Tradition has it that there were nine days from Christ's resurrection until the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2). In that time, Peter had the foresight to realize that there needed to be a succession of leadership. After some prayer the Apostles drew lots and Mathias was added to the eleven.
But there had to be a lot of uneasiness, possibly confusion, and definitely wonderment about what to do next. Indeed, the disciples lacked motivation and the infallible inspiration of the Holy Spirit that Christ had promised would lead them into all truth (John 16:12).
Imagine you’re there. You’ve found a corner in which to sit, pray and sleep. But you’re frightened a little. The horrific, bloody crucifixion of Christ is still etched into your mind’s eye, even if you did keep your distance. At least twice a day now you walk past the corner where the soldiers forced a man to help Jesus carry the cross. You never saw Simon before that day, but now he’s in the room with the others – a few men gather around him talking quietly. When you went out for bread at noon, you noticed that there are still bloodstains on the street where Jesus struggled with his cross. And, now, in the Upper Room, you look across at a lady who forced her way past the guards and wiped Jesus’ face with her veil. She clutches it, still bloody, in her lap. Around her women gather, they finger the cloth as if it was sacred.
You’re alone. No friends or relatives would come near this band of zealots and fanatics. Why you’re here, you’re not sure. But you’re drawn. Who can you talk to? Who can pray with you? Whom do you trust?
As I contemplated this scene during a recent Rosary, it occurred to me that there was one person in that room whom I wanted to talk to and pray with above all others. Of everyone there, one person knew Jesus the best, and whose faith in what was going to happen was the most serene. We had all seen miracles -- the healings especially were amazing. But this person, for decades, had seen and remembered far more than all of us combined. Here was a bastion of faith and grace that probably knew no bounds. But getting past the crowd would be a task, especially for one as shy as me.
I kept looking for a chance. I needed someone to put an arm around me and pray for me. I needed a smile. I wanted hope.
Little by little I found my way to the far end, where many were gathered. I pushed my way past Peter’s large frame. As I peeked past his cloak, the quiet face looked at me and smiled, beckoning me forward. I pulled my cloak close, and sitting on the floor at her feet gathered the courage to say:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed art thou among women. And blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me... now, and at the hour of my death. O Blessed Mother, pray for me.