A woman named Martie was the mother of ten children. When her oldest daughter was in 8th grade, Martie and her husband allowed her to host her first party at their home. Wanting to ensure none of the teenagers were sneaking in drugs or alcohol, or otherwise misbehaving, the parents closely supervised everything. However, all the young people were bored, and the party was turning into a disaster. Then Martie had an inspiration. Calling everyone together, she said, “Remember the wedding feast at Cana? That shows the Blessed Mother loves parties—so let’s invite her to our party here.” There were some rolled eyes on the part of the teenagers, but everyone joined in the praying of three Hail Marys—and the gathering turned out to be a fantastic party. From then on, it was a family tradition: whenever there was a party or celebration, the Virgin Mary was invited.
It happened that some years later one of the ten children, Bob, contracted the deadly disease AIDS. Near the end of his life, he also came down with dementia. His 30th birthday was approaching, and so he invited 85 people to the home for a party, though without telling anyone in the family. Martie only learned about it the night before when someone called asking directions to the party. She and the rest of the family had to scramble to get everything ready for the gathering—which was more like an advance funeral, because many of the guests hadn’t seen Bob in some time, and were shocked by how sick and thin he appeared. After just five minutes, however, Bob said to his mother, “I have to go back to bed—the noise and the crowd of people are just too much for me.” While Bob’s brothers carried him back upstairs, Martie hurried to her room, closed the door, and knelt down, praying, “Blessed Mother, I can’t believe I forgot to invite you to Bob’s party. Please come, because it’s a very special day for our son.” Then she went back to all the guests and said confidently, “Everyone please think of a funny story or memory of Bob you’d like to share with him; I promise he’ll be back in 15 minutes.” Martie went upstairs and convinced her son to come back down, and as she later wrote, “His brothers brought him downstairs. [Bob] sang, and everyone told wonderful stories. It is one of the greatest memories in my life today, and I attribute it to our Blessed Mother. It was a wonderful farewell in a happy surrounding with our Blessed Mother’s presence shining over everyone” (Mary’s Touch, ed. Cheri Lomonte, p. 66). As Martie and her husband and children discovered, if we are indeed part of God’s family, we must allow Him to be present in all the sorrows and joys of our families. Inviting Jesus and His Mother Mary into our lives will truly make all the difference.
While the Gospel of John (2:1-11) doesn’t directly tell us so, it’s a fair assumption that Jesus was truly enjoying Himself at the wedding at Cana. After all, the Prophet Isaiah (62:1-5) tells us that “as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so shall your God rejoice in you.” The Lord delights in blessing all His people, including married couples, so it makes sense to say Jesus and His disciples were truly celebrating along with all the other guests. Mary, however, in her humility and compassion, noticed that the hosts were concerned and embarrassed that the wine had run out. She intervened with her Son, even knowing that if Jesus worked a public miracle, their lives would never be the same. Our Lord, of course, could not refuse His Mother’s request, and what had begun as a typical wedding celebration became an unexpected blessing and a miraculous experience of God’s grace.
In his Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12:4-11), St. Paul speaks of how the Holy Spirit bestows many different spiritual gifts, including wisdom, faith, healing, prophecy, and the discernment of spirits. However, in order to receive these and other gifts, we must truly be open to God’s grace—and one of the best and most important signs we are doing this is by inviting Jesus and Mary to be present in our lives and to reside in our hearts. Doing this will make us truly wise—which means looking at and evaluating everything by God’s standards, not those of this world. Opening our hearts to Jesus and Mary will strengthen our faith and help us persevere when life becomes challenging or confusing. Letting Jesus and Mary be a part of our family life will help heal old wounds and disagreements, and may sometimes bring about spiritual, emotional, and even physical healing. Turning to Jesus and Mary will help us become prophets—not in the sense of predicting the future, but by becoming more aware of how God is working in our lives and in the world around us, and what it is He’s asking us to do. Inviting Jesus and Mary to be with us will help us make sense of our feelings and cope with our worries and disappointments, while also helping us make better decisions that truly benefit and protect us and our loved ones.
Our Lady interceded on behalf of the hosts of the wedding feast at Cana, and Our Lord thereupon graciously worked a miracle on their behalf. Jesus and Mary are just as willing to help each one of us in our lives today. If we are extremely busy and overwhelmed with our work and responsibilities, we can ask them to take charge of our schedules and activities. If we are experiencing difficult relationships, we can invite them to be present and to intervene on our behalf. If we are struggling with doubts and fears and worries, we can request their assistance and reassurance; if we are suffering from pain or misery or disappointment, we can turn to them for strength and inner peace, and if we are burdened with loneliness or emptiness or grief, we can seek their consolation and gracious presence. Jesus and His Mother never impose their presence on us, but they are always ready and eager to be a part of our lives, if only we ask.
As Martie discovered, it makes perfect sense to invite Mary, and especially her Son Jesus, to share in all our family parties and celebrations—along with all our work and other responsibilities, our frustrations and sorrows and difficult moments, our successes and enjoyable times, our religious experiences and moral decisions, our daily activities and routine events, and every other aspect of our lives. Our Lord and Our Lady will be present to the degree we desire—and if this truly is our choice and our invitation to them, we will find an inner freedom and peace that will sustain us in this world and prepare us for eternal happiness in the next.
REVEREND JOSEPH M. ESPER is a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit and pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Anchorville, Michigan. He received his Master of Divinity degree from St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth, Michigan. Through the years, Father Joe has lectured at Marian conferences, appeared on EWTN, spoken on Catholic radio, and written more than a dozen articles for This Rock, The Priest, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, and other publications. He is also the author of numerous books, including Saintly Solutions, More Saintly Solutions, After the Darkness, Lessons from the Lives of the Saints, and Why Is God Punishing Me? In addition to Amazon, many of his most recent books are available through Queenship Publishing.