Today is Mother's Day. But you already know that. As this is the case, I wanted to reflect on a very important mama, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Now, first off I wanted to share a little church history with y'all. In the first few centuries of the Church, there was many Christological controversies. Many revolved around his hypostatic nature. Yet, on controversy wasn't so much about him on the surface, but when you look behind the curtain it is about Christ, what controversy am I talking about, the controversy over whether Mary should be called "The Mother of God". The controversy began with Nestorius was preaching thing contrary to the Council of Nicea, Cyril of Alexandria challenged Nestorius. He stated that "Therefore, because the holy virgin bore in the flesh God who was united hypostatically with the flesh, for that reason we call her mother of God, not as though the nature of the Word had the beginning of existence from the flesh...but because, as we have said, he united himself hypostatically the human and underwent a birth according to the flesh from her womb" (Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, 53). This emphasizes that Mary gave Jesus his human nature. This is interesting because this controversy over Mary really goes back to Jesus. It exemplifies that Mary always points us towards her son.
This is no surprise since in the Gospel's Mary is always pointing to Jesus. Actually, her last words in the whole bible are actually, "Do Whatever he tells you" at the wedding of Cana. She says this to the servants after Jesus politely declines to or a least seems to politely decline Mary's request that he do something about the lack of wine.
(Image from Google)
This first miracle demonstrates Mary's spiritual motherhood. This motherhood does not only extend to biological children, but to anyone on may come into contact with. Unfortunately, this type of motherhood is also not as emphasized even from the pulpit. This lack of talk about spiritual motherhood can make it hard to embrace what St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross said that "the Image of the Mother of God demonstrates the basic spiritual attitude which corresponds to women's natural vocation...All is based on the concept of marriage and motherhood as a vocation from God" (Essays on Women [ebook], 46). Now some may think wait a minute but I don't want to get married, St. Theresa Benedicta (at this moment still Edith Stein) realizes this. She does acknowledge not all women will be mother's, but that the role of motherhood extends even to the workplace. Though again, there is Mary in the midst of this why is Mary the model for motherhood?
It is because her life is centered on Christ. This may sound silly to say since she was his mother, but it's true here whole life was centered on Christ. She gave birth to him even though likely I am sure few believed that it was the Holy Spirit that impregnated her and not a man other than Joseph. She saw a need at Cana and knew that Jesus could fill it. Even when he seemed to decline she still asked that the servants follow his commands. The next time we see Mary after Cana is a the foot of the Cross where she is given as a gift to the whole world (see Jn 19:26). Now I have learned over the past few years just what an awesome mother Mary really is.
My Freshman year of college I did the 33 Days to a Morning Glory Marian Consecration and I have thus far done if four times. Each time I feel that my relationship to Mary has grown. Consecrating myself to Mary made step into a serious relationship with Mary. I now more deeply understand how much of a mother she is.
After the first time I did the Consecration to Mary, I started to notice I was pushed into situation where I had to ask for Mary's intercession. One being setting boundaries with a guy I liked. But I also began to realize that I could intercede for Mary for other things as well. She would also come to me in times of spiritual distress. Such as a time where for some reason a class reading elicited a radical response for me so much so that I felt the need to go to the chapel at my Newman Center. Mary was with me there and helped me fight through that moment.
But my deeper relationship with Mary has not been always the most obedient relationship. I have often felt that she call me to bring "her to my Immaculate Heart" which is referring sometimes to others. I shy away from this because I do not know how to do so with out mentioning the faith which some are very resistant to. My constant work is to learn how to act on spiritual motherhood from Mary.
Mary's hand as a spiritual mother has worked in ways I least expected. A while before I chose to transfer from Ball State to Franciscan University of Steubenville I had had doubts about whether I felt like I "belonged" at Ball State. I sometimes wondered if these wishes to transfer were merely felt because I felt alone in many cases. But as time went on it became clear I needed to transfer. But perhaps these thoughts came to mind because I had a desire in my soul to study theology and though the Christendom@Project gave a chance to do so a a public school I wanted more than one class a semester. Where does Mary come into play in this?
Well, believe or not one of my frequent prayers to her is to bring me close to Jesus, to lead me to Jesus. Jesus obviously knew of my desire to study theology and so did God the Father. Yet, in a way the hand of Mary my mother guided me to actually take that step. I just so happened that it was the week of the Annunciation that I visited Franciscan. And it just so happens their campus Grotto is right next to the Portiuncula. It may be also noted that one of the masses I will miss attending the most at St. Francis (Ball State's Newman Center) is the Immaculate Conception mass. This mass is lit with candles and ad orientum (facing the east). It also remembers Mary's immaculate conception without sin. So Mary is such a great part of my faith journey. She is my mother which through the Consecration I began to fully accept.
Her spiritual motherhood shows me that I do not. have to wait to tap in that spirit of motherhood that is inherent in me. I can be a spiritual mother to my friends, classmates, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, and even strangers. As Mary looked for the need to be met at Cana, I can look for the need to be met in any situation, at any time. All it takes is a little commitment to my "feminine genius". Of course, I can always grow in this and Mary is always there to help me do so by bringing me deeper into relationship with Christ.