Today is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. It's our archdiocesan feast and a favourite of mine. I love the idea of Jesus up in Heaven still having His Mama on His mind. Rather than throwing a victory party He's making a throne for her. I think as we get older and become parents ourselves we look back and feel this way about our Moms. We start to see all of her sacrifices, quiet love and understand all the worry we've caused her through the years.
I feel an even greater connection to Mary now that I'm a mother too. After years of seeing her just as the young girl of the Nativity story, I can't help but wonder about those untold years of late night feeds, toddler years and so on. A friend of mine, quite rightly, was talking about how Jesus must have been as a child. He's God, so I had always thought He'd be preaching practically from the manger. But that doesn't make sense because He was always wholly human. My lovely friend said so insightfully that Jesus would be perfectly human for each age. He would have experienced teething same as my kids, learned how to walk, hit all those milestones. There would be something special about Him, but He would still have to learn and explore just like any child. I don't imagine Mary got to stoically sit by while Jesus was doing all his growing. I bet she was chasing Him as He played, wiping up the food He threw on the floor and being just as tired as I am most days.
I suppose that's why, now that I'm a mother, I find Our Lady of Sorrows so appealing. Here is a mother, not so unlike me. She's given birth and spent over 30 years doing what all mothers do: Loving, worrying, and praying for her Son. The difference is she had the sad blessing of knowing that her Son, her precious baby, was meant to die for the salvation of all. Most of us live with the niggling fear that something might happen to our children, but she knew. That's why when I read a verse about how Mary watched and remembered the things her Son did I can understand. When my kids are sick I watch their every move and try to soak in every detail. Imagine how sorrowful life would be if you knew something incomprehensibly tragic was going to happen to your precious child because of others (oh happy fault that won for us so great a Saviour!). I remember the day I spent in the hospital with my son, crouched over his weak body as they conducted tests to see if he is diabetic. Through no fault of his own my baby was pale and sickly with tubes in his arm as he patiently endured all their tests. In that moment my 2 year old son and I clutched his rosary like a life preserver. I don't think I prayed that old comforting prayer. My thoughts were a jumble of pleas and devotion, all while I tried to put on a brave face. I sat there watching him, trying to imprint every detail of his beautifully trusting face on my brain as he turned pale. I couldn't cry the tears threatening to explode out of me. Because that's what we parents do. We put on a brave face so our children aren't afraid even when the monsters in the closet are real. Luckily everything turned out and for now my boy is fine. For all those mothers of children with chronic or terminal illness I sit in awe of your strength and endless well of love.
Knowing what she knew, Mary must have spent every day since Simeon prophesied to her the death of her son masking her pierced heart with a calm exterior characteristic of the grace God had poured to overflowing on her. With her perfect Son to care for she was the perfect mother. She experienced in a unique but universal way the joys and sorrows of motherhood. She experienced the brutal death of her only child, watched it at every step and felt it in the depths of her heart and soul as only a parent can. Today we celebrate the great act of love shown to her by her Son. When her earthly mission was done and she was ready, God lifted her up body and soul, sparing her the pain of her own death. This was God's blessing to her and to us. Now in Heaven Mary continues in her position of Mother, but now Mother of All. She still watches her children with sorrow in all our sufferings as she pleads on our behalf to her Son.
How lucky we are as mothers to have so great an example and advocate!