As I shared recently, my publisher, Ave Maria Press, has decided to create new editions of my first two books. The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul are now available in new, updated editions. Every month, we’ll take time here to look more deeply into a chapter from each of the books and provide additional thoughts and resources.
Chapter 1: Blessed Virgin Mary: A Spiritual Mother for Us All
Despite the fact that no two birth stories are exactly alike, we moms often share similar emotions when God blesses us with our children. Regardless of whether we have become mothers by giving birth, by adopting or fostering, or through a marriage, we often share our stories with anyone who will listen. We recall the moments leading up to the big day, the baby’s birth weight, our emotions and often even our labor stories.
As I set up my nativity scene last weekend, I wondered what it would be like to swap stories with Mary. What a remarkable story she surely would tell me! Her travels with Joseph to Bethlehem, their simple lodgings, and the many visitors who came to pay homage to the newborn Christ child would surely be the best birth story ever.
In his recent apostolic letter Admirabile Signum on the meaning and importance of the Nativity Scene, Pope Francis invites us to contemplate the figure of our Blessed Mother as she gazes upon newborn Baby Jesus:
Mary is a mother who contemplates her child and shows him to every visitor. The figure of Mary makes us reflect on the great mystery that surrounded this young woman when God knocked on the door of her immaculate heart. Mary responded in complete obedience to the message of the angel who asked her to become the Mother of God. Her words, “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38), show all of us how to abandon ourselves in faith to God’s will. By her “fiat”, Mary became the mother of God’s Son, not losing but, thanks to him, consecrating her virginity. In her, we see the Mother of God who does not keep her Son only to herself, but invites everyone to obey his word and to put it into practice (cf. John 2:5).
When I wrote A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms, I was seeking companions for my motherly journey. It felt so completely naturally to begin with the Blessed Virgin Mary. For many of us, she is “mother,” drawing us ever closer to her son Jesus. Her words at his first miracle, the wedding feast of Cana, “Do whatever he tells you,” are a master class in discipleship for us. Over time, she has come again and again to draw us into right relationship with God and with one another.
My favorite artistic rendering of Mary, entitled “The Polish Madonna”, depicts Mary hanging laundry as a tender Christ child plays at her feet. In this simple image, I find the mother who is both companion and caretaker. In her simplicity, in her focus on a primary task of her vocation, in her gaze upon her son, she gives me hope and purpose in my own parenting. Our lives as moms are filled with many tasks, big and little, and all of them have virtue and merit, even laundry!
These days, when my own mother is struggling mightily with health care issues and my role has enlarged to become one of her caretakers, I turn often to Mary in prayer for the courage and strength and patience to live out this aspect of my own fiat. This particular “Yes,” to lovingly provide emotional, financial and hands-on care for my parents, often feels daunting. But their favorite prayer of the Rosary, the one they still recite together daily even in infirmity, invokes Mary over and over to be a part of our lives. We do not walk this journey alone. We have a communion of saints, Mary among them, to carry us along when we feel overpowered by our burdens.
Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us!
A Tool for You:
Every day, people around the world gather on Instagram at 6:45 AM Central time for a communal prayer of the Rosary at the manyhailmarysatatime account. If you have longed to begin a practice of praying the Rosary but find that you struggle, joining this life-giving community may be the perfect answer for you. If you’re unable to join live to pray, simply click on the story to view a recording of the live Rosary.
A Thought to Ponder:
How is Mary a mother to you in your day to day journey? How does her company bless you in moments when you struggle as a mother or as a child of God? What are your favorite ways to connect with Mary in prayer?
Copyright 2019 Lisa M. Hendey
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