Friday, October 11, 2013

On the Feast of Mary, Mother of God

Our corner shrine, the Mater Dei statue that was a gift from my brother, Greg.

The Feast of the Maternity of Mary, which had been a feast day in Portugal since 1751, was extended to the whole Church by Pope Pius XI in 1931 to commemorate the 1500th anniversary of the Council of Ephesus.  It was at this council that the Church defended the doctrine of the Divine Motherhood of Mary against the Nestorian heresy, which denied the two natures of Christ, thus negating Our Lady's title, Mother of God.

A Catholic mother's thoughts on the Mother of Mothers...

So, all of a sudden here we are in October.  Everywhere around us here in Western Colorado the trees are
changing color -- the aspen are glowing golden like they always do, the scrub oak on the hillsides are crimson. Leaves "like Aves come drifting down" every time we walk off the front porch.  It always feels to me that God is throwing us a party before He wraps up nature and stores it away for winter.  And, like May, my other favorite month, it's a perfect time to honor Our Blessed Mother -- this month as Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, and on the feast today in particular, as the Mother of God, in a sort of prequel to the story of the Nativity that we'll be celebrating in a couple of months.  How perfectly timed can you get?

 Be sure there are no accidents in the universe.

Not only is this feast the perfect reminder that Advent is just around the corner, but it's also impeccably placed for the morale of mothers. About this time in October we've settled into our new school year routine; the novelty has worn off for the children and the hard work of perseverance in our studies has begun.  The weather is changing  -- it's been rainy here!, but it's so pleasant outside, not too hot, not too cold -- and the piles of leaves are beckoning the children to play "rake and jump."  But cold and flu season have begun, too. Everyone's sniffling and coughing at our house right now, and we're having to dig out our warmer clothes, and wear shoes outside -- real shoes (Ahem! Anna!)

Not only do our mothering skills have to rise to the challenge of all this (and  keep us from running out and jumping in the leaves, ourselves, instead of teaching math or folding shirts), but on top of everything else, if we're wise we're also starting to plan for the upcoming holiday seasons. Thanksgiving is only a little more than a month away!  And Christmas is on its heels!  (I am not ready for that yet!)

It can all be exhausting sometimes, and the (uh...) exuberance (and orneriness) of the children can wear down our joy in motherhood... But the Church has given us an antidote with this feast day!  Meditating on the Mother of mothers is the perfect cure for discouragement, stress, weariness or ennui.

It always helps me to remember that Mary -- who was conceived without sin, full of grace, the most perfect person to ever walk the earth --spent her days here doing many of the same chores I do. It's an awesome thought.  Mary, the Mother of God, sewed and and cleaned  and laundered and cooked and budgeted just like I do. She even had to chase after the Child Jesus.  Remember the episode at the Temple when He was twelve?  He was God made Man, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, but Mary and Joseph's little Boy was not without his Childhood issues.  Comforts me to think that, as mine can be such a handful sometimes.

But, while I sometimes grumble at my work load and the fact that  nobody appreciates all that I do nearly enough, the Mother of God, who didn't have an electric oven or washing machine, or Pandora to serenade her while she worked, neither received (in her time here) nor wanted praise for her hard work.  Rather, she blessed it and thanked God for it.  And preferred to save every moment of duty and sacrifice into her endless storehouse of grace.  For us!  Even as she anticipated the sword prophesied by Simeon, the Queen of Heaven smiled as she swept the floor clean for her sweet Child  to play upon.  And can't you just imagine He smiled up at her as His Heart spoke to her heart about you and me and the promise of eternal happiness in Heaven.

And now, today, over two thousand years after she walked the earth, on this feast day of her Motherhood, the Church reminds me, as I go about my endless laundry washing, and counter wiping, and floor sweeping, and toy corralling... that Jesus' Mother is standing beside me. just waiting to help with her love and encouragement. My family is her family and I'll always be her little girl no matter how old I am. She'll always do,everything she can to help us.

And she reminds me that all I do for my family, I can do for her sweet Child, too.  

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