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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Mary, the Mother of God and Our Mother

January 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Carmelite Sisters, Mary, Solemnity

Contemplating Our Lady as mother of Jesus when He was an infant and little boy, it is easy to imagine her doing all the things mothers do for their children – singing Him to sleep, kissing a skinned knee if He fell while at play, holding His hands helping Him to balance as He was first learning to walk. Such things she surely must have done throughout the “hidden years” in Nazareth because these are all typical aspects of human life – our condition which Jesus willingly took on Himself.

We can also imagine this mother-son relationship in Jesus’ adult life, as well. In the film, The Passion of The Christ, there is a brief, but charming scene at the end of which, Mary has prepared something for Jesus to eat and calls Him in from His work, but not before making sure He washes His hands. As He washes His hands in the bowl Mary is holding for Him, He playfully splashes her with water. At her surprise, He gently laughs and kisses her cheek by which time, Mary too is smiling, gazing lovingly back at her Son. Such a scene is very easily imaginable for all of us, because it is something we too might do in a playful, light-hearted moment. It is for this reason we can imagine it occurring in Jesus’ earthly life. These simple ordinary aspects of daily human life beautifully remind us that Jesus fully possesses the nature of God, as well as the nature of man, experiencing human life in much the same way as we do (minus the sin!).

During Christmas, as we gaze upon our Nativity displays, the eye, seemingly of its own accord, seeks out the figure of Mary lovingly beholding the Infant Jesus laying in the manger or perhaps she is holding Him in her arms. She contemplates the Infant God, but as a mother, she also cherishes her newborn baby Son. It is therefore, most appropriate, to honor Mary within the Octave of Christmas as the Mother of God – the greatest of her many titles. It is also a fitting way to start a new year. In honoring Our Lady as the Mother of God, we remember that her motherhood is a great source of grace and salvation for us because it was through her that we “received the Author of Life.” Through her motherhood, the faithful are indelibly joined as members of the Body of Christ, the Church.

In a supreme act of generosity, Our Lord, in His agony on the cross, gave His Blessed Mother to us:   “When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother’” (John 19:26-27). The last gift Jesus gave to us before shedding the last drops of His precious and sacred Blood was His mother. Mary is always mindful of the needs and desires of her children and is most willing to intercede on our behalf if we ask for her assistance. How comforting and reassuring it is to know that at every moment of every day throughout our earthly journey, the loving gaze of the most perfect of mothers always rests on us – the gaze of Our Blessed Mother.

“To Jesus through Mary” is a familiar phrase to most Catholics and if we consider our basic human condition, we come to understand God’s loving providence even more fully. “God gives a mother to his Son for us. Whatever makes God seem abstract, distant, aloof, elusive, unapproachable or intimidating is overcome in a mother. Although the theology of Mary’s maternity is rich and complex, its meaning becomes clear as we consider our own experiences. For example: when things go wrong, where would we turn without our mothers?” (Mary: Mother of God and Our Mother).

As our mother, Mary is our loving Mediatrix with God and it is said that Jesus cannot refuse anything His Mother asks of Him – think wedding feast at Cana. Despite how unworthy we might feel, regardless of how troubled or conflicted, we rest assured of Our Lady’s steadfast love for us, for her willingness to wrap us in the mantle of her loving embrace and gently usher us to her Divine Son.

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Originally published on the website of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles.  Used with permission.

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Art: Madonna in Prayer, Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato, 1638-1652, copyright Restored Traditions, used with permission.

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About Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles

PROMOTING A DEEPER SPIRITUAL LIFE THROUGH HEALTHCARE, EDUCATION AND RETREATS. The way of life of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles is rooted in the Gospel, the Church, and the spirituality of Carmel as lived out through the charism of our foundress, Venerable Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament. In His merciful goodness, God has graced our Institute with the Carmelite charism which has its foundation in a long history and living tradition. Our vocation is a grace by which contemplation and action are blended to become an apostolic service of the Church as we promote a deeper spiritual life among God's people through education, healthcare, and spiritual retreats. We are called by God to be a presence inflamed within our world, witnessing to God's love through prayer, joyful witness and loving service. Our mission flows from each sister's profound life of prayer as Mother Luisita, our foundress, wrote, "the soul of each Carmelite raises herself to Christ, Who is her heaven, while her shadow falls in charity upon earth doing good to all people."

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  • Maureen Nkwenti

    Mary Mother of God and our Mother… Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death Amen!

  • Catherinealambert@gmail.com

    Our Lady Mediatrix of All Grace Pray for us! … Jesus Alive In Action!

  • marybernadette

    “Our Blessed Mother is the sure way for our Salvation. The Saints knew this exhorting us to trust in the most loving of Mothers. Jesus,of course, knew this and that’s why He gave Her to us. Dear Holy Mother of God, thank you for your “fiat.” May we love and honour you as you deserve as Jesus exhorts us too. I believe the Lord said to ” whoever honors my Mother honors Me.”

  • marybernadette

    First of all, you are right as Holy Scripture says that Jesus the Son of God is the Only Way to Salvation. I am certainly not disputing this as that would be an Abomination. Also, by honoring God’s Mother I am not” Worshipping”her as Worship is of course, due to God alone. Before I refer you to a teaching regarding “honouring” not Worshipping God’s Mother and why as Catholics, we believe that she helps us “for Salvation” meaning that by her unique role in co-operating with God, and her prayers of intercession on our behalf, she helps in our relationship with Jesus. Jesus by dying on the Cross and rising from the dead has ,of course, won our Salvation. However, in order to see the Beatific Vision and be assured of Heaven, our hearts need to be purified. We must never presume we are”saved.” We need the help of our family in Heaven to help us, as like innocent children, their prayers are powerful with God and esp. the prayers of the Lord’s Mother. I need to explain what I said re: “Whoever honors” etc. as it is not written in Scripture that way. As a Catholic, I was having doubts re: the Lord’s Mother and what the Church teaches about her. I heard clearly in my spirit, the Holy Spirit assuring me of the truth, that when we”honour the Lord’s Mother, we honour Him.” Please refer to “Why honour Mary” Ewtn. Sorry that I am not “tech savvy” but you will find insightful teachings about “Mary the Mother of God and our Mother.” Also, if you still have doubts, just ask the Holy Spirit for clarification as I did. “Ask and you will receive,seek and you will find, knock and the door will be open to you” God bless you.
    Mathew :7:7.

    Editor’s Note: I believe the link marybernadette is referring to is this one: http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/HONOMARY.htm

  • Philip George Regan

    Praise Be to Our Lord Jesus Christ who has given us he gift of Mary our Spiritual Mother – what a wonderful Mother we have in Heaven !

  • Mary Ann Kronk

    last April I participated in a Louis DeMontfort 33 Consecration to Jesus through Mary – and my life has never been the same. I thirst. A priest has told me that I have made very good progress and that he is “impressed” and how far I have come. I think it might be good at this point, though if I had a Spiritual Director because I fear going off course. St. Theresa of Avila and the 3rd Spiritual Alphabet really speak to my heart and I continue to return to those two, as well as a devout devotion to our Lady, every day. Where does one go to find a Spiritual Director that you can trust???

    • LizEst

      A good source are those who hear your confessions. Dan’s book: Navigating the Interior Life is a real how-to road map for finding a director and how to find a good one who is faithful to the magisterium (including what questions to ask of a potential director. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

      One thing, though, I would be careful with “The Third Spiritual Alphabet”. It did influence St. Teresa of Avila and was known to St. John of the Cross. But, in looking at the “Index of Forbidden Books”, it is on there (in fact, another one of his books is on the list as well). Yes, she was influenced by it, but she did not adopt it. Father Jordan Aumann, whose text “Spirituality in the Catholic Tradition” is used in the Avila Institute says this about Francisco de Osuna, the author of “The Third Spiritual Alphabet”: “Osuna insists that recollection in God can be attained only by detachment from the senses and that the perfection of the prayer of recollection consists in thinking of nothing in particular so that the soul can be completely absorbed in God.”

      Connie Rossini, who has published some excellent posts on our site here, has this to say about such methods, which are similar to non-Christian meditation and which, incidentally, is why the book seems to have had a resurgence of popularity these days: “Eastern (non-Christian) meditation does not meditate ‘on’ anything. Instead of pondering, it seeks radical detachment through an altered state of consciousness. Christian meditation relies on using thoughts and feelings. Eastern meditation rejects them. Thus the same word is used by different religions in a nearly opposite manner.” And, also: “The purpose of Christian meditation–and all Christian prayer–is to lead us to a closer union with God through Christ. The Triune God should be the focus of our prayer. We seek Him alone. In meditation, we seek to understand His character better, to understand what He requires of us. Then we express our desire for union with Him through thoughts, words, feelings, and even groans (see Romans 8:26). And, yes, sometimes with brief moments of silence.”

      Were I you, I would stick to reading what St. Teresa of Avila or St. John of the Cross wrote. They are Doctors of the Church. Francisco de Osuna is neither a Doctor of the Church, nor a saint, nor even a blessed or a venerable.

      • Mary Ann Kronk

        Oh, this is good to know and precisely why I feel a need direction. I have a very nice priest who knows me well, but I was not sure if it was appropriate to ask your priest to help you with this. Osuna discuses the practice of Abandon vs. Recollection – but it recommends the “Recollection” as the preferred method. The mind is actively engaged in contemplation – similar to how I contemplate the mysteries when I pray the Rosary. A big red flag would have gone up for me had this book suggested Abandon – as the preferred method. But see – this is how a good book (St. Theresa’s Interior Castle) can lead you to a “not so good and perhaps even dangerous book” if you don’t know what your doing! Time to call Fr. S. and see if he is willing to guide me a little before I run amok. Right now I am reading Confessions of St. Augustine and True Devotion to Mary (de Montfort) safe bets both.
        Thank you so much for taking the time to answer me!

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