“Uncle Jim,” cries out my young grand-niece Sophie ” who is that?” Sophie is at an age where she asks a lot of questions and she was visiting last summer the campus with her family when she turned to me as we stood in front of the main building. I tried to tell her that it is Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who like you mother loves and watches over you. Her mother Jessica is a wonderful mother and Sophie knows she can turn to her at any time with her needs. I think Sophie understand what I was trying to say but am not sure.
Sophie is not the only one who has asked me about Mary’s statue on top of the Dome. I was celebrating Mass a few weeks ago for one of our departments and after the Mass I encouraged a question session. One of the first ones was why is Mary on the Dome.
Rev. Edward Sorin CSC, who founded Notre Dame along with 6 Holy Cross Brothers from France in November 1842 had a strong belief in Mary as a protector and intercessor in prayer as well as our journey in life. Mary lived in a family with Jesus and Joseph her husband. At the age of 14, the angel announced she would bear Jesus and as shocking as that was she said “Yes.” She also said yes to all that came her way from nearly losing Jesus at the age of 12, seeing him minister in a way that some in his family thought he was crazed, and as Jesus walked the road to his suffering and death all she could do was watch and pray.
Mary can relate with the joys and sorrows of human life. Fr, Sorin csc had lots of joys and sorrows in developing the school including a few fires and money worries. Don’t we all have a need to lean on someone or have a confidence that they are close to you at all the ups and downs of life. I had my Grandma Bracke who was always good about listening to my woes about my Mom and Dad, my girlfriends, studies or what I wanted to do with my life to name a few. Grandma was a good patient listener and did not say a lot. I knew though she was filled with wisdom, compassion and courage. It seemed she always kept the door open for me and a good plate of cookies and milk as we talked.
Mary, come and be near us and our lives today. Raise us close to Jesus who is our brother and savior. May God be praised and given glory in our lives. Amen.