When I first spotted her, Our Lady of Grace that is, I immediately noticed her broken off left hand. It greatly bothered and disrupted my sense of order. Our perfect and flawless Mother was missing her left hand. Not veryÂ becomingÂ for our Immaculata, the one who bore our Lord and Savior. But there she was, Our Lady of Brokenness.
She stands, appropriately, next to Marian Hall on the grounds of Conception Abbey. Why can’tÂ one of the monks properly restore her hand? Or at least lay her to rest with a prayerful burial of sorts and replace her with a new, perfectly polished,Â and well, not broken statue?
I walked on by, but that image of Mary in her brokenness rested with me throughout the remainder of my visit at the Abbey. I continued to think about broken Mary, and I realized she was precisely the image I needed.
I’m a lifelong Catholic, perhaps relapsed is a better way to put it. In all these years of being a practicing Catholic, it has really been just in the lastÂ year or so whenÂ I finally developed a closer, consistent relationship with Mary. It took feeling all broken and beat up, desperate for help, before I really laid it all before herÂ feet.
I showed Joel these and more photos I took of Our Lady of Brokenness, and he told me a similar story from our friends Nathan and RyAnn Carr from Immaculate Hope Ministries. The Carrs are the husband and wife team who Joel helped our diocese bringÂ in to lead ourÂ pregnancy/infant loss retreat this past year. During that retreat, they set out a statue of Mary. She wasn’t in great form, either, battered and bruised from weathering the Midwestern winter elements. Joel told me they, too, called her Our Lady of Brokenness. Then Joel pulled his science geek card on me and said that when two science labs come to the same conclusions independently, it strongly suggests they are on to something.
Maybe the Carrs and I are on to something, too?
Mary, Our Lady of Brokenness, pray for us!