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Our Queen

For most of my life, I viewed our Blessed Virgin Mary as a great saint, not as my Mother and certainly not as my Queen.  I visited the shrines of Our Lady in Mexico City, Lourdes, and La Vang, and remember being impressed by the devotion of hundreds of pilgrims excitedly coming to visit and to pray to her.   One of my best friends waited 3 hours to bathe in the waters of Lourdes, while I attempted to pray a rosary in the chapel for 30 minutes.  I spent the rest of the time wandering around, getting free holy water, and shopping for trinkets. 

Thus, I would say I was not especially attracted to the name of the Congregation when I first entered religious life.  I thought the name “Mary Queen” was nice, but it did not particularly have much meaning to me.  

Last year, my father was suddenly diagnosed with liver cancer and passed away quickly within 3.5 months of diagnosis.  Prior to his death, our family had decided peaceful home hospice was the best option. He was home with us for about 3 weeks. Each day, we never knew whether it would be his last day.  For 3 weeks, I was holding my breath and doing my best to smile for him. Despite knowing the inevitable, “our Lord comes like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2) and no one can truly be prepared.   One night around 2 A.M., with no indication, he died in his sleep.  

It was a very surreal, disorientating experience coupled with exhaustion and stress.  I felt very helpless and lost, perhaps like treading water in rough ocean waves, with no help in sight.  

Except we ended up having one lifeline, one life preserver flung to us. Overwhelmed with shock, sadness, and sleep-deprivation, there was only one thing we could do while we waited with his body for the funeral home to retrieve him.  We prayed.  Memorized and ingrained in us since youth, we prayed the prayer that everyone knows, our go-to prayer in times of distress - the rosary.  We prayed to our Mother. 

And, finally I understood.  Our Blessed Virgin Mary is not just some great saint.  She is the greatest of all the saints.  She is the Mother of the King of Kings. A king whose crown is of thorns and whose throne is of a splintered tree.  Our Blessed Mother is not a distant queen sitting on a golden throne. Her throne has always been at the foot of the cross.  Her throne is always there at the feet of her suffering children, with a gentle hand leading us to her Son. 

As I recited the rhythmic Hail Mary's, my heart pierced, my spirit broken, my Queen, sat at my feet, comforting me, as only a Mother like her understands.  

Sr. Julie

Sr. Julie Kim-Hoa Pham 

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