"Hail, Mary!" by Julie Robison
"Take Her Into Your Home" by Elizabeth at Startling the Day
"A Life Spent Loving and Looking to God" by Trista at Not a Minx
We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We're here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion!
This past February, I visited a good Protestant friend in Georgia, and attended their service with her family on Sunday. I enjoyed myself, but I was struck by one part of the pastor’s sermon that I have not yet been able to shake. The pastor was discussing Jesus realizing he was the Son of God and his awesome responsibility on this Earth-- "How did that happen?" he mused aloud, before declaring it a mystery of God.
Uh, no, I thought to myself. I couldn’t believe that this pastor missed a perfect opportunity to strengthen the importance of the family. God the Father had his beloved son born into a family for a specific reason – to show God’s love through a specific community of individuals, and to be properly formed by faithful Jews, so that he would come into fullness and fulfill the law. Jesus was raised in a family, supported by a family, and shaped by a family. He was given divine wisdom and knowledge by God the Father, of course, but his human nature had many, many people on earth too to help him-- St. Anne and St. Joachim, his mother’s parents; St. John the Baptist, his cousin; St. Joseph, his surrogate father; and lastly, his mother Mary.
As Mother’s Day is this Sunday, I think it apt to remind Christendom that the fourth commandment – to honor one’s parents – does not only apply to one's birth parents, but those parent-like figures who have helped shape and raise you, and perhaps continue to do so.
Mary, the mother of God, is such a figure. When Jesus was dying on the cross, he turned to John, his beloved disciple, and said, “Here is your mother.” From then on, John took Mary into his home and took care of her.
Are we not too called to have Mary in our home? To venerate her as we extol our own mothers, giving her praise for raising us and caring for us? Should we not keep pictures and statues of her around, as a tangible reminder to strive towards her chosen holiness? Should we not ask Mary to pray for us, as we ask our own mothers on earth to do? And more so, since she is bodily in Heaven with her Son Jesus Christ, is it not fitting to have her intercede on our behalf?
It is true—we can go directly to Jesus. We Catholics should, and we do. But Per Jesum ad Mariam: to Jesus through Mary. When you want to get to know a guy better, you go and meet his mother. Is it so different with Christ our Lord? He made his mother the Queen of Heaven – surely he wishes for us to show her due respect and reverence!
I have been told by my goodly Protestant friends that they avoid Mary because they do not wish to turn her into an idol and make her more god-like. I agree—Mary should never be idolized, nor would she want that. Mary says in Luke 1:38, “I am the Lord’s servant.” At the wedding in Cana, she tells the servers ( and all of us too!) to “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5).
Saint Maximilian Kolbe instructs us to “Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.” This Mother’s Day, I will be giving thanks for my mother, who gave me life, and thanks to Mary the mother of God, whose resounding “yes” to the angel continues to echo throughout salvation history, and who gave life to Christ Jesus, the Word incarnate and Savior of the world.
As the angel said to Mary in Luke 1:30, “Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God.” I earnestly desire more Christians to be open to the graces Mary gives us, to joyfully learn about and from her, so that we all can learn more about and from her Son. After all, if God favors her, shouldn't we?
And so, we pray: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.