I have a group of elderly women in the parish who are my companions in the mission - Photo:Monaliza Esteban
I wonder if the Virgin limped in her old age. However, I believe that she still continued to do what God the Father asked her to do. Perhaps even though she was not physically fit during the time of Jesus, she still did what she had to do.
In the mission in Fiji, I have a group of elderly women in the parish who are my companions in the mission. These women are full of enthusiasm and help get the work of the mission done.
Perhaps you may be wondering why older women in our church are more committed to praying to Our Lady. I believe that they have an intimate connection with the Blessed Virgin that some of us cannot feel.
When I was in the Philippines I often witnessed older ladies going to pray the rosary inside the church before mass. I did not have great devotion to the Virgin until I had the opportunity to study about her. St Thomas Aquinas once said: "It is by knowing that one learns to love a person." Indeed, Jesus also taught us that we cannot love a person unless we know him. How can we say we love when we know nothing about them? I bet these ladies know a lot about Our Lady, and I think they have something in common that made them their best friends.
In my humble opinion, I see the Virgin in them, not because I see them pray the rosary every Saturday in church, or because I see their devotion to her, but because of their zeal to serve God.
They travel from town to town, from one area to another area, and even from parish to parish just to bring God's word to the people. Once, arriving from a long journey, after dark in the high land of Ba (in Fiji), a small boy ran to his grandmother reporting that there was a group of old women who had just arrived, and said: “they are two ladies limping and a big white lady also limping." One of them, hearing what the boy had said, said to the guide: "You know, Jesus took the fishermen to be his apostles, in Ba he took the lame." She was referring to herself, me and the other older ladies. Even though they are physically weak, you can see her love and concern for her brothers and sisters in Christ. Mary's love for us was manifested in them.
I think that their friendship with Maria has helped them a lot in their desire to evangelize people in different places. Mary brings her Son closer to them every day, and she gives them strength to continue their mission, even if they are older and slower. Mother Mary is her pillar of strength in her old age.
Working with them for years has deepened my relationship with the Virgin Mary. They have walked with Maria throughout her life and into her old age and they inspire me greatly. When these elderly women said “yes” to their vocation, they may not have imagined what the future would bring them, but they did think about the future they could build.
Columban lay missionary Monaliza Esteban from the Philippines lives and works in Pakistan.