Sunday was a feast day in the Catholic Church. Feast days are holy days when we honor Saints and Martyrs who have gone before us. We look to Saints as inspiring examples for how to live holy and virtuous lives. On Sunday we honored the holy sacredness of the Motherhood of Mary. We honor Mary as the Mother of God, who was chosen to nurture and be a loving mother to our saving Lord.
All throughout that day I thought of my own gift of motherhood and of how my life has been blessed and enriched in countless ways because of it. Tonight while looking through my oldest daughter’s scrapbook, I saw a sticker that says: “When a child is born…..so is a mother.” It made me think of how precious a gift motherhood is. Next to that sticker, I had placed a picture of me kissing the top of my daughter Lauren’s head, who was giggling happily.
When I first became a mother, my heart grew in ways that I never thought possible. The love my husband and I shared seemed to grow exponentially, and when I first held my daughter in my arms…well, there really is not a word that can describe that kind of love. It felt like I was finally viewing the world in full color, and not just in black and white. My heart bloomed with intense gratitude for this precious,warm, plump, perfect little baby who I would be forever bonded to in my heart and soul.
I have had a deep love for Our Blessed Mother for much of my life, but it was when I first became pregnant when my respect and love seemed to grow enormously for her. I began to realize what an intense sacrifice motherhood truly is. I thought of the intense courage and trust that Mary had in saying “Yes” to bearing the Christ child, and of the enormous sacrifice and faith it took for her to raise Him up in those harsh conditions.
Right from the start, the Holy Family underwent persecution from those around them. They weren’t welcomed in any respectable place to give birth, and afterwards they had to flee to Egypt to escape being killed by King Herod’s men. I can not even begin to imagine the fear and worry that would grip a mother’s heart in those situations. Mary is a perfect model, after her Son, for what it looks like to completely trust in God’s plan for one’s life.
All throughout the day Sunday, I couldn’t stop thinking about the beautiful white porcelain Hummel statue of Mary that my mom has adored since receiving her for her First Communion 60 years ago. That statue has stood on her dresser drawer for as long as I can remember, and has been a comfort to me since I was a very small child. As a young girl, I remember running into mom’s room and gazing up at Mary’s peaceful face, with her head bowed lovingly and her hands gently clasped in a prayerful pose. Looking at her, I felt more at peace and secure, as if she were silently saying to me, “Don’t fear, my child… all is well…I am here”.
I have become quite attached to that statue of Mary, as I have had to repair her 2 or 3 times in the past 3 years since mom has lived in nursing homes. She has had her halo glued back on twice, her hand repaired twice, and her head glued back on once. Despite all that, she still looks great! You can hardly tell she was glued together, unless you look at the back of her hand (which is missing!)
I make sure that the mom’s Mary statue is always near her, as I know it is a comfort to her, and helps to instill some loving peace into her tiny room. When I picture mom in her room at night, I almost immediately think of Mary standing watch over her, guiding and loving her, and it helps to bring me some needed peace and reassurance. My faith and love in Mary and her Son will never fail to provide me with that trust I will need in caring for mom now, and into the future. I know that we are being guided and given the strength we will need to persevere through this tough journey.
The following are the lyrics to my favorite Marian song….Ave Maria (Hail Mary). I like Celine Dion’s version, because it is the original, and she sings in beautifully. I also added the Ave Maria sung by Josh Groben. That version is the one most typically sung. The lyrics are in Latin, and they are the words of the traditional Catholic prayer Hail Mary, which are:
Hail Mary! Full of Grace!
The Lord is with You!
Blessed are you, among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us, sinners,
now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
AVE MARIA (The original composed by Franz Schubert in 1825)
(Based on the poem “Hymn to the Virgin” by Sir Walter Scott which was a portion of his Epic Poem “The Lady in the Lake”)
Ave Maria! Maiden mild!
Listen to a maiden’s prayer!
Thou canst hear though from the wild;
Thou canst save amid despair.
Safe may we sleep beneath thy care,
Though banish’d, outcast and reviled –
Maiden! hear a maiden’s prayer;
Mother, hear a suppliant child!
Ave Maria! undefiled!
The flinty couch we now must share
Shall seem this down of eider piled,
If thy protection hover there.
The murky cavern’s heavy air
Shall breathe of balm if thou hast smiled;
Then, Maiden! hear a maiden’s prayer,
Mother, list a suppliant child!
Ave Maria! stainless styled.
Foul demons of the earth and air,
From this their wonted haunt exiled,
Shall flee before thy presence fair.
We bow us to our lot of care,
Beneath thy guidance reconciled;
Hear for a maid a maiden’s prayer,
And for a father hear a child!
“But her motherhood was of a different kind. Those on whom it fell went back to their natural parents loving them more. Few men looked on her without becoming, in a certain fashion, her lovers. But it was the kind of love that made them not less true, but truer, to their own wives…It is like when you throw a stone into a pool and the concentric waves spread out further and further. Who knows where it will end?…But already there is joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life.”
~ C.S Lewis