Do We Really Understand All that Mary Suffered?

Today we hear a lot of criticism of Mary and the denial of her role in Redemption. There are novels and movies that portray Mary as the stereotypical Jewish Mother, far from perfect. Many Christians feel that Mary shouldn’t be considered any better than one else especially the Apostles. Peter who denied Jesus and Paul who persecuted the Church are held in higher esteem. I’ve even heard a sermon by a Catholic priest critical of the Miraculous Medal Novena.
If we really understood all of the pain and suffering Mary went through for our sakes we would be sure to honor her. Probably no one but Jesus suffered more for the Church. Mary suffered emotionally for almost the entire life of Jesus.
We might as well start at the beginning. Most of us think it was probably exciting to have the Angel appear with his message. But who would believe such a message? Joseph didn’t. He was going to divorce her quietly. How would you like to be pregnant and not married in a society where you get stoned to death for it? Only the appearance of an angel in a dream to Joseph and Joseph’s decision to marry Mary saved Mary from that possibility. It didn’t save her from the gossips and backbiting. Think about that! People were speaking negatively about Mary right from the start. All through the life of Jesus there was gossip about her.
We all know about the journey to Bethlehem and the birth in a stable. We can imagine how hard that was. We read in Scripture about the Feast of the Presentation when Simeon held Jesus in his arms and prophesied that a “sword will pierce” Mary’s heart. Simeon confirmed that the prophecies of Isaiah applied to Jesus. He would not be a glorious king like David as many of the contemporary Jews thought but a suffering servant destined to die for our salvation. Would it ever be possible to Mary to forget that her son would suffer so bitterly?
We know about the Flight to Egypt and the deaths of the Holy Innocents. How did that feel? Your son isn’t even two years old and they tried to kill Him. On top of that women you knew had to suffer the murder of their children.
How would it feel later to watch your Son leave to begin His Mission knowing that it would end in the Cross? How would it feel to hear of the attacks of the Pharisees? How would it feel to hear of so many people who rejected Jesus and to see this happen personally in Nazareth?
How did it feel to go to Jerusalem for the Passover, knowing what was coming? How did it feel to hear from John that Jesus had been arrested? How painful must it have been to hear the crowd thunder “Crucify Him”? How painful could it be to see your only Son carrying the Cross after having endured the Scourging and Crowning with thorns, to see the blood running down His face and the stains all over His tunic? How would you feel to see rocks and other projectiles strike your Son, to hear Him cursed, mocked and called illegitimate?
What was it like to watch Him fall and hear people cheer? What was it like to see His hands nailed to a cross and then His feet? What was it like to see His body jolt as the Cross was placed in its hole? What was it like to watch His body convulse in pain? What was it like to see Him unable even to hold His head straight because of the thorns?
As bad as it was to watch all this Mary had to listen to the mocking of the Pharisees and others, to her Son cursed and mocked but also to hear herself abused. Think about it the one way to increase the pain of Jesus would be to abuse His mother in front of Him. Think about how Jesus felt then.
Think about how Jesus must feel now to see His Mother mocked in plays and books, to hear her role denied and degraded, to hear that she was a sinner as Protestants claim. Think about what we are doing as we do such things. We join with those on Calvary who hurt Jesus by mocking her.
Do we really want to do that? It is bad enough that Jesus had to suffer for our sins. But do we have to join those on Calvary mocking His Mother?

Jesus, we thank You that You chose Mary to play a special role in our Salvation and that You choose to continue to have Mary play a part in the Salvation of mankind. We ask You to open our hearts and the hearts of all to the love that You desire for us to have for Your Mother. Amen

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Mother Mary

Mother Mary

When you think of Mary how do you think of her? Do you think of Our Lady of Fatima who came to call the world to repentance and performed the Miracle of the Sun? Do you think of Our Lady of Lourdes known for healing? Maybe you think of her as Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal or as the Mother of God. She is the Queen of Heaven and Earth, Queen of Angels, Queen of Apostles, Confessors and so on. Many know her as the Blessed Virgin Mary. One could easily fill a page with all the titles given to Mary.
How we think of Mary is important because it influences how we relate to her. Tone weekend last October I took part in the 2000 Hail Mary devotion and I was struck by the organizers’ attitude toward Mary. They didn’t refer to Mary by any of the titles which suggest Mary’s power but simply referred to her as Mother Mary.
What struck me was the simplicity and yet total confidence they had that Mary would answer our prayers. They simply knew that Mary would grant whatever we asked if it was for the good of our souls. How could she not since she was our loving mother? Why wouldn’t she bless her loving children?
Isn’t it really that simple? Mary is our loving mother given to us from the Cross by Jesus when He said “behold your mother” in John 19:27. As our loving Mother she wants what is good for us and is always ready to go the Father for us if we should ask in prayer. Isn’t Jesus the one who showed us at Cana the power of Mary’s intercession? Isn’t He pleased when we choose to honor His and our mother? Why shouldn’t we expect good things to happen when we go to our Mother?
So often we get distracted by theology and all of the titles and apparitions of Mary that we forget that she is our loving mother to whom we can go to for help just as we would our earthly mother. We forget that there is a relationship with Mary as our heavenly Mother that we develop by our devotions to her? As any priest would tell you we know that she isn’t God but she intercedes powerfully with God. When we honor her as our Mother we obey the Fourth Commandment to honor our mother but we also honor and obey Jesus who gave her to us as our mother.
So often we forget that she is our loving mother. We focus on the call to repentance, the call to prayer and the Sacraments, the warnings of chastisements. We forget that all of this is done because she loves us and wants to protect and save us from all the evil in the world. Isn’t that what a mother does, whatever she can to protect her children from pain? Doesn’t she pray constantly for the conversion of her children because that is what is best for them? Doesn’t she work tirelessly for their reconciliation with the Father?
Don’t earthly mothers sacrifice so much for their children? Don’t they always want what is best for them? Don’t they do what they can to provide their needs? Don’t they seek to protect and guide their children to the best of their abilities? Isn’t this what we expect of mothers? Isn’t this what Mary seeks to do?
Aren’t most mothers approachable? Wasn’t it true that for many of us it was emotionally easier to ask Mom for something and let her go to Dad than to go ourselves? Didn’t we want Mom on our side if we got into trouble or needed help? If earthly mothers can be so good to their children how much better would our Mother Mary be to her loving children? Doesn’t it make sense to think of Mary as our Mother Mary and to develop a relationship with her? Doesn’t it make sense that we can approach our Mother Mary with confidence rather than a weak hope that she would intercede?
The key is to focus on the fact that Mother Mary is our loving mother. We need to remember that we have a loving mother in heaven who wants what is good for us.

Lord, thank You for the gift of such a loving mother. Thank You that we can approach Mary in confidence that she will intercede for all that is good for us. Help me to always think of Mary as my loving mother and honor her as You desire. Amen