Mary & My Abuela - A Letter from Mariana
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My dear sisters in Christ,
I would like to start this letter by introducing you to my grandmother, Luisa Yanes-Paumier. Born in Santiago de Cuba, she married a Navy sailor & had three daughters. When Fidel Castro came into power, she & her husband filed the paper which would permit them to leave the island. The family immigrated to Miami, Florida in 1968, where they would adapt to a new American life. Because of breast cancer, I never had the chance to meet her on Earth, but because of her legacy I know her almost as well as my immediate family members.
I am constantly told of Abuela's influence in our family, both in the love that she gave & the choices she made that forever changed our family. I will always be grateful for their sacrifices. As I have grown in my faith - particularly in my relationship with Mary - I could see how Abuela was a great role model of womanhood. In fact, her example helped me better understand Mary's role in my Catholic faith.
I imagine that Abuela was like Mary when she & St. Joseph had to flee to Egypt. Both had a sense of urgency, & both placed the family as their first priority. When my grandparents decided to leave Cuba, Abuelo wanted to send only their daughters first. Abuela was against this, and responded with "Either we all leave or no one leaves." Keeping the family together was essential. Almost every story I hear about Abuela is about how she selflessly placed the needs of her loved ones before her own.
There is critcism about how little we hear about Mary in Scripture. For example, we don't get to know exactly how Mary felt when she fled to Egypt. I believe that is actually a blessing because it allows us to relate to her. Whether you are reserved or outgoing; headstrong or soft-spoken, we can find some part of ourselves in Mary. We can also find Marian qualities in the women in our lives.
It's hard to say in what ways Abuela & Mary relate to each other. On the one hand, Abuela helped me better understand Mary. On the other hand, I saw Marian qualities in Abuela.
Both women helped me to understand what it means to be a woman, & what it means to be a Catholic woman.
My sister, embrace your femininity. It is good, it is beautiful & it is yours. Look to our Mother Mary, for her womanhood is truly universal. Look to the women in your life that you want to imitate. Each of us carry a Marian quality if we only have the eyes to see it.
With love & blessings,
Get to know Mariana
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Mariana Flores. I am 27 and I am a Theology teacher for a Catholic high school.
What do the first two hours of your day look like?
I get ready for the day with prayer, either by journaling or by reading a devotional. I'll have my morning coffee and sit in silence for about 10 minutes (though to be honest I often fall asleep). On the drive to work, I pray a decade of a rosary for every weekday of work. Once I'm at work, I set up the lesson for the day and check in on my co-workers.
Describe your favorite part of your current occupation.
My favorite part about being a Theology teacher is when the students ask questions about the faith - even if it's not wholly related to the lesson of the day. It shows that they're actually thinking about their faith and that they are comfortable with asking questions.
What's one fear that keeps you up at night?
One of my fears is that I won't realize my vocation. I feel a call towards marriage and being a parent, and right now I'm still waiting. Some days it's a struggle to wait, but I hold onto the hope that it will unfold in God's time.
Tell us about the first time you experienced a strong sense of belonging in the Catholic Church.
The first time I felt a strong sense of belonging in the Church was when I was involved with my campus ministry as an undergrad. I was invited to be the secretary of the executive board position for my senior year. Believe it or not I *almost* turned it down, but I decided to put my trust in the Lord and accepted the position. I certainly wouldn't be the woman I am today (with the job that I have) without that time on the board.
Tell us about a woman you look up to.
A woman that I look up to is my grandmother. She died of breast cancer before I was born, so I never met her. But the stories that my mother tells me about her are larger than life. I hope to be like her as a woman.
Favorite character ever. Go!
This is so difficult to choose because I read a lot of books! Recently, I read Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale, and the character that stands out to me is Rachel, the best friend of one of the main characters. She is a wife, a mother, and a proud Jew living in Nazi-occupied France. Her courage and morale is admirable in a world that quickly turns against her. (Also, I highly recommend this book for your reading list)