Mary is known by many titles, some of them quite grand and exotic. However, St. Luke calls her ‘his mother’ – “And his mother pondered all these things in her heart.” It is our loving mother that I share this reflection in this month of May. “Mother of God” is Mary’s greatest title.
Memories of childhood devotion come to mind, when, dressed in the splendour of First Communion outfit and later as a ‘Child of Mary’ we walked proudly in procession down the tree lined avenue. We sang hymns, recited the rosary, and gave joyful witness to our devotion to Mary the Mother of God.
This trip down memory lane might seem a bit sentimental and perhaps harking back to a bygone age. However, in these days in which motherhood is so much under attack and women are being undervalued, I believe that we as Sisters of Mercy are in a privileged position to offer Mary as a model to those called to motherhood in our world today.
The challenges are many. We see single mothers, refugee mothers, pressurised mothers and burdened mothers.
At the foot of the cross, Jesus gave us Mary, not as queen or empress or some exalted person. Even as he was dying, he was thinking of us and how much we would need Mary’s love and support throughout our lives. “Behold your Mother” he said.
Have we ever really understood the value, the enormity and the generosity of this gift?
This moment of Jesus dying also fulfilled the words of Simeon that Mary, as mother, would suffer much – “Behold a sword shall pierce your own heart.”
For thirty-three years, Mary kept these in her heart. Mary became a contemplative and in so doing, she prepared herself for what was to come. As time went on, she came to understand the significance of those prophetic words of Simeon.
Reflecting on a stained glass window image of Mary, Wendy Beckett sees Mary’s popularity in the early church as due to her portrayal as a caring mother.
Regardless of the month or the season, Mary calls to us in order to draw us to Jesus her son. With a mother’s love she longs to teach us how to be more faithful in all that we profess.
As we journey through this month of Mary can we, as Pope Francis urges us, become “spiritual” mothers, grandmothers to the poor and needy in our world today?
Mary has shown us the way – we too must become contemplative and ponder these words of Jesus to us -“I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
Hopefully we can then pass on this good news to others. That in all the Joyful and Sorrowful mysteries of our lives we may be able to truly believe in his great love for us.
May Our Mother of Mercy help us to renew our commitment to Jesus her Son, to those in need of a mother’s love, and support.
In this lovely Novena prayer, we can greet Mary as our Mother.
Mother of Perpetual Help, with the greatest confidence we come before you to be inspired by the example of your life.
We think of you at that moment when, full of faith and trust, you accepted God’s call to be the mother of his Son. Help us, your children, to accept with joy our own calling in life.
When you learned that your cousin Elizabeth was in need, you immediately went to serve her and offer your help. Help us, like you, to be concerned for others.
We think of you, Mother, at the foot of the cross. Your heart must have bled to see your Son in agony. But your joy was great when he rose from the dead, victorious over the powers of evil.
Mother of Sorrows, help us through the trials and disappointments of life. Help us not to lose heart. May we share with you and your Son the joy of having courageously faced up to all the challenges of life. Amen.
In writing of Our Blessed Mother, Catherine McAuley advised,
“The Sisters shall always have the warmest and most affectionate devotion to her, regarding her in a special manner as their Mother and the great model they are obliged to imitate.”
Sr. Sheila Burke