“Jesus is Mary’s only son, but her spiritual motherhood extends to all the people he actually came to save.” (CCC 501)
“All we ask for is miracles,” commented a friend as he lit a candle at the National Shrine of the Miraculous Medal in Perryville, Missouri. Their feelings are being expressed in so many different ways by so many today as they seek to heal what was considered impossible in American society just 10 years ago. Family ties have worsened or loosened as our country becomes increasingly politically divided and discouraging for all, albeit in different ways.
But right in the middle there remains a mother, the Blessed Mother, ready to take all our problems into her hands and turn them over to God while she lets us rest our heads on her motherly shoulders.
The Miraculous Medal Shrine in Perryville is just one such place that offers a break from the outside world and allows anyone, Catholic or not, to simply go home to his or her mother, if only for a few minutes.
Traveling back from a day of sightseeing in St. Louis, my boyfriend and I were refreshed by just sitting quietly in the main chapel and, at the end of a busy day, loading all our joys and weariness into our mother’s lap. The shrine in Perryville has become “mother’s house” especially for my friend when she travels to the Midwest and her new home down south. It’s a place where you can always feel at home.
A recent visit to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help near Green Bay, Wisconsin, evoked similar feelings of home in my mother, the Mother of God, in a rapidly changing society outside. The peace on the site was especially palpable at the site of the vision of Mary, which is currently the only apparition site here in the United States approved by the Vatican. As wonderful as it would be to travel to Lourdes or Fatima, for many of us here in the United States it is a joy to be in a place where Our Lady has appeared not far from home
The statue of Mary at the Apparition site of Our Lady of Good Help is welcoming and empowering when viewed with the many lit petition candles around her and the pews full of her many diverse children coming home to speak with Mama.
She is there with open arms in a quiet environment ready to listen to her children’s prayers.
In a world so contested and troubled, aren’t visits to such Marian sites even more beneficial? Now, don’t we all need to be reminded of the words of Christ from the cross: “Behold thy mother?” How many today need a mother, be it in a literal sense or at least in a spiritual sense?
Taking time to be close to Mary is also an opportunity for women to be encouraged by her to become spiritual mothers to those around us as we leave “mother’s house” and return to the outside world. I can learn from Mary’s example of her nurturing and caring for the many adopted sons and daughters she has, being that “Mom” to those around me who have no one else. Who could use a call? Who wants a visit? Who needs a birthday party? Mary teaches me to be that person to other people.
And such maternal training takes place imperceptibly at these and other local Marian shrines, where our Mother’s love is bestowed in an environment of comfort and strength.
One of my fondest memories of Mary is a Mother’s Day card placed in front of the statue of Mary at a local Catholic church. Let’s go home to our mother to be loved and in return to share our love with her! Let’s pass our troubles at home across the family table, the altar, to Mom knowing that she is ready to love and teach us all how to love again!