This week I spent some time in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at Our Lady of Mercy School. In addition to giving classroom presentations about the Rosary, I also had the opportunity to meet the students who belong to the Mary’s Club.
Mary’s Cub meets each Monday afternoon to learn about the Blessed Mother, Mary, and to learn about the connection between faith and service. The student members are in grades 2-8 and some parents and teachers are also members of the club.
During our time together, I had the opportunity to speak about what our Blessed Mother teaches us about her son, Jesus. We discussed Mary’s “Yes” to the Angel Gabrielle, the conversation with her son at the Wedding at Cana, how Mary prayed with the apostles in the upper room and how she stood at the foot of the cross of her son.
Throughout the presentation the underlying focus was how Mary always brings us to Jesus. Everything she did or said has the focus on her son.
The students began to see the connection with Mary and her son in this special way and were given examples of how we, too, are called to always keep our focus on her son, Jesus.
Before we began our discussion the students had a surprise for me! They presented me with a King Cake. The King Cake has a long history in Louisiana going back to around 1870. As part of the celebration of Mardi Gras, which begins on January 6th and ends on Fat Tuesday, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the King Cake is baked and eaten at most parties – especially at Sunday gatherings.
The cake is made of cinnamon dough, twisted in a circle and covered with purple, green and gold frosting. The circle is a symbol of the unity of faiths, while the color purple represents justice, green represents faith and gold represents power.
The unique item in the cake is a plastic baby symbolizing the baby Jesus. Like the Biblical story, the "search for the baby" adds excitement, as each person waits to see in which slice of cake the baby will be discovered. While custom holds that the person who "finds" the baby will be rewarded with "good luck", that person is also traditionally responsible for bringing the King Cake to the next party or gathering.
Hence, my piece had the baby Jesus and so I promised to bring the next cake upon my return to Our Lady of Mercy School!
This symbol of the cake with the baby Jesus in it was the perfect lead into my presentation about how we are called, like Mary, to always focus our actions on bringing others to Jesus.
During this Lenten Season, what will you do to bring others to Jesus? How often do you find Jesus in your own actions?