I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.
Wherever you were, whomever you were with, whatever you were doing, hope it was fun, fulfilling, fantastic and full of Christmas cheer!
Quite by accident, I think I may have just experienced one of my most meaningful Christmases ever.
Unconventioanl as it was, I think I may have peaked as far as Christmases go :-)
It was always going to be a poignant Christmas this year. Quite possibly, my last in a certain city. Quite the accident that I was in this city at all at this time of this year, but so it happened.
Usually, my preferred way of celebrating Christmas is the midnight Mass. Always has been. Family tradition.
Not this time. Events conspired against me and I found myself battling to make it on time...and failing miserably.
Enter Plan B:
Morning mass at a distant but favoured church. For sentimental reasons, I HAD to go to Christmas Mass at this particular church.
But how to get there?
20 km away.
No public transport.
Didn't feel like driving.
Enter crazy idea No 2.
Run 20km to favoured church, attend Mass, run back home in time for Christmas dinner.
Negotiate hard with other female members of the household to be let off cooking duty :-)
And now I am firmly on the rota to prepare our first meal of 2014 :-)
It was worth it.
The solitude (an introverted nerd's paradise!).
The beauty of winter stillness.
This is the ONLY Christmas carol that even begins to describe this mood:
The highlight of this little descent into insanity (as some of my nearest and dearest call my foray into Christmas madness) was just when I began to 'hit the wall'. Um, I don't mean I suddenly aged during my run :-) I am using 'runner speak' here, as opposed to Manosphere terminology :-)
A group of cyclists passed me. I think I had passed them earlier on in my run as they whizzed past me on the opposite side of the deserted streets. But it was only when I got to the centre of this great city and in need of a serious distraction to take my mind of a niggling right knee injury that I spotted them again and this time, I took notice of them.
They must have numbered about twenty. They were all men. They looked young but I cannot be sure of their ages. Dressed in funny Father Christmas hats. Made me laugh, despite my right knee agony.
The leader of this group had a ghetto blaster attached to his handlebars. This was what was playing (but in base rather than soprano, in a Taizé-like fashion):
I hadn't heard this ancient hymn in ages, so it immediately grabbed my attention. I guess that was the point. Confused tourists finding out too late that nothing was open in this city on Christmas Day stopped to gawk at this little party of strange cyclists, no doubt thinking as I was, 'what the...'
I stopped to listen to them and watch them as they cycled past me. Then I realised something else. They were saying the rosary.
I wonder if they were priests or seminarians?
I will never know.
But I do know one thing:
I had just seen Sons of Mary cycle past me on Christmas Day 2013. That was the most precious Christmas gift I could have received!
Perhaps I have alludded to this before - forgive me if I have.
But I cannot help myself.
I adore Sons of Mary. For me, the ultimate 'Catholic Game' would be if a man whipped out his 'Miraculous Medal' or 'scapula' during a romantic date...
OK, enough of Catholic Girl weirdness :-)
Any man who professes to love Our Lady is a friend of mine. Indeed he is my brother.
These South American Sons of Mary are family...
They are worthy of respect.
Everyone loved Pope John Paul II for his extrovert personality. For one member of my family, however, the only reason she adored him was that he was known to be a Marianphile.
It must be genetic or something...
I seem to have the same affinity for 'Sons of Mary'.
My old school was a convent school with the name of one of the titles of Mary. The nuns there made sure we understood that we were to be daughters of Mary. Throughout our lives.
Sure, we have all failed on various levels. Afterall, none of us will ever be perfect. But I hope we at least get full marks for trying :-)
So I guess it makes sense that I have this strong sense of kinship with men who have a genuine love for Our Lady. This love cannot be faked. It is a beautiful thing when witnessed.
For example, on Christmas morning by a group of cyclists with funny hats on.
In other news, I thought I knew all the titles of Our Lady.
Queen of Peace.
Our Lady of Victories.
Our Lady of Sorrow.
Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.
Queen of Angels...
And so on.
This Christmastide, I have come across a new one. I had never heard this one before!
Mary Undoer of Knots.
Has anyone of you heard this one before? To my eternal shame, I hadn't even heard of St. Irenaeus...
But I am so pleased to be acquainted with this Our Lady. I like the idea that she can undo knots, for some odd reason...
Finally, I leave you with a poem.
Sent to me by none other than a very kind 'Son of Mary'.
I am not a natural poet. But even I have more reverence for poetry than the mother in this film :