I grew up Catholic and was taught to pray the “Hail Mary” and the Rosary. I had a loving mother who was an excellent example of motherhood. I loved Mary. I understood why we honor her and I understood that more than any saint, as Jesus’ mother, she has powerful intercessory capability for us. I believed in the apparition at Fatima and Lourdes and was moved by it. I had every reason to have a close relationship with our Mother in Heaven.
But, as in many things in life, as I grew I realized how little I knew and understood. First, I became a mother. I now have six children on earth and three saints in Heaven. But when I became a mother for the first time, it was hard. My mom helped; family and friends were there; my husband was hands-on and supportive. However, I was doing something new and big and I had never done it before. The learning curve is steep! I now understand that my daughter was “high needs”. She rarely slept without being held. She had trouble breastfeeding. She was a delight if she had all your attention, but struggled to be alone. My mother hadn’t had a baby like that and didn’t know what to advise. I was exhausted with several nights where 30 minutes was the most sleep I’d get at once.
Finally, I just reached out desperately to Mary. “You are my mother! You are her mother! Help me! I don’t know what to do!” I laid her in the crib to walk away for some sanity as my baby screamed. I felt the presence of four beings. There was peace in the room. Each invisible presence was at a corner of her crib. I don’t remember if the baby stopped crying or not. But somehow there was peace. I knew she was being protected and that I could step away. Suddenly, I knew that it was her guardian angel, my guardian angel, St. Anne (her patron saint), and Mary there with her. And I realized, they didn’t come because I asked. They are always there. I simply could “see” them because I asked.
At that point, I began to develop a much more personal relationship with Mary. I turned to her as a child does to her mother when in need. I found myself being tempted to sin. My thoughts were turning to this sin and I couldn’t seem to fight the persistence of the temptation. I finally cried out in my soul, “Mary, help me!” Immediately, the temptation went away and when I closed my eyes it was as if I was looking at the foot of the cross. The blood was falling and Jesus was suffering for my sins. Immediately I felt sorrow and regret for any thought to give into temptation and any sins I had committed. She led me to Him which is all she will ever do.
One more time, Mary gave me a very beautiful gift. I was taking some time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I was getting ready to leave and reflected on the multitude of angels and saints who were adoring the same Lord with me in that moment. Suddenly, I felt a great wave of love. It was powerful and beautiful and steady. I realized it was the love of Mary, my mother. I could literally feel it in my body. It was a love like a mother caressing her baby, but even bigger. I realized with that caress, that the love Mary has for each and every one of us is greater than any we have known on earth. It is given to her by God for us. I also realized, in an intimate way, that the love of God, the love of her son, Jesus, is eternally greater than what I had experienced in the chapel of the Dominican sisters that afternoon.
I invite you to reach out to Mary. Turn to her as child turns to a mother. Cry out to her in your need. I do not know if you will experience what I did. I do know she loves you like crazy and she will bring you to her Son and wants to help you get to Heaven to be happy with her and with God forever.