As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Our Lady of Mothers

I have been a Catholic all my life, but never really felt a great affection for Mary until I became a mother myself.  I had been taught, of course, that she was the mother of Jesus, and that when He was dying on the cross He gave her as a mother to the whole church when he said to John, "this is your mother," and to Mary, "this is your son."  I knew that was why we prayed to Mary and asked her intercession, of course never to replace praying to Jesus, but to commit our prayers in a special way to His mother as well, the same way we ask dear friends to pray for us when we are going through tough times.  When I had my conversion in my late teens and began to embrace the Catholic faith as truly my own, Jesus became such a powerful presence in my life - but Mary, I just didn't relate to her as much.  And I can remember the moment when everything changed for me.

We were approaching our first Christmas as parents and I was watching TV with my five-month-old son.  Someone was on a talk show singing Mary, Did You Know? in honour of the Christmas season.  If you've never heard that song, it's a beautiful reflection of Mary as a mother of a brand new baby, pondering the mystery of the little life she was holding and what she was going to go through as His mother.  You see as the mother of Jesus, she knew something no mother knows when she gives birth - that this child would endure tremendous suffering.  She knew exactly (or mostly) what was going to happen to him, that it would be horrific and terrible, and that she would watch all of it with a bleeding heart.  As Simeon said to her at the presentation, "a sword will pierce your own heart as well".  And she still said yes.  I looked at my baby boy, my own heart hurting thinking about him suffering in even the smallest way, and imagined what that must have been like for her.  Tears streamed down my face, as I truly didn't know if I could have been strong enough to say yes the way that she did.  And how did it not completely break her?  In the face of all of it, she remained a pillar of strength and comfort to Jesus, the true calling of a mother.  Wow.

Katie, on the feast of Mary, Mother of God (January 1)  

Mary has always held a special place in my heart since that day, and particularly in those trying times when I don't seem to have what it takes to comfort my children, I will pray to her.  She has seen me through many a late night with fussy babies, as the rosary becomes my yard stick for how long to stay patiently rocking my children back to sleep.  And it never fails that when nothing else works, they settle back to sleep once they hear the familiar words of the Hail Mary's recited in repetition, while I think on the mysteries of Jesus' life.  And when I finally lay them back into their beds, I pray that as my hands leave them in their crib hers would come behind mine to soothe and comfort them through the rest of the night, and bring them rest.

My second son was a particularly fussy baby, and I remember at one point lamenting that Jesus probably never cried the way my babies do, because being perfect, He was probably a perfectly behaved baby.  I will never forget the challenge when I realized that Jesus probably didn't act any differently than any of my babies, because babies don't cry out of manipulation or bad behaviour - they cry because they need something, and there's nothing imperfect about that.  I realized that in fact, my children were probably very much like Jesus as a baby, but that I was very far from the kind of mother Mary was, and I knew that my call was to be more patient and gentle as she was in the face of this behaviour that is perfectly normal and acceptable for babies.

I find in Mary not only a model for how to respond to my children, but also comfort for myself.  When I have trouble getting to sleep at night I will say a rosary.  I used to feel bad about falling asleep during such an important prayer, but now I think it's probably not so bad.  I imagine Mary must take some comfort in being able to bring me rest when nothing else seems to work, and what better way to fall asleep than in the loving hands of Our Blessed Mother.  As a mother who has been there countless times with my own babies, I know there is nothing better than the feeling of a baby who has been fighting sleep finally resting on your chest, deep in slumber.  Few things in life satisfy my soul the way bringing comfort does, and I believe this is the truest honour of Mary's position in the Church - to be a giver of comfort not only to our Lord during His life, but to the rest of the Church forevermore.

Today, on the feast of our Lady of Lourdes (where St. Bernadette first received the prayer of the rosary to share with the entire church from Our Lady) I am so very thankful for the rosary, and the powerful prayer it has become in our family.  I am grateful for our Blessed Mother and the comfort and guidance she gives to me, as I try to imitate her in leading our family to Jesus.  And I pray that many will come to know her love, and in so doing will find Jesus, which is her truest joy.

Our Lady of Lourdes - pray for us!

Aaron getting an early start on the rosary

No comments :

Post a Comment