If you are a western Christian, Saint Monica might be the second most famous Christian mother you can name, after Our Lady.
Today we celebrate the Visitation of Mary. The Visitation is when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth, pregnant with John (the baptizer). I like to think about this holy friendship—this time of mutual support and love for each other.
Saint Augustine of Hippo writes of his mom’s persistence in her fight for his soul while he lived a life devoted wholly to his self and the fulfilling of its passions.
I have to be very careful when I write about the Blessed Virgin Mary.
They sit in their carseats, next to one another holding hands. The palest caucasion skin of anyone in the family, enfolding the brown hand of his Hispanic little brother. “Are they both yours?” The woman meeting us for the first time asks. “Yes,” I reply, but she wants more. “How did you get that black haired one?” “Same way I got the blond haired one.”
Mary was a distant figure for me before having children. As a child she was the part in the nativity I never got to play (my short brown hair meant that I always lost out to my long blond-haired friends). As an adult, to me she was the venerated saint of Catholics, whose hailing brought a comfort I did not understand. I knew she was important, but I could not relate to her.
This Pentecost, how counter-cultural would it be for the church to emphasize the gentleness of Christ’s gift of the spirit? Maybe he discovered that gentleness from his mother.
This Earth Day, I’m remembering the birth of a new ministry. It was surprisingly like becoming a mom.
Before my mom died, I faced Lent with a kind of calculated resolve. Now the season opens up differently for me, into a sort of invitation.