Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 15, 2006
Surrender your life as Mary did
Villeneuve psychologist and mother crafts musicals to portray Mary's vital humanity
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"She (Mary) was a real woman and that's what is hopeful for us when we connect to her."
- Sandra Brenneis
"It's a ministry where we realize we really have no control over what happens for our families and we have to surrender and let God handle things.
"So I guess that was the intent of my talk (to Regnum Christi), just recognizing how Mary was successful in surrendering to the will of God and how really that's what we need to do in our family life and in our daily lives as well."
How can we do that?
"I think one (way) is to accept that, though we feel power or control or influence, . . . the ultimate power is really completely outside of us," Brenneis replied.
"So when we accept that I think we are more peaceful, we are more loving, we are more accepting of what happens, we are more tolerant of people's differences, we are more forgiving of our own mistakes and other people's mistakes."
"If we set apart Mary then it is impossible for us to be a complete Christian."
- Sandra Brenneis
Years ago at a Good Friday service at St. Peter's Brenneis was listening to the priest's homily and was struck by how Mary must have felt during the Passion.
"I had that emotional experience that I think any parent or anybody who loves somebody and watches them die must have felt," she recalled. "It must have been just the most horrific experience for her."
Through that experience, Mary became real for Brenneis.
"She wasn't a prayer anymore, she wasn't an icon, she was a real person to me in that minute and I think that's what I am striving for."
Added Brenneis: "I see Mary as a woman of incredible strength and resilience and that's hopeful for women today because sometimes when we think of humility and obedience, we forget the element of strength that goes along with that.
"Mary must have been an extremely strong woman to survive all the things she did survive and to continue on to lead people following the death of Jesus. The Apostles would have been very much like her family and so she would have mothered and ministered to them in their grief."
Brenneis' highly successful musical Mary's Veil played to sold-out crowds for four straight years.
Last year, she penned a new show titled Lost Apostle, a 90-minute musical about finding purpose in the message of service and love that played at the Arden Theatre in February.
As with Mary's Veil, the cast, crew and musicians are members of the Villeneuve Choir at St. Peter's.
She performed as Mary in the last run of Mary's Veil and played the show's song I Know You for the women attending her May 8 presentation at the Hilton Garden Inn.
"I played the song because it really does summarize Mary's willingness to surrender her life to God," she said.
"The words (of the song) are about how she recognizes God in all of her life."
There is a need for women to be more like Mary in every aspect of their being, Brenneis said.
"She was a real woman and that's what is hopeful for us when we connect to her."
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