Can we imitate the human aspects of Mary?

Mary Ciara Bienkowski and Vita Waters, sixth graders at Notre Dame Elementary in Utica, crown Mary at the school’s First Friday Mass May 4. -photo COURTESY SONDRA NASSAR

By Marge Fenelon
Catholic News Service

We remember our mothers because they gave us life. They nurtured us within their wombs, cared for us as infants and did what they could to get us to where we are now. Without them, many of us wouldn’t be here.

   In the life of Catholics, however, we have another mother who is important. Mary isn’t just a mother. She is the ideal of a mother, the ideal of a woman, but also the ideal to live up to for men, when it comes to grace, obedience and strength.

   The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in No. 967 that “by her complete adherence to the Father’s will, to his son’s redemptive work and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the church’s model of faith and charity.” It continues and says that she is a “pre-eminent and … wholly unique member of the church” and is the “exemplary realization.”

   In No. 968, the catechism says that “her role in relation to the church and to all humanity goes still further,” and we have look at how “in a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the Savior’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls.”

   That’s a lot to live up to.

   But we have to get beyond the ideal that seems almost impossible to reach and look at her unconditional yes to the angel Gabriel, look at how she became truly, and in a very human way, everlastingly, our mother on a profound and spiritual level.

   Can we act with trusting faith and perhaps accept God’s will instead of being upset that our plans didn’t work out the way we wanted? Can we give our entire being to another? Are we capable of helping to nourish the faith of others?

   We can embark on Mary’s human journey of giving our consent to accept God’s will, to help nourish the faith of others and to serve, with charity, those who need of us.

   The catechism continues in No. 969: “This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross.”

   Like a natural mother who carries her child within the womb of her body, Mary carries her children in the womb of her heart. As a natural mother does with her children, Mary also nourishes, tends and protects us.

   Often she does so in the care of our souls, but she also intercedes for our physical and material needs as well. That kind of attentiveness, one that never stops, began the day we were conceived and will continue for the rest of time. Mary is a mother who never stops giving and who teaches us to do likewise.

   Fenelon is a freelance writer from Milwaukee and author of “Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom.”