Like a weaned child with its mother…

We share with our Savior the love for our mother, the Virgin Mary

It happened on a 12.5-hour flight from Munich to Denver. I was sitting in the second row and in front of me, in the front row, in full view, was a young mom with her baby of approximately six months old. Twelve hours is a long time and passengers were looking for the best ways to spend it: reading, trying to sleep, watching a movie, or just distracting themselves one way or another, hoping time would go by more quickly. For that young mother, there were no movies or any kind of reading. She spent twelve hours with her child: comforting him when he cried, distracting him with a toy, moving around… With the baby in her arms the entire time. At some point, when the lights of the plane went down inviting everyone to get some sleep, I noticed both of them falling asleep. The baby slept peacefully crouched on his mother, with his little face close to her, and the mother, soundly asleep and still tightly hugging her little boy.

At that moment I thought about the countless hours in which Jesus, at just a few months old, would also probably fall asleep crouching on his mother and the times that Mary would fall asleep while hugging him gently. Throughout those countless hours bonded to each other, with their hearts beating very close to each other, the baby staring at his mother’s face, sleeping on her for hours, a pure and unbreakable bond was built and recognized in the voice of Baby Jesus calling this woman “mama,” even before he took his last breath on the cross. The nine months in the mother’s womb and the first few years with our eyes focused on the woman we call “mom” set in any human’s heart an indisputable love for that woman.

Catholics understand Jesus’ relationship with his mother, Mary, not only in the highest theological significance and biblical strength, but also in its human dimension. Everything that we read in the Scriptures about this relationship has to be understood from a human, maternal, tender, and loving bond between Jesus and his mother. They lived together for 30 years, day and night, treating each other with affection, enjoying the little things of a humble family life, and conversating about God.

In the Old Testament, the names of 84 mothers are mentioned. In many cases, the mother appears as the most important woman in a man’s life. The intense relationship of man with his mother is part of the Jewish soul. Rabbi Soloveitchik says that “the mother will always see in her son, no matter his age, the baby that she gave birth to.” For a mother, “the image of her baby, the memory of that little boy in her arms, the image of her playing, smiling, hugging, feeding, and bathing him, never fades. She always sees her son as the little one who needs her company and support, who she always must protect like a shield.” Thus, due to this relationship between her and her son, for a good Jew, there is no love greater than the love of his mother, after the love of God. The Jewish Midrash says that when God wanted to indicate the greatest love in a human sense, he used the love of a son for his mother.

Jesus, the man from Nazareth, from a Jewish race and culture, and the man with the most sensitive and perfect soul that ever existed, loved his mother with all the endlessness of his divine and human heart. Catholics worship and share these feelings with our Savior, and that is why we call Mary “Mother” and ask for her protection and affection. It is a matter that comes from the heart.

I wish all the mothers out there a Happy Mother’s Day. May the Lord bless and keep you!

COMING UP: Archbishop: In this time of need, join me for a Rosary Crusade

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

When God chose to enter the world to save us, he chose Mary, whose deep faith provided the way for Jesus to come among us. She believed in the words of the angel, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Lk 1: 37). As she expressed her deep confidence in the promises of God, the Word became flesh. In our current time of crisis, our Church, world and our country need faith in God and the protection and intercession of Mary. And so, beginning on August 15, I am launching a Rosary Crusade to ask Mary to urgently bring our needs to Jesus.

The last several months of the coronavirus epidemic, the civil unrest that has broken out in different parts of the archdiocese and our nation, and the challenges the Church is facing have made the need for Mary’s intercession abundantly clear. Mary is our Mother and desires only our good like the Father.

In her appearance to Juan Diego, Our Lady reminded him and reminds us today, “Listen and let it penetrate your heart…do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain.  Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?”

Saint Padre Pio, who was known for his devotion to the Rosary offers us this advice: “In times of darkness, holding the Rosary is like holding our Blessed Mother’s hand.”

We turn to Mary in our difficulty because she is our spiritual mother, who with her “yes” to the Lord embraced the mysterious ways of God’s almighty power. She is “the supreme model of this faith, for she believed that ‘nothing will be impossible with God,’ and was able to magnify the Lord: ‘For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #273).

We know, too, from history that Mary has answered prayers brought to her through the Rosary and that she has personally asked people to pray it for the most serious needs, especially for the conversion of souls.

Pope Pius V famously asked all Christians to pray the Rosary in 1571 to prevent Christianity from being overrun by the invading Ottoman Turks, and the Christian naval forces were subsequently victorious in the Battle of Lepanto. In the apparitions at Fatima, Mary identified herself as “The Lady of the Rosary” and asked the shepherd children to whom she appeared to pray a daily Rosary for world peace and the end of World War I.

During his pontificate, Saint John Paul II spoke of the Rosary as his favorite prayer. In his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, he added, “The Rosary has accompanied me in moments of joy and in moments of difficulty. To it I have entrusted any number of concerns; in it I have always found comfort” (RVM, 2).

This past May, Pope Francis encouraged praying the Rosary, saying, “Dear brothers and sisters, contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial.”

During this time of trial, we need to hear the words of Jesus spoken often in the Gospel, words spoken to Mary by the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation, “Be not afraid.” We need to pray especially for a deeper trust and hear the words of Elizabeth spoken to Mary in our own hearts. “…blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lk 1:45). The Lord is with us in this time as he has promised! Praying the rosary helps us, with the aid of our Mother, to relive in our own lives the mysteries of Christ’s life.

I personally invite all Catholics in the Archdiocese of Denver to pray the Rosary every day between the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, August 15, through the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, September 15. I would be remiss if I did not thank Bishop Carl Kemme of Wichita for inspiring this Rosary Crusade by launching one in his diocese at the beginning of August.

As we unite in asking Mary for her intercession and protection, please pray for the following intentions:

* For a growth in faith, hope and charity in the heart and soul of every human being, and most especially in our own that we may seek only the will of the Father

* For a recognition of the dignity of life from the moment of conception until natural death and that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God

* A quick end to the coronavirus pandemic

* For all who are suffering from COVID-19, for their caregivers, and for those who have died from the virus

* In reparation for the sins of abortion, euthanasia, and racism

* In reparation for the sins and failings of our spiritual leaders and for our personal sins

* For healing and justice for all those who have been discriminated against because of their race

* For the conversion of the world and the salvation of souls

* For all those who are persecuted throughout the world for the Faith

* For the conversion of those who carry out acts of desecration against our churches, statues and religious symbols

* In reparation for these acts of desecration, especially against Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament

* For our civic leaders and those who keep us safe to experience a deeper conversion, to govern justly, and to seek the common good

* That we may learn how to love and forgive from the example of Jesus

* For all marriages and families, neighborhoods, churches and cities to be strengthened

* For an increase in vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life

Thank you for joining me in this prayer on behalf of our world, country and our Church. I am confident that many of the faithful will respond in turning to the Blessed Mother who “shine[s] on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope” (Pope Francis’ Letter to the Faithful for the Month of May 2020). May you always know the protection of Mary as she leads you to her Son!