The Blessed Virgin Mary is a mystery. Although she is human like we are, it can be easy to consider her an enigma, perhaps far too lofty to be relatable. Conceived immaculately, never stained by original or personal sin, her holiness is beyond us. However, she also possesses a wonderful trait that is far from unique: Mary is a mother. While her maternity is divine, as her Son is Jesus Christ, she remains completely human. Mary is a real human mother, like each of our mothers. Though only half the human population, give or take, is eligible for motherhood, everyone has a mother. In our mothers, then, we can find a reflection of the maternity of that mysterious woman, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Saint Dominic certainly saw this reflection in his own mother, Blessed Jane of Aza, and he learned from his relationship with her how to approach the Blessed Virgin Mary as his mother as well. Jane’s tender love for her son gave him an image of Mary’s solicitous love for him and for all of us, and Dominic’s love for his mother was the mirror through which he learned to love the mother of our Lord.
Unlike Eve, who is naturally the mother of all mankind, Mary is our mother through adoption. In a providential way, though, this makes her maternity toward us all the closer. She is not our mother merely in some generic way, but particularly. She is my mother and your mother. When Jesus said to her, “Woman, behold, your son,” (John 19:26), his words were effective. At that moment, her love for each and all of us was transformed from an already perfect charity to a maternal love (Garrigou-Lagrange, Mother of our Saviour, p. 156). The motherly concern she possessed for her own Son she now bears for us as well. As a result, Mary obtains for us from her Son all the graces we need in order to join her in heaven, and she does this with the care only found in a mother.
As we enter this month of May, which is devoted to Mary, and as we approach Mother’s Day in a few weeks’ time, let us renew our filial piety to all our mothers. Like Saint Dominic, we can come to know and love the Blessed Virgin by knowing and loving our earthly mothers. Let us give thanks to God for both, and may the Blessed Virgin Mary pray for us and for all our mothers on earth, that they may be mothers ever closer to the image of the mother of our Lord.
Image: Jacopo Bellini, Virgin and Child