Faith is a gift, “you catch it.” The Word of God says, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word.” This is important; everyone is at different stages in the faith walk. We run the race to win. The race is against you. Put on your running shoes ladies we are about to learn more about our faith.
The heart is a work of God, "He changes us with in as we take time with Him." Let Him do the work. You cannot force your faith to grow; nor can you will it into being. Commit to getting to know God in prayer, and then you will grow to love Him. The more you love Him, the more you will want to serve Him. One day all of us His children will be happy with Him in heaven. As we empty ourselves of sin and flesh, He fills us with His grace, His Holy Spirit and His Love. As we humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God; He lifts us up. If we lift up the name of Jesus, He promises to convert souls. Our Catholic faith is such a gift; treasure it always. Please pass it down to the next generation. Your children are your first disciple. Educate them in the faith, help them to grow in virtue and teach them the grace of receiving the sacraments. Be a good example to follow.
The same way we grow in knowledge and love of Jesus is the same way we grow in love with Mary, our Mother. To know her is to love. Ladies let's face it. All of us need a Mother's love. Why? Women need women that are why I am a Titus II Women, a Mommy Mentor. All of us have a calling on our life and mine is to pass the faith down to the next generation; to teach women how to find joy in their vocation as mother and wife. The joy of being a lady wasn’t that Mary’s joy too.
The angel appeared unto Mary, "And She conceived of the Holy Ghost.” Mary was soar afraid. “Wouldn’t you be too? Yet, she mustered up a voice and a few profound words. Mary meekly answered, "Let it be done unto me according to Thy word." Those ten short words would go down in history from generation, to generation to form our Catholic faith and set us apart forever as those who honor the Blessed Mother of God. She said, “YES,” Mary said, "Yes!" She gave her surrender, "YES!!!" Have you? The angel had already affirmed Mary with the words, “Blessed are you among women!"
Mary accepted God's mission for her life. What was her mission? Mary’s mission was, “A Virgin shall bear a Child and He shall be named Jesus." Who was Jesus? Jesus is the Son of God. Mary’s mission was impossible. Her “Yes,” to God brought life to the world. It brought salvation and joy to the world. She housed the Son of God, first in her womb and then in her heart. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." When we embrace our faith, we too carry the Word made flesh, the Christ within us. The book of Col. states, “Christ in us, our hope of glory. “ In the Eucharist, we receive Jesus body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Word of God says in John 6, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you will not have life in you." As the Word of God is read each day, we grow in faith. In Hebrews we read, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word.” We carry the Words of eternal life. As we put the Word of God into action we become like Him, drawing others to Jesus and to our Catholic faith. John put it best, “We must decrease and He must increase."
Moms, you too have a mission. God has a calling on your life. God has called each one of you in this room to do a work of grace that no one else can do. Do you know your mission? Are you ready, ladies? God says to each of us in the quietness of our soul, "Your mission if you decide to accept it?" Wait that sounds like Mission Impossible. When God sends an angel to you, called guardian, into your prayer time you may hear your guardian angel speaking to you. Listen quietly in prayer to that still small voice speak to your heart. When God tell you what He is calling you to do, don’t be surprised. Your thoughts may be, not be like Mary’s were; “Be it done to me according to thy will but rather. “ After all Mary was conceived without sin. They may sound like this, "This is way too hard for me." Or, "This is almost impossible, Lord.” Your response will be correct. It is always too hard. That is why it will be a work of God. It will require surrender and leaning on Him alone. Apart from God we can do nothing. However, all things are possible with God. I repeat, "All things are possible with God.” Now that is good news. God equips those He calls. No one take a bow because it is, “Not by might nor by power but by his Spirit says the Lord.” We only applaud God because we know it is only because of His amazing grace.
What does He equip us with?
1. The Word of God
2. The Sacraments
3. The church
4. The Saints, among which Mary is the greatest
The Holy Spirit leads and guides us into the heart of the Heavenly Father, if we but" Be still and now that He is God. “Then we must listen to the words that Mary instructed to the servants at the wedding feast of Cana, "Do whatever He tells you."
Mary is our model. Mary listened to God. Mary obeyed God. Her quiet and gentle spirit speaks volumes to us. Her surrender, "YES!" taught us how to follow in the footsteps of Jesus who always obeyed the Heavenly Father. She is an example to all women on how to live out our vocation as wife and mother.
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 God chose Mary to be the Mother of Jesus and our Blessed Mother too.
The Roles of Mary:
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. It was a spiritual surgery that only He could perform.In the spiritual, l 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 my mother through adult eyes, not through childhood vision. I learned to love her. I learned to bear with her patiently. Instead of confronting my mom, I began to bring all my hurts to Jesus and to the confessional. The healing of our relationship took time. 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. This miracle took place in my heart, where God alone could see. My relationship with my mom went from death to life. Now, she is not only my mother, but also my best friend.
She is my daily laugh; just ask Deacon Pat. Okay, my mom will never be a Blessed Mother Teresa type, like I had secretly hoped. She will never be a Mary type, serving the Lord with gladness, singing a joyfully noise or praying me thru life’s challenges. Rather my mom is more of a Martha type, who lives the Proverbs 31 scripture. She is wise and hard working. In reality 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 His children would need a Mother’s love; Mary is our model.
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 and totally unskilled. Before marriage, 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 guess you could say that I needed a lot of character growth because God gave me seven children. I needed all the grace and wisdom I could get. They are still trying to perfect me. 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 of how very human I was. Mary and Jesus, 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 Mary.
Never forget ladies how far you have come, I started out sunbathing on a little blue raft as a stewardess in Miami. I lived in ME-ME-Me World. Maturity is always going from me to We. God has turned my world upside down and it gives me the grace to be patient with my children. We labor to bring our children into this world; then we labor on or knees to bring our children to Christ. Be assured the second labor is harder by far. Along the way God grows our Mother’s heart, He waters it with tears and lets the Son shine in.
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. When I look at Patrick I still see that young Medical Student with the boyish grin on his face that I fell in love with. 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 through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I embrace the grace, and then I pick myself 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 run to the Sacrament. Frequent confessions and daily Mass to receive the Eucharist has been my life line for a happy ever after marriage. Patrick will always be my Knight in Shining Armor.
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, two of which were miscarriages, and Zachary was full term loss, who left this world at two hours old. Each time I was nauseated almost all of the long nine months. If you do the math in gestation months it ends up being ten months long and that is a lot of saltine crackers and sprite days. If you are a mom, you know what I mean. Believe it or not, 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 all the time, at the Wedding feast of Cana, when Jesus was lost 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 His birth in the stable to His final goodbye at the cross. The rosary points us to Jesus. It is a form of contemplative prayer.
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 heart pure with no stain of sin, by not saying a word. “She treasured these things in her heart.” Mary guarded her heart and held her tongue, letting only words of kindness come forth. I have a way to go in this area of my life, but I’m determined to improve.
As a Titus II Women I have learned not to leak, not even to Deacon Pat, because to women, confidentiality is essential. I also choose mentors and prayer partners who are Godly women. The law of kindness is on their lips. A word to the wise, do not hop from person to person for advice, you will get a variety of different opinions. Ask your Heavenly Father who would be a good fit and then try it out for a month or two. A mentor, who is perfect for one woman, may not be a good fit for another gal. God will give you what you need if you leave the choice up to Him. The pope has encouraged all of us to have a priest for our Spiritual director. A mentor and a spiritual director are quite different.
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 guard my tongue. 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.
MARY WAS A SERVANT
She taught me how to be a servant too. My life as a mother of many consisted of a lot of changing. I changed diapers, sheet, clothes and attitudes. I spent my days doing mounds of laundry, seven loads a day and piles of dishes which never seemed to disappear. 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 as women who live in such 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. I am thinking that she was probably just so glad that the family donkey ride was over. It was quite a sacrifice for her the Mother of God at, nine month pregnant, yet she endured in silence.
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. Her face was the last glance our Savior took, I imagine, as they bid each other goodbye at the cross although no words were exchanged as His lifeless body returned to His Heavenly Father. I wonder if He saw the tears in her eyes or that her heart was being ripped apart? I am sure a part of her went with Him. She loved her only begotten Son Jesus so.
Mary served Jesus throughout His life until he breathed his last breathe. What lessons I have learned from the life of one so holy, Immaculate Mary.
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. My favorite line of the Hail Mary prayer at the present time is, “Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen. “ I am found frequently praying for the conversion of sinners, with tears in my eyes. I will always need the prayers of 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 my 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. However, 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. Our Blessed Mother Mary who is gentle and good; tender and loving.
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. 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; this time 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 Son Jesus, our Savior and Our Lord.
When Deacon Pat and I chose to make St. Mary’s Help of Christian Church our parish, God reminded of Mary’s words to me. Mary said, “Help me!” It was the way God confirmed our prayerful decision to live in Augusta, Georgia and serve in Aiken, South Carolina. Mary’s words assured me that I was home to stay. The benefits have outwaited the sacrifices. It was God’s choice.
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. Sadly 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 agony, His crucifixion and His death, but so few, so few had come to show their love and their support for Him. At His Passion, Jesus was quite alone, except for His friends, John, Mary Magdalen and Mary the wife of Clopas, 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. They eat, drink and make merry. Unfortunately, when disaster strikes; sometimes we, like Jesus are left all alone. Our friends are nowhere to be found. Never forget, Jesus is there, and Mary your mother is there too. Those disciples’ of Christ, who have been taught by Him, to stand at the foot of the cross, will be there too; for they have travelled the road of suffering. Mother Theresa said, “When you stand 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. If your child is suffering, she will hold you with a mother’s love. She knows how hard it is to watch your child suffer, because she walked down the road before with her Jesus.
MARY ALWAYS POINTS TO JESUS
Mary always points 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 live there but, Mary lives in my heart too.” This conversation took place in 1976, but it seems as if it took place just 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 us wisdom, and teaches us how to love. We as Catholics in the family of God, have both a Father and a mother. Mary, our mother, has a lot she can teach us. She will; if we but let her.
Jesus cries out from the cross, “John, behold your Mother.” Next Jesus, in unbearable, pain addresses His Mother, “Mary, Behold your Son.” He says those same words to us today. Can you comprehend such compassion our Jesus has for us? In the deepest moment of His passion, just before He gives up His Spirit, He thinks of His Mother. Who will take care of her; none other than, His best friend. He puts the care of the one He loves, His Holy Mother Mary, into the care of the one He loves, John the beloved.
Through her words and her actions; she always leads us to Jesus. From the wedding feast at Cana to the foot of the cross Mary demonstrates, a motherly love. No matter what trials life presented to our Blessed Mother, she thought of others ahead of herself. She cared, and she was there for others. Mary always points to Jesus. Mary gives her surrender, “Yes.” She encourages us to do the same with her words, “Do whatever He tells you.”
Jesus says, "Follow me." The journey is a process made one step at a time by committing, not by perfection. Sometimes we will stumble, Jesus did. Sometimes we will fall. Sometimes we will cry out in desperation, Jesus did, but we will never be alone. Mary and Jesus will always be at our side. They love us too much to leave us.
Pope Benedict XVI:
"Love knows no ‘Why?’ it is a gift to which one responds with the gift of self."
St Teresa of Avila said:
Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing make you afraid.
All things are passing
God alone never changes.
Patience gains all things.
If you have God you will want for nothing.
God alone suffices.
St. Margaret Mary said:
"See this heart which has loved men so much, has spared nothing ever to exhaust, and consuming itself in order to testify to them of its love. God so loved."
St. Catherine of Sienna says:
"When we are what we are called to be; we can set the world on fire."