by Dr. Valerie D. Lewis-Mosley
for The Black Catholic Messenger
When you enter into my home, you are confronted with various Marian icons.
Mary, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Mother of the Oppressed, and Mother of the Streets. The Icon of the Black Madonna (Our Lady of Czestochowa), Our Lady of Montserrat, and Our Lady of Guadalupe adorn the entrance foyer. The most prominent is the portrait of Mary, Mother of Sorrows.
One might ask: “What do these icons or Marian devotions have to do with my mission and ministry as a social justice advocate?”
It is all centered in my love of Mary’s Magnificat.
As a young Catholic girl, I was led to embrace Mary as the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God, Mary Most Holy. One who was pure and innocent. My first encounter from kindergarten was my attendance at a Catholic school named Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
As I matured into my late teens and early twenties—“the age of being a revolutionary”—I challenged the images that reflected Mary in most of our churches. The images of purity and innocence were not always the context of many. So how could they relate to the image, this example so difficult to emulate?
Yet, it was when I began to understand the suffering Mary, that I was able to identify with her.
The Mother of Sorrows who witnessed her Son, a Man of color, being dragged through the street. A mother who witnessed her Son being vilified, tortured, and mocked by an unjust legal system. A mother who heard the verdict of capital punishment, a death sentence for her Son even though He was innocent…