In her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux noted this about mothers, “How delicate a mother’s heart really is, and how it shows its tenderness in a thousand little cares that no one else thinks about.” Many of us have fond memories of our mother – the times she dressed us, combed our hair, tied our shoes, read to us as we sat close by her side, kissed a bruise or scrape to make it feel better – a myriad of “little” things that add up to so much. A mother’s personal dreams and wishes become secondary to those of her child and no sacrifice is too great for her to make. Yes, a mother is truly one of the greatest treasures and blessings God bestows in this life.
As we think of our mother, even though she should be the ideal in every conceivable way, there is one mother who surpasses all – our Blessed Mother, Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother. Contemplating Our Lady in her role as mother and caretaker of Jesus as an infant and little boy, it is so easy to imagine her singing to Him, putting Him to bed at night, kissing a skinned knee if He fell while at play. All things she surely must have done throughout the “hidden years” in Nazareth because all these things are such ordinary aspects of human life – our same condition which Jesus willingly took on Himself. These simple acts so beautifully remind us that not only is Jesus’ nature wholly Divine, but that He is most assuredly wholly human, too.
During Christmas, we gaze upon our Nativity displays and the eye is drawn toward the figure of Mary lovingly beholding the Infant Jesus lying in the manger or perhaps she is holding Him in her arms. It is therefore, most appropriate, to honor Mary within the Octave of Christmas as the Mother of God – the greatest of her many titles. It is also a fitting way to start a new year. In honoring Our Lady as the Mother of God, we remember that her motherhood is a great source of grace and salvation for us because it was through her that we “received the Author of Life.” Through her motherhood, the faithful are indelibly joined as members of the Body of Christ, the Church.
In a supreme act of generosity, Our Lord, in His agony on the cross, gave His Blessed Mother to us: “When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother’ (John 19: 26-27).” The last gift Jesus gave to us before shedding the last drops of His most precious and sacred Blood was His mother. Mary, being the good mother she is, is always interested in the needs and desires of her children. How comforting and reassuring it is to know that at every moment of every day throughout our earthly journey, the loving gaze of the most perfect of mothers always rests on us – the gaze of Our Blessed Mother.
To Jesus through Mary –a familiar phrase to most Catholics and if we consider the basic human condition, we can come to understand God’s loving providence even more fully. “God gives a mother to his Son for us. Whatever makes God seem abstract, distant, aloof, elusive, unapproachable or intimidating is overcome in a mother. Although the theology of Mary’s maternity is rich and complex, its meaning becomes clear as we consider our own experiences. For example: When things go wrong, where would we turn without our mothers?” (www.americancatholic.org).
As our mother, Mary is our loving maternal mediatrix with God and it is said that Jesus cannot refuse anything His Mother asks of Him. Despite how unworthy we might feel, regardless of how troubled or conflicted, we rest assured of Our Lady’s contant and undying love for us, for her willingness to wrap us in the mantle of her loving embrace and gently usher us to her Divine Son.
O Virgin Immaculate, Mother of God and My Mother
O Virgin Immaculate, Mother of God and my Mother, from your sublime heights turn your eyes of pity on me. Filled with confidence in your goodness and knowing full well your power, I beg you to extend to me your assistance in the journey of life, which is so full of dangers for my soul. In order that I may never be a slave of the devil through sin, but may ever live with my heart humble and pure, I entrust myself wholly to you. I consecrate my heart to you forever, my only desire being to love your divine Son, Jesus. Mary, none of your devout servants has ever perished; may I, too, be saved. Amen.