Aleteia

How a Marian procession on the streets of Paris proved my mom right

ASSUMPTION OF MARY
PIERRE VERDY | AFP
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God really does work in mysterious ways.

It’s impossible to count the number of times my mom has declared: “God works in mysterious ways.” As a child I wondered exactly what that meant. Would the 3-foot doll I’d been hankering over for months turn up on my birthday?

As I got older I tried to go beyond the material and came to see that the saying is more about God sending me on a path I might never have thought of taking, or was afraid to take. And recently, during the weekend of the feast of Mary’s Assumption, I gained an even deeper perspective …

It was a Sunday morning. It was drizzling and I had a million things to do to prepare for a vacation with my kids. We were heading off in the evening to go on a 550-mile journey to the south of France. I was driving, all by myself, on roads I didn’t know. I was pretty terrified, but the thought of seeing my beloved big brother made it all worthwhile.

While out and about, thinking of the evening’s long journey, I was walking up a steep road, and at the the brow of the hill I saw a crowd and could hear some sort of hymn. As I approached, I saw a procession with a statue of the Virgin Mary on a truck leading the way. Behind was a group of the faithful singing their hearts out in French. Although I couldn’t quite understand it all, it was a hymn of praise for Our Lady.

I’d never witnessed anything like this along the Parisian streets.

My heart took a little leap. At the back of my mind I couldn’t help but think — pretty selfishly I thought — that Mary couldn’t have timed her visit to my neighborhood at a better moment.

I followed the procession for a little while and and prayed when it halted at each traffic light. At the end of one prayer a lady came over to chat and gave me a little medal of Our Lady. She explained that the procession was more than just a celebration of the Assumption; this particular statue had already made 600 miles of its pilgrimage from the southeast of France, to join another statue that had made its way up from Lourdes in the southwest of France to form a letter “M” over France.

The pilgrimage was designed to boost the spirits of the faithful that were dampened by the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral and the whole coronavirus outbreak. Mary was here to spread some joy and hope. Yet, on a personal level it was so much more. It felt like my spiritual mother had just paid me a visit to reassure me. To encourage me on my journey (which would ironically lead me to a spot not far from Lourdes) and to watch over me.

Was it a coincidental timing? Maybe, but I like to think it was God working in His mysterious ways. He sent my spiritual mother to not only reassure me, but also to bring much relief to my earthly mom who was desperately worried I’d crash the car before leaving the parking lot. When I told her about my bumping into Mary and being given a medal, she shouted down the phone: “Put that medal on straight away and don’t take it off!” As I always do what my mom says, the medal was attached in seconds and it hasn’t left my wrist since.

On my journey that lasted a total of 20 hours, I drove by two serious accidents that must have occurred only minutes before. I clutched my medal each time and felt the miracle that was God working in His mysterious way. And while I felt mightily relieved as we walked through the door safe and sound, I also felt so very grateful to have had the reminder that Mary is an eternal mother to us all, always by our sides.

 

 

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