Mary. The ordinary Jewish girl who gave birth to a child when she was about 14 years old or thereabouts; who scrubbed and cleaned and wove a cloak for the man who was going to be crucified. Mary who stood under the cross and Mary who nursed Him at her breast and wrapped him in the swaddling clothes of the day and the era. Mary who handled God and to whom he has given us all to be Our Mother. But to me She is more – She is my Mother; She is my sister; She is my guide. I remember the words in the Gospel of St. Luke: “She kept all those things in Her Heart.”
And when the words of Her Son weigh too heavy on me, because they are heavy words, joyful words but heavy—it is not easy to walk the Way who is Jesus—I turn to Her and somehow or other she “mothers” me through those difficult, painful, searing demands of Her Son.
When I hear Him say to me: “friend come higher”; for He always calls those whom He loves to come higher, I turn to Her who ascended all the summits that was possible and impossible for a woman to ascend – a woman like me – human, mortal – and with Her help I go higher answering the call of Her Son.
As I thought all those things over I ceased weeping and I started praying for all those who have denied their Mother. The Mother that God gave them to have and to hold and to cherish and to love.
So this is the month of October that used to be a Marian month and used to be called “the month of the Rosary.” The Russians do not ask for the Gift of Tongues, they ask for the Gift of Tears and I think it is time for us now to make a Rosary out of our tears. For it is time to weep over our own foolishness and ask Our Lady to forgive us.
Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Restoration, October 1972
Reflection – Well, one last day on Catherine about Mary. Remember, those who may have missed the first one, that the context of this article was the widespread rejection of Marian piety and devotion that happened in the years after Vatican II – this is the significance of all those tears and whatnot at the end of the article.
I wanted to see this article through to the end because Catherine very simply here talks about how Mary helps her—this may be one of the clearest and simplest explanations she ever gives of precisely the way Mary comes to her in her need. Yesterday was more the big picture of Mary and the Trinity, the central and necessary place Mary plays in salvation history in our Catholic faith.
Here, it is more intimate, personal. The Mary who is Queen of heaven and earth is also a real woman, a Jewish girl who lived in most respects a most ordinary life of domestic work and village affairs. And then a woman whose son lived an extraordinary life and died a terrible death, and who was present there. ‘Mary who handled God’ – what a great turn of phrase!
Because, you and I have a pretty hard time ‘handling’ God, don’t we? It’s always a little too much, a little beyond our capacity to take in, give ourselves over to, embrace, understand certainly. God and His Gospel are always just too much to handle. And of course, that’s how it should be and must be. We’re human creatures made by Him for a divine life—of course we feel a bit of vertigo from time to time.
And so, Mary. It’s not that she ‘handled’ God in some way that is inappropriate. She is still the creature and He the Creator and Lord. It might be better to say that she handled being handled by God in that totality of surrender and love. And so, she helps us. Helps us to see that, huge and hard as the Gospel is, it’s OK. We’re going to be OK. God is going to come through for us. We can trust Him. He will not let us fall to the ground.
Mary’s whole ministry to us, to the whole Church, and really to all men and women, is entirely and utterly and exclusively to help us up that mountain of faith, that mountain of the Lord that Catherine loves to talk about. She is like an experienced mountaineer, we the greenhorns who barely know which way is up, except that we don’t want to go there cuz it’s scary. And so she comes and makes it, not easy and smooth, but less scary. Because that’s what mothers do, and God knows that full well, and so He gave us a Mother for the journey. Good idea, God!