Our Lady’s Apron Strings Will Never Be Cut

‘Mary cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior's work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace.’ [CCC 968, LG 61]

Alessandro Rosi (1627-1697), “The Holy Family”
Alessandro Rosi (1627-1697), “The Holy Family” (photo: Public Domain)

There’s an old saying about the relationship between parents and their children, particularly between mother and child. It’s “cut the apron strings,” a metaphor that suggests that an individual is over-dependent on  their mother to the point that she controls, influences, or monitors them. Someone who has never “cut the apron strings” can’t make decisions, take action or form opinions without first looking to their mother for direction or approval. By most standards, it’s an unhealthy relationship and it’s advisable for the mother to let go and the child to seek independence.

I know all that, but I have yet to cut the apron strings with my mother.

Before you judge me, let me first tell you about my mother. If you understand who she is, you’ll understand why I cling to her apron strings. My mother is the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, who Jesus gave to us as our mother as he hung dying on the Cross. By this spiritual adoption, the Church teaches, Mary became our mother “in the order of grace” which means she is truly our mother without having given birth to us. Our mother is beautiful, pure, holy, loving, compassionate, perceptive, observant, and smart. As St. Alphonsus Liguori said, “from the very first moment of her existence, she had always the perfect use of reason.” Who would not want to seek the counsel of such a mother?

Knowing her wisdom and unity with her Son, I trust her to guide me according to God’s holy will. She won’t and can’t want anything other than that. She adheres to God’s will in all things including the requests she grants to her children – me, and you. Her greatest desire is to see us happy in heaven for all Eternity.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. ... Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.” [CCC 969]

I love all the titles of Mary, but the one I most love and cherish is “Mother.” I run to her when I’m in trouble, cry to her when I’m hurt or grieved, prayerfully consult her when I’m perplexed, and share my joy with her (yes, oftentimes out loud). During times of trial and suffering, I hang onto those apron strings with all my might. I’m that little child who, having been frightened by an aggressive dog, runs and hides behind her mother for protection. I’m also the child who, when faced with a challenge, glances back for assurance from her mother. And, I’m the child who, weary from the ups and downs of the day, climbs into her mother’s lap to be soothed and nurtured. She has never failed me, and I trust that she never will.

For all these reasons, I have no desire to cut the apron strings. If I’m seen as too dependent on my mother, then so be it. Unlike unhealthy dependence on an over-powering mother, this kind of dependence is desired by Christ and ordained by God’s plan for our salvation.

Francisco de Zurbarán, “The Family of the Virgin,” ca. 1650

Why Do We Ask Mary to Pray for Us?

“After her Son’s Ascension, Mary ‘aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers.’ In her association with the apostles and several women, ‘we also see Mary by her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation.’” (CCC 965)

Ivan Aivazovsky, “Walking on Water,” ca. 1890

10 Scripture Verses to Strengthen You in Hardship

“The witness of Scripture is unanimous that the solicitude of divine providence is concrete and immediate; God cares for all, from the least things to the great events of the world and its history. The sacred books powerfully affirm God's absolute sovereignty over the course of events …” (CCC 303)