Sunday, May 13, 2007
In the United States, today is recognised as 'Mother's Day', a day when every mother is honoured. Above all others perhaps in Western civilisation, Mary, Queen of Heaven is honoured as the ultimate example of motherhood. If God is Love, then Mary surely is the epitome of that love in earthly form. There is no greater example of the manifestation of love than motherhood. To carry life within one's own body for nine months, bring the child into this world and then to nurture and protect that child is a tremendous example of love. Although procreation is a natural part of life and one can see Nature at work in this fashion in every species, nonetheless bearing a child is a tremendous undertaking. At the risk of alienating many people, I therefore would suggest that no one but the individual who will bear that child should have the right to decide whether or not to go through with it.
A child deprived of a mother never quite overcomes the sense of loss this situation creates. No matter what the cause, there is a feeling of abandonment, of having been cheated of a blessing that most people take for granted. I have known quite a few individuals who lost their mothers for one reason or another when they were quite young. The tragedy does not destroy their lives by any means, but it never ceases to affect them and the way they view life.
Motherhood has to be one of the most weighty responsibilities in life. The least difficult aspects of that responsibility may be the need to protect and nurture the child. One of the more thorny aspects is the fact that a mother, whether or not she wishes it, becomes a role model for a child and is placed in a position where she teaches by example. For a girl, the mother becomes the role model of everything that a woman should (or should not) be. For a boy, the mother most often represents a model by which he will judge his future wife. In other words, a mother has tremendous influence not only in childhood but the entire life of her children.
One of the lessons one must learn quite early if one is to remain sane is how to recognise the essentially human, flawed nature of one's parents and to understand that they often are not prepared for some of the situations they encounter, and therefore can make mistakes like any one else. Those mistakes can be quite costly but they are the mistakes of human beings who usually simply are trying to do their best. Too many people allow themselves to become embittered by some mistake their parents made at some point, failing to allow their mothers and fathers the same tolerance with which they excuse their own failings.
A mother has a duty as well where the mistakes of her children are concerned. She must allow her children to make their own errors and not try to rule their actions from the cradle onward. I have seen cats with their children. They allow their children to explore, even when danger lurks. They try to intervene where they can, but they do not imprison their kittens in a 'safe space' in the effort to protect them from life's cruelty. Moreover, they can be quite fierce in their 'disciplinary' actions as well as their 'sparring'. If they did not teach their kittens how to fight as well as what was permitted in feline social intercourse, they would be failing in their maternal duties. It is only through pain and error that a child learns. One of the most difficult achievements of any mother must be to be forced to stand back and simply witness her child's pain and suffering. Moreover, pain and suffering can be the price of great glory or heroism as well.
In this respect, Mary offers a supreme example of a mother who shared her son's pain and trials fully without trying to prevent him from following his chosen path. She watched and lent him her strength and faith as he endured his Passion. I cannot imagine the depth of pain experienced by a parent forced to witness the torture and finally the death of her child. To do so while projecting unconditional love and acceptance at every step has to be true heroism.
This is not the Mother's Day post I intended to write. On the other hand, it is not a bad thing to salute the courage of all Mothers as well as the incredible love their role requires.
An old song dedicated to Mary salutes her in the following manner:
Hail, Holy Queen enthroned above,
Hail Mother of Mercy and of Love.'