As a young priest, I have lots of priest heroes—men I’ve known throughout the course of my life who’ve made an impact on my life and my faith. Some of those priests are young, some are old; some are learned, some are simple; but all of them, I think, are wise.
There’s one priest, in particular, whom I respect very much. He’s the sort of guy I’ve called to ask advice from time to time over the last seven months when a really difficult situation has come my way.
I remember him telling me once about his mother, whom he took care of for the last five years or so of her life. When she died, he felt a paralyzing sense of loss. His father had died years before, and now he had lost his mother, too. He didn’t know what to do, so he began to pray, like his mother had taught him, the rosary. He would pray it every day.
Gradually, over the course of a few months, he began to realize something: while his earthly mother may have died, he had a mother in heaven. He told me that, by praying the rosary, he realized for the first time in a deep, heartfelt way that Mary was, indeed, his mother. In fact, all along life’s way, he had never once been without a mother!
What this priest friend of mine discovered is beautiful, but none of us need to go through the same process to come to that same knowledge. Mary is our Mother in heaven, too, whether our human mothers are alive or not. She is, as this Church celebrates with this solemnity every January 1st, the Mother of God. She is, as the Ave Maria declared, the Mater Dei. But Mary is also our Mother. We must become convinced of that, not in a theoretical way, but in a deep, heartfelt way!
When Christ was dying on the cross, He said to Mary, “Woman, behold your son.” And to the Beloved Disciple, He said, “Behold your Mother.” That same exchange is meant not only for the Beloved Disciple, but for all of us as “beloved disciples.”
The next line in the Gospel of the crucifixion is explosive. It tells us that, “from that hour on, the disciple took her into his home.” That command is as much for us as it was for the Beloved Disciple! Jesus wants us to welcome His mother—our Mother—into our homes and into our hearts.
What a beautiful resolution it would be if all of us committed to getting to know our Blessed Lady a little bit better this year. We could pray her rosary. We could read a book about her.
We could visit a shrine erected in her honor.
We have a Mother in heaven who is anxious to receive our affection. In the face of all the trials that are sure to come, may this New Year be one that is filled with hope & peace & joy for each of you and your families.
May you welcome into your homes Mary, who is the Mother of God and the Mother of us all.
And may she truly be for us “our life, our sweetness, and our hope!”