A listener named Amy messages on Facebook asking how to view Mary as a mother when artwork makes her look so solemn. She shares that she would love to connect with Our Lady, but doesn’t find prayers such as the Rosary to be very approachable. Father Dave and Christina offer some advice.
Father Dave points out that oftentimes, we don’t see Mary depicted doing typical motherly tasks. “If you think of a young mother, she’s changing diapers, and being a mom is kind of messy and yet all those things are maternal.”
Christina responds, “I think it’s important to point out that Mary would have done all of those things. You know, she would have cooked, she would have cleaned the house, she would have done motherly tasks. She would have comforted Jesus when he stubbed his toe or something like that … I think because we have such a strong devotion to Our Lady and we want to show reverence to her, she is often more depicted as this almost otherworldly being.”
Father Dave compares artwork depicting Mary to artwork depicting the queen of England. “It makes me think of the queen of England,” Father Dave says. “We know that she is a normal human being, but she’s always depicted very regally for various reasons that we have felt it necessary or appropriate to depict her. Imagine how scandalous it would be, a cartoon depicting the queen of England doing something really gritty like you do at home, like with the plumber, fixing the sink or something like that. And yet, obviously, they know in their head she does have experiences like that. She was a mother. Now, I think Mary, our Blessed Mother, had to get a lot more down and dirty raising Jesus as a little baby, and a toddler, and a boy than Queen Elizabeth. Mary didn’t have a staff back then. We almost feel like we can’t depict Mary in this way in order to be reverent.
Christina responds, “I think we wanted to depict Mary in a certain way so that it lends to our sense of reverence. But sometimes it does allow us to forget that Mary did do all of these human things that we go through and, and those things make her more relatable. So I think maybe don’t take the artwork so seriously as in, ’This is the image of Mary and so this must have been exactly what she was like.’ It’s the same thing if I were to see a picture of you, Father Dave, and I just thought this is Father Dave and this is all there is to him. A picture doesn’t tell the full story of that person or that place or experience. Maybe we should think about that too when we see images of Mary as well.”
Christina shares that she used to have a difficult time relating to Mary as well, but prayer is what helped her. “I would say, ‘I don’t get it. She’s Jesus’ mom and she’s great, but I don’t get the huge deal. It wasn’t until I tried two things. I prayed a 54-day Rosary novena for the first time when I was 19. And that really changed my perspective on Mary because I had gotten into the habit of praying the Rosary daily and I think I just got a lot of grace from those prayers each day that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. That allowed me to understand the heart of Mary a little bit more. Also, Marian consecration helped me a ton in terms of learning Mary’s role in the life of Jesus as his mother, and in our lives as our mother. It really helped me to understand how she points us back to Jesus and how she is our mother. We should go to her like we would our own mothers for advice, for comfort, and consolation.”
Father Dave and Christina also encourage Amy to make her own prayers from the heart to Mary if she finds rote prayer difficult. Father Dave responds, “Ask her the question you asked me. How do I relate to you as a mother? And let’s see what happens.”