By Jim Park.
“Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you.”
Spoken to St. Juan Diego, on Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City in 1531, these questions and words from Our Blessed Mother require of us a response. And if that answer be “Yes,” we will do as Jesus asked St. John to do, “Behold thy mother,” and to do also as St. John did, “And from that hour, the disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:27). It is there, in our homes, that we live with Mary the words she spoke.
“How shall this be done, since I know not man?” (Luke 1:34)
My wife and I have been blessed with three beautiful children. Our first came 6 weeks early to spend her first 4 weeks in the Neonatal ICU; our second came on time but with lifelong epilepsy; and our third was a 13-week embryonic surprise when my wife was 50 and who is now with Mary in Heaven. While “Why did this happen?” rose readily to our minds, we came to learn through Mary’s example that “How shall this be done?” is the more appropriate question to ask, for in it lies the openness to God’s will and His supporting grace.
“Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38)
In the words of a good friend of ours, “Parenting is not for wimps!” We are servants of the Lord, seeking to raise our children to become saints. No small order that. This brings us to our knees, recognizing our littleness and so our weakness. There, we join with Mary to find our strength and direction in His Word given in Holy Scripture and in His Word made Flesh, Jesus fully present in the Holy Eucharist.
“… for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” (Luke 1:48)
A visit to Fatima on our honeymoon. A Knights of Malta-sponsored trip to Lourdes for the whole family for physical and spiritual healing in the waters there. Daily rosaries as a family. Statues and pictures of Mary and Jesus throughout the house. Consecrations to Mary – Totus Tuus – made and renewed annually. Offerings of our days to Jesus through Mary. Our “Mother Mary Blue” family van. In all these ways, we continue to call Mary most blessed among all women.
“Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.” (Luke 2:48)
At the Temple in Jerusalem and at the foot of the Cross, a sorrowing Mary sought and found Jesus. Life doesn’t make sense, and pain and sadness often result. Why have our family relationships fallen apart? Why did our brothers and sisters, nieces and cousins, and friends leave the Catholic Faith or take actions that we knew led to pain and heartache? In our sorrow and confusion, we have taken Mary’s example and find Jesus in our parish church. There, in the re-presentation of His passion and death, we offer up these sorrows to the One True Physician Who gives us the healing power of forgiveness and love.
“They have no wine.” (John 2:3)
Mary is present in the joy-filled times of our lives as well. She accompanies us in the simple family breakfasts and dinners we share; watches with us the tennis lessons and volleyball games my older daughter has; goes on family walks with us in the neighborhood; enjoys our game/movie/art nights; and even ensures that we have wine (or “kid wine” [aka sparkling apple cider] for our older daughter) to share on quiet evenings now and again.
“Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5)
In doing what Jesus told us to do from the Cross, we have taken Mary into our home, but even more so, into our hearts. Mary is for us our loving Mother, joining in our daily joys and struggles, happiness and pains, wrapping us in her prayerful arms and under the folds of her mantle. Mama Mary, we love you!
Jim Park grew up in Springfield, Virginia, one of eight children born to John and Rita Park. He attended Catholic grade school and high school, before heading off to Virginia Tech for college. He graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Geology, and two years later, was awarded a Masters of Science in Structural Geology and Rock Mechanics by Imperial College, in London, England. Jim currently works for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where he manages environmental reviews. He has been married to the love of his life, Geneva, for 12 years and have two beautiful daughters with them on earth, and one child with God in heaven.