Our Mother

I’ll never forget the day she died.  And me, two days after when I thought I might be able to bear it, standing alone at the raw wound of her fresh grave, wondering how I might go on.  My heart felt as cold as the bitter November wind that plowed through the cemetery.  Mother.  Gone.  She’d suffered twice with cancer and then a series of strokes that had left her unable to think clearly or speak more than a few disjointed words.  In the end, she’d died at home with her husband and children at her bedside—the way she’d wanted.  But what now?, I thought.  This force of nature and my best friend–silent and gone.  Today, within a month of the ten-year anniversary of her passing, not a day goes by that some memory of her doesn’t burst into my heart.  In that way, she’s still very much with me.  A mother’s love isn’t stopped by death or the passing of years.  Love persists. Love triumphs.
 
The relationship between mother and child is at the core of our earthly lives.  It’s so foundational and so important that God planned for every human person to come into the world through a mother.  No other human relationship is as laden with meaning and implication as that between a child and their mother.  It’s this way with God’s mother, as well.  The Blessed Virgin Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of the Word, Jesus, the Incarnation of God.  Some Christians may chafe at the title of Mother of God as if being His mother made her to exist before God somehow or makes Mary to be the equal of God.  Neither of these is true, of course.  God could have saved us without being born as a man,without need of a mother at all.  Yet that was His plan.  And when we look at God’s plan for our salvation, we can come to know more about His heart.  And having a mother meant so much to God that He put her at the center of the greatest love story ever known.
 
St. Paul writes so beautifully of a doctrine called “the Mystical Body of Christ”(Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 4:15).  Through Paul, we understand that Christ is the Head of this Body, which is the Church.  Head and Body, then make up the Mystical Body of Christ.  The Body is one and cannot be divided.  The various parts survive in relationship to one another.  Mary gave birth to the Head of the Body, Who is Jesus.  She didn’t give birth to a theory or an idea but to a baby.  If we believe Scripture, we believe that through Mary, salvation came into the world.  Her total cooperation with God and conformity to His will is the perfect model for all Christians.  Her final words recorded in Scripture are a five-word summary of the Christian life:  “Do whatever He tell you”(John 2:5).  Just as Mary nurtured, fed, guided, and protected Jesus, she does the same for us as our mother (John 19:26-27).  This isn’t some new belief but one present since the earliest Church.  Indeed, St. Paul’s doctrine illuminates the unity of Christ’s Mystical Body and the maternal relationship between Mary and the Church. Simply put, if God willed and allowed for Himself to be born of her and chose her as His mother, shouldn’t we choose her for ourselves?  God put His complete trust in Mary.  That’s good enough for me.
 
Just as in a human family, a mother is not optional, Mary’s role as mother of the Mystical Body of Christ isn’t optional.  She is at the heart of God’s plan for our salvation.  He created her with Himself in mind.  He formed her sinless in her mother’s womb as the perfect vessel to bear the Word.  He made her as the model of mothers.  And for us, her children, when we neglect our relationship with her, we miss out on the fountainhead of grace which fills her, as the angel revealed (Luke 1:28). Just as the child Jesus rain to her for help and comfort, it pleases God when we do the same thing.  This isn’t “just another Catholic doctrine.” This is God’s love for us, revealed in Holy Scripture and in the practice and teachings of His Church since the very earliest years of the Apostles.  Mary always leads us to her Son.  From the stable in Bethlehem to the foot of the Cross, her eyes were ever fixed on Christ.  A mother’s love for her children is never lost.  We may be separated for a while from our earthly mothers, but we’ll be reunited again.  Mary’s love for us is as fierce and immediate as it is for her Son.  Through Christ, the Virgin reaches out to us to draw us ever closer to the heart of God.  I don’t know about you, but I can never have too much of a mother’s love.
 
“With my mother’s death all settled happiness, all that was tranquil and reliable disappeared from my life.  There was to be much fun, many pleasures, many stabs of joy; but no more of the old security.  It was sea and islands now; the great continent had sunk like Atlantis.”    
                                                                                   —C.S. Lewis
 
(In loving memory of my mother, known to all as “Scooter,” (1924-2002)

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