Hail Mary / Maria!

May we keep the lights of Christmas lighting up our days today and every day of the New year. 

Both my mother and father had sisters by the name of Maria, Mitzi in nick name form, my middle is Maria also, as was firmly suggested to young Inge as my “Tauf partin” (christening ),she was only 11 1/2 at the time and assisted by her mother Anna, Mutti’s oldest sister,  in a less than ceremonial affair my Mutti shared many years later. And I would say to her I wished you had succeded with your choice Ingeborg. But later, and now, am glad for Maria.  The Catholic Church near my Vienna home was maintained by the Serviten order, who also had a strong connection to Maria, with a lovely side altar in her honor, which became Mutti’s refuge in later years, and mine too.

The wonderfully forgiving kind nature of the priests that would visit the Nursing Home on Sundays,  and celebrate a mass there once a month,  a great gift and comfort to Mutti, and many of the women in the home. It strengthened my road to forgiveness of some of the still quite anchored “negative religious teachings of my youth”. On mine and am sure other’s suggestion, they ramped the steps up into the church, allowing for the “Mercedes /walkers” easier access,  as well as wheelchairs. 

This reminds me of a “chuckle/ spiritual episode”. 

It was Advent time, the Christian calendar 4 weeks before Christmas, and I was spending it with Mutti ( mother Theresa) at the Nursing home in Vienna.   

I had taken a break, walking to Serviten Church,  and after visiting with  Holy Maria, at the secluded alcove, honoring her, entered the side chapel for St. Augustine, relaxing eventually with prayers for patience and acceptance (of the minutes turning hours, where I thought I just could not take it any more, being present to this slow hurtful process of aging and dying of many).   When I rose, I must have dozed off, I found the huge iron gates of the big Church locked!  I panicked slightly, surely did not want to spend four more hours here to wait for the evening Mass, and couldn’t think of any purpose a priest would have to come in sooner.  Then I recalled, after calming myself down sufficiently, (with a plea to Maria), that behind the Altar,  there was a door that led to the adjacent Cloister building. 

Taking a deep breath and attempting to believe, I took the steps towards the Altar, first thinking, that was not allowed, then thanking for a newer, less austere approach to the sacred area, and found the door in the back opening up. I had not been in that area before.  It led to a room draped with garments for celebrating mass and I was met by a curious, yet kind smile of the priest. 

We had talked a few times before, and he had surprised me with kind worldly hugs, as well as a liberal attitude.

He listened carefully and responded with affirming words of my being a good daughter, and added,  he hears that from several residents.  I am called:  “that’s the kind of daughter one wants to have, she comes from Amerika and spends all her time here with her mother!!! “

Speaking of it this way, my old teachings would reproach me with being vain to even mention it. Yet, rethinking it, 

right this minute,  it feels good to remember and share it with you.  I told the priest thanks and walked out into a misty afternoon

with a heart lightened as if by golden sunshine, and with lights as glittering as the many Christmas decoration lights in the streets of Vienna, that transform the city into a Sea of Lights, as a reminder to keep a light in our heart. 

Mother Maria certainly had come to my rescue. 

Upon returning to the Nursing Home,  I shared about the lock out,  rejoicing in Mutti’s laugh,  while we listened to the lovely “Ave Maria”, by the composer Franz Schubert, who we feel such a kinship too, as it is my Mutti’s maiden name also.     

With Love, Mom…

Rosvita Maria wolk/feilinger