Embracing our mother
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“Meanwhile, Father, I feel and wish to feel the need for Mary, as a little child that as yet cannot walk feels the need for the maternal arms that support him. This is the path the Lord wants me to take in order to go to Him, and without Mary I cannot move a foot or take a step on the path of virtue. With what joy and gratitude I accept from the Lord this way of becoming a saint! How easy sanctity is when Mary leads! How happy the soul for whom Marry suffices in order to become a saint!” (Mother Mary Magdalene, CP, mystic, to Servant of God Fr. John Arintero, OP.)
As we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, I need to ask myself, what does this mean to me? And to how I live my day today?
It is common that we relate to God in a manner similar to how we relate to our own human father. We project that onto God the Father. So to develop a relationship with God, a spiritual life involves first coming to know who He truly is as Father.
The same can be said of how we relate to Mary. We will transfer onto Mary our image of our own mother, and relate to her similarly. And no matter how holy our parents are, they can only love us to the extent of their own brokenness. No parent can meet all the needs of their child, and no child can truly understand that. Children (including us) continue to seek more than their parents can give.
That’s what God is for. He fills in the gaps.
“In Mary, the eternal Word not only became flesh, but also learned to recognize the maternal tenderness of God. … She accompanied the crosses borne in the silence of her children’s hearts. … To celebrate Mary as Mother of God and our mother at the beginning of the new year means recalling a certainty that will accompany our days: we are a people with a Mother; we are not orphans.” (Pope Francis) [i]
Now the question begs, how do I let Mary into my life? I pray the rosary and other devotions, and even have been consecrated to her formally. I know a lot about Mary but still must learn to relate to Mary. Our various devotions prepare us for the spiritual life but are not relationship with God. We are taught that Mary leads us to Jesus. So it only makes sense that we need to move beyond knowing about Mary and into a relationship with her.
“If our Lady knew God before she had conceived her Son, how much more intimately she knew him afterwards, when the Holy Spirit had descended on her. Then all the light of the Spirit of Love burnt its radiant fires within her, and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, beginning with wisdom and understanding, were given to her to spend on her Child.” (Caryll Houselander)[ii]
The question remains, how does one do that? We know from scripture that people exclaimed their joy when in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant, because they experienced the presence of God.[iii] Several years ago, I realized I desired to also experience this joy in Mary’s presence. I finally sat down in prayer one day and asked her how to be her daughter. How funny that sounds now, but so typical that I tried to figure it out on my own instead of letting our Holy Mother be a mother to me. I came to realize that, although I had a great relationship with my mom in her lifetime, now recognize her holiness, and was a ‘good’ daughter, I never really depended upon her as I lacked respect for her. I confused her silence for weakness when it was strength. With that realization, I was able to ask Mary to teach me how to be her daughter since I didn’t know how to be.
“The recourse we have to Mary in prayer follows upon the office she continuously fills by the side of the throne of God as Mediatrix of Divine grace; being by worthiness and by merit most acceptable to Him, and, therefore, surpassing in power all the angels and saints in Heaven.” (On the Rosary, His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, September 8, 1894) [iv]
The church teaches that Mary leads us to Jesus. Interestingly, however, Jesus will also lead us to Mary. It seems that to truly give our heart to the one, we must give our heart to the other.
“Carrying the recently conceived Jesus in her womb, Mary goes to visit her elderly cousin Elizabeth whom everyone considered sterile. And yet she had reached the 6th month gestation given by God. She [Mary] is a young maiden but she is not afraid because God is with her. Within her. In a certain sense, we can say that her trip was the first Eucharistic procession in history.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
We continue to pray for Pope Francis, all of our clergy and religious, the worldwide Church and our country. May 2021 be the year of conversion, beginning with us.
Mother of Jesus Christ and Mother of priests, Accept this title which we bestow on you to celebrate your motherhood and to contemplate with you the priesthood of your Son and of your sons, O holy Mother of God. (St. John Paul II)[v]
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam 😊
[i] Pope Francis homily 1/1/17 http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/01/01/pope_francis_homily_for_solemnity_of_mary,_mother_of_god/1282938
[iii] Matthew Leonard gives a good explanation of the parallels to the old testament http://matthewsleonard.com/025-mary-as-the-ark-of-the-new-covenant/
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