As a little boy, I thought my Mom knew everything!
With eyes in the back of her head, she would always catch me when I was doing something wrong!
I asked her all kinds of questions. To me, she seemed to have answers for everything! She also “knew” so many things about me and my feelings before I did!
I never thought about how she knew so much and could understand and calm me when I was hurt and afraid.
How did she get to be so sensitive and wise?
My mother was a very sensitive woman. Back then it never occurred to me to ask how she knew so much, Especially about what I was feeling. I now think of two sources.
One source was her innate gift of sensitivity to others. That probably came from my grandfather and grandmother. Unfortunately, I never got to meet either of them.
Another source was her own life experience of
- being shipped to live with one relative to another from the age of nine,
- traveling as an” unaccompanied minor” across the Atlantic Ocean when only 16,
- being a stranger in a strange land at the height of a depression,
- fearing for her siblings and family in Europe when World War II broke out,
- hearing of her sister’s death in Germany and being unable to travel to be with family.
I only began to understand her as I learned what she had experienced. She somehow pulled it together… the good and the bad.
I also began to understand that she faced the life-long task of making sense of all of her experiences.
Can we learn from Our Mother Mary
Think about all that Mary had to make sense of!
In some ways, it began with, “How can this be?” What is this angel talking about? She had not been prepared for this,
And then a lifetime of making sense of experiences she never dreamed of…
- the circumstance of her giving birth
- her flight to Egypt to escape the infanticide of a murderous ruler
- panicked days in Jerusalem when she thought she had lost Jesus in the crowd
- walking with Jesus to Calvary
- watching her son’s execution
- holding his body in her arms,
- placing him into the cold tomb,
- sitting with the frightened apostles in an upper room.
Pope Francis reminds us … Mary “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (cf. Lk 2:19).…
Pondering and keeping
We need to do exactly what Mary, our spiritual mother, did: keeping and pondering. Pope Francis continues…
(“Mary) “keeps”, that is she holds on to what happens; she does not forget or reject it, does not pick and choose; she keeps. She accepts life as it comes, without trying to camouflage or embellish it; she keeps those things in her heart.
… she binds together the beautiful things and the unpleasant things. She does not keep them apart but brings them together.
… In her mother’s heart, Mary comes to realize that the glory of the Most High appears in humility; she welcomes the plan of salvation whereby God must lie in a manger.
She sees the divine Child frail and shivering, and she accepts the wondrous divine interplay between grandeur and littleness.
…(mother’s go) ”beyond the pain and the problems, (they see) a bigger picture, one of care and love that gives birth to new hope.
Our “keeping” and “pondering…
- Do we keep only the parts we like about what God asks of us?
- Can Mary help us in our pondering?
Click below for an early version of this Vincentian Mindwalk
Again, our family has so many parallels to your family John. My mother came to this country as a young 17 year old girl on a White Star ship leaving from Queenstown (Cobh) Ireland. Her Dad took her to Cobh in a jaunting cart from Churchtown,, just north of Cork City. She came across the Atlantic, brave but scared, not knowing what would her life would be. Then one day, on a blind date she met the love of her life. She raised us more by example than with words and was generous and loving. She was devoted to Mary and bought each of us a Miraculous Medal over the years. I too never met my grandparents in Ireland, although in 1992 when I took my family to Ireland, we visited the houses where they were born. Thanks for your great story