"What's so special about today?"

One perk of my job is that I'm within a 3 minute walk of the Cathedral of St. Andrew. It's a beautiful church, and it's always a blessing to worship there.

Last Friday (which was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and a holy day of obligation), I went over for noon Mass.

[An aside here: the following sort of thing happens to me a lot. A lot. My spiritual advisor says some of us attract unbalanced people, lonely people, those on the outskirts. It's like I have a neon sign on my forehead: "SAFE PERSON!"]

I had just entered the church itself when a young woman came up to me, very close. I thought perhaps she was someone I knew, but she was not familiar. She said, "What's so special about today??"

I have to admit that my first thought (and this is how you know I was a religion major) was, "Hey, that kinda the first line of the Passover Seder. The youngest asks, "Why is this night different from all other nights?"

The young woman had intense dark eyes, and an eager face. She said, "We usually just have the service in the chapel, but there are so many people here today!"

Ah: that gave me a bit more to go on. I explained that today was a holy day of obligation, so Catholics were required to go to Mass.

She told me she was a Christian, but not Catholic. "I just love worshiping here. I try to come every day. Why is today so holy?"

I briefly outlined a whole lot of theology in a sentence or two, telling her that God prepared Mary to be the Ark of the New Covenant, the very best place for His Son to begin His earthly life.

"I don't understand why Catholics pray to Mary or saints. They're dead."

Oh, I said: "They are more alive than we are! They are in the presence of Almighty God!"

Her face lit up, "I never thought of that!"

And better still, I told her, Mary was our Mother as well.

"How can that be right?" she asked.

In Christ, we are all brothers and sisters. That means Christ's Mother is also ours.

Her face filled with wonder. "I have a mother in Heaven?"

Yes, you do. And she so much wants to hear from you. She will take all of your cares to Her Son.

The young woman thanked me profusely, and then drifted off to find a seat.

If only every Catholic had her faith, her desire to know and her willingness to ask a perfect stranger: "What's so special about today?"

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