Honouring Mary our Mother, a Model for Women and Mothers

                                                                                                          -Fr. Kenneth Teles, Director, DFSC

The universal Church celebrates the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the 8th of September every year. In our Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, we also celebrate the Mother’s Day to honour the love and sacrifice of our earthly mother’s.

On this day, the Church celebrates the first dawning of redemption with the appearance in the world of the Saviour’s mother, Mary. The Blessed Virgin occupies a unique place in the history of salvation, and she has the highest mission ever commended to any creature. We rejoice that the Mother of God is our Mother, too! We often call upon the Blessed Virgin as “Cause of our joy”, one of the most beautiful titles in her litany.

Mother’s Day is a celebration honouring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the months of March or May. It complements similar celebrations honouring other family members, such as Father’s Day, Siblings Day, and Grandparents Day.

In the United States, Mother’s Day remains one of the biggest days for sales of flowers, greeting cards, and the like. Mother’s Day is also the biggest holiday for long-distance telephone calls. Moreover, Church going is also popular on Mother’s Day, yielding the highest Church attendance after Christmas Eve and Easter. Many worshippers celebrate the day with carnations, coloured if the mother is living and white if she is dead.

Every child entering the world reminds us not only of God’s love but also the love of a mother. Every child deserves to feel God’s love through their biological father and the Blessed Mother’s love through their biological mother. God gave each one of us an angel called Mother. Every woman is called to be a mother.  A woman has been given one of the greatest privileges in the world – of moulding and nurturing a living soul.

The Bible says motherhood is making tangible the loving Heart of God (Jn. 19: 27). Mothers are to be “keepers at home” (Titus 2:5), meaning a mother is to be there, loving her husband, teaching and enjoying her children, and applying homemaking arts with joy in her heart. To summarise, the mother is the heartbeat of the home. The Virgin Mary is the ultimate role model for mothers. She is the mother of all mothers par excellence. Mary portrays traits of holiness, piety, and humbleness. She has many noble qualities, which are very much needed for our women and mothers today.

As a teacher, Mary instructs women on the importance of perseverance. As a role model to women, she teaches the importance of trusting in the Lord. Mary listened to the angel with acceptance (Lk. 1: 26 -38). She knew God had a plan for her. Every mother should have the same trust in the Lord that Mary had. A woman that trusts and fears the Lord is blessed by God (Prov. 31: 30). A woman should set her mind on eternal things, serve the eternal King (cf. Ps. 16:11, Ps. 84: 10-12, Mk. 10:42-45, 2 Cor. 5:10, Phil. 1:21, Heb. 6:10, 1 Pet. 2:21:23). A woman needs to seek and serve God first in her life and live to please only Him and reject the lie that anything or anyone else can satisfy her. God should be the centre of her life (cf. Mt. 6:33-34, 1 Chro. 16:8-12, Ps. 9:10, Ps. 34:10-14, Ps. 40:16, Jer. 29:11-13, Zep. 2:3, Mt. 6:25-34).

Today’s women should look at the character traits that Mary upheld and strive to apply those traits to their own lives. One of the most valuable strengths Mary possessed was her ability to persevere. She went through many trials in her life, but she never lost sight of the Lord. She used her complete trust in God and her strong will to overcome obstacles and setbacks.  Although she experienced times of sorrow and despair, she always trusted in the Lord. She never decided to give in. When something bad happened, she continued on because she knew it was all a part of God’s plan. Mary is undoubtedly one of the most influential women in the Bible who demonstrates holiness. She put up her best efforts to fulfil God’s purpose. The modern women should also put in their best efforts into being holy, should speak faithfully, love others with Godly wisdom, boldness, and kindness as a faithful completer of others.

A woman should develop as a person and invest in true inner BEAUTY which lasts forever because our bodily beauty will only deteriorate with time. Mary developed an inner beauty and possessed a great deal of humbleness (cf. Ps. 141:5, Prov. 3:5-6, Prov. 12:1, Mic. 6:8, Jn. 15:5, 1 Pet. 3:8-9, 1 Pet. 5:5-7). She was not a woman of conceit with a proud nature but rather content on being a servant of God. She took on the responsibility of raising the Messiah with dignity and enthusiasm. She thought of herself as unworthy of the task.

When we understand the honour and respect due to our own mother, we should understand the love and respect we owe to our heavenly Mother. If we love our earthly mother, how much more should we honour our heavenly Mother!

Even those women who don’t have children of their own can relate to our Blessed Mother. There are many of these like the religious who dedicate their lives caring for the people in the Church and those women who are deeply involved in the pro-life movement, like caring in a motherly way for human life, whether children or an elderly relative or friend and if need be even for an enemy.

The Catechism notes: “She is ‘clearly the mother of the members of Christ’ … since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head” (CCC. 963).

Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical ‘Deus Caritas Est’, writes, “Mary has truly become the Mother of all believers.” “Men and women of every time and place have recourse to her motherly kindness and her virginal purity and grace, in all their needs and aspirations, their joys and sorrows, their moments of loneliness and their common endeavours. They constantly experience the gift of her goodness and the unfailing love which she pours out from the depths of her heart.” (no. 42)

So how can we confine honouring a Mother of this stature to only a few days a year?

In honouring her, we have a great model to emulate how Christ honoured his mother. If it’s good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for us too. It was none other than Jesus who gave Mary to John and us from the cross (Jn. 19: 26-27).

St. John Paul II emphasized this truth in his encyclical Redemptoris Mater (On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Pilgrim Church), when he wrote: “it is also true of every disciple of Christ, of every Christian. The Redeemer entrusts his mother to the disciple, and at the same time he gives her to him as his mother. Mary’s motherhood, which becomes man’s inheritance, is a gift: a gift which Christ himself makes personally to every individual.” (no. 45)

Mother’s Day takes on a whole new dimension when we understand that Our Lady’s intimate and royal dignity has been transferred to that of our own mothers by nature and by grace. By an extraordinary grace, she has become our mother and queen with an intimate knowledge of each of her children. A mother offers up her own sacrifices for her children, as Mary does for her spiritual children.

Remembering these sacrifices which a mother makes, we can thank our own mother on Mother’s Day and intercede to the Blessed Mother to help them and return the favour to them. We can then pray for our own mothers to become more like the Blessed Mother.

So, one big way we can honour our Blessed Mother all through the entire year is to spend time with her. How do you know you love someone? You want to spend time with him or her. That fosters a sense of thanksgiving because it’s really hard to love what you don’t know.

Spending time with Mary would mean actively participating in Marian devotions, especially the Rosary. It honours her because she asked us to pray the Rosary.

Every family should pray the Rosary every day. It’s a great treasure which all of us need to take advantage of. We need to meditate on the Scriptural passages as we recite the rosary. As we recite the rosary let us ask the Holy Spirit to make us humble, simple people and ask our Blessed Mother to hold our hand and take us to the foot of the cross to be cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus.

St. Louis de Montfort teaches us that the best way to reach Jesus is through his mother. The more we honour her, the closer we come to her Son. This should be part of our daily life on our spiritual journey. In the celebration of Mother’s Day let us then remember all women especially our mother and honour them.

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