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Journeying with Mary  
Suzanne M. Lewis  

During this time of vacation and travel for so many, and leading up to our celebration of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin, it is good to reflect on Mary's journeys, as recounted in the Bible. You may wish to reflect together with groups of children on these journeys, using the following meditations as guides for your discussions:

Solemn reading of Luke 1:39-56. Light a candle, and if your children are experienced readers, invite one of them to read the passage. Ask the children to share their responses to the following thoughts:
Mary's first recorded journey was to see Elizabeth, her cousin. After the angel Gabriel made his announcement to her, Mary rose up in haste and traveled to the hill country in Judea. The trip between Nazareth and Judea took several days. As Mary traveled, she had time to ponder the angel's message. How eager she must have been to see Elizabeth and to share in the wonderful gift that God had given to her. Mary must have wondered what she would find in the house of Elizabeth, why the Lord had given this late pregnancy to her older relative, what it could mean. While Mary traveled, did she feel the first changes in her own body that would signal to her the fulfillment of God's promise? What must she have felt as she embraced Elizabeth, whose pregnancy was now so far along?

Solemn reading of Luke 2:1-7. Use the following thoughts to engage the children with this text:
When she was quite advanced in her pregnancy, Mary went to Bethlehem, where she was aware that the promised Messiah would be born. At this moment, to be reminded that her new husband, Joseph, was of the house of David must have stirred Mary to awe at the mysterious ways that God works. How was it for Mary to make this journey? Did she grow frightened or angry when she and Joseph did not know where they would find shelter? What smells and sounds greeted her when she entered the stable?

The following meditation may be used with Luke 2:22-40 (the Presentation in the Temple), Luke 2:41-52 (the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple), John 19:23-30 (the Crucifixion):
We know of at least three trips that Mary made to Jerusalem. The first occurred when Jesus was still a tiny baby. Was it painful for Mary to travel so soon after having given birth? What meaning did the ritual of offering her firstborn son have for Mary? When Simeon and Anna recognized Jesus, and Simeon took him in his arms and declared that now he could die in peace because God had fulfilled his promise, was Mary reminded of the promise that God had made to her? Did she exult and marvel, despite Simeon's warning that a sword would pierce her heart?

How about the journey to Jerusalem when Jesus was 12 years old? What agony must Mary and Joseph have felt to lose their child? In the hours before they located him in the temple, what misgivings passed through their hearts?

Mary's final journey occurred within Jerusalem. We know that she walked to Golgotha, just as Jesus did, and that she kept watch at the foot of the cross. So many times we have walked the Stations of the Cross in prayer, meditating on the agonies that Jesus suffered on Good Friday. We can also walk in Mary's footsteps on that day, reflecting on each of the moments when the sword of anguish was thrust through her heart. Did she long to trade places with her son, to bear his sufferings herself? Could she hope for his Resurrection as she watched his suffering?

This final meditation will synthesize the readings explored above:
Each of Mary's destinations prefigured the Church. In her first meeting with Elizabeth, she and her cousin, along with Elizabeth's unborn child, John, joined in praise and thanksgiving in the presence of Jesus. This gathering of the very first Christians recalls the words of Jesus: "For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them" (Matthew 18:20). Likewise, the stable in Bethlehem has often been likened to a chapel where the shepherds and Magi bowed down to worship. The temple in Jerusalem, with its Passover offering of unblemished lambs, prefigures the Sacrifice of the Mass. And at every celebration of the Holy Mass, believers find themselves, along with Mary, at the foot of the cross.

Suzanne M. Lewis
is a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd formation leader and the author of Children's Daily Prayer, 2007-2008.
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