Saturday, 5 May 2012

Sitting on Mary's Lap



The other day, I was designing a blog button for our Australian Catholic Families blog. I wanted a special button to attach to all our May posts, posts about Mary and motherhood. I thought carefully about the words. What title should I give Mary?

For a few minutes I pondered the many names Mary is known by: Our Lady, Blessed Virgin Mary, Virgin Mary, Immaculate Mary, Blessed Mother, Saint Mary, Holy Mary, Holy Virgin, Mother of God, Madonna, Queen of Heaven… then there’s all her other titles like Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Our Lady Help of Christians…

But the one I chose to use was the simple ‘Mary’.

Soon the button was finished:



I wonder sometimes if I should be so intimate with Our Mother. Perhaps I should show more respect and always say The Blessed Virgin Mary when speaking of her. Mary inspires me with awe and I do want to honour her.

But also, I want to crawl on her lap, feel her arms around me, whisper in her ear. She understands my difficulties. She knows I sometimes need a safe place to sit. She is a mother. She is our mother. She is Mary.

My youngest daughter Gemma-Rose is eight years old. Although she is no longer a very little girl, every day she comes and asks, “Can I sit on your lap, Mum? I need a hug.” I scoop her up and enfold her in my arms and I enjoy.

“What will I do when you grow up?” I ask. “Who will sit on my lap and hug me?”

“I will,” answers Gemma-Rose. “I’ll never be too old to sit on your lap.”

I have a print on my wall called The Virgin and Child with St Anne. It is a cartoon or drawing by Leonardo da Vinci. Mary is holding Jesus, while sitting on the lap of St Anne. It is an unusual pose. Mary, a grown woman, sitting on the lap of her mother? Yes, even when we are adults we still need a mother. Mary needed hers. We need ours. We also need Our Mother, Mary.

A dear friend once wrote a few words I ponder frequently. She prayed that our sons (in heaven) may teach us how to become little so we can fit on Mary's lap and never depart.  Maybe there are times for standing at a distance and expressing our respect and honour to Our Lady. And perhaps there are times for crawling straight onto her lap. Somehow I don’t think Our Lady would mind if I call her Mary.

Gemma-Rose is still on my lap. She hugs me tightly. “I love you so much, Mum!” she whispers in my ear. 

My daughter doesn't know it, but I am also sitting on a lap. Mary enfolds me in her arms and then bends her head towards me. I also whisper: "I love you so very much, Mary!" 

I am so glad Mary is my Mother and that I am a mother myself.


Please visit our Australian Catholic Families blog. I will be posting Mary and motherhood posts throughout May. I have a very interesting collection of stories to share. They were written by both Australian and overseas authors.

16 comments:

  1. This is a beautiful post, Sue. Ive always been drawn to Mother Mary, even as a child. During my "wayward years" I still prayed my Hail Mary's :) She's a wonderful mother, isn't she? Once I had a very vivid dream that a woman was cleaning my very messy house and when she turned around it was Our Lady. This consoled me so much. I remember waking up in shock and realizing that Mary was helping to clean up my soul for her Son :)

    Great button! May we all honour (I added the u for your benefit...lol )Mary in an ever greater way! God bless!

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    1. Mary,

      I only discovered Mary as an adult after my conversion and I must admit, at first I was a bit wary of her. But my love for her has grown continuously and now I wouldn't omit my Hail Marys! I bet those Hail Marys of your wayward years kept you tied to God and were instrumental in your reversion.

      I love your thought of Mary cleaning up our souls for Jesus. It is very consoling to know she will always intercede for us and that Jesus cannot ignore her prayers and entreaties for us.

      You are so kind adding the extra 'u' in honour. You will make a wonderful honorary Aussie!

      God bless!

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  2. Sue, beautiful post. I need to turn to Mary so much more often. Thank you for the lovely reminder. The button came out well!

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    1. Stephanie,

      We always start our day with three Hail Marys and between each one, we say the following prayer: By Thy pure and immaculate conception, O Mary keep my body pure and my soul holy. I am sure that those 6 simple prayers are very valuable.

      The button was a bit of an experiment. I love experimenting!

      Thank you for sharing my Mary story. I will say a Hail Mary for you.

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    2. Sue, I love your morning prayer. I should do that with my own children, especially now as my oldest is a teen. Part of our evening prayer routine is to pray three Hail Marys with the children for them to come to know their vocations and to answer whole-heartedly.

      Thanks for the prayer! Praying a Hail Mary for you, too. Have a blessed day. : )

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    3. Stephanie,

      I love your evening prayers to Mary and the intentions! I also pray 3 Hail Marys each night, for the same intention but not with the family. I think I like your way better! It is good to share our family customs. Thank you.

      Thank you for the prayer! How good it is to have friends who pray for each other.

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  3. Dear Sue,
    I'm unaccustomed to blogging/blog posting, so maybe there's a more appropriate way to do this, but this is as good as it gets for me. ;) I read your blogpost on your little St. Thomas Augustine Joseph and thought you and your readers might be blessed by this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=th6Njr-qkq0

    There is a beautiful video celebrating the life of little Eliot. I'm quoting a small portion which I hope will be comforting to you and anyone else who has lost a child:
    "An underdeveloped lung, a heart with a whole in it, DNA that sent faulty information to every cell of your body could not stop God from revealing Himself through a child who never uttered a word. Not a pulpit, not a slick presentation, not a best-selling book, but a 6 lb. boy with Trisomy 18. God found great pleasure to take a lowly thing in the eyes of the world and show truth. .....We are only separated from you by our time left on earth. See you soon, son."
    God bless, Maria

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    1. Maria,

      Thank you for taking the time to share one of my Thomas stories. And thank you for the link and the beautiful quote. It is indeed so true that we do not have to be big in the eyes of the world for God to work through us. We don't need to live long and visible lives. God speaks through little babies (and other 'little' souls), 'imperfect' in worldly terms but so perfect and beautiful and valuable to God. I know from my own experience that Thomas' short life has had far reaching consequences. And even if no one but me had ever heard of him, still I can see how God has shone through Thomas and shown me truth.

      God bless you!

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  4. Lovely Sue! I used to walk a much closer walk with Momma Mary - when I see my teens pulling for their independence, knowing that it's a fleeting thing and they'll be happily back, I think that's the phase I'm in atm. Her and the Holy Spirit tend to wake me in the wee hours though when no-one else is around to interrupt our conversations :-)

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    1. Beate,

      'Momma Mary' - I love that title! And I love your description of how teenagers pull for independence. I'm sure Mary understands completely.

      Last year we were consecrated in a special ceremony to Mary - we are hers, she can use us in whatever way she wants. The consecration prayer is beautiful. Imogen is hoping to write about the consecration for the ACF blog as her Mary offering.

      I wonder how many readers are formally consecrated to Mary or wear a scapular. I must admit that my scapular wore away and I mislaid my miraculous medal and neglected to look for it. How easy it is to slip away from good practices. But I have been inspired to start wearing both medal and a new scapular again and of course with the wearing of them, to devote myself anew to Mary. Yes, maybe that was the Holy Spirit nudging at me, telling me I can't really do without Our Mother.

      Beate, I hope your teenagers fly back to you in time, and you move back to that closer spot (maybe on her lap!) next to Mary!

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  5. This is lovely, Sue. It reminds me of the Pieta and, also, the Morning Office has a verse from Isaiah that describes the Church like this (you probably know it).

    I've been wondering about whether I'm doing enough, lately. I remember crying at the consecration in the past, and, sometimes, I feel so dry now. But, then, something encouraging happens and I imagine Mary watching, close at hand, until it's time to step in, again. A bit like letting a toddler have a bit of independence to learn how to take his steps more steadily and, then, holding him up when he needs it. I'm not sure if that sounds presumptuous. If I knew my heart better, maybe, I could tell - thank goodness for the Divine Mercy:-) xx

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    1. Vicky,

      Thank you for your kind words about my post. I will look up that verse from the Morning Office.

      Perhaps the way we feel has nothing to do with our interior disposition. It is lovely to have visible signs of our love and devotion. It can be comforting. We feel we are on the right pathway. But so often we do feel dry or feel nothing at all. But we continue to plod along and I think that has great value. We can love and turn to God and Mary regardless.

      I wonder if Mary is there helping us continuously but we are only aware of her presence at intervals, when we take the time to reflect. Mothers do so much for their children that those children are unaware of. But I like your image too. I don't really know how it is!

      It is so easy to drift away. At a recent spiritual talk, Fr J talked with such love about devotion to Mary. He said Mary is the quickest and easiest way to Heaven. I was wondering why we sometimes neglect this way and try and do things by ourselves. Anyway, looking at Father's eyes lit up with love, and hearing so many stories where Mary has shown her love for us and interceded for us, I came home with a renewed love and devotion to Mary and her Rosary. Yes, it is quite OK to need Mary, to be little, to fit on her lap.

      God bless!

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  6. I was pondering your words 'it is so easy to drift away' and I was wondering about it being presumptuous to expect to be protected from drifting away when our efforts are puny. Then, the words of John 17:12 came to mind - 'I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction' and 'John 15:10 'if you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.' Does he mean our attempts to love will compensate for our shortcomings, do you think?

    I once asked a priest what his mother had done right that three of her four children entered religious life. He said that their home life wasn't perfect but his mother always said the Rosary and rode her bike to daily Mass. When I wonder what we need to do to honour Mary and show our devotion, I think of how simply this family practiced their faith and how much he loves Mary, now. I also wonder about how love grows over time and is proven in obedience, rather than outward practices. Do you think that obedience and trust are signs that we are doing things with Mary or do you think we need to be more pro-active? I'm also thinking about God gently guiding us towards more fervent devotions. The fact that we're feeling neglectful, at the moment, would be irrelevant if He has us just where we need to be right now. I'm hoping it's enough to know our shortcomings but to keep pleading every day for God's help and mercy.

    I don't know if this is good reasoning but, if it isn't, I suspect I'm in a bit of trouble (nervous giggle) xxx

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  7. Vicky.

    I am feeling rather simple. Your thinking is above me and I'm not sure I understand... Bear with a simple sister! I would say if we love, we would want to keep the commandments and so we would be trying to overcome our shortcomings with God's grace and help from the sacraments. But this is probably not what you meant at all!

    I do think we have to make an effort not to drift away but we have been given the means to stay close to God, if only we use it. I think you have given us the key: Mary and the Rosary and simple devotion. Sometimes we may not feel like saying the Rosary and we could interpret this to mean that the Rosary isn't for us, God hasn't inspired us to say it. But I think if we say it anyway, we will be showered with graces and we will come to love it and Mary very much. I also think we are inclined to make excuses for ourselves but with God's help and some effort, we can overcome our own inclinations and grow in love and devotion.

    Probably I am too simple. I often feel out of my depth in these sorts of discussions. I will keep thinking and praying. Perhaps I should climb onto Mary's lap.

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  8. Sue, You are very modest but, in actual fact, you understand a lot more about the spiritual life than I do. I just push ahead, hoping that the love in my heart will compensate, without fully understanding how that should happen. I'm not very introspective so my efforts fail and all I have to go on is trust in God's providence.

    Don't worry if you don't understand what I've written - I don't either! If you read my latest post, you'll know what I mean :-) xx

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    1. Vicky,

      And there I was thinking you're the introspective one! I will argue that my opinion is the correct one as I am the bossy big sister.

      Some people think that it doesn't matter what we do, God will save us regardless. I guess you are not talking about that kind of trust in God's providence. Therefore you must be actively trying to live your life for God (which I know you are). Love is such a strange concept. We feel love but maybe it's more important to show we love because sometimes that wonderful feeling of love disappears. Yes, I'm sure your heart is full of love!

      Understanding? Everything is a big mystery. I am sure all of us understand very little!

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