Catholic Values Column: Our mother’s choice


As you surely know, this past Friday was the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s final visit to the Fatima children, when tens of thousands of people witnessed the Sun turn silver and dance in the sky.

When I think of the Fatima children who communicated with Mary, my mind goes to Matthew 19:14: “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” I see this image in my mind of the Good Shepherd Jesus reaching his arms out towards little children who flock to him with eyes un-blurred by the world and its false promises.

But this miracle was not only about the faith of a child; it was also about turning to the Blessed Mother with that same childlike faith. Mary is a very difficult doctrine to understand. And she will remain that way, if she is only viewed as a doctrine. Especially since coming to Franciscan last year, away from my own mother, I’ve begun to realize just how human Mary is.

She is not just that statue all over campus. She is not just a name we use when we pray. She is a mother. Her heart burst when her child was born, and it burst again when that child died so young. She saw suffering, and she wept. She lived with the stigma of false assumptions directed at her. And she survived it all.

Recently, I’ve been going through a difficult time. When I turn to God to talk about it, it’s really hard. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to Him; it is that I’ve been finding myself at a loss for words. He is almighty and I am so small. The problems of a teenage college student in America in the 21st century are nothing compared to the problems faced by the God who stepped into creation and died the most painful death imaginable to solve them.

That is why I have found myself more and more turning to Mary. Not only is she the queen of all Creation, but she is also human; it is her human body and soul up there, not a new god, not an angel, but a mother. First and foremost she is a mother. And the really special thing is that she is an adoptive mother. We don’t adopt her. She has adopted us.

It is always so sad when a mother does not want a child, but it is such a blessing when these mothers give their child up for adoption, to a mother and father who desire to give their whole heart to this young person they have never met. Adopting a child is a choice, and it is a choice full of self-giving love. And isn’t it wonderful that we have a heavenly mother who so desires our wellbeing that she has made the choice to take us under her care?

What’s even more wonderful is that she is not childless. Our adopted mother already has a child, and He just so happens to be the Word spoken by God that created the entire universe and our very selves. Daunting as He may seem, Jesus Christ need not be a distant figure to us, because we are united to Christ through the motherhood of Mary. He becomes our brother through the yes of this woman.

When I have a problem in my life, big or small, it is my mom whom I call. It is my mom whose heart breaks when there is nothing she can do to help me. My mom desires to make my life good, and she’ll do everything she can to make it better, distance or no.

When I have a problem in my life, and I can’t articulate to God what I need to say, it is Mary to whom I call. It is Mary’s heart that breaks when she sees me struggling through a conflict I cannot seem to overcome. Mary desires to make my life lovely, and she’ll do everything she can to make it better, distance or no.

I just have to ask.

She wants to help us. If we need something and cannot seem to articulate it to her Son, she will not hesitate to ask Him for us. No wonder Mary has so many epithets. She deserves them all: Mother of Victory, Undoer of Knots, Queen of Peace, etc.

This same Mary who reaches out to every one of us reached out likewise to the children in Portugal 100 years ago, bringing many people to the faith through the witness of three very young shepherd children.

Many signs were witnessed during the course of Mary’s visits, drawing more and more people to see. But the greatest sign, I believe, was not the miracle of the Sun, but the witness of the children: a sign to the world that as great and advanced as we, the human race, have become, sometimes what we need is childlike faith, and trust in our Mother to guide and do right by us.