I’m honored to share this reflection on Mary by Jeff Young, who you may know from Catholic Foodie fame. It’s a joy to read his thoughts on Mary and a pleasure to be able to share them with you. Be sure to check out the Catholic Foodie and Jeff’s consulting business, Mac & Media.
Mary is really my mother. Really.
At 16 I had a powerful experience of God that showed me without a doubt that He was real and that all this Catholic stuff was real. That experience changed my life, and Mary was right there in the middle of it all.
I prayed the rosary daily. I was aware of Mary with me when I prayed. I talked to her during the day. But, oddly enough, I found it very difficult to relate to her.
I had put Mary on a pedestal. To me she was superhuman.
Mary wasn’t alone; I kept all my favorite saints on a pedestal. When I was in the seminary, at a time of intense discernment, when I was plagued with doubt and confusion about my vocation, I looked to the saints for encouragement and some sense of certainty. But I was terribly disappointed.
Because I wasn’t anything like them. I struggled with God, with faith, with discernment, with my vocation. In all the stories I read, the saints they were virtually perfect, superhuman. They did not suffer as I suffered. I simply could not relate to them.
I can see now that I was looking at the saints through the wrong pair of glasses. I was blinded by my suffering.
So what changed for me?
I have my wife Char to thank. She’s the one that showed me the real Mary. She doesn’t know that she did this for me. I’ve never told her. (Boy, will she be surprised when she reads this!)
Marriage is such a blessing. My biggest blessing, actually, because it shows me clearly my own humanity. Marriage has curbed my natural tendency toward perfectionism. I now know that God meets me right where I am, in all my human messiness.
Char showed me this. She bore my children. She delivered them, nursed them, held them, cared for them. And she did it all with strength and tenderness. And love.
Char’s example showed me that Mary is human. Mary bore Jesus. She gave birth. She nursed him, held him, cared for him. And she, too, did it with strength and tenderness. She did it with love… even (or especially) in the midst of suffering.
Mary is not on a pedestal. She is right here with me. In my suffering. In my weakness. In what seems to be constant failure. She wipes my cuts and tends my bruises. She helps me stand up after a fall. She hugs me and reminds me that God loves me just as I am, and that she loves me too. Like God, she wants me to grow up big and strong.
Knowing this makes all the difference in the world.
Thank you, Honey, for being a wonderful image and example of Mary to me. I am forever indebted to you. May Mary make my life a “May Crown” for you.