Happy spring! Happy Mother’s Day. Happy month of Mary, everyone’s Blessed Mother. This picture shows an outdoor bronze state commissioned by Madonna House in Combermere, Canada, and designed and accomplished by the late sculptor Frances Rich.
This statue is called OUR LADY OF COMBERMERE. The statue shows Our Blessed Mother running to wrap her arms around those of us, her children whom she loves. This Catholic Family column has some thoughts originating from Madonna House, and I just love this statue. Here we go with the May column.
Our newly titled Blessed John Paul II said of motherhood: “(It)… is a woman’s vocation. It is an eternal vocation. It is also a contemporary vocation. We must do everything in order that children, the family and society may see her in that dignity that Christ saw.”
But what about what it’s like to be a mother who is struggling with what it means to be a mother on a daily basis? Here’s a little story from a lovely purse-book sized booklet entitled MOTHERING: Becoming the Heart of the Home. The author of this booklet is Rosalie McPhee. Here’s her Mother’s Day warm smile:
[callout]“I’m trying to make dinner, if you would all just leave me alone!”[/callout]
“It had been one of those hard days, and I was feeling like I was going to explode. I was trying to get something on the table to feed my family, resentful that everything always fell to me, and all at once. The kids were fighting all around me, and I just couldn’t deal with it. I stirred the cheese sauce with a vengeance, and noticed it was burned on the bottom. The vegetables were boiling over. Oh, if I could only get this meal over with!”
“I heard a little voice pierce through my black cloud of anger: “Hep oo, Mom?” My little toddler was looking up at me, reaching out to me in an embrace. I held him close, and felt a sudden calm.
As he set the table, his little tongue extended slightly. I watched him carefully put each thing in place. Some were backwards, but he stood back and looked with satisfaction at his effort.”
“Jussa minute, Mom. Forget somepin.” He returned a minute later with a dandelion, and placed it carefully in a jam jar in the center of the table.”
The book MOTHERING is produced and printed by Madonna House Publications out of Combermere, Canada. You can find them on-line.
I shared the little story to help pose a Mother’s Day question for the Mothers who, from time to time feel the need to just go inside a bedroom (with no one following or banging on the door after two minutes) — and just quietly decompress.
The question: Do you think Mary, the Mother of Christ ever had a desire to go someplace and decompress? Was she ever tired to the point of: ‘if you would all just leave me alone!’ Well in another Madonna House publication called Grace In Every Season, Catherine Doherty says:
“Let us ask the Lord to show women today the fullness of the life at Nazareth. Pray that He might lift the veil of years and sentimental piety… and present His own mother as she really was — a housewife, a mother, a spouse, a woman busy at the sublime creative work of the ‘kingdom,’ which was His home on earth… Instinctively we imagine their Nazareth house to be spotless.” But was it? Who could keep a home in a desert spotless? Dustless? Immaculate? In what ways might Mary have been holy there in Nazareth?
Might Mary not have ‘experienced the exhilaration of creativeness in cooking a meal or making a loaf of bread fit to eat?’ Do we understand the sublimity of service — humbly, daily, constantly repeated? Or do we dream about more gadgets…. so that we can be free for long hours of leisure?’
This month, we Catholics have, among other things honored May as Mary’s month. We’ve lifted her on a pedestal. But I think her holiness, in part came from seeing that her work in Nazareth was that of making the Kingdom of God a practical prayer of feeding the hungry where she was. And where she was was in her home. Bread making, preparing vegetables for meals, sweeping, cooking… these were her prayers, offered that she might serve out her vocation with a God-given dignity.
It’s not something that the world at large understands. So don’t look for any recognition there. But turn to Blessed Mother Mary, to Her Son, and to the writings of the Church, especially Blessed John Paul II.
As a matter of fact, over twenty dioceses of the Catholic Church have sponsored and promoted the program called ENDOW — Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women. It’s a program that teaches about the dignity of women (and mothers!). I’m familiar with this from the Denver Archdiocese where it started. Within the diocese, many parishes have started the program and it has brought women to a heightened awareness of radical dignity. God’s plan for the dignity of women.
And so that I am clear — ENDOW isn’t a program that attempts to persuade a woman that peeling potatoes is the foundation of her dignity. ENDOW uses the teachings of JPII (and others) to help establish that a woman’s dignity is from God, and it can be found in the boardroom or in the kitchen. Wherever a woman (or a mother) serves is where her dignity and her prayerfulness can blossom.
Happy Mother’s Day. And to Blessed Mary, our Mother, I pray for all women who live and serve as humbly and as gracefully as you did.