Then and Now!
One Sunday after Mass, at a family gathering when I was a little boy, my Uncle Stanley shocked everyone by making an announcement. He said that he did not approve of the picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa. Well…. That was a bit of a bombshell to throw into an old Polish family! Now, my uncle was very devout and went to church often. He had a beautiful shrine to the Blessed Mother in his yard which he constantly decorated with flowers.
My grandfather was very upset and wanted to know if my uncle had become a Jehovah Witness. Well, my uncle explained, he didn’t approve of the picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa because he said when Our Lady was here on earth, she never wore jewels and gold or had a crown of diamonds. He said that she was a poor ordinary Jewish girl and that she dressed plainly and poorly. He was just getting warmed up and ready to go on in this vein when my grandfather, who was a man of few words, especially when he was hungry said, “Yes, but that was then and this is now. Eat your dinner and stop making so much noise!”
At first I thought that my grandfather was just telling my uncle to shut up, but as I thought about it, I don’t think so. Maybe the picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa is telling us more about Mary than we might realize at first. When my grandfather said, “That was then, but this is now,” I think that he was telling my uncle that the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa was like a double exposure or a time lapse photograph.
There she is, Mother and Child – then! But there she is, robed in glory – now! We see her in two ways, the humble Virgin Mary and the Glorified Queen. The simple, humble Jewish virgin and the royal Mother of God.
While we do remember Mary, then the humble obedient, faithful, faith-filled, pious Virgin working with her hands in a dusty Jewish backwater village, we now know her to be the regal glorified, beautiful Queen Mother reigning forever, assumed body and soul into Heaven.
As I think about it, my grandfather’s terse statement said it all. That was then, and this is now!
By Rev. Charles Jan DiMascola
Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, Turners Falls, MA