What would Mary do?
What would Mary do for her child:
If she didn't have as supportive and trusting of a husband by her side as Saint Joseph?
If she were the sole caretaker for her child?
If she were in a loveless marriage?
If she were stricken with an illness?
If she and her child were abandoned?
If she saw her entire family living in a sinful, dark world?
The Virgin Mary exemplifies the perfect mother's love. Some of us might see this perfection reflected in our own mothers, through their humble spirit, and deep love and devotion to God, as they put their children's needs before their own. I believe in the Catholic Doctrine that Jesus was purely conceived without sin in the Blessed Virgin, Mary, the Mother of God. No other revelation about this topic is necessary and it would be blasphemy for me to suggest otherwise.
However, I also believe that any baby growing in its mother's womb is fully protected by God until entering the world. The Blessed, Immaculate Mother personifies the holiness in our own mothers while they carried us. I'm wondering if all of you other mothers have any recollections of what was on your mind and in your heart and what was in your soul when you carried your children. Did you at any point think about Mary's life with her son, Jesus? I recall two different and profound experiences of my two own pregnancies that might be similar to yours, and which might be rooted in Mary's motherhood.
The first time I became pregnant; my mind was more occupied with how the baby would look and what materials things I'd give her. In hindsight, I can see my own detachment from grace. From the moment I knew I was pregnant, my first child was adorned in my mind with beautiful images of deep brown eyes and flowing hair, fancy carriages and strollers, hats and dresses, private schools, and dance and song. And even though these thoughts seemed to reflect a mother's genuine love and protection, it was quite different from what happened with my second child. He came to be born with God's purpose in mind, because from the moment of conception, I asked Thy will be done, not mine. And for the nine months I carried this second baby, I relied on God's protection over my thoughts and have continued this reliance for the twenty years since my son's birth. Now, I am not in any way suggesting that I reached even remotely close to as a spotless place as the Virgin Mary. But I know I was guided by her immaculate heart of love and protection, and by my dependence on God, along with my own mother's example of life of sacrifice and love to guide me. I believe that if mothers prayed more, they would be closer to the example set by Mary and also greatly benefit the children they carry.
The Virgin Mother's maternity is full of grace and love and devoted completely to God and to her Child. Sadly, however, her example of love and protection is not always observed or honored as the most holy family image of a mother today. Vocations for mothers to work outside of the family have taken a higher priority than domestic life. Mothers who devote themselves to prayer and nurturing children and family seem to have a thankless job because the world instead values something else! Perhaps only Mary felt a greater pain and sorrow. Those who might come close are mothers who have experienced abandonment by the world and a lack of welcoming for their child in the world. And like so many other mothers' coming to know Mary's sorrowful heart, my heart wonders how different their lives might have been with a husband like Saint Joseph, who praised Mary through God's Divine intervention. Sadly, many mothers bear their children without such comfort and must do their mothering alone.
I believe Mary's heart was the purest ever. She saw her child as a gift and Savior. She believed, prayed, and depended on God that she would be the softest cradle of love, compassion, patience, and understanding for the most important child in the world, for her son, Jesus.
I also believe that if we love and protect others and humble ourselves to be a little more like Mary, our eyes and our hearts will open wide and mirror the child or whoever is in our care as our savior. Doing so not only makes us a little holier and more Godlike, but also brings out so much more happiness, beauty, love, and peace within ourselves that it will surely carry us throughout our lives.
The Purest Figure Among Them Is Mary
64. "Through the prophets, God forms his people in the hope of salvation, in the expectation of a new and everlasting Covenant intended for all, to be written on their hearts.22 The prophets proclaim a radical redemption of the People of God, purification from all their infidelities, a salvation which will include all the nations.23 Above all, the poor and humble of the Lord will bear this hope. Such holy women as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Judith and Esther kept alive the hope of Israel's salvation. The purest figure among them is Mary."
Cf. Isa 2:2-4; Jer 31:31-34; Heb 10:16.
About Catherine Nagle: Catherine grew up in Philadelphia with 16 brothers and sisters, reared by loving, old-school Italian parents. Catherine's artist father's works graced churches and public buildings; her mother was a full-time homemaker. A professional hairdresser, Catherine worked in various salons while studying the Bible and pursuing spiritual growth through courses, seminars, lectures, works of Marianne Williamson, and conferences, including the National Theology of the Body Congress. She is also an Ambassador of the Society of Emotional Intelligence. The mother of two children and now a grandmother, Catherine lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and son. She is the Author of Imprinted Wisdom.