In a trip down to Washington, DC, I attended Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. The cathedral design is on par with many of those in Europe in its grandness and decor. As the seat of the Archbishop of Washington, it may be familiar to some because Saint Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass there in 1979. Others may know it as the location of President John F. Kennedy’s funeral Mass in 1963. For me, what makes it special is the discovery of the unique statue of Mary that I don’t think I will ever forget.
I have seen many statues of Mary in numerous chapels, churches, cathedrals and basilicas during my travels. Most portray her as serene and prayerful. Others show her maternity by including Jesus in her arms or lap. Each are beautiful in their own way, although some stir my soul more than others if I think they capture Mary’s essence of prayer and motherhood. However, in the Cathedral of St. Matthew, sculptor Gordon S. Kray portrays Mary “reaching down to fallen humanity and pointing to her ascended Son.” It is so beautifully touching, I could not help the tears that streamed down my face.
As I knelt before the statue, I felt the urge to reach my hand out to hers. I wanted to say, “take me with you to heaven.” This pure statue of white needs no paint to illustrate Mary alive and still helping man at a personal level. While she may be calling all to her Son, her gaze from the statue is on YOU. It’s like she is saying, “Come, child, take my hand and I will help you. Let us go together to my Son, Jesus.” To me, this is the essence of Mary in her role in the Church today.