I remember a few years ago, driving at night down 280. It’s this freeway that runs north and south in the San Francisco Bay Area, winding through rolling hills of trees and meadows. I think I was probably heading home from the hospital my wife was staying at, both of us having only recently come to grips with the fact that she needed serious help for her depression. Lots of therapy. Lots of meds. And hopefully that would be enough. I didn’t know what to do. I felt overwhelmed – a feeling I would experience often in the years to come. I was sad and lost.
But I prayed. And I remember, as I was driving, feeling someone tell me it was going to be ok. Or maybe, not that everything was going to be ok, but that we weren’t alone in all of this. We had help. We had spiritual resources we could rely on.
That someone was the Blessed Virgin, Mother Mary.
A couple years later, my wife was going through another difficult season. It was the fall. We were all in Sacramento, but my children were living with my sister and mom, and my wife was by herself in a small apartment in town. She had just moved to the city and things were still in flux. No new therapist. Her apartment smelt like cigarettes most of the time – even though neither of us smoke and closing the doors didn’t help at all. And she began slipping. Things became stagnant for her. Things hadn’t really gotten any better in the years past. The meds, the therapy – it was ok. It was somewhat helpful. But in all, she was still having a really hard time.
But that February, apart from any reason having to do with her, I consecrated my heart to Jesus through Mary. What this meant, if I can describe it in short, was that I wanted Mary to be my spiritual guide and constant prayer partner in life – in everything. I entrusted myself to her as my spiritual mentor. Any prayers I prayed for our family went through her lips as well. Any major decision I made was with her counsel.
A month after I did this, my wife was prayed over by a priest and went through what I can only describe as a supernatural transformation. She found a phenomenal therapist. Our kids came back to live with us. And since then, while it hasn’t been easy, it hasn’t been impossible. She’s so much stronger now. Our kids are happy. We don’t feel like we’re drowning anymore.
There are spiritual practices that have taken root in my life due to the example of Mary. There is always a peace I feel in praying the Rosary. There are temptations that have fled at the call of her name. And it’s hard for me to talk about her without getting misty-eyed.
I’ve skirted around talking about her in my posts partly because I don’t know how to defend the high esteem Catholics give her “from the Bible.” Sure, for a Catholic, she is definitely in there. She is the queen seated with a crown of stars about her head in Revelation 12. She is pre-figured in the Old Testament through the Ark of the Covenant – a holy thing not to be trifled with. And most of all, hers are the only arms God wished to cradle and carry His Son, vulnerable and defenseless. But there are interpretations and there are interpretations. Any other Christian, understandably, doesn’t read so much into these things.
But to talk about my spiritual life, the sins I’ve overcome, the mountains our family has been able to climb without talking about her is like talking about my family without mentioning I have children. She’s constantly there. She is ever-present. She cares for the church as she cared for Christ as she cares for us.
There’s a reason so much of the most beautiful music written and art painted in the world is about her. She is the culmination of billions of years of God’s careful planning and work. She is the first and perfect disciple of Christ. And she prays for the church, (even if we give no thought to her) because she is a mother, and that’s what mothers do. She reminds us that holiness is not so far from each one of us if we would only reach for it. As we do, grace, in it’s fullness, will grab us and pull us toward Heaven.
She is our life because through her we received Jesus,
our sweetness in the joy of holiness she brings us through her prayers,
and our hope, our undying proof that however long and winding the narrow road is, it will at last lead us home.
For this, and for everything you have done for our family, thank you, Mary, and Happy Mother’s Day.