We, as Catholics, call Mary, “Mother,” because she was the pure and holy vessel that God chose to be His Mommy here on earth. Mary is called Immaculate because she was conceived without sin. As we begin to learn more about, and love our Catholic faith, we not only get to know Jesus; but also the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. As we contemplate in prayer the Scriptures, we see the many roles that Mary played during her life on this earth. It is then that we come to realize why Mary was God’s choice.
The Roles of Mary:
1. Mary was a daughter. She taught me how to be a daughter too. One day the Lord was dealing with me about my relationship with His mother. It was 1979 and I was in the kitchen in my home in Vernal, Utah. God said, “You do not love my mother, because you do not love your mother.” The word from my Heavenly Father was spoken clearly, yet in in silence. It happened in an instance, I knew that it was the voice of God. I also knew that God had read my heart. I immediately repented. Then I began a journey, of healing a wounded heart that only God could lead me on. A spiritual surgery that only He could perform. In the spiritual l I sought pray and wise counsel. In the natural, I made phone calls, bought presents, encouraged, visited, supported and listened to my mom. I learned to know her, I learned to love her. It was a slow but steady journey, with the Holy Spirit as my GPS. God was right as my relationship with my mom grew, so did my relationship with His Mother. Now I call Mary, my Mother too. Now, my mom and I are now best friends. She is my daily laugh, just ask t Deacon Pat. Okay, my mom will never be a Mother Teresa type, like I had secretly hoped; serving the Lord with Gladness and praying me thru life’s challenges. Rather my mom is more like a Marie on the sit-com, “Everyone loves Raymond.” Liking her for who she was, and not wanting her to be who she was not; was key to my healing. There is no perfect earthly mother. I learned that when our earthly mother fails to measure up to our idea of a perfect mother; Mother Mary fills in the gaps. She is blessed indeed. God knew how much her children would need a Mother’s love.
2. Mary was a Mother. She taught me along with God the Father how to be a mother too. When it came to motherhood, I was clueless. Before marriage I did not even like children. I rarely even babysat. In fact, I thought I would never have any children. I had a long way to grow into a mother full of virtue and sacrificial love. I guess you could say, as I was teaching my children character and virtue; Mary and Jesus were teaching me the same. I needed all the grace and wisdom I could get. Trust me on this one. Hanging in our home when I was a young mother was a picture of Mary hanging the laundry. Okay, it was next to the picture from Family circle where the house is a total wreck and the caption reads; “I thank you God for my blessings, but I could use a little help around this place too!” By comparing the look on that mother in the picture’s face with the look on the Blessed Mother’s face I was daily reminded how very human I was. Mary and Jesus to this day, I am convinced, look down from heaven at Ellen Mongan, mother of seven living children, and shake their heads at each other saying, “This truly this is the greatest miracle that we have done in her life. We have given Ellen a Mother’s Heart. “I thankfully agree; Jesus changed me completely; with a little help from His Mother.
3. Mary was a bride. She teaches us how to be a bride too. It came easy to me being Patrick’s Bride, I was in love with him, and even though I had dated a lot of men; I gave my heart to Pat alone. I knew in my heart; He was the one. He’s still the one. One of the first things Mary spoke to my heart was, “All I want you to do is be a good wife to my Son Jesus.” Oh, I said with a pause. I thought to myself, being a bride to Jesus who I could not see, was a whole lot different than being a bride to Pat who I could see. I learned to defer, honor, love and respect Pat, as unto the Lord, just like Mary did to her spouse Joseph. In this way I was being Jesus’ bride too. I also learned from the Saints and Mary, how to love the Lord thy God with my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole mind and my whole strength. Okay- I have to say there are days I fail Pat and Jesus miserably, but isn’t that why we need Jesus in the first place? It is on days like that when the flesh gets the best of me that I thank Jesus for the grace that comes thru the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I embrace the grace, and then I pick ourselves up, dust myself off and start all over again. My humility grows, each time I am prompted by the Holy Spirit to be quick to repent and to get to the Sacrament.
4. Mary built family. She taught me how to build family too. Mary great with child, goes to visit Elizabeth, her cousin. We call that, the Visitation and it is the second Joyful Mystery of the rosary. Wow, that is true kinship, close cousins, it seems above and beyond the call of family duty to me. I have been pregnant ten times and each time I was nauseated almost all of the long nine months. If you do the month in gestation months it ends up being ten months long and that is a of a lot of saltine crackers and sprite days. If you are a mom, you know what I mean. I never once considered hopping on my donkey and setting off for a family reunion. Mary was a trooper, who was able to look beyond her delicate condition, to the needs of her newly pregnant older cousin, Elizabeth. Jesus, Mary and Joseph built family, at the Wedding feast of Cana, when Jesus was lost then found in the temple, and even at the cross. The rosary is in a way, pictures in our minds a photo album of the Jesus’s entire life, from the baby book to the final goodbye. The rosary points us to Jesus.
5. Mary was a confidant. She taught me how to be a confidant too. Mary treasured these things in her heart. Did you ever hear the expression, “Lose lips sink ships.” Mary kept her boat afloat by not saying a word. Mary guarded her heart and held her tongue, letting only words of kindness come forth. I have a long, long way to go in this area of my life, but I’m determined to improve. If you do not have a goal you miss the target every time. Not only is Mary my good example in this area of prudent speech, but also my Mother-In Law. Fran was a great example of women who knew what to say and what not to say. I used to say to her, “Fran, you are the women I know that are the most like the Blessed Mother. Then I had to affectionately throw in the words, “For a protestant gal, that is.” It always made Fran laugh. The Blessed Mother Mary and my mother in law Fran taught me how to have the law of kindness on my lips. Mary and Fran when she was alive was the perfect person to confide it. You see I trust them. They are like depends, they never leak. Plus both of them are wise, wonderful and gentle too.
6. Mary was a servant. She taught me how to be a servant too. My life as a mother was is diaper, dishes and doing the laundry too. Mary’s life was no different. Wait, a minute, Mary’s life was totally different. Her motherhood years were way before microwaves, dishwashers, washing machines and dryer, hair dryer or cloth dryers. I guess you could say that we have nothing to complain about us women of these modern times. I do not think the words modern conveniences, carpool mom with her lipstick on or fast food was even in Mary’s vocabulary. There was nothing fast or convenient in her life. She lived a no frills life. Mary was a woman who was low on maintenance; but women who was high in virtue, in wisdom, in gentleness and grace. In those areas she was overflowing. Think back to the day of the birth of our Savior. Do you remember where Jesus was born ? He was born in a stable, yet Mary did not complain. She was probably just so glad that that donkey ride was over. She was nine month pregnant. In fact, even at the cross she did not utter a negative word, not one. She served God with her words and with her presence. “At the cross her station keeping, stood the holy Mother weeping; close to Jesus to the last.” Her face was the first face that Jesus beheld, as she labored our Savior into the world; birthing her Baby Boy. Her face was the face Jesus beheld as he breathed His last breath, and returned to His Heavenly Father. Mary served Jesus throughout His life. What lessons I have learned from the life of one so holy, Immaculate Mary.
7. Mary was an intercessor. She taught me how to be an intercessor too. “Holy Mary, Mother God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death Amen.” As a Catholic school girl, I have repeated those words from the prayer Hail Mary more times than I could ever count. Those words will hopefully never lose their importance, in my heart. I will always need the prayers if my Mother Mary. As an adult Catholic, I began to make those words, my own. I came to understand the importance of the intercession of the Saints. When Mary or the Saints pray for me, they kneel before throne of God and intercede. Mary has become my intercessor, as I pray the rosary she prays along with me. When I need an urgent prayer to reach the ears of God I say a quick novena of nine Memories, fervently in a row; that is if I do not have nine days to pray a novena. Mother Angelica taught me that. Now I know that God hears me His child as soon as I cry out to Him in prayer, but there is something comforting about having your mom by your side when you talk to your Father; at least I think so, especially if your Father is God Almighty. Our God who is all good, all knowing and all powerful.
8. Mary was a compassionate friend. She taught me how to be a compassionate friend too. When a crisis or cross is presented into my life, I run to the Adoration Chapel. It is where I feel close to God and where I can quiet my soul. It is the place where the Eucharist is exposed; the Body the Blood the Soul and the Divinity of my Savior is present. It is in God’s presence, all alone with my Father that I get answers and where I get peace. One of the many times I was with My Heavenly Father in prayer, Mary came to comfort me, and oh if I told you the story you would know that I needed a mother’s love. I knew she understood and that she would be my intercessor. She who had suffered so much knew just what to say and just what to do. There is nothing like the compassion of a Mother’s love. It was in the quiet of that adoration chapel that I knew for certain that she truly was my Mother too. Do you want to know what she said? I do not know if I should tell you. I’ll try, I was wailing in pray and yes there were tears. I cried out from the depth of my soul, “Mary, help me. “ Again, I repeated the words yet with desperation, “Mary, Help me.” Those were the only words that I could muster up; you see the cross was heavy, very heavy. What was Mary’s gently reply? She answered sweetly, “Ellen, Help me.” I tried to explain, “Mary you do not seem to understand?” I cried out again out loud knowing I was the only one in the room, “Mary helps me, “I cried out for the third time. I knew she understood that I was devastated by the weight of the cross. A mother knows her child’s heart; Mary knew mine. But she replied again, “Ellen, will you help me to tell the world about my Son Jesus.” I was baffled at first yet, somehow I was given the grace to understand. How could I refuse a request so dear to my heart? You see I loved her Son Jesus too. I answered, “Yes. “ As Mary comforted me that day, I began to learn how to comfort those that God places in my path. I comfort, with a Mother’s love. I tell them about Jesus. I know that I don’t have all the answers but I know Jesus does. I tell the world about Mary’s on Jesus.
9. Mary knew how to stand at the foot of the cross. Mary taught me how to stand at the foot of the cross too. Many people were there to wave the palm branches and welcome Jesus, into Jerusalem. BUT….. OH..., so few were waiting and praying just a few days later with the same Jesus at the foot of His cross. Jesus was facing His toughest hours, His suffering, His crucifixion and His death, but so few, so few had come to show their love and their support for His. At His Passion, Jesus was quite alone, accept, His friends, John, Mary Madelyn and Mary, His Mother. Isn’t that so the way it is today. When a new baby is born, a couple weds, or one moves into a new home; all friends and family alike come to rejoice and celebrate; eat, drink and make merry. Then disaster strikes; sometimes like Jesus at the cross we are almost all alone. Not only do we feel all alone, we are sometimes like Jesus, all alone. Our friends are nowhere to be found. Remember this friend, Jesus is there, and Mary is too. Also, those who have been taught to stand at the foot of the cross will be there. Mother Theresa said, “ When you are at the cross, you are so close to Jesus that you can kiss Him.” Do you want to be close to Jesus? Do not be afraid to stand at the foot of the cross. You will find that that is where the grace is. You will discover that even if you feel you are alone; God is closer to you there at the cross than ever before. You will be in good company because Mary is always willing to stand at the cross with one who is suffering.
10. Mary always points to Jesus. Mary always points me to Jesus. When I was a young Catholic, I said to women who were mentoring me, “How do you get into Mary.” I thought it was a great question but her response somehow told me I was off. She said, “Ellen, Mary is not something you get into.” Then she added in a motherly tone, “If you look in my heart, not only does Jesus lives there but, Mary lives in my heart too. “ This conversation took place in 1976, but it seems as if it took place yesterday. It is etched in my memory for all eternity. This is when I began to search for my Mother, Mary. I somehow felt like half a Catholic, without her. But I was to learn thru my search; that just was not true. The heart is a work of God; not a work of man. We must seek, pray and wait. We must be led by God’s Spirit daily, listen to His still small voice, then do whatever He tells you to do. We must repent when we sin and surrender our hearts to Him. God will, as we yield, do a work in our hearts. We must never rush a work of God. As I was writing this talk, I began to see how Mary was in my life all along. I just did not see her. Why? I ponder? I did not see Mary because she was never drawing attention to herself; she was always pointing me to Jesus. Mary has taught me so much she is a gentle woman, who teaches wisdom, and teaches us how to love. We as Catholics Christians are in the family of God. We have both a Father and a mother. Mary, our mother, has a lot she can teach us and she will; if we but let her. ARE YOU WILLING?
Jesus cries out from the cross, addressing His Best Friend John, “John, behold your Mother.” Next Jesus, in unbearable pain addresses His Mother Mary, “Mary, Behold your Son.” He says those same words to us today. What is your answer?