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Virtues of Mary

A Mother’s Day meditation

By Jilu Jacob

This coming weekend, I will celebrate my second Mother’s Day with a beautiful and vivacious 14-month-old daughter. It has been a year of changes, of being stretched, of loving and being loved, and of growing in mind, body and spirit.

I realized that my quest to be the “perfect mom” would not find fulfillment with Facebook photos or an immaculate home, but in my desire to follow the will of God. Turning to Mother Mary and her virtues reminded me many times this past year that motherhood is an ongoing journey of growing in holiness and goodness. As we celebrate motherhood and Mother Mary during May, I hope these virtues will encourage and challenge you to grow as a mother!

Jacob Family

Mary most prudent: Even though my journey as a mother has just begun, I have doubted and second-guessed many decisions my husband and I have taken in raising our daughter. Perhaps Mother Mary had similar doubts as she fled with Joseph to Egypt, hoping to protect her newborn son. Like Mary, we are called to be prudent, trusting in God, prayer, our maternal instincts and acting accordingly, even if we don’t necessarily know that it is the “right” decision. We have to establish rules and boundaries but also encourage freedom and self-expression. We have to keep our children safe but also encourage them to take risks. Only with prudence are we able to navigate through the plethora of opinions on child rearing and determine the best way for each unique child.

Mary most pure: While we may not have been immaculately conceived like Mother Mary, we are still called to be pure. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the pure of heart as those who “have attuned their intellects and will to the demands of God’s holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity, chastity … love of truth and orthodoxy of faith” (2518). As mothers, we are challenged to desire greater holiness while growing in charity toward our children and husband, chastity in our marriage, and discovering the love of truth and faith.

Mary most humble: We are given the beautiful privilege of being co-creators with God when we bring forth life from our bodies. Mother Mary reminds us with her Magnificat that this is cause to be humble and realize that “The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name” (Lk 1:48). Yet many times, when our children excel in school, sports, and social interactions, we congratulate ourselves instead of thanking God for their accomplishments. I remember a similar feeling of pride as my daughter started walking well before her first birthday! But as mothers, we must remember that a soul has been entrusted to us, one that is not simply defined or valued for accomplishments and failures, but for their intrinsic dignity as a child of the good God.

Mary most faithful: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). What faith it took to say those words! Knowing the difficulty that lay in the near future and unsure of the troubles to come, Mary placed herself in God’s hands, trusting that she would be fully cared for. How often can we have that faith when are placed in the midst of illness, death or financial struggles? Perhaps we can get through those crises that come in life, but do we have the joyful faith of Mary? Faith is to be taught not only with words but also by the joyful witness of our lives in Christ. Can our children look to our example and know that God will take care of them in every moment?

Mary most devout: True devotion to God lies not just in silent contemplation but also through prayer in action. In the active life of motherhood, it is easy to feel as if our devotion is lacking because we barely have a moment of silence! Mary exclaims, “My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior” (Lk 1:46).  While I still prioritize silence and prayer, I have begun to realize that God is asking me to joyfully devote my whole being and spirit to him, especially through the sleepless nights, dirty diapers and other challenges of motherhood. My devotion to the Lord took on a whole new meaning as my every action could be turned into a prayerful offering to the God.

In next week’s column I will reflect on five additional virtues, but until then I wish you all a very blessed Mother’s Day!

Jilu Jacob is a wife, mother and nurse living in Massachusetts with her husband, Roger, and their daughter Magdalena. She is a first generation Indian American, a Jesus Youth, and her family observes Syro-Malabar Catholic traditions.