Things Our Mother Taught Us: Life lessons learned
May is the month for celebrating mothers, the women who teach us about love by communicating an acceptance and protection that tell us how important we are to them years before we understand their words. These same feelings of acceptance and security help us ratchet up our courage and take steps forward when we realize our life is in part what we choose to make it.
Our mother’s love empowers us to come into our own.
May is also the month we celebrate the one Mother we all share, the woman who taught us about faith by saying yes to God’s request that she become the mother of Jesus.
For centuries the Christian faithful venerated the Blessed Virgin and formulated litanies to her. Some of them come from the Latin rite and are well known, like the Litany of Loreto; others are less known to us—the Akathistos hymn, for example—because they come from Eastern branches of Christianity.
The litanies, devotions, prayers, and hymns were created out of deep feelings of devotion to Mary as the Mother of God. Over time, that devotion has evolved into formally stated beliefs about Mary’s life in the work of salvation, namely the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. But everything we’ve learned from Mary, we’ve learned from three simple words: She said yes.
Mary’s yes teaches us that it’s possible to step out in faith and believe that life appears in seemingly lifeless settings. Our constant spiritual companion, living with all of us, Mary listens to our needs. Her love has the power to give us the feelings of acceptance and security only a mother can give. Her love produces a kind of grace that expands ever wider, encircling all the moments of life, and giving us hope that Jesus will not leave us alone.
And adults often feel alone. The weight of decisions that affect the lives of others, the doubt that creeps into our mind as we review our past, or the pain and suffering we experience when illness strikes—all are times of being alone and feeling we will be swallowed by waves of grief.
The late Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago urged us to pray when we’re well, because it’s often impossible when we’re sick. So as we begin the month in which we celebrate Mary – and all mothers – let’s deepen our spirituality by joining our yes to Mary’s.