I will always remember one particular gift on the feast of Mary's Queenship.
I woke up in the middle of the night on August 22nd 2006.
My back was stiff as I was sprawled across three chairs.
A book lay on my chest. Perhaps it had been two hours since fatigue forced me to put it down.
The fluorescent lights that burned my eyes had been shut off, replaced by soft parking lot lights shining through the window.
Did I miss it? I suddenly thought, remembering why I was sleeping in a hospital room.
I struggled to sit up... paused... and listened intently.
It did not take long to hear the sounds coming from a room somewhere down the hall.
It was a woman in labour; my sister-in-law.
I drove my brother and his wife to the hospital several hours earlier when she started to feel contractions. Relegated to a waiting room I had spent hours reading until my eyes could no longer focus and I was overcome by sleep. My sister-in-law's father was in the waiting room with me. When I awoke, he was gone, and I was alone to consider what would happen next.
I stared out the window. Soon my family would see life that had been hidden in the womb for nine months. Soon we would be able to hold him in our arms. Soon his tiny features could be examined and compared to his parents'!
I don't remember how long I was wrapped in thought but I do remember when the steady, and determined sounds of labour were replaced by words of congratulations.
I stumbled out of the waiting room and, guided by the cries of a newborn, made my way through a dimly lit hall to the delivery room.
What would I do when I saw him?
I can't pick him up, as his mother will probably be holding him (besides, I might break him!).
Do I pat my brother on shoulder, hand him an imaginary cigar and say 'Chip off the old block!'
Or do I run around the room high-fiving relatives.
Somehow those options did not seem appropriate.
I entered the room.
There he was, squealing like a little piglet as the doctor inspected him.
I did what came naturally: I (along with everyone else!) fawned over him! You can't help but smile, because the helpless, squirming little baby before you makes you realize how awesome life is. The clichés become reality and you are reminded that life is a beautiful miracle.
Even the doctor and aides that have seen hundreds of babies born celebrate the moment, because they, as all of us do, realize how amazing a new life is.
Then in between the tears of joys, the exchange of grins among relatives, and the comments on whose nose he has, you thank God for this precious gift.
As I sit at my computer, one year later typing this, I can't help but think of Our Lady watching over us that day, on the feast of her Queenship. Her intercession had been requested many times after complications developed in the pregnancy. Like a loving mother, she listened to her children, and brought the baby safely from the womb, into the world.
We must seem like newborn babies to Our Lady; so helpless and reliant on God! Pius XII advises us in his 1954 encyclical to "glory in being subjects of the Virgin Mother of God, who, while wielding royal power, is on fire with a mother's love." Let us allow the fire of Our Mother to lead us to her son, the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. That in drawing close to her, we may draw close to Him.
Pius XII writes:
Let all, therefore, try to approach with greater trust the throne of grace and mercy of our Queen and Mother, and beg for strength in adversity, light in darkness, consolation in sorrow; above all let them strive to free themselves from the slavery of sin and offer an unceasing homage, filled with filial loyalty, to their Queenly Mother. Let her churches be thronged by the faithful, her feast-days honored; may the beads of the Rosary be in the hands of all; may Christians gather, in small numbers and large, to sing her praises in churches, in homes, in hospitals, in prisons. May Mary's name be held in highest reverence, a name sweeter than honey and more precious than jewels ...
Queen of Angels,
Queen of Patriarchs,
Queen of Apostles
Queen of Martyrs,
Queen of Confessors,
Queen of Virgins,
Queen of all Saints,
Queen conceived without Original Sin,
Queen Assumed into Heaven,
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary,
Queen of the Family,
Queen of Peace,
... pray for us!