I’m going to admit something, which may come as a surprise since I am a cradle Catholic. In all my 30+ years of prayer, mass, and developing faith; I’ve struggled to identify with and appreciate Our Blessed Virgin Mother. I always acknowledged her grace, love, gentleness, and faithful servant heart, but I lacked a sense of kinship with her. Her name brought forth images of a young and mysterious woman, who reigned from the clouds as the angels bowed at her feet. To me, she possessed a character and strength of faith I could only aspire to emulate, but she was not someone with whom I had a personal connection. I prayed the rosary, occasionally, I visited Mary and prayed to her during my wedding, and I taught my children their prayers, including the Hail Mary, but through all this, I lacked a personal sense of connection to the Queen of Heaven; until recently.
Last month I found myself nose deep in a book which not only held my attention but also captivated my heart. Upon the recommendation of other well-read Catholic bloggers in this group, I decided to read, “Our Lady of Kibeho: Mary speaks to the World from the Heart of Africa” by Immaculee Ilibagiza. To put it mildly, the book broke down barriers in my mind and around my heart, and I now feel a sincere and genuine connection to Our Lady after reading it. This particular book found me at the right moment and had the right message, and I highly recommend it to everyone, no matter where you may be in your walk of faith. However, it is not the details of the book which are important. What is important, however, are the realization and change of perspective I had after I received the book’s message.
The rosary has become my companion and my shield. I find strength in knowing Our Lady anxiously awaits our prayers and petitions so she can graciously beckon upon the heart of Jesus as our intercessor. My personal spiritual journey has found new light. Suddenly my eyes seem open to the struggles of Jesus because I now view them through the eyes of a mother. A mother who stood by faithfully, watching her son publicly scorned and tortured. Through the entire ordeal, she was resigned to God’s will and accepted her role in his plan without question. I can only pray to have a fraction of her resilient faith.
I try to put myself in her position. What if that were my son, whose skull was pierced by thorns, who was spit upon and tormented, who was left to die as a criminal but deserved no such punishment? My faith would surely waver. And yet her faith and LOVE for her God and Her Son remained ever-present and unshakeable. Even more awesome, is that we, the sinners of the world, are the ones who pierced Her Son’s flesh and His heart, and today she sits upon her throne and looks down upon us with LOVE.
Love radiates from her heart, not hatred. She petitions to Jesus for our forgiveness and our prayers. She holds a special place for us in her heart. Her love knows no boundaries, just like her son’s love is limitless. Mary, while fully human, had always had the allure of the divine to me. But I’ve learned, it is because of her absolute humanity that I can now empathize with her loss and her struggle. I can imagine her despair and pain, and through that heartache, I have found a new appreciation for Christ.
I see a young man upon the cross. The Son of a broken-hearted mother and an utterly divine Father. A Perfect Lamb who LOVED us so much He allowed His mother to experience such unthinkable pain; the pain of watching her Beloved Son be crucified. Jesus trusted in His Father’s will because He knew and understood God’s unequivocal love for His children. Mary stood by allowing her own heart to bear witness to her Son’s last breath on earth because she shared that same faithfulness in God’s love and mercy.
If I have learned anything as a mother, it is that if it were within my power, I would go to the edges of the earth to relieve my children’s suffering. And yet our God loves US so much he allowed His Son to suffer in front of his fully human mother, Mary. She experienced all the misery and pain of losing a child so that we could find a seat in heaven with Our Father. That is a love so powerful and so divine that I can only submit to its enormity and find comfort in knowing I was made for so much more than the sunrises and sunsets of this earth. That is a love I hope my children learn.
It is because I now have a fresh perspective of such a divine love that I pray daily to Our Blessed Mother. I ask to be granted the unwavering faith to help lead them to their heavenly home with their Loving Father and Holy Mother where they can bask in the richness of faith and the presence of mercy forever and ever.
Is there a prayer, a book, a retreat, or a practice which has helped you to find solidarity in our Holy Mother’s struggle?