I attended a series of lectures at Oblate last month. It is a beautiful campus and the lectures - by Walter Brueggemann - were terrific. (Walter Brueggemann is one of my favorite Old Testament scholars.) One evening lecture ended earlier than expected so I wandered around the grounds of the Oblate school. They have some lovely gardens, but I was especially interested in seeing the grotto. I made my way over there and was enthralled. It is a beautiful shrine with various quiet spots to sit and meditate. There were lighted candles and, of course, statues of Mary. The Grotto is to Our Lady of Lourdes and is said to be a close replica of the one in France. It was peaceful there, a haven tucked away from the rush of the city.
After visiting the grotto I ruminated on how I don't understand all these titles for the Virgin Mary - "Our Lady of Lourdes" and "Our Lady of Fatima" and "Our Lady of Sorrows." Of course I've heard about the aparitions of Mary that people have seen and how the location then becomes a revered site. But as a Lutheran Christian, none of this makes much sense to me. Having recently arrived in San Antonio with its large Mexican-American and Roman Catholic population, it occurred to me that I want to learn about this if for no other reason to have a better understanding of my neighbors. Lutherans do not often pay much attention to Mary, the mother of Jesus, except at Christmas. But Christians in the Roman Catholic Church show tremendous devotion to Mary throughout the year. Why is that?
I decided to lead a 5 night inquiry on Mary and her various titles for our adult class in Vacation Bible School. Bible School starts next week, Monday, July 12, and the adult class will meet in the parlor from 6:30 to 8pm. We will hear the story of "Our Lady of Guadalupe" from my friend and colleague Pastor Paul Bailie on Monday night and then we will explore other titles for Mary throughout the week. We will study the role of Mary in scripture, review what Martin Luther says about the Virgin Mary and see what we think about all of this. I'm ready to learn. If you're interested, come on out to the adult VBS class. All are welcome -- please bring open minds and open hearts.