When I stood before the altar at the Easter vigil eight years ago and answered, “I do (believe all that the Holy Catholic Church teaches to be true),” I meant it. I loved the Eucharist; I loved the communion of saints; I loved the unbroken line of popes; I loved the entire Hebrew Scriptures. Marian doctrines, however, I only accepted.
I believed the theology and history of Mary’s place as the New Ark, the Queen Mother, my mother, and completely full of grace. I was comfortable with the wording of the Hail Mary, Hail Holy Queen, and Memorare. But the rosary was too much Mary. I could not understand the bond other women had with a woman who was not only sinless herself, but who had one Perfect Child Who I’m certain she never said bad words to because He threw a book at her.
I yearned for the closeness I’d read about, though, so I went where I was comfortable, the New Testament, and looked for her. I searched for things we might have in common, rather than dismissing her for the things we did not (as we should treat all women, yes?). What I discovered was a gentle friend and confidant; a beloved mother and wife; a perceptive lady and mentor; a strong woman of God. I assigned my own meditations to the crystal blue beads given to me at that Easter vigil, and called it my Mother Mary Mysteries:
She was calm in difficult circumstances: when told of the conception of Jesus, her answer was “Let it be to me according to your will.” It was difficult and my life is often difficult. Lord, help me to be calm.
She had courage in a fearful time: when heeding Joseph’s dream and fleeing with a Baby to Egypt. I, too, have fears about my children and their future. Lord, help me to have courage.
She was content in a less-than-ideal situation: keeping home in a foreign land while awaiting another angelic visit to call them home. Life is full of less-than-ideals. Lord, help me to be content.
She was confused but patient: when Jesus was found in the temple and gave the cryptic answer, “I must be about My Father’s business.” Sometimes God confuses me; sometimes my children confuse me. Lord, here’s my confusion; I’ll not waste time fretting.
She was crushed in sorrow but kept her faith: witnessing her beloved Son’s torturous murder. Lord, help me to love You still, even in crushing sorrow.
There are other precious stories such as her quiet ponderings after childbirth and temple consecration, her earnest whisperings at the wedding in Cana, her modest following of Jesus throughout the land, and the seemingly troubling stories in Luke 8 and 11 where I’d always pictured Jesus as frowning and scolding so as not to give too much attention to Mary. But it’s not good hermeneutics; it doesn’t connect that He would dismissed His mother publicly, when at the wedding in Cana, He put His plan aside to bless her (as well as being obedient to her as a child and making sure she’d be taken care of when He was on the bloody Cross). It is no stretch then, to picture Him smiling and nodding with His arm around Mary (literally or not, depending on the story) while answering, illustrating that all of us could be just like her.
So I prayed my Mother Mary rosary most mornings and, lo and behold, I began to miss it when I’d skipped it. A little while later I realized that I missed her. And that was that. I miss her; I love her; I want to be like her. She helps me and she loves me as she sees me loving her Son. To Jesus through Mary no longer gives me hives. She is His biggest fan, strongest ally, sincerest advocate, and lovingest confidant, just like all mothers are with their children. Of course she’ll lead me to Him ~ she loved Him first and best.
History and theology reached my deepest heart and the love story that is Christianity got even better because of Mary. Her final recorded words are from the wedding in Cana: Do whatever He tells you.
Yes Mother, I will.