Mother, Mother Me…
Mary once was un-relatable to me. Mostly because she was the Mother of God, the childhood “Christmas Story.” As a cradle Catholic, it did seem that some Catholics had an odd devotion to Mary, which often appeared as a determent from Jesus Christ. As I went through Theology School, I learned that Catholics do not worship Mary, but we do give her the utmost honor, how could we not. She carried Christ the Savior of the world in her womb, she raised him, and her heart was utterly pierced as she watched her Son be tortured. Mary was chosen before all time to co-cooperate in this mission of Christ, redeeming the world. Learning about Mary, studying her, and even writing endless papers about her gave me much understanding, knowledge, and gratitude for my Mother. But how does one get to know Mary, know her heart, know the Mother who chose, not her plans, but God’s plans on a radical level? I wanted to know the Mother whose heart was pierced the minute she said yes; heart and hands open wide to the redemption of the world. The Christ Child was really not hers, she had no claim on him. She had to release him the minute he was given to her. I wanted to know the Mother of boundless courage in the face of danger, ridicule, and even possible death for her yes. I wanted to know the Mother who risked losing what she loved on earth for a greater love, a faithful love. Could I ever imitate or even attempt to allow Mary into my heart, to be my role model, to maybe even mother me? I desperately wanted a glimpse into who Mary was outside of the “Christmas Story” Mary.
The last paper I wrote in college was a comparison of two famous pieces of art on the Annunciation. Fra Angelico and Henry O’ Tannar portray stunning images of Mary and the Annunciation and yet they speak a very different language. I felt ill-equipped to do this project as I had never compared art in my life. I had conversations with different people and did my research. Through the process and my time with these images, I felt as if I was getting to know Mary in a new and unique way. I loved both pieces of art, but I fell in love with Henry O’ Tannars portrayal of Mary. Her receptivity, her posture, and her demeanor left me with such a quality of openness yet still a curiosity about what God was doing. That image revealed to me a real woman in a real story choosing a life-altering yes. A yes that would impact the whole world, my world. It’s been many years since I finished my degree but in that time my relationship with her has slowly cultivated into something very beautiful.
I need Mama Mary. I need to be mothered. I need to be nurtured by her love. I need her example and open hands to God’s plan. Mary’s courage in the face of ridicule, loss of dreams, and even death, is the Mary I love knowing intimately.
No, we as Catholics do not worship Mary, but we do hold her in high esteem and desire to emulate her on every level. How can we not? The Son of God, the Savior, the Redeemer of the world miraculously rested in her womb and suckled at her breast. Mother, mother me!