One of my Marywood High School friends Mary Beth – the firstborn daughter of a big Irish Catholic family – was named in honor of Mary the mother of Jesus, thanks to her own mother’s devotion to Our Lady. Every girl in their family, in fact, was named for Mary – Margaret Mary, Susan Marie, etc. While we chuckled to ourselves at the time, all these years later I feel a kinship with Mary Beth’s mom.
As we celebrate Mary this May, we mothers can relate to her hardships. Having experienced the tumultuous drama of childbirth, I contemplate how gracefully she accepted giving birth in a humble stable. Knowing how excruciating it is to see one of my children in pain, I understand how difficult it must have been for Our Lady to remain silent in her sorrow over Jesus’s struggles, His torture and crucifixion.
But the story about Mary that I love most is the tale of the wedding at Cana.
The mother of our Lord is concerned that the just-married couple will be embarrassed when guests realize they have run out of wine at the reception. Mary goes to her son and asks him to please do something about it so that the celebration can continue, but He tells her it isn’t the right time for Him to reveal His gifts.
Rather than meekly sitting back down and enjoying her glass of water Mary takes her son in hand and essentially orders Him to do as she asks. As a dutiful Jewish son He realizes that He is in a losing battle with His gently insistent mother and relents. Turning water into the finest wine, He reveals Himself as the Son of God.
Mary must have been so proud.
Mary and her month of May reminds us that our Catholic faith calls us to witness a mother’s love in the most profound and dramatic way possible. We honor Mary as the mother of Jesus and the mother of us all. Through her we can plead for intercession to God and to be blessed with her grace in our daily lives.
When I was growing up I always thought of Mary as meek and mild, but when I first became a mother I grew to understand her courage. Who could have a faith in God so strong as to let themselves be used as the vessel for His son, knowing the shunning she must have received as an unwed mother?
Today one of my favorite ways to pray is the rosary. My Dad’s mother, a Catholic convert and notorious insomniac, used to pray the rosary as she fell asleep each night. As I grow older I understand more fully that praying to Mary in that way is centering and meditative.
May brings flowers and fruit and the fullness of spring and seems the perfect time to honor a great woman of faith who exemplifies God’s steadfast and eternal love.