Monday, April 11, 2011

Motherhood and the Joyful Mysteries

In an effort to boot myself out of my Lenten doldrums, I decided to get out in the beautiful sunshine for a Rosary power walk along my favorite riverside trail.  I offered up the Rosary for my children.  As I prayed the Joyful Mysteries, I meditated on how they applied to motherhood.

The Annunciation:  
"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."  (Luke 1:38)

As I prayed the first decade, I thought of Mary's unequivocal acceptance of the vocation of motherhood.  She had planned to live her life as a consecrated virgin, dedicated to the service of God but humbly accepted her new role as Mother of the Savior.  I am ashamed to admit that I sometimes resent my primary vocation as wife and mother, seeking other means of "fulfillment."  Inevitably, I always come to the realization that motherhood is a Divine calling and that I need to put my heart and soul into this vocation to do it justice.  I turn to the Blessed Mother as my role model.  She never needed a day at the spa, tennis lessons or a new pair of perfect spring sandals.  Instead, she devoted her entire life to serving her family and raising the holiest of all children.  I do like to think that every now and then, St. Joseph or even Jesus Himself led her by the hand to the most comfortable of their meager chairs, poured her a glass of wine, and offered to do the dishes.

The Visitation:
Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. (Luke 1:39-40)

I think that the example this mystery sets for motherhood is to help other members of our community, especially other women.  We women can be so catty, judging one another's appearance, parenting styles, home decor, choice of clothing and any other number of things.  Instead, we should follow Mary's example and offer charity to our neighbors and to other women.  We can do little things like bake an extra casserole for the new mother across the street, leave flowers on the doorstep of the lonely widow or offer to watch a neighbor's obnoxious children so that she can go to the grocery store by herself.  These little acts of charity not only help our neighbors but they also help us as we become more like the Blessed Mother, and ultimately, her Divine Son.

The Nativity:
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.  (Luke 2:19)

Children grow up so fast!  In the blink of an eye, they grow from tiny babies to kindergarteners, then teens and before you know it, they're off on their own.  As mothers, we often wish that our children will get older. We sigh and say, "I can't wait for the day when this child can finally take his own shower so I don't have to bend over the bathtub every night."  Then we sadly reminisce about those bygone days when he giggled and splashed in the tub.  Mary had the right idea, treasuring every moment of Jesus' life and reflecting on these moments in her heart.  Each child is a precious gift from God and a huge responsibility.  Live in the moment and enjoy your children.  Keep a journal and write about the funny little things that they do.  You will treasure it forever.

The Presentation:
They took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. (Luke 2:22)

Mary and Joseph obediently consecrated their newborn Son to the Father at the Temple in Jerusalem.  They placed Him in God's hands, trusting that He would guide them in raising the Messiah.  We mothers should also place our children tenderly in God's care, trusting that He will choose the best course for both all of us.  We must also pray for guidance in helping our children to determine their vocation.  We may have aspirations for our children's future, but it is important that we let God decide how to use them in His Divine Plan.  Teach your children not only to pray but to listen to God's gentle guidance in their lives.  One way to do this it to teach them to pray the Rosary.  One of the Promises of the Rosary is that those who pray it will receive signal graces-- little signs to let us know if we are on the right path.

The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple:
The child's father and mother were amazed at what was said about him. (Luke 2:33)

Jesus was considered a man in the Jewish culture at age 12, and He began to act like a man.  He took His place among the Jewish leaders and amazed them with His knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures.  Even Mary and Joseph, who knew of the Divine nature of their Son, were astonished.  As mothers, it is so important that we prepare our children to enter the world of adults as Soldiers of Christ.  We are the primary educators of our children in the Catholic faith, a huge responsibility.  Pray for guidance, do lots of research, and teach your children all that you know about your faith.  This, of course, requires that YOU know your faith first.  Read the Catechism, study the Bible and cultivate a rich prayer life.  Pass this on to your children, and some day they will amaze not only you but others in the community.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sorry for the break

I had planned on posting a reflection on the Rosary mysteries for each day of Lent, but this last week was a bit stressful.  Due to a lingering sickness. being a bit behind on deadlines for my upcoming book, Tending the Temple, and finding myself in a bit of Lenten funk, for lack of a better term, I had to take a break from blogging this week.  In the meantime, here are a few articles I've written for my new column on Catholic Lane, in case you're interested:

Fasting for Body and Soul (includes a recipe for Fasting Brown Bread)

If you'd like more motivation to fast, read this terrific article by Christine Watkins on

I really enjoyed watching a DVD set called Charlton Heston Presents The Bible.  You can read my review at this link as well as my interview with the producer of the DVDs and Charlton Heston's son, Fraser Clarke Heston.