The Blessed Mother, Mother Mary, The Blessed Virgin, Queen of Heaven, Our Lady, Madonna, Mother of God, Queen of Peace, … I have always had a fascination with Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus Christ.
In a religion full of patriarchs, I went to the Blessed Mother to find peace, love, and understanding. Not that I didn’t get those things from God or Jesus; there was just a feminine quality of my faith that I could only receive from Mother Mary. Growing up in the Catholic faith, as a child I was afraid of God. To me, He was the great punisher. I can remember my mom telling me, “God is going to punish you!” whenever I was misbehaving. This was almost always followed by me falling down or bumping into a table and my mom calling out, “See, God punished you!” God was a hard, authoritative disciplinarian. He was someone to fear. I didn’t want to mess with Him!
Jesus was a bit kinder, but I still didn’t connect with Him as much as I did with His Blessed Mother. In the Catholic Church, there is always a giant depiction of the Crucifixion hanging in the front. This vision of Christ is just plain scary to a child. Knowing He gave his life for me, my prayers to Jesus were always filled with guilt and apologies. I didn’t know how to connect.
Then there was Mary… this beautiful mother who welcomed all with open arms. I recall watching the old movie, The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952) when I was about 5 years old. The Holy Mother talked to the children and blessed them. There was nothing to fear from her. She held all the loving qualities that I needed from my faith… gentleness, support, warmth, empathy, and affection. It was to Her that I called when I was afraid or bewildered with this world. She was merciful and giving.
As an adult, I’ve come to terms with my relationship with God and Jesus. I am no longer afraid that God’s going to punish me, although that took quite a long time to reconcile, along with the Catholic guilt (Thanks, Mom!). I have also learned that to disregard the Divine Feminine is a big mistake. What kind of God are we left with when we take away feminine qualities like compassion and devotion? I need a Father, but I also need a Mother in the Divine. Who else, but the Queen of Heaven, the Mother of God, could fill what’s missing in our hearts?
Who is Mary of Nazareth?
Mary was a Jewish woman who was born in the first century. She was conceived and born without Original Sin which is what Christians know as the Immaculate Conception. She lived in Nazareth, a village in Galilee. As a young girl, she took a vow of virginity in the Temple. She is described as being “ordinary,” not wealthy or exceptional in any way. Well, what happened to her made her extraordinary.
As a young woman, the archangel Gabriel came to her with a message. He told her that she was chosen to give birth to the Messiah. She was a young, unmarried woman in the first century. Can you imagine the repercussions? Despite what the decision would do to her reputation, Mary said yes, putting her faith and trust in the God she loved. The Holy Spirit came to Mary, and Jesus was conceived. Her cousin, Elizabeth, confirmed that she is carrying the Son of God when Mary goes to visit her. What a great cousin!
At the time that Mary conceives, she is betrothed to a man named Joseph. Joseph also puts his faith in God and marries the pregnant Mary. Joseph and a very pregnant Mary travel to Bethlehem after the king commands everyone to return to the land of their birth for a census (really just a way for the king to get money through taxes). While in Bethlehem, Mary gives birth to Jesus, the Son of God, in a manger because there is no room at the inn. Can you imagine giving birth in a barn? Mary was truly a special woman.
Mary was Jesus’ biggest supporter. She pushed Him to perform His first miracle at the wedding in Canaa. This is the one where Jesus turns water into wine (my kind of guy). She supports Him throughout His entire life, in death, and even after death. She watches her Son as He is crucified and as He dies. No mother should have to go through that kind of pain!
Later, she prays with the other disciples and followers of Jesus. She is there to see Him return after the resurrection and again as Jesus ascends into Heaven. Not much is known about Mary after Jesus’ Ascension. It is believed that She was assumed into Heaven, and there is even a Feast Day on August 15th to celebrate this.
Pope Pius XII declared that the Blessed Mother the patron saint of humanity; dedicating the entire human race to Mary in 1944. Mary is mostly depicted wearing blue, symbolizing royalty, purity, the skies, and classifying her as an empress. As Queen of Heaven and Earth, Mary is believed to carry our petitions to her Son and is our advocate in the Kingdom of God. She is one incredible Mother!