“His soft spot smelled of lambskin
as I lifted him from his tiny bed,
He nestled close, wisps of hair glued with sweat,
his eyes closed with concentration.
First feeding, my favorite moment.
So still, before the house awakens, it is just you
and I and no one else in the world,
My little Lord”
If you were fortunate enough to nurse a newborn, this passage evokes tender memories, yet you may be taken aback by the last line, ‘my little Lord’” But why is it surprising? Surely this typical moment between mother and infant was repeated many times in the life of the Holy Family. The problem is, as cradle Catholics, we sometimes lose touch with the more intimate moments of Our Lady’s life, awed as we are by her purity and holiness. This often leads to an unintentional emotional distance from Mary, and sterility in our prayer lives. She is placed on a pedestal when she wants to hold our hand.
Because of her sinless nature, we may assume that obedience was effortless for Mary, yet in “Behold Your Mother”, the trials of Our Lady’s life are described with an immediacy that shows her extraordinary grace of her Immaculate Conception in action. We see that Mary’s “yes” in the Annunciation wasn’t a solitary act, but a constant challenge in her life as Mother of the Lord, one that is possible to imitate in our own lives.
We remember that loneliness and doubt touch every life, including that of Our Lady. She had a life where joys were always tinged with sorrow. We remember that the Flight into Egypt was exhausting, and that Our Lady may have pleaded for God to give her rest. We feel the anxiety of St. Joseph and Mary when young Jesus is left behind from the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and their bewilderment when they find Him so at home in the Temple, teaching the teachers. “Behold Your Mother” finally reminds us how much the Passion of Our Lord cost his Mother. That Man on the Cross was once her baby, He was beaten and bleeding, and there was nothing she could do but stay near Him and pray.
“Her obedience had thwarted Satan’s plan.
But the snake would strike again. . .
From the cradle to the tomb, her greatest Joy
was touched by sorrow. Her mother’s heart
knew full well the price of Love’s victory:
The apple of her eye.”
Have we ever pictured ourselves at the foot of the Cross with one of our children on it? “Behold Your Mother”, helps us to do so here,
“I can’t even wipe that precious forehead
I used to kiss each night.
Or bring a cup of water.
My Son, if I could take your place,
my broken heart for yours I’d do it. “
The last meditations take a few of the more well-known titles of Mary, such as Our Lady of Guadalupe, and bring us into the moments when she touched human lives powerfully, yet always maternally, reminding us that once Our Lord gave her to us as mother, she was walked by our side, ready to help hear our burdens, and bring them to her Son.
After reading this book I had a renewed sense of Our Lady’s tender presence in my life, as my mother and friend, my companion as I mother my children and care for my husband. Because I feel more comfortable sharing the little things which life brings me, I find myself thinking about her, and turning to her more often in prayer.
Blessed Mother Teresa had written me a letter in 1990 while I was discerning my vocation. In the letter, she repeated advice from her own mother, “put your hand in Mary’s hand and she will lead you to Jesus”. The final meditation is just that, an invitation to let our renewed friendship with Our Lady lead us to the embrace of her Son Jesus.