Fruit of the Mystery: Love of the Cross
The Bullhorn and the Whisper
by Annabelle Moseley
Dedicated in memory of Jane Wigutow
“With zeal I have been zealous for the Lord God of Hosts” (1 Kings 19:14)
I first met our friend Jane during the height of the pandemic, when my family and I were invited to a church to have water, oil, and salt exorcized and sacramentals blessed. We entered the church parking lot with other unabashedly Catholic families seeking consolation during a time when so many churches were closed.
As we exited our car, loaded with our bottles of oil and water, we saw a woman holding a bullhorn… yes, a bullhorn. She was a petite woman in a bright, flowing, hippie-style skirt that went down to her sandaled feet; her chapel veil gathered like a scarf at her neck as she held up that bullhorn which was half the size of her. She called out to the large crowd telling us where to put our items to be blessed. “Line up here to be enrolled in the Brown Scapular!” she shouted. Then she called, “Father is going to bless your water now!” and then, “Over here if you want to get your Miraculous Medals blessed!” All obeyed. I loved her the moment I saw that bullhorn.
She had spunk and a resounding voice at a time when so many churches had been closed, and everyone felt silenced. Jane was a voice crying out in the wilderness in that time of sorrow. I later learned that before her Catholic reversion, she had been an attorney. It figures!
This was my introduction to the fireball that was Jane, and we became friends. Not only did I love our talks, but I loved watching her talk to others. She was a gifted zealot, a legal brain working for the court of the Lord. Never have I met anyone who more perfectly embodied the phrase: “fraternal correction.” Blessed with a keen mind, she would correct fellow Catholics on issues that few had the guts to talk about, and she did so with such pushy, in-your-face kindness.
Soon after we met, I learned the sad news that Jane had cancer. But the most impressive thing about it was, that as hard as she worked to follow protocols that would extend her life, she was working even harder to present a beautiful soul to God for eternal life. The Carmelite motto is, “With zeal I have been zealous for the Lord God of Hosts,” and this was our Jane.
“And after the earthquake, a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire, a sound of a whisper. When Elijah heard it he wrapped his face in his cloak and stood at the mouth of the cave” (1 Kings 19:12)
As churches opened up after the pandemic, my husband and I made the choice to bring our children to daily Mass. Truthfully, it seemed foolish at first, but we decided we would be willing fools for God. Why did it seem foolish? Because it’s such an ordeal getting everyone ready on time, taking time away from all the busy to-dos, sleeping less, and waiting longer to eat breakfast. But we were so glad we made the choice. As we start each day with the Eucharist, we are reminded each morning that our cross is sweet, and that our cross must be kissed.
I often saw Jane there at Mass, and when I heard she would be undergoing an MRI, and was frightened of the claustrophobic, clanging experience of it all, I prepared a present for her. How well I remembered what an MRI was like: the loud banging noises within the tightly enclosed chamber, the lack of ability to move… the fear. And so I got Jane a silk mask for her eyes, as that had helped me to remain calm during my own procedure years ago. I wrote her a note about what I had visualized during my test that helped me. I imagined that all the clanging sounds were made by Jesus, clashing cymbals while riding a unicycle, only to make me smile and put me at ease.
The next morning after Mass, my husband took the kids to a side altar to light a candle. I caught sight of Jane in the back pew and brought her the gift. Her long skirt was bright and colorful, but she looked weak and pale. She read the note and she smiled. “I love your image of Jesus on a unicycle! That will help to take my fear away! Thank you,” she whispered. Then she added, “Now I have something for you. Go get your husband and children.”
As I walked to the statue of the Blessed Mother where my family had been praying, my own prayer from the night before returned to my mind. I’d been feeling the usual spiritual pains and aches that can weigh upon a mother from time to time; and in prayer, I’d asked for a signal grace. I’d requested a gift from God to bless my family. By the time we were all standing in front of Jane, I knew the prayer would be answered through her. She held out a reliquary in the shape of a cross.
Ever respectful in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, Jane was not one to speak loudly in church. Rather, she spoke in a soft and barely audible whisper that pointed to the very silence in which we encounter God. “Inside this reliquary is a piece of the True Cross. I thought you and your husband and each of your children would like to bless yourselves with it. You’re doing such a good thing bringing them to daily Mass. I know it isn’t easy to bring little children. It’s a sacrifice. But it’s beautiful.” In the midst of holding her own heavy cross, Jane saw my humble one, and helped to lift it.
My eyes welled with tears. I praised God for these great signal graces: the relic and Jane. What greater sign of merciful love could I have asked for from our Precious Lord? What an instrument Jane was, as usual. Here I was trying to give her a gift, and she would not be outdone in generosity. She held out the true cross to me, and I kissed it.
The morning we got the news that Jane died, my children and I decided to go to Eucharistic Adoration to pray for her soul. As we were driving down the road that led to church, we spotted an elderly man dragging out an antique table to leave by the side of the road. I gasped when I saw what was carved in the top of the ornate wooden table: an elaborate cross!
As I pulled onto the shoulder of the road, I rolled down my window and the elderly man waved to me. “You like the table, eh?” He asked, “It has a busted leg. You can probably fix it, though. It’s a clean break.” One look at it and I knew my husband could easily fix it. That very moment my kids and I started calling it Jane’s table.
With unexpected joy, I parked in the driveway and we got out to have a closer look at the coffee table. There I was, on my way to pray for the soul of the woman who had blessed me with a relic of the true cross and I had discovered another signal grace. We lifted it into the car, and on we drove to Adoration. We sat in the pew that Jane sat in when she showed us the relic. I felt pressed under the weight of the cross of grief. But as my tears fell, I contemplated that what made my cross of grief so heavy was love. And it was love that made it a true cross.
Motherhood is like that, too. What makes the cross so heavy to bear is how much we love our family, each of our children, how much we ache to carry not only our own cross but theirs. If we could, we would be like Simon of Cyrene in each of their lives. How well we understand our Blessed Mother, at the foot of Christ’s cross, and the swords of sorrow and love piercing her heart. Motherhood at its very essence is love of the cross. In the words of Ven. Fulton Sheen, “Motherhood, then, becomes a kind of priesthood. She brings God to man by preparing the flesh in which the soul will be implanted; she brings man to God in offering the child back again to the Creator. She is nature’s constant challenge to death, the bearer of cosmic plentitude, the herald of eternal realities, God’s great cooperator.” What a mystery indeed that God allows mothers to cooperate with Him in such profound ways! What love!
Jane’s table is in my living room now, in a place of honor at the room’s center. My husband repaired its broken leg and I polished it until it gleamed. Sometimes, when my youngest son walks by, he kisses it.
The full expanse of its cruciform shape still amazes us as we catch sight of it each day. I’m reminded of the beauty of the cross we mothers are called to carry as we follow the Lord. Jane’s table is a treasured part of our domestic church, a beautiful sign of the fifth sorrowful mystery and its mysterious fruit: love of the cross… which Jane knew well. Like Elijah, she was loudly zealous for the Lord God of Hosts, yet listened for His still, small voice. The cross we found along the way reminds us of our Jane, the woman of the bullhorn and the whisper.
About Annabelle: Annabelle Moseley is a Third Order Carmelite and the award-winning American author of Our House of the Sacred Heart (Catholic Media Association Award, 2022) and Sacred Braille: The Rosary as Masterpiece, which received the Imprimatur, was a Finalist for the 2020 Association of Catholic Publishers Awards in the category of Prayer and was transcribed into Braille through the Xavier Society for the Blind. Annabelle can be heard every first Monday morning of the month on Relevant Radio’s “Morning Air.” She is a Professor of Theology, doctoral candidate, and an award-winning poet who invented the “mirror sonnet.” Her work as a Catholic poet is featured as one of five artists profiled in the 2019 Documentary Film, Masterpieces, about the vocational call of the arts. Annabelle is a wife and mother who cherishes cultivating her domestic church and the garden she and her family grow together.
2 thoughts on “Fifth Sorrowful Mystery”
Hey Annabelle! What a beautiful reflection. I LOVE how you identified Jane as the bullhorn and the whisperer. Our Lord is there!
Love really is the root of that weight we feel as mothers! Pieces of our hearts walking around outside our bodies. Praise God He provides the grace needed for this beautiful and often heavy vocation in this increasingly hostile world.
Eternal rest grant unto Jane Oh Lord and thank you Annabelle for a beautiful read.
Beautiful email. Thanks for sharing!!!!!!