Mary of the Month (October 2011)

Benjamin Mary of the Month

These two statutes of Mary, in the Doria-Pamphili park in Rome, evoke the conflicted relationship we have with motherhood. We desire to be loved, but at the same time we resent the fact that “being loved” is something completely beyond our control.

The conflict seems to be most obvious in teenagers, who have a way of resenting and pushing away their mother’s love, which at the same time they desperately need so much that they practically blame their mother for not being more present in their lives. Teenagers who truly know they are loved by their mother might actually feel intimidated by that love or perhaps haunted by it, wishing at times they could stop their mother from loving them, because her love means they are less “free” to do whatever they wish. Her love imposes a certain obligation to live in a way that is worthy of that love.

This is not to criticize teenagers, because adults do this exact same thing to Our Blessed Mother. Mary is God’s greatest expression of motherly love, and her love challenges and perhaps intimidates us. The only adequate response to Mary’s love is to love her in return, meaning we are not “free” to do whatever we wish. The Western world has had a conflicted relationship with Mary, at times pushing her away or ignoring her or even trying to offend her. Life, though, is too hard for the “poor banished children of Eve” to stay away from their mother for too long.