because we were playing with the monkeys. Before she died, she and her sister got me a big stuffed monkey. So, we all have this memory that I treasure of her.
What I invite you all to think about is, “What are your keepsakes?” As we came to the end of this year in 2022 and we begin a new year in 2023, what do you want to keep? What memories do you want to keep in your heart? Mary teaches us in this passage the beauty of this contemplative life, that she is able to keep all of this in her heart. She’s able to keep and treasure the wonderful miracle and memory that she has been bearing God and bearing the Mother of God.
What I invite you to do is, at some point, you can come to the church and make a holy hour and pray before the Blessed Sacrament and try to think about the last year. Everything that happened in 2022. Maybe even take your calendar with you or your journal or pictures from the last year and try to remember what happened, and I bet you’ll be surprised that there was a lot more good that happened than you think. When we do that, we pray, and when we remember these things, then they move into our hearts, and we’re able to carry these things with us.
We had on our sign, until our Holy Father died, “What will you keep in 2022, and what will you let go of?”
I think it’s also good to let go of things because we can’t make room in our hearts to keep the good things if we don’t let go of the bad things. Maybe there are some hurts; maybe there are some wounds or things that you did not love about this past year. I offer you to call them to memory and commend them to God and say, “Father, I give this to you.” or “Father, I forgive this person or this incident or myself, and I entrust you because I want to hold onto the good things.”
This word “kept” from the Greek means that Mary not only kept things in her heart, but she kept them safe. She held onto tenderly. She rejoiced at the wonder that she had just experienced. So, she’s a wonderful model for us of prayer.
One of my keepsakes from Pope Benedict was when I was in Rome; while he was still the Pope, I found a picture in one of the Vatican stores of him playing the piano. He was a classical pianist. I like to play the piano. I am nowhere like Pope Benedict was, but I kept that. I hold onto it. It’s a beautiful memory for me.
So, I invite you to do the same as we enter the new year. Spend more time in prayer, some time in reflecting, and like Mary, keep and treasure those wonderful moments in your hearts.