Tonight I attended a meeting at my church which is really just a group discussion. We've been reading a letter (really, too long to be called a "letter") from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the topic of Stewardship. In the last section that we had to read for tonight there were no reflection questions, so instead our priest leading the group asked us to pick out a sentence that struck us and tell us why.
I panicked slightly since I had not read the entire thing before tonight and had only skimmed this last section right before we started. But near the end there was some mention of the Blessed Mother and one small section had stood out for me.
Of course, before I could mention it someone else mentioned the exact sentence I was thinking of. As I listened to him and reflected on this more my eyes moved down to the next paragraph and my attention was caught again, and much more profoundly. Here is what I read:
As Mother of God, her stewardship consisted of her maternal service and devotion to Jesus, from infancy to adulthood, up to the agonizing hours of Jesus death.I read this passage several times and when I finally got a chance to speak I mentioned that this was one part that touched me. But I found it hard to vocalize why. I have been contemplating it more ever since I got home tonight. (Maybe not having a TV for a few days is good for me!)
The first thing that struck me was how much Mary understands the loss of a child. She had to go through a most agonizing loss, one I could never imagine. No matter what I have been through, she understands and she is there for me to lean on.
Over the last several years I have leaned on Mary more and more. Despite growing up Catholic, I never understood how a devotion to Mary could be so special. But she has played a greater and greater part in my faith life in recent years. Part of that is because of the losses I have suffered. She knows my pain and grief and has experienced it herself on an even more agonizing level.
More recently I have turned to Mary to ask for her intercession for the health of the two babies I am currently carrying. I find myself praying to her almost daily: asking for her prayers for my babies, for other friends who are suffering loss, dealing with infertility, trying to get pregnant, and for healthy pregnancies for those who are expecting.
As I contemplated the passage from the Bishop's letter regarding Mary and her stewardship I realized that this sentence is also about motherhood. Motherhood itself is something I have really given very little thought to.
What I mean is, yes, I have thought about how my life will change being a mom; how I will be responsible for more than just me on a daily basis; and how having little people around all the time will change our family dynamic. But what I really hadn't thought about was motherhood in terms of stewardship, that is service and devotion to the family.
There was a lot in Mary's fiat to the angel Gabriel. It wasn't just that she would carry and give birth to the Son of God, it was also that she would raise Him to be a man, watch after Him, teach Him, and one day have to let go of Him. He wasn't hers. He was God's ... He was God! She had a duty and a responsibility that she had to put her whole heart and soul into without expecting anything in return.
I guess this is what motherhood is. We receive our children as gifts from God. They aren't really ours, they are His children. But He gives them to us and we become responsible for teaching them about Him and to follow His will. We will pour our hearts and souls into raising our children, but one day we will have to let them go. They will become adults and move into the world and we just have to hope and pray that we did our jobs, the jobs God gave us to do. Hopefully few of us will have to watch our children go as Mary did. But I can imagine that the letting go when they go to college or move out on their own or whatever can be just as hard for a mom.
For me, mine are still "baking" and some of these thoughts are years down the road. But just thinking of the awesome responsibility of motherhood is a bit overwhelming. Not that this is like consuming my mind or anything, I'm just having a deep night. (Maybe its because I actually slept some last night without getting up 6-7 times! Plus the thing about not having a TV currently.)
So is this a new thought or do you experienced moms already know this? "This" being the idea that motherhood is a service and act of stewardship given to us by God to raise His children.
I will say that on some level, yes, I did know this. But I guess I hadn't truly internalized it until tonight as I contemplated the idea of Mary as a steward in her maternal service to Jesus.