Have Virgin Mary Paraphernelia: Will Display

Virgin Mary Night LightLast month, I moved into my godmother’s home after she vacated it for an apartment in assisted living. My godmother lived here for thirty years, and while her daughters had cleaned out most of her possessions, a startling collection of Catholic paraphernalia remained: Virgin Mary statues and night lights, rosaries, variously decorated crucifixes (sometimes more than one in the same room), and even a bottle of holy water.

The presence of these items in the house brought me comfort; like the family photos she’d left on the wall, they were familiar and part of my history. Although I was given free reign to dispose of what was left behind in the house, I couldn’t part with any of these objects. Now that I’m more settled, one of the Virgin Mary lamps is in my bedroom, a Virgin Mary statuette in the living room, and Holy Water in a little cup outside the door. I also found a painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the garage that I plan to dust off and hang somewhere, although I’m sure it will offend my parents’ decorating sensibilities (but that’s really too bad).

I feel as though I’ve turned into an uber-Catholic overnight, gone from someone who didn’t even own a Crucifix to someone whose Catholicism is proclaimed from every room. I’ve reflected a bit on what this might mean to visitors who don’t know me well; will they walk in my home and assume I’m too religious to have a reasonable conversation about the Church, and the ways it has and hasn’t failed its members? Will I be seen as horribly old fashioned, or perhaps a little heretical? Will the Virgin Mary statuette on my bookshelf and the feminist and queer-themed books within it give people stress headaches? Different facets of my identity are each so loaded with assumptions that in any given crowd there is probably someone who is uncomfortable with one of them, let alone an intricate and somehow baffling juxtaposition of them all.

Ultimately, I’ll take the same approach I’ve always taken, which is to be who I am regardless of how easily it does or does not sit with other people’s preconceived notions of what it means to be Catholic, progressive, queer, feminist — of what it means to be me.

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7 thoughts on “Have Virgin Mary Paraphernelia: Will Display

  1. Very cool. Where can I get a lamp like the one in your picture? Jesus’s unconditional give of love and salavational is a free gift to all who will accept it! As a baptized Catholic you share in a holy priesthood! Lovin it! -Another Gay Catholic!

    • I’m not sure where exactly my godmother got this lamp. I searched it for clues, and there is a sticker on the bottom of it that says, “Sanmyro, Japan,” which is probably the company. I wonder if a search of “Sanmyro Virgin Mary Lamp,” would help you hunt one down. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Haha I know how you feel Lacey! People seem bewildered, puzzled, and downright freaked out by the dichotome that is my room. On one side I have an two icons: the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child and Christ Himself holding the Gospels, and a crucifix in between them. On the other side I have an Obama poster, my Catholic calendar, and posters of David Beckham, James Franco, and Zac Efron. =P And having just come back from National Equality March in D.C. on Sunday I now have an LGBT Rainbow Flag in my room next to the Star Spangled Banner!

    So don’t feel alone, diversity and being unique is a good thing! (even if it freaks our friends out sometimes…)

  3. Lacey, I’m impressed. Sacramentals such as these are not often seen in peoples homes any more. I have a few around my house but I have to admit they are far more subtle than what you have done. These include things like ceramic banners of Faith, Hope and Love or my wife’s friend’s needlework of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. I will admit that I do have more obvious ones such as your grandmother more discreetly placed in my bedroom (now you have me thinking). For me personally, they are reminders to pray for whatever comes to mind as I pass by. God’s grandeur, beauty and love for us is everywhere in creation, yet it seems like we need religious imagery or places to remind ourselves of this and our own role. I have to continuously remember that we are the Church and our job is to be faithful to Christ in our lives but we must also listen to the whispers that help us shape our Church (ourselves) to this image. As an older middle age man, this may be old school but each one of us may perhaps seem to be unique to each other but are all loved equally by God. Based on what you have posted, my personal takeaway is that this is the message that your well placed sacramentals are saying about you and your relationship to God and neighbor. There is no doubt in my mind that anyone that passes by will know you love them regardless of what they may think about you.

    Peace,
    Jerry

    • Thank you for your thoughtful reflection. I like your take about sacramentals being a reminder to pray. Although I haven’t been able to put words to it, I think my motivation to keep and display these objects comes from a similar place–really, a desire to be reminded of where I come from spiritually, that I am a spiritual being no matter how distracted I get by worldly concerns, and that I’m not ever really alone or abandoned.

  4. I love your Virgin Mary statue! I love sacramentals (my home is drowning in them). Welcome to the fold.

    I enjoy your reflection on images, something I can never give up!

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