Upon my arrival I visited the Monastery Chapel. Then I took the stairs, pausing briefly at the Blessed Sacrament altar, then down to the crypt. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness - in the flickering candlelight - right before me stood the familiar medieval stone statue.
Then it hit me: Mary is the patron saint of victims of sexual abuse.
My Own Personal Heresy:
What if ... Mary is the patron saint of victims of sexual abuse? Because what if she were molested from childhood to adolescence?
And what if she dissociated to preserve herself and protect herself from this knowledge?
What if ... she created an angelic side of herself to comfort her in her anguish and desolation? A protecting angel within to remind her of her goodness and beauty, her innocence and grace.
And what if ... she eventually became pregnant as a result of the sexual abuse? Yet never knew?
And what if her angel-self appeared as in a dream, saying to her:
What if ... God, in his great mercy and tenderness, saw opportunity knocking?
What if he saw his chance to send his love and care to the outcast, to the lost, to the voiceless and the broken-hearted?
And what if the real miracle in the story is that he sent his own angel to Joseph, reassuring him about Mary and advising him never to abandon her and to treat her with gentleness and love?
What if God used a bastard child to bring hope and healing to the forgotten and the forsaken?
Someone who knew the pain and suffering of the lost and the lonely, the innocent and guiltless?
Someone with empathy and love for all those who feel cut off from human kindness, who feel abandoned by a God they cannot see, all those who feel like outsiders in life -- the lost sheep -- alienated, desolate, totally alone, without hope, feeling worthless and unloved.
What if ... Jesus understood first-hand? What if his message arose within the furnace of a suffering heart?
What if he had to struggle to find meaning and purpose out of the depth of his anguish and loneliness?
What if the end was only an outward sign of his lifelong suffering? Leaving him abandoned even in his mission to bring good news to lost sheep? News of buried treasure within broken hearts, within the forsaken and the desolate?
What if we have missed the most important point? That the message of love and rebirth arose within the anguish of undeserved suffering, speaks to those in the same position, and led to more of the same?