Honoring our earthly and spiritual mothers Print
Everyday Faith
Thursday, May. 04, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

Everyday Faith column by Julianne Nornberg

Whether you are one, have one, or are married to one, mothers affect every person in the world.

My eight siblings and I have been blessed with a very gentle mother who simply and genuinely reflects many of the same characteristics of Our Blessed Mother.

Lasting memories

My earliest memory of my mom was when I was "helping" her bake a cake by moving the small plastic containers of decorative sprinkles from one side of the kitchen to the other.

Thinking I would save time by stacking the open containers one on top of the other in a tower, I began to carry the tower, but CRASH! They all fell to the floor in a rainbow shower of colored sugar.

Mortified, I fled to the bedroom and hid my shame at making such a mess. After a while, between my sobs, I heard Mom calling my name gently from the kitchen: "Do you want to come and lick the spatula?"

In wonder I crept back to the kitchen, where there was no longer any sign of my mess. Mom handed me the spatula and never even mentioned my sprinkle disaster. Gratefully, I licked the batter and marveled at Mom's example of forgiveness that would stay with me always.

With such a beautiful example of motherhood before me, plus the ever-gentle gaze of Our Blessed Mother in heaven, I am keenly aware of my own painful failings as a mother, as gentleness is not an innate gift for me, and one that I must pray for earnestly every day.

Gentleness, kindness

And yet, knowing the kindness of both my earthly mother and my spiritual mother, I know that my many failings are forgiven and melt away.

That is the power of gentleness, kindness, and the gift of motherly prayer. Just as my own mother forgave my mess in the kitchen, so too Our Blessed Mother intercedes for us to ask her Son to forgive our failings, our many earthly "messes."

When we fall as children and scrape our knees, our mothers are there for us to kiss them and make them better. When we fall as teens, our mothers are there for us to counsel and correct and steer us down the right path. When we fall as adults, our mothers are there for us to pray for us and will continue to do so into eternity.

It is our mothers here on earth who first taught us to smile, to love, to be kind. It was the same for Jesus here on earth, and then He gave us His mother to be our own.

"When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, 'Woman, here is your son.' Then he said to the disciple, 'Here is your mother.' And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home" (John 19: 26-27).

No other earthly soul in heaven is closer to Jesus than His mother, so why wouldn't we fly to her for help in praying to Him? Who else would we run to amid pain and sorrow?

As children who get hurt, of course the first word we cry out for help is, "Mommy!" This is the way God made us, for mothers are meant to be a comfort, a balm, a haven.

Nothing can replace the comfort found in a mother's warm embrace, in a mother's soothing words, in a mother's loving glance. And how joyful a mother is when her child returns that love with a small kiss or a special smile.

Loving relationship with Blessed Mother

Just as earthly mothers long for their children's love, so too does Our Blessed Mother, our most powerful intercessor, yearn to have the same kind of loving relationship with each of us.

Even if your relationship with your own mother is strained, lean all the more on Our Blessed Mother for help.

That's precisely what we do when we pray the Rosary, which gives us a very intimate connection with Our Blessed Mother as we meditate on the 20 mysteries of her Son's life.

In these scenes, we are connected through Mary to Our Lord because she, as a mother here on earth, can understand our struggles as mothers -- our feelings of triumph, of failure, of disappointments always ultimately overcome by hope eternal.

With the heart of a mother, Mary can understand the heart of each of us who strives to live and struggle and die to ourselves for each of our children.

Mary is model

"Through Mary, we come to her Son more easily," said St. Pope John Paul II. "Mary is held up as a model for the believer and for the whole Church called to respond to the Lord with her own 'yes.' She is the Mother who intercedes for all: for souls thirsting for God and for those who are groping in the darkness of doubt and disbelief, for those who are suffering in body or tried in spirit, for those who yield to the attraction of sin and for those who are struggling to escape its clutches. Her motherly concern overlooks no one" (L'Osservatore Romano, May 8, 1996).

Mothers are made to evoke a feeling of comfort, of safety, of home.

So, as we honor our earthly mothers this May, let us encourage others to return home to Our Blessed Mother as well: strive to pray the Rosary daily, make a pilgrimage to a Marian shrine, get into the habit of saying the "Angelus" or "Regina Caeli" at noon.

And bring your children with you.

Our Blessed Mother lovingly waits for them -- and each of us -- with open arms.

Julianne Nornberg, mother of four young children, is a member of St. John the Baptist Parish, Waunakee.