Every May, the United States honors mothers by celebrating Mother’s Day. And, the universal Catholic Church honors the ultimate, most powerful, mother of all…
Take a moment and pause. Simply listen to your heart when you reflect on the name which is most powerful:
We recently celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday (the second Sunday of Easter), and one of the many titles of Mary is Mary, Mother of Mercy. She shared that title with St. Faustina Kowalska, but had been referred to as the Mother of Mercy centuries prior to the conversation with St. Faustina.
And, this month, I want to reflect on just that concept – Mary, our Mother of Mercy.
Most mothers care lovingly for their children. Most will put their own needs aside to meet those of their children. Most mothers will spend hours of their lifetime worrying about their children, trying to help their children, and being a champion for their children. Too often, mothers will do that at the expense of their own dreams, desires, and wishes.
And, it can be a pretty exhausting, thankless role.
All too often, it also becomes difficult to identify where a mother ends, and her individual child begins.
Yet, that is precisely what our Mother of Mercy emulates for all mothers.
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, she accepted a fate that would include heartache and grief unlike anything any other mother has experienced. At the time, she was filled with practical questions – how will it happen? What should she do now? Yet, she also acquiesced and gave what is known as her Fiat – her “yes” to God. She didn’t know at the time just how much pain she would suffer as the Mother of God, but she most likely understood it would be a difficult task. When she met Simeon in the Temple, at Jesus’ dedication, she was warned that her heart would be pierced as though with a thousand swords.
Throughout Jesus’ young life, Mary nurtured Him, she cared for Him, and she even parented through scolding Him. She, along with the man chosen by God to be her husband, steered Jesus on His course with Salvation History. She ensured He learned His prayers, His understanding of sacred scripture, and taught Him the basics of interacting with His peers.
Yet, we see in the Gospels that she also kept all things in her heart.
- The difficult moments in teaching a toddler-Jesus to not tantrum, or to not talk during a prayer service? Mary kept those in her heart.
- The difficult moments in teaching a young-Jesus to share, or to not interrupt others? She kept those in her heart.
- The difficult moments in teaching an abstract concept sometimes two or three times? She kept those in her heart.
- The immense relief she felt when she found Jesus in the Temple teaching the elders? She even kept that in her heart.
Ultimately, we see that Mother of Mercy at a wedding feast – instructing waiters, and those of us believers who would come even centuries later, to do as He instructs. Again, her mercy is shown as she encourages her Son to embrace His destiny – one which will cause her immense suffering. It is another moment in which she shows us how to turn our doubts and fears to God and say, “not my will, but Your will be done.”
As a loving mother, she follows her Son and is with Him at His times of need. She walks His painful, sorrowful journey, not saving Him, but rather offering Him emotional support along His Passion. And, she still holds all of these experiences, emotions, and sorrow in her heart.
During her entire life, Mary praises God. She encourages Him. She loves Him. She honors His will.
In turn, her reward is to become blessed. And, to become a mother to us all.
She shows us that mercy is not simply being kind to someone; rather, it is doing the will of God, even if we are unsure.
Yet, as petulant children, how do we respond to our mother? Do we accept her role as our safety net? Do we thank her for unwavering support? Do we lean on her when times get tough?
Or, do we try to travel this valley of tears on our own? Do we brush her hand aside, insisting we can do things ourselves? Do we forget that she has shown us the way to ultimate freedom, found in the trust we place in God’s plan? Do we remember to take our cares, concerns, anxieties, and heartache to her to assist in mending?
Centuries after Christ’s death on the Cross, we still have much to learn from Our Lady. And, perhaps May is the perfect month to reflect on the lessons she teaches – not just the lessons in humility, charity, obedience, and love.
Perhaps this May, we can also reflect on how Mary, through her entire life’s experience – the joys and the heartache – held all things in her heart. Perhaps we can also reflect on how Mary, as the Mother of Mercy, shows us how to respond to God’s directives for our lives.
As a good, loving mother, she wants us to come to her. She wants to teach us how to be a daughter of God. She wants to teach us how to be merciful in the manner she was, and still is, most merciful.
But, like her Son, she does not come to teach us without the invitation. She waits patiently in the back of the room, to be acknowledged and invited into our lives.
Will you invite her into your life this May?
Will you ask her to teach you how to be merciful in all you think, say, and do?
Will you thank her for being the good mother she has been, and will always be?
End this piece with me by once again reflecting on her most glorious, most powerful name:
AnnAliese is a proud Army wife to her husband Chris and mother to their two young children. She has a BA in History, a Masters in Social Work, and has worked with disabled veterans, troubled teens, and in early childhood intervention therapy. Since the birth of her children, she has dedicated her time to volunteering with Army Community Services and several military chapel communities. As a cradle-Catholic, AnnAliese has been active in the Church since she was a child. As an adult, she has spent time serving as a lector, EMHC, Adoration coordinator, and Catholic Women of the Chapel (CWOC) chapter president and vice president. She also blogs about topics of Catholicism, parenting, and military life at A Beautiful, Camouflaged Mess of A Life. You can also follow her on Twitter @BeautifulCamoMe, on Instagram at beautifulcamouflagedmess, or on Facebook at A Beautiful, Camouflaged Mess of A Life.