“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me, a poor sinner, a poor sinner.” (Saint Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes)
Today I was praying to the Holy Spirit for my children. Not only for the children born of me, but for my spiritual children also – my godchildren, my parents, my friends, and loved ones, the sick and the suffering of whom I have been told, and those of you who pray with me.
Today, in praying for all those souls for whom I feel such a maternal bond, I really pray for myself too. For a mother must be strong for her children.
All my life I have wanted to be a mother. Since I was a very little girl, I have felt the need to mother other people. At first it was my younger siblings, and there are seven of those, so I have had plenty of opportunity to practice. Later it was my cousins, and then at school it was my friends. I was always a sort of bossy kid. I always wanted to give others direction.
And yet, there is a very fine balance to motherhood – or any parenting for that matter. It takes great wisdom to be a good mother. After all, children test boundaries. They explore their options and try to establish the differences between their personalities and that of their parent. They are learning. And learning is a messy thing. It takes time to learn things, and sometimes – with some things – it can take a really, really long time to learn.
But parenthood is a complex thing. We have only to look at the parallels between the Old Testament Patriarch, Joseph, son of Jacob and the New Testament Patriarch, Saint Joseph, Foster Father of Christ. Both of these fathers are described as “just” and both received revelations in their dreams. Both were exiled in Egypt and both were called to prepare the way for another. For the Old Testament Joseph – it was Moses, the Deliverer. For the New Testament Joseph – it was Christ, the Redeemer.
But there was a freedom in their parenthood and a choice in their service... This is important.
A dear friend of mine, who is Maronite Catholic, often describes the Church as the Uterus of God. The Church is the Mother of the People of God. And in essence – as a mother, the Church is the womb of God’s people in which God’s children are born to eternal life through the sacraments.
And what happens inside a mother’s womb? The child takes all the goodness from its mother and returns all of its waste to her. In fact, a child takes from its mother to grow and develop, and nearly always leaves its mother’s body in worse shape after its birth than it was in before. I often joke with my husband, that I “sold” my stomach” to my first child, my legs to my second, my back to my third and my heart to the child that I lost… Each child took something out of me. And for each child I most willingly – albeit whingeingly – gave…
But just as each child took something from me, each also brought me something too…
My first child brought me the gift of motherhood, because though I had longed for it all my life, I had not really experienced it before I held him in my arms. My second child brought me acceptance, as I realised that a mother has only two hands and with two children that is sometimes not enough. My third child brought me sweetness, because when she sets her mind to it, she is simply the sweetest girl. And my fourth child – the child who I lost – taught me perhaps most of all… My fourth child taught me about Heaven – because for the very short time that I carried Him in my womb – I carried a saint, a little piece of Heaven, right below my heart…
Our Blessed Mother was conceived without sin. For she not only carried a saint beneath her heart – she carried GOD HIMSELF!
And because she carried Him beneath her heart, now she carries me within it…
Oh, how I love my Blessed Mother… For I know that I must “Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.” (Saint Maximilian Kolbe).
Because it is through Her that I shall be saved. Saint Anslem said, “It is impossible to save one’s soul without devotion to Mary and without her protection.”
And I want nothing more than the salvation of my soul… and yours..
And so, I pray the prayer that Saint Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes prayed before she died… “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me, a poor sinner, a poor sinner.”
…A poor poor sinner…
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.