The editorial of the month

Rev. Peter John Cameron, O.P

by Rev. Peter John Cameron, O.P

It has been a year since my mother died. I still mourn her death very much, not just because I miss her, but be­cause I still need her. There are some needs that can only be met by a mother.

This may be the chief reason why, when dying on the cross, Jesus appointed his Mother Mary to be our Mother also: because often the troubles we face in life are the sort that require a mother to fix them.

Assurance of a Mother’s love

I remember a moving news report some months back about a young woman who had scaled a chain-link fence on an interstate overpass, intending to jump to her death on the highway. A person who spotted her—a mother of two and grandmother of six—pulled over, called the police, and then raced to the young woman begging, “No, honey. Don’t do this.” She reached through the fence and grabbed the young woman’s clothing, clutching her with all her might. Other motorists stopped their cars and joined the frantic attempt to hold on to the woman through the openings of the fence. A police officer, arriving at the scene, described what he saw: a woman dangling from an overpass held by a “giant mass of people.”

What had led the young woman to such a desperate act? The woman who went to her rescue recalled how the young woman kept saying over and over, “My mom don’t love me. My mom don’t care for me.” But the woman soothed her through the fence, saying again and again to her, “No, we love you.”

It was a mother who recognized that young person’s desperation. It was a mother who rushed to her aid. It was a mother who assured her with love. And it was a mother who inspired the charity of other passersby to help. As one rescuer put it, “Everyone was determined they weren’t go­ing to let go of that lady for any reason.”

A verse of the ancient Marian hymn Ave Maris Stella im­plores, “Show yourself a Mother” (Monstra te esse Matrem). Sometimes when we are hanging on for life, only a Mother will do.

The beauty of Mary

The poet laureate of California, Dana Gioia, in a talk once said, “What we instinctively seek is beauty, not logic.” Why? Because ideas cannot give us a new sense of pur­pose, a new beginning, the reason not to give up the way that beauty can.

May is the month when the Church gives special hon­or to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The author J. R. R. Tolkien famously commented, “All my own perception of beauty, both in majesty and simplicity, is founded upon our Lady.” The grace of Mary in our life is God’s gift of the Beauty we instinctively seek in order to make sense of the world around us.

“I do not want to be lonely all my life,” confessed Flannery O’Connor, “but people only make us lonelier by reminding us of God.” Which means that we need in our life a person who, while reminding us of God, does not make us lonelier precisely because she is blessed with the power to unite us with God, overcoming all our loneliness. That is the Blessed Virgin Mary. Every Marian apparition is an invitation to leave behind our loneliness.

It is said that Dostoyevsky would sit for hours silently in front of an image of the Madonna “in order not to de­spair of humanity.”

Conversing with Mary

The Carmelite novices over whom Saint Thérèse of Lisieux had charge were mystified when the saint would reveal to them their innermost thoughts—as if the novice mistress could read their minds. But Thérèse explains: “Here is my secret. I never advise you without having invoked the Blessed Virgin. I ask her to inspire me to say what will do you the most good and I myself am often surprised at the things I teach you. I only know that in speaking to you I am not mistaken, and that Jesus speaks to you through me.”

Let us make it our habit regularly to invoke the Blessed Virgin, asking her to inspire us with what is most good and sanctifying for our life. The 15th-century theologian Denis the Carthusian gives us this counsel: “Too much contem­plation of lofty and difficult things, too much speculation on divine or intellectual matters, could break or weary the mind. And so I suggest that the believer should occasionally give himself the joy of conversing sweetly and very lovingly with the Virgin Mother and her adorable Child.” For just as “love made them closer to each other, and more like each other,” so may our Lady’s love do for us.