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Catholic notables share their favorite saints’ quotes about the Blessed Mother in time for Mother’s Day.
BY Joseph Pronechen
What a blessing that Mother’s Day is celebrated in May, the month dedicated to the Blessed Mother. As we honor our mothers, it’s the perfect time to sing the praises of Christ’s mother.
To show us how, we asked some notable Catholics to share their favorite saints’ quotes about Mary.
Father Lance Harlow, pastor of St. Charles Catholic Church in Bellows Falls, Vt., and author of Echo of God, likes what St. Louis de Montfort wrote in True Devotion:
Mary loves [her children] tenderly, and more tenderly than all other mothers put together. Throw, if you can, all the natural love which all the mothers of the world have for their children into the heart of one mother for only one child. Surely that mother will love that child immensely. Nevertheless, it is true that Mary loves her children still more tenderly than that mother would love that child of hers.
“It is truly difficult to fathom the quality of the love that Mary has for us,” explains Father Harlow. “Because our experience of human love is imperfect, we are not familiar with what it means to be loved perfectly. So we tend to see Mary’s love for us as a reflection of our own love for others: inconstant and judgmental. But in reality, this is a grave injustice, because it is a theological truth that God provides sufficient grace for each person to fulfill his or her vocation. Therefore, it must be true that Mary has received the grace to be the mother of the human race.
“How is it possible for one person to love billions of people simultaneously? Yet, God has given her that grace. Each one of us billions or so men and women on earth has a unique place in her Immaculate Heart, where she loves us with more than just a natural love — with a supernatural love that draws all of her children to Jesus.”
Catholic wife, mom and writer Sarah Reinhard connects with St. Bonaventure:
Mary above all men was most meek, so that neither in looks, nor in word, nor in deed did she ever show the very slightest sign of impatience, but was most patient.
“Being meek isn’t popular nowadays,” reflects Reinhard, “but I sure can use a lesson in patience. It’s never been my strong suit, though I have plenty of opportunities to practice it. I often think of Mary at the village well, enduring the stares of the town gossip (who must have known something was up with Mary) — and later, feeling the looks directed at her son as he carried his cross. Mary never embodies what’s popular or cool, but when I look to her, I always find what God wants for me. It doesn’t get much better than that!”
Msgr. Stuart Swetland, Flynn Professor of Christian Ethics at Mount St. Mary’s University, cites St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s Fourth Sermon on the Glories of the Virgin Mary:
The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent … for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned; indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. … “Behold the handmaid of the Lord,” she says, “be it done to me according to your word.”
“I love this excerpt from St. Bernard because it speaks of the freedom and the faith of Mary,” says Msgr. Swetland. “Only she can say Yes to God’s offer of salvation. What courage she must exhibit! Her ‘fiat’ is the model of faith that we must all emulate.”
“But in a particular way,” he says, “her Yes to God is the model for all mothers, who say Yes to God’s offer of new life. In this age when the term ‘choice’ is misused, elevating an act of destruction to a so-called ‘right,’ Mother’s Day is a day to recall and celebrate all mothers who have echoed Mary’s Yes throughout the years.”
Best-selling Catholic author and talk-show host Teresa Tomeo (visit her website) refers to St. Maximilian Kolbe:
Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin Mary too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did and If anyone does not wish to have Mary Immaculate for his mother, he will not have Christ for his brother.
“St. Max, of course, is also considered a patron for those in the media. I think his devotion to the Blessed Mother is a reminder of how powerful she is as an intercessor and a mother who cares for her children and can give them comfort and strength, especially in today’s toxic and extremely anti-Catholic culture,” Tomeo says.
Author and EWTN host Father Andrew Apostoli of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal points to a prayer by St. Francis, the antiphon from his office of the Passion:
Holy Virgin Mary, among all the women of the world there is none like you; you are the daughter and handmaid of the most high King and Father of Heaven; you are the Mother of our most holy Lord Jesus Christ; you are the spouse of the Holy Spirit. Pray for us, with St. Michael the Archangel and all the powers of heaven, and all the saints, to your most holy and beloved son, our Lord and master.
“Mary helps us to understand our relationship to the Holy Trinity,” says Father Apostoli, noting this quote from St. Augustine: Before Mary ever conceived Christ physically in her womb, she conceived him spiritually in her heart.
Father Apostoli connects the dots. “As spouse of the Holy Spirit, she was so perfect Jesus actually took flesh in her. And the Holy Spirit is the one forming Christ in us. And so we share that maternal role of Mary with Jesus living spiritually in us. We conceive Christ in our hearts, and we have a kind of maternal relationship there.”
“We actually imitate Mary’s motherhood two ways,” he says. “First, Christ is living in us spiritually. Second, we become ‘mothers’ of Jesus because the Holy Spirit helps us bring Christ to come to birth in others by our communicating the word (evangelization), by our witness, good example, teaching others to pray, encouraging them to receive the sacraments, and by prayers and sacrifices for the conversion of people.”
This is part of the co-redemptive mission we share with Jesus for the salvation of souls, Father Apostoli says. “It’s a maternal role to help bring Christ to birth spiritually in others as St. Paul described his ‘maternal’ mission (in Galatians 4:19): ‘My children, for whom I am again in labor until Christ be formed in you!’ Mary is the perfect model and example of the maternal role. It’s a role Mary beautifully fulfills, because she comes to warn her children, to call them to penance and conversion.”
Wife, mother and author Kimberly Hahn also turns to St. Bernard of Clairvaux:
Let us not imagine that we obscure the glory of the Son by the great praise we lavish on the Mother; for the more she is honored, the greater is the glory of her son. There can be no doubt that whatever we say in praise of the Mother gives equal praise to the Son.
“The honor she receives is a reflection of the glory of her son, just as the moon reflects the light of the sun,” says Hahn. “In all ways, she redirects our gaze to the one who made her, redeemed her and provided salvation through her Yes, her son and our savior, Jesus.”
What mother could do more?
Staff writer Joseph Pronechen is based in Trumbull, Connecticut.