Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mary, Mother of God, and Our Mother, too!

I oftentimes hear people from other faiths other than Catholicism wonder aloud why we, as Catholics, "worship" Mary, as we do Jesus.  I have tried to explain to many, some with positive results, some without, that we don't worship her in the same sense as Jesus; instead, we honor her as Jesus' Mother.

I ran across this article this morning, and feel it explains our relationship with Mary very well.  Please read it, especially if you have ever had these thoughts and wondered why Mary is so special in our lives!

So much of the confusion, dissatisfaction and sadness we experience day to day comes from our own struggles with “real life.” We need someone to help us look at our lives, to show us who we are, to help us become ourselves and to live fully. We turn with devotion to the “real life” of the mother of God so that, in seeing how Mary lived by faith, we might find the courage and grace to do the same, united with her.

Mary, the mother of God, is our mother, too. Just as Mary gave us Jesus through God’s grace,
so Jesus in turn gave Mary to the Church when he said to the beloved disciple, “Behold, your
mother” (Jn 19:27).

Adam was the only man in history who did not have a mother. God saw what a mess it got him into and made sure that it never happened again. As a result of Adam’s sin, God would save humankind, and salvation would have a mother.

St. Paul expresses his supreme fascination with the fact that the Son of God had a mother: “But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4-5). It did not have to be this way; Jesus could have just “appeared” on earth like the Old Testament priest-king Melchizedek, who was “without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life” (Heb 7:3). But God the Father intentionally and purposefully gave his Son a mother in the Incarnation. Why?

In his catechesis on Mary (Theotokos: Mary, Mother of God), Pope John Paul II says that Mary “has been granted an utterly special likeness between her motherhood and the divine fatherhood.” The Father’s gift of the motherhood of Mary can, in a way, be linked to the Eucharist. The maternity of Mary becomes a unique means by which we are able to receive the Self of Jesus Christ more perfectly.

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?

Dying soldiers on battlefields, it is said, automatically cry out for their mothers. Most likely they do not expect their mothers to “materialize” (the Latin word for mothermater—is the root of the word matter). But something profound in their experience of having a mother comes to help them in their hour of death. For good reason, we conclude the “Hail Mary” prayer with the petition: “Pray for us…at the hour of our death.”

God the Father provides that very consolation to the humanity of his dying Son. Being able to cry out to his mother may have made the torture of Christ’s death easier to bear. Mary’s presence at the cross gave Jesus even greater courage to embrace his crucifixion. And our Lord was further consoled by the fact that he could give us his mother to be our mother. “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:26-27).

If Christ had not given us his mother to be our mother, wouldn’t we have pined for such a relationship? In recounting her life, St. Teresa of Avila writes: “I remember that when my mother died I was 12 years old or a little less. When I began to understand what I had lost, I went, afflicted, before an image of our Lady and besought her with many tears to be my mother. It seems to me that although I did this in simplicity it helped me. For I have found favor with this sovereign Virgin in everything I have asked of her, and in the end she has drawn me to herself” (Collected Works). 

Even if we have had excellent mothers well into our adult lives, we persist in looking for that ultimate maternal mirror in which we can discover ourselves to our deepest depths. Mary, the mother of God, is the face we seek.

This morning in mass, Father spoke of naming our children and why we name them what we ultimately do.  Why did Mary and Joseph pick the name Jesus?  They did it because of the origin of the name, the meaning of the name.  "God's Salvation" would seem to be a fitting name if you were asked to carry the Savior of the World, wouldn't it?  :)

It made me reflect that I wish we had been a little more "in tune to our faith" when we named our children.  We knew we didn't want any "pop" names, but rather more traditional.  I know people who research the patron saint of their due date, or the godparent's patron saint, etc. -- we never did any of that.  However, when I think about our names for our children, in hindsight, I realize that there was a good deal of the Lord's hand in naming our kids.  Sarah was due on 12/29, so we always knew if she was a boy, she would be Nicholas.  We loved that we had it as a choice for each of our children.  However, if you glance at the roster of Kaiser names, you will not see a Nicholas!  It just never seemed to "fit", even when we were pressured to name the twins when we weren't prepared with names!  However, I would have to say after all this time that Harry has the perfect name for him.  He isn't a Nick, or a Nicholas....he's a Harry!  Even those little tiny miracles are so amazing to me!

I want to wish each and every one of you a very happy and prosperous new year.  If 2011 wasn't such a great year for you, it's in the past.  2012 is just waiting for us.  How will you make a difference?

“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”—Unknown

I surmise we could also make this each YEAR we are born again......let's make it a great one! Happy new year!

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