Attending Chicago's priesthood ordination last week had me thinking of piety, one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Piety means we love God with such a childlike love that we are willing to make offerings for him. A pious person makes the appropriate gestures in church and says his prayers and devotions, like the rosary, because he has a deep love of God. The pious person then respects his neighbor because he sees Jesus in his neighbor. We are all sons and daughters of God, therefore to be pious to our neighbor is to be pious to God.
Our Lady of the Whey. This is a title I have created for Mary, not to be confused with Our Lady of the Way, or Santa Maria della Strada. Mary brings us directly to her son, thus the Madonna della Strada is the fastest way to heaven. That feast day is celebrated on May 24th. Mine does not have a feast day (yet) and it deals with the process of making cheese.
A Chicago Tribune article earlier this year (January 12, 2017) reported on the elevator boom in China. The country is rapidly urbanizing and, with it, immense skyscrapers are being constructed. Businesses not only want elevators, they want fast elevators to arrive at their destination as quickly as possible. The elevator at Shanghai Tower, in fact, is the fastest in the world, traveling at a speed of 45 mph. If only the Chinese knew that the fastest way to the heavens is not an amusement-park-like elevator, but Jesus Christ!
This 10-inch statue of Mary and the child Jesus was found by workers underneath the floor of a cloister in Boulaur, France. It dates back to the 13th Century. Despite the statue's mutilation and missing limbs, she is called the "Belle Dame", or Beautiful Lady. I'm grateful to a priest friend of mine who took this picture.
There are several takeaways from this simple, yet elegant piece. Notice the smile of Mary. If you want to know what joy is, look at Mary's smile. She displays deep peace and contentment. When we are in possession of Jesus, we might not be jumping with elation, but we do have joy.