Posted June 08, 2011:
A Tenderness, A Welcome

by Fr. Denis Lemieux.

Twenty-four years ago, when I was nineteen years old, I walked onto the ground of Madonna House for the first time.

I am a cradle Catholic—French Canadian!—but due to the era in which I was born and raised, I knew as much about Our Lady as the typical Southern Baptist. Maybe less—at least they know their Bible! Mary … who? Our Lady of … huh?

When I stepped onto the grounds of this strange community where I had felt led to spend a few months, I breathed in, deeply, something that I did not, could not, understand or identify at the time.

It was a warmth, a tenderness, a welcome, a gentle loving presence of care and concern, of compassion. It quietly blew my teenage mind. I needed it so badly.

Something was present in the very air of this place. It was like the smell of bread baking or the sound of sweet music, but it wasn’t a smell or a sound. I quickly learned that it did not come (especially) from the members of Madonna House, nice enough people though they were and are.

It took me some time to connect this "smell," this feeling in the air of Madonna House with the statue of that woman (Our Lady of… what? The Blessed Virgin … whosit?) tucked away among the trees by the river, running out with her arms open to embrace.

Excerpted and adapted with permission from The Air We Breathe: The Mariology of Catherine de Hueck Doherty, (2011), pp.6-7.



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