The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

Mary’s Motherhood: A Healing Balm in Our Modern Times

Authored by Megan Madden in Issue #10.3 of Catechetical Review

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Art image of the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the child Jesus on the clouds with the saintsThere’s something particularly mysterious about the motherhood of Mary. Her fiat that shook the whole world as the uncontainable God chose to be contained within her womb. Her prompting at the wedding at Cana, “do whatever he tells you,” echoing through generations as if she is saying it directly to us. Her overwhelming trust in God as she endured the heart-suffering of Calvary, her own heart being pierced as she watched her innocent son suffer and die. The final moments of Christ’s life when he gave her to us through John, his beloved apostle, revealing to the whole world the gift of her motherhood.

Our Lady’s motherhood is reflected in the beauty of all mothers. She embodies authentic femininity fully embraced and expressed, healing what was broken by Eve’s non serviam with her magnanimous yes. Still, at times she feels unapproachable in her perfections. It’s hard to imagine what she was like and even harder to understand fully her role both in our individual lives and folded into salvation history. I wrote the book Mary, Teach Me to Be Your Daughter: Finding Yourself in the Blessed Mother as a reflection on just this. Because the more we pray the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, the more we ponder Our Lady’s words in Scripture—her life, her example, and her fiat—the closer we draw to the heart of Christ.

The Perfect Mother

Early in my motherhood I was sitting around a table with other much more seasoned mothers. We were drinking coffee and talking about the role of Our Lady in our own lives. There was an overarching conclusion that Mary was far too perfect to relate to, with an emphasis on how motherhood to Christ must have been easy because both he and she were perfect. I sat silently through the whole discussion, focused on listening and learning from those around me. I was not quite sure what I thought, but I knew there had to be more to consider. The conversation never left my heart.

Down the road, as I grew in my own motherhood and reflected on what it means to be a virtuous woman in our modern world, I could not help but be drawn to Our Lady’s example . . . but at a safe distance. I placed her on a pedestal of perfection that was nearly untouchable. I could pray the Rosary; I could ask for her intercession; I could imagine her holding her son in Bethlehem. But I ached to understand that intimate motherhood the Gospel stories so softly echo in her few words and pondering heart.

Imperfect Children

It was true, I thought, that Our Lady’s perfections cannot be fully imitated. But if Mary was the perfect imitator of Jesus and we are called to imitate him, then we certainly have more to consider. As Christ loves his flock, so Our Lady loves his sheep. As Christ loves the little children, so Our Lady takes them within her maternal arms. As Christ laid down his life, so she pours out her own.

Mary wishes her children their greatest good: to reach our heavenly home. She is not far off in a distant place praying for us but is intimately near to each of us, wishing us all that is good. She loves us as we are while guiding us forward in truth, wisdom, and all virtues—as any good and holy mother desires for her children. As she imitates her son, so we find in her an example of the perfect creature to imitate.

Our Lady knows our imperfections and the tragedies of our day. There is a battle for marriage and family, an onslaught of sexual sin and perversions, impurity, immodesty, contraception, and abortion. Has Eve’s defiance prevailed? Certainly not. Because Mary’s obedience still echoes through the cosmos.

A Healing Balm in Our Modern Times

Our Lady’s mission is wrapped into the mission of Christ. Christ chose to come into this world in the piercing cold of the night in Bethlehem, impoverished and hidden. He chose to suffer and die for the sake of life within us; he gave us his Body and Blood to be one with each of us. Our Lady loved him intimately, not in a detached way. She formed within her womb his body and blood—his DNA, his manhood—all taken from her very own humanity. She said yes to his life, his ministry, his death, and his Resurrection. She paved the narrow way with her gentle hand, showing us by example what we are called to be: Christ bearers.

Our relationship with our Mother is as intimate and real as her motherhood to Jesus. Why? Because Jesus desired to give the perfect mother to imperfect children. Her spiritual motherhood is here to clarify and heal any lingering wounds in our own hearts regarding our own motherhood (or our understanding of what motherhood entails). Her gentleness offsets any harshness; her pondering heart teaches us how to pray; her guidance teaches us wisdom; and her love of truth teaches us about the comingling of mercy and justice. Her tender maternal heart reaches out to embrace each of us, folding us within her mantel in protection, just as she did with Jesus.

Practical Imitation

But how can we grow closer to the Blessed Mother practically? Saying a daily Rosary (or beginning with a decade and working your way up) is a great place to start. Other ways include:

  • Talking about Our Lady with others and learning basic apologetics to understand her role in salvation history.
  • Wearing a miraculous medal and brown scapular and learning more about the promises of these sacramentals.
  • Reading the Gospels and pondering her few but impactful words.
  • Consecrating ourselves, our marriages, and our families to the Blessed Mother and asking her guidance each day.

Christ chooses who he wills: the brokenhearted, the weary, the restless, the weak, the little, the humble. Intimately there in our weakness, brokenness, and sinfulness, we find our Mother Mary guiding us forward in the path of humility. She teaches us what it means to be made empty so as to be filled, to die to ourselves so that we might live. She shows how to receive Christ within our hearts so that we might become one with him. Our Lady is the Ark of the New Covenant, our safe haven and refuge from life’s storms. She is the mother of the living. In the bustle of our daily lives, let us turn to her as our Queen-Mother and imitate her example of perfect love.

Megan Madden is a homeschooling mother with a passion for writing and speaking on authentic femininity and virtuous womanhood. In 2017, she began graduate studies in marriage and family at the International Theological Institute in Austria. After moving to Kraków, Poland to work with university students, Megan more personally continued her research on the complementarity of man and woman, particularly on the question of what it means to be a woman. She delved into the study of renowned Catholic writers on women such as St. Edith Stein, Gertrude von le Fort, Alice von Hildebrand, St. John Paul II, and St. Teresa of Avila. The results were the development of Megan’s online ministry, A Mother’s Lace, as well as speaking opportunities and her new book from Ascension Press, Mary, Teach Me to Be Your Daughter: Finding Yourself in the Blessed Mother. Megan lives outside of Oxford, England with her husband, who is a lecturer in theology, and their five children.

This article originally appeared on pages 12-13 in the printed edition.

Art Credit: Mary, Help of Christians by Tommaso Lorenzone; Wikimedia Commons

This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting [email protected]

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