Before I was Catholic, I focused on Mary during the holiday season. I mostly thought about her, pregnant and heavy laden, making the long journey for the census just before her baby was to be born. Tired, searching for a place to rest. Giving birth in a dirty, humble place. Holding the infant Jesus in a night where shepherds and angels and the light of a star paid Him heed. I had the honor of being in late stage pregnancy twice during the Advent season. I was very comfortable thinking about Mary then.
But I didn’t think about her much otherwise. Thoughts about Mary were safe during Advent and Christmas. But, like the tree and decorations we put up in our home, my thoughts of Mary, too, were boxed up and put away at the end of the season, until the following year. Mary belonged in a nativity scene, not in my life.
A Growing Admiration
All of that necessarily changes when one is on a journey to the Catholic Church. Mary plays such a key role in our salvation story, and Catholics aren’t afraid to acknowledge it. I know, based on the Bible and the teaching of The Church, that Mary is in heaven, and prays for us. I also know that Jesus listens carefully to what his mother requests of Him. Her role as the New Eve, the Ark of the New Covenant, her Immaculate Conception, her lifelong obedience and holiness, also are things I worked through as I prepared for Confirmation.
It became easy to realize there was much more to Mary than what I had previously thought. It became easy to be thankful for how precious a role God gave Mary, from the moment of her own conception. It became easy to admire her.
But, as I am learning, admiring someone is not the same thing as being in a relationship.
As a teen, spending time with my mother wasn’t as high on the priority list, though that has long since changed. But in some ways, I think I still relate to Mary in that way. I know she loves me and is there for me, but I don’t often make time with her a priority. Some of the Rosary’s I’ve prayed have ended up being the most powerfrul prayers of my life, prayers that were clearly answered, and graces that were abundantly given.
So why don’t I do it more?
Perhaps it’s some tendency leftover from my Protestant days. The Rosary isn’t often one of the first prayers I go to, and even though it doesn’t take incredibly long, I often struggle at the time commitment a Rosary takes. I have been praying Hail Mary’s more often in my day to day life, which I think is a good baby step. But it feels too tiny sometimes, when I know the beautiful graces given to me through Mary on the occassions I have spent time intentionally turning to her.
But I also know Mary has a lot to offer me if I would not only spend time talking to her, but also listening.
I have so many wonderful mother figures in my life. There’s my mom, who has been with me since the beginning. I also have a step-mom, and a mother-in-law, as well as many other women who have been influential in my life.
But as much as these women have allowed me to talk and share my heart with them, I find I often learn the most when I listen to the wisdom they have to give me. And Mary has so very, very much wisdom to offer. Through her example in Scripture, through her presence in the ways she has appeared to many throughout history, offering Truth and encouragement and building our faith as a Church. This weekend, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Fatima, and that is just one of many examples of her intervention in our world. And I’m sure she would speak to my own heart, if I only would quiet myself and listen.
I think a person has room for many mothers. Women who love, guide, and shape us. Who intercede for us. Who listen to us. Who offer us comfort. And I firmly believe Mary should be at the top of the list of Mothers in our lives.
On this Mother’s Day, it is my prayer that as I celebrate the earthly mothers in my life, I would also move closer to embracing my heavenly Mother, Mary. That I would allow her guidance and wisdom more and more into my own daily existence. That I would not take the blessing of having a heavenly Mother for granted. And that I would look to emulate her, and ask for her intercession to become even a small portion of the woman and mother she was to Jesus and is to The Church. For God’s grace to emulate her in holiness. And to know she is there for me, loving me, and waiting for me to spend some time.
We Want to Know: What is your relationship with Mary like? How do you relate to her as a Mother?
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