She was just a wisp of a thing. She probably was around 20, but she looked like she was 13 years old. She had a beautiful newborn baby girl snuggled on her shoulder as she stood patiently at the back of the crowd. She reminded me of what I’d imagined our Blessed Mother to look like as a young mom, with her glossy blond hair and lovely blue eyes. It was clear that she truly cherished the child she held in her arms.
Once everyone had finished with their comments and questions and left the conference hall, she timidly stepped up to me. As she got closer, I saw tears in her eyes. “I just have to tell you,” she said in a sweet, small voice, “That exactly what you said today was exactly what I needed to hear. You have no idea what you did for me today.”
I had just finished my presentation at the Oklahoma Catholic Women’s Conference and my topic was, “She’s My Mother, and She’s Your Mother, Too!” The gist of my talk was to draw the women closer to Mary, helping them to see her as a real, living, breathing woman, and encouraging them to seek a deepening relationship with her.
I received a number of positive remarks after my presentation, but this one most impacted my heart. I could see gratitude and joy in the eyes of this young woman, but I also could see pain. I got the impression that somewhere along the line she’d been seriously hurt by some person or circumstance. Somehow, what I’d said about our Blessed Mother opened the door to healing.
I spent a little time with this mother and child, admiring her baby and offering words of encouragement. It was one of those situations in which more can be said by simply not talking at all. She stayed another moment or two, thanked me once again and disappeared into the crowd. I’ll probably never see her again, although I’d like to.
This experience re-validated what I’ve known for years: We are all representatives of our Mother Mary. We represent her to our families, to our relatives, to our fellow parishioners, to our neighbors, to our co-workers … we represent her to people we don’t even know. There is much emphasis on being Christ for others, and rightfully so because that’s exactly what the Gospels instruct us. But we also must be Mary for others, because the two are inseparable. Guys, we’re talking about you, too!
We need our Lord – oh, boy, do we need our Lord! But we need his mother, too. We need her intercession, her protection and her guidance. We need her nurturing and motherly love. Thanks be to God, she gives it to us, always and unconditionally. Tragically, there are many people who don’t know that. There are far, far too many people who stumble through their lives fighting the emptiness and homelessness within that can easily be healed by a mother’s touch. They say our country is becoming more and more a fatherless one, but it also is becoming a motherless one.
We can be instruments of that healing if we are willing to “be Mary” for others. A kind word – or maybe no words at all. A look of understanding, a bent ear, a gentle pat on the shoulder, a nod of encouragement, focused listening.
Bringing Mary into our actions and conversations sure can’t hurt, and it certainly could do a great deal of good. Those who don’t understand her might give us some pretty funny looks – they might even contest our beliefs. So? If we don’t dare to bring our Blessed Mother to others we’ll miss vital opportunities to bring together mother and child. We don’t know what doors will open when we are open to being the advocates of our Blessed Mother. We may be given the grace to see the fruits of our instrumentality or we may never have any idea what we did for someone else. But we do know that exactly what we said is exactly what they needed to hear.
(Fenelon, a mother of four, and her husband, Mark, belong to St. Anthony Parish, Milwaukee. Visit her Web site.)