Starting the Year with An Invisible Mother?

We thank the good Lord for the year gone by. We invoke His blessing on 2013.

immac-concepWe greet the passing of time not with hopeless dissipation, like the pagans, but with sober joy. Whatever it will please the Lord to send our way in the year to come, we know that all of it will serve to build up the eternal city of love—if only we have the grace to receive it all with faith, like humble children looking for good things from our Father.

Not that I intend to be polyannish about AD 2013. The year to come does not lie before us like a bed of roses; no new year ever does. 2013 could start bad, and go downhill from there. To be perfectly honest with you, I have very serious doubts about the Washington Redskins’ ability to beat the Seattle Seahawks—among other looming problems.

But: We begin the new year as Christians. We begin it in church, with our Lord. And with His Mother.

The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council declared:

The Virgin in her own life lived an example of that maternal love [which] should animate all who cooperate in the apostolic mission of the Church…Placed by the grace of God, as God’s Mother, next to her Son, and exalted above all angels and men, Mary intervened in the mysteries of Christ and is justly honored by special [devotion] in the Church. From the earliest times, [Christians have] honored the Blessed Virgin under the title of Mother of God, under whose protection the faithful take refuge in all dangers and necessities. (Lumen Gentium 65-66)

Pope Paul VI, following up on this, decreed:

The Christmas season is a prolonged commemoration of the divine, virginal, and salvific motherhood of her whose inviolate virginity brought the Savior into the world…The Solemnity of Mary the holy Mother of God…is meant to commemorate the part played by Mary in this mystery of salvation…It is likewise a fitting occasion for…imploring from God, through the Queen of Peace, the supreme gift of peace. (Marialis Cultus)

Now, sometimes people wonder about our Catholic love for the Blessed Virgin Mary. After all—they try to maintain—the New Testament does not contain much information about her. Only about ten direct mentions, and most of those very brief. You Catholics have all these solemnities in her honor. But don’t we have to conclude from the Bible that she has only minor importance, since she is practically invisible?

mlk marchingWell, let’s see. Let’s try to think about other examples of people with “invisible mothers.”

Can any of us even name the mother of William Shakespeare, or George Washington, or Blessed Mother Teresa, or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? Probably not.

But are these women really so completely unknown to us? Don’t we know something about them all–simply by virtue of the fact that we know the children that they raised?

When we see Mother Teresa sweetly and lovingly wiping the brow of a sick poor man, don’t we have to think that she learned this tenderness somewhere? When we see Martin Luther King standing his ground peacefully in Birmingham, don’t we have to think that he learned this Christian courage somewhere?

The truth is that, if we know Christ intimately, then we know Our Lady intimately, too. The apple does not fall far from the tree, even when He is the Son of God. The gospels paint the picture of Christ. By doing that, they also paint a picture of the mother who bore Him and raised Him.

But, actually, we don’t even really need to worry so much about how well we know the Blessed Virgin Mary. We may know Our Lady well; we may not. But, either way, we can be sure that she knows us. We can be sure that she loves us with a mother’s love, and that she will spend 2013—as she spends every year—interceding on our behalf, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ her Son.