Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Holiest Form of Flattery: Imitating Mary

     There’s an old saying:  Imitation is the sincerest form of Flattery.  It shows that you like and admire that person and want to be like him or her. In the case of the Blessed Mother, imitating her is our highest calling.  We can do no better than to be like Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and the holiest person that ever lived.
     As a matter of fact, the very worst thing about Mary is that so many of our Christian brethren do not appreciate her.  They love Jesus but ignore his mother. That is so sad because Mary has so much to offer us.

     Author Marge Fenelon, in her book Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom, lays out ten scenes in Mary’s life in which every modern mother can relate. The stories and Marge’s reflections and own personal experiences, lay out the virtues we should aspire to in a way that makes them both desirable and attainable. 
      From a distance, in the day-by-day grunge work of motherhood, the Blessed Mother seems to be on another stratosphere. Doing laundry, separating squabbling siblings, finding out who left the mess in the kitchen…does not seem very Mary-like on the surface.  Mary only had only one very holy child who was God.   How little her life reflects ours, right? 
      Yet, as Marge points out, even being the holiest woman ever born with a child who was also God, Mary did not have it easy.  She begins with Mary’s Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel announced that she was to be the mother of God.  It is with both appreciation and awe that Marge reflects on this moment in salvation history. “At the moment of the Annunciation, Mary set off a chain of events with far-reaching implications.”

     Because of Mary’s yes, God became man. “Allowing herself to become the instrument for Jesus’ Incarnation also meant becoming the instrument for God’s plan of salvation for us,” Marge writes. And as explained in the Vatican II document Lumen Genium, by her perpetual virginity, and through her son Jesus, Mary became the spiritual mother of the entire Church.  As such, Marge explains, “Mary’s universal motherhood guarantees her position as mediator and her ability to know everything about us including our personal needs and concerns.” She adds that Mary is capable of caring for every aspect of our lives. Yes, even cleaning the bathrooms or getting gum out of someone’s hair.
      In each of the ten chapters, Marge uses a moment in the life of Mary and identifies the virtue she displayed and then relates it to our own lives. For instance, when Mary responded to the Angel Gabriel that she was the handmaid of the Lord, Marge writes about Moms feeling like we are always serving others.  “On days when you’ve been pulled and tugged in every direction, it can feel like you’ve been conscripted into subservience and as though you can’t make anybody happy.  At times like these, think of Mary and her trustful service to God.”
      She shares ways in which she went the extra mile to be a hand servant to her family, such as playing games even when it was not of particular interest to her. Now, ironically, Marge is often the one getting the games started.
     Mary is the Queen of our world and of our hearts. We cannot get too much of her because she always  leads us to her son, Jesus. Marge’s book is not just a guide in imitating Mary, it is a way to spend time with her and get to know her better. And to know her is to love her.  From there, the next natural step is to imitate her. The best part is, she will help us to do it.


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