Happy Mothers’ Day! May is the month of Mary, our Heavenly Mother, so let’s honor her especially today.

Mary has always seemed a distant, untouchable sort of person to me. Immaculately conceived and free of all sin, I never felt I could relate to her. She almost didn’t seem like a real person, and I know many people who have felt the same way. I think part of the reason I’ve felt this way is because she seems to be a stranger to human suffering.

Mary speaks only seven times in Scripture and, although we can assume she experienced pain like the rest of us, we never really see or hear about it. It’s implied but never spelled out. Jesus, as we all know, understands suffering even more intimately than any of us do, so we know we can trust him more easily with our own pain. We see his very human suffering immortalized on a cross every time we walk into a church. Mary, however, never suffered in such an obvious way. We never witness her suffering but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. As the prophet Simeon said, “And you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:35). I think that’s very characteristic of a mother—to feel your child’s suffering as if it were your own.

I’ve felt my own heart break for friends or family members, so I can’t imagine the pain Mary experienced as she watched Jesus suffer and die the most horrific death in history. And just as Jesus was wounded so that his Divine Mercy could be opened to us, Mary’s Immaculate Heart was pierced as well so that it could be opened to us and Jesus’ Divine Graces could flow out of her. Her heart was spiritually pierced and made open for all of us through pain.

Another feeling I had to overcome in my relationship with the Blessed Mother was my impression that Mary was somehow docile and weak. Although Mary is obedient and meek, as her continual fiat attests, she is by no means weak. Instead, all her strength comes directly from the Lord God Almighty. Who, then, is stronger than her? I love the way G.K. Chesterton illustrates her strength in his poem, The Ballad of the White Horse, as Mary appears to lead knights into battle and renews their lost hope:

One instant in a still light He saw Our Lady then, Her dress was soft as western sky, And she was a queen most womanly– But she was a queen of men.

Over the iron forest He saw Our Lady stand, Her eyes were sad withouten art, And seven swords were in her heart– But one was in her hand.

I encourage you all to turn to your Heavenly Mother, who fights for you and wins. The King of Kings has placed the entire universe in her loving hands. She will walk with you through all your trials and suffering, just as she accompanied her son Jesus through all of his. She was his light and consolation as he died on the cross, and she can be yours, too.

Ava Marcarelli,

Administrative Assistant