Mary Speaks To Us All

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I’ve had an off and on again relationship to Our Mother for as long as I’ve been Catholic.

She was very instrumental in my conversion in 2004. I had a substantial devotion to her. I had been a “Goddess’ girl” as a Wiccan, so I guess on some level I kind of traded one goddess for another.

As I grew as a Catholic, I didn’t pay as much attention to her. All of my devotions faded away. When I got pregnant I was living half a continent away from my support system. A teacher of mine suggested that I talk to Mary about it. I never did. At the time I got more comfort out of talking to Jesus, imagining Him as He might have looked like when He walked the earth. Also, during that time, I talked frequently to my deceased maternal grandmother.

Now, I’m discerning a vocation as a Lay Dominican and apparently Marian devotion is part of the spirituality. I guess I need to work on developing that devotion again. Who knew since the story goes that Mary gave the Church the Rosary through St. Dominic?

There are two images of Mary that still speak to me. I think that both of these images has a lot to teach all of us today.

Image #1: Mary as a young, scared mother

The Annunciation by  Dante Gabriel Rossetti
The Annunciation by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Mary was in her early teens when she agreed to be the earthly vessel of the Son of God. She was unmarried and people did not know how to deal with her pregnancy. Her betrothed even considered dismissing her quietly (Matthew 1:19). Certainly, her fiat took a lot of courage. She could have been killed for her decision..

In 2011, over 300,000 teenagers gave birth in the United States. Yes, their circumstances are not like those of Our Mother. But they are scared like Our Mother was. They face a world in which they are ostracized, just like Our Mother did. Eight-teen percent of all abortions are obtained by teenagers. They kill their babies because they are afraid of the sacrifices that they could have to make as parents. They are afraid of repercussions from family and friends if anyone found out they were pregnant.

Thinking of Mary as a young mother should help us find more sympathy for teenagers facing unplanned pregnancies. We should do everything we can to help young people choose chastity and, failing that, life.

Image #2: Mary as grieving mother

Michelangelo's Pieta
Michelangelo’s Pieta

This one touches me particularly deeply with my background working in the hospital. In our minds, a parent should never have to bury their child. Seeing such death, we are struck by the unfairness of it all.

Mary was one of the few who stuck with Jesus to the very end. She watched her Son die. She saw Him laid in the tomb. She didn’t have any idea that Jesus was going to rise again. She knew He was the Son of God, but she didn’t know what that meant. Like any parent, she grieved those three days that He laid in the tomb.

In the United States in 2010, a little less than 10,000 children aged 1 to 14-years-old died. That is a lot of grieving parents. We all have experienced death in our lives. We can take comfort in the fact that Mary has been there. Like my teacher suggested that I talk to Mary about my pregnancy, we can all talk to Mary about our grief.

Mary is still relevant in 2013. She’s not just some unattainable ideal or a woman who lived 2000 years ago who has nothing to say now. These two images of Mary say a lot to me. What speaks to you?

Bethanie Ryan

Bethanie Ryan

Bethanie Ryan is a housewife, mother and writer. She recently graduated with a MA in Pastoral Studies from Aquinas Institute of Theology. Originally from Missouri, she currently calls upstate New York home. She writes for several websites including her own, True Dignity of Women.

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