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Heather TrottaMarch 25, 2023
Statue of the Blessed Mother with her hands outstretched.Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Today’s readings can be found here.

The line in Luke’s Gospel that I keep going back to is: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” As an unwed, pregnant woman, of course Mary was afraid. How could she not be afraid?! As a hopeful, prayerful woman, Mary said yes to bearing the son of God despite all the unknowns. Wow. As a convert to Catholicism, I hadn’t formed a deep relationship with Mary until recently; her strength and openness to say “May it be done to me according to your word" inspired me to find ways to say yes to God.

Do we always say yes when we are afraid or when the Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways, or in ways that seem impossible? For many of us, it is difficult to say yes when we don’t know or feel like we can’t control the outcome. I know that it is a challenge for me, especially when things don’t happen as I have planned. How do we say yes to the mess of an unpredictable life riddled with joy and sorrow, love and hatred, hope and despair without acknowledging that there are many times when we are afraid?

I recently had the fortune of visiting the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth as part of America Media’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land. An image at the Basilica that I keep recounting (Thanks to one of my fellow pilgrims for pointing it out!) was a striking statue of Mary. What was most noticeable on the statue was that the paint had chipped away from Mary’s hands. Countless pilgrims over time have come to hold Mary’s hand, venerating her like the mother that she is. It made me think—there are times when I have been afraid of the unknown and have wanted to hold Mother Mary’s hand to find support, guidance, solace and courage.

Statue of Mary in Jerusalem. As the author describes, the paint on her hands has been chipped away by the touch of many visitors.

I am a mother myself, and my two sons often ask me to hold their hands for comfort, whether it's when they are drifting off to sleep, after they have had a challenging day at school, when they just want to be close to one another, or when they are afraid. That simple human contact provides the benefits of comfort, love, trust and empathy. It strikes me that Mary provides all those same gifts to those who say yes to a relationship with her.

How can we be more like Mary and say yes to God so that he is always able to meet us where we are? There are countless ways. Maybe we can be more like Mary by making ourselves more open to prayer, hope and trust. Or we can be more like Mary by extending our hand to comfort the marginalized or those who are experiencing loss, loneliness or fear—or to anyone who just needs a physical expression of God’s unwavering love.

Get to know Heather Trotta, Vice President for Advancement

What are you giving up for Lent?

I didn’t give anything up for Lent this year. Rather, I am reaching out to a friend, acquaintance or colleague each day to say a simple hello and let them know that I am thinking of them. Most of the time it is a quick text or email, but it’s been fun picking up the phone and reconnecting with folks I haven’t been in touch with for a while.

Do you cheat on Sundays?

Sundays afford me the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation or think about who I am going to reach out to during the week.

Favorite non-meat recipe.

Pizza Fridays are a favorite!

Favorite Easter photo/memory

I have fond memories going to sunrise services on Easter, which were always serene and beautiful. However, it would not be Easter in my household (both as a child and now as a parent) without a bunny cake. It is so fun to make as a family, and the coconut ears have always been my favorite part of the cake!

The author's two sons smile and hold a bunny-shaped cake that they made for Easter.
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