Monday, May 12, 2014

A Mother for the 21st Century

Human life passes through the selfless gift of mothers.  So why do we struggle to embrace the fact that there is one Mother through whom Life itself passed?

With so many mothers grieving over their lost children--witness the horror of the kidnapped Nigerian school girls, or the ongoing plight of Western youth swept away by a sea of hopelessness and meaninglessness--isn't it time that we turn back to the Mother of mothers?  In the 20th Century, Catholics prayed for an end to Communism, with its distorted view of the human person and its justification of violence as a means to some supposedly greater end.  Perhaps it's time for 21st Century Catholics to pray in earnest for an end to the terrorism of Islamic fundamentalists, as well as to the nihilism of radical secularism.

Many people who think that Pope Francis is "progressive" have been befuddled that he keeps promoting devotion to Our Lady, even exhorting us to pray the Rosary.  Some people may think this is just a vestige of piety from which he hasn't yet liberated himself.  But what if Pope Francis' Marian devotion is actually part of the secret to his personal relationship with Christ?  After all, Jesus received his flesh and took on his physical body thanks to Mary.  Doesn't it make sense that the King of kings would want us to see him through his Queen Mother's eyes--to meditate on his life along with her? 

Why are we so quick to accept any news or gossip we hear as fact, and yet even more quick to dismiss the countless apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary during the second millennium of Christianity?  Are we really more rational than our ancestors, or are we just more offended at the content of our Mary's motherly reminders?  "Repent; make reparation for sin; and pray--particularly the Rosary":  This may sound strikingly similar to advice our own moms have had to dish out--e.g., "stop acting like a fool; clean up your mess; and we're going to talk..."  Of course, whether it comes from our earthly or our heavenly Mother, such words are always spoken out of love with our best interests in mind.

From St. Simon Stock and the promises associated with the Scapular to St. Dominic and the gift of the Rosary; from St. Juan Diego and the still-inexplicable Tilma in Guadalupe to St. Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal; from St. Bernadette and the ongoing healings at Lourdes to St. Lucia and the prophetic promises of Fatima:  Our Lady continues to call us back to her Son, through humble witnesses who are willing to accept her message with an open mind and heart.

We are capable of so much more than our skeptical selves want to admit.  Deep down, we know that our lives would be transformed if we took twenty minutes a day to pray the Rosary, meditating on the mysteries which ultimately define the world in which we live.  Of course, if praying a whole Rosary seems like too much of a commitment, isn't it easy to imagine how a decade of the Rosary or even one heartfelt Hail Mary per day could be spiritually significant?  We would build up not only spiritual stamina but also eyes for eternity through such humble acts of devotion. 

Let's bring our hopes and fears, our worries and troubles, to Jesus through Mary.  Let's "be another Bernadette" and "light it up like Lucia."  After all, the world needs prayer warriors, not culture warriors.  Civilized nations need those who are willing to die to self for an authentic faith, not kill self and others for an ideology.  Every community needs those who are willing to make a gift of themselves for the good of others, not those who take and use others for self-serving ends.

If we draw closer to our Lady, as humble Christians have for centuries, then she'll help us love Jesus as she does.  And she will bring peace and healing to all of her children.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!