“When they entered the city, they went to the upper room where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers” (Acts 1:13 – 14).
I’ve been trying to picture that Upper Room where the apostles were gathered with Our Lady after Jesus had ascended into heaven, awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit as He had promised.
While the physical attributes of the room have been eluding me, what has come to me instead is the effect of Our Lady’s presence on that group of Jesus’ chosen followers. How comforting it must have been! How gently and repeatedly she would have given them the loving, maternal encouragement they needed! How fervently she would have prayed for them to persevere and to hold firmly to their faith during their shared time of anticipation.
Among the ten principal virtues of Our Lady listed by Saint Louis de Montfort is what he terms her “continual prayer.” I believe it is the adjective “continual” which is the key to this attribute of Mary. This means to me that her heart and mind were lifted to God – the definition of prayer we learned as children – in every circumstance of her life. Whether she was trembling with expectation as Jesus’ birth approached, or humming to herself as she prepared a meal for her family at Nazareth, or grieving and bereft at Calvary, her heart and mind were raised up constantly to the One who had created them.
How much more intensely devout would her prayers have been for those who waited with her, in great expectation, for the arrival of the promised Paraclete.
“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim” (Acts 2:1 – 4).
When that momentous day arrived, and the all-sustaining Presence descended in wind and fire, Mary’s prayer would have consumed her heart in an ecstasy of pure, unadulterated love impossible for our mortal minds to grasp.
As my reflection continues, it occurs to me that after Pentecost, as the chosen twelve scattered to begin their divinely-inspired apostolic mission, Our Lady probably continued to pray for each of them by name. Perhaps she made their names into a litany, one by one, including that of Matthias, the newest member, Spirit-chosen to return the number of apostles to the original twelve (Acts 1:15 – 26).
Our Lady’s litany would have begged strength for the twelve, so that the Father’s will – the spreading of His Son’s Gospel – would be fulfilled through their efforts.
These reflections have reminded me that, just as in her “continual prayer” Our Lady would have interceded for the apostles, before and after Pentecost, she continues to do the same for me. She remains a gentle, steady presence, comforting and encouraging me, and calming my fears, especially during those times when I stumble and fall.
Because this occurs to me, too – Our Lady’s litany may well have included the name of Judas Iscariot.
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