“How often do mothers think about the fact that a mother’s love brought God to earth?” The Mother’s Calling, page 23

Think of Mary when she was only a young teenager, around fourteen years old. At this time in her life, she was thinking about marriage and about starting a family. She was already betrothed to Joseph. From the outside she looked like an ordinary girl. Yet within her heart, she was anything but ordinary. Her inner life was one of intimate love that kept her so close to God that she was already, at fourteen, the forerunner of all the great saints. Like the women mystics who would one day follow her Son, Mary had such a longing and desire for God that she might have said, like St. Teresa of Avila did, muero porque no muero (I die because I do not die). When the angel announced to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” it was not simply that God chose her among many. She was a rare flower because her love was already in full bloom. She was irresistible to God for her great desire. The Holy Spirit rushed towards her, in part, because of her love, which wooed God. The greatest surprise is, that God answered her with a child: “therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God” (Luke 1:35). It was a mother’s love that brought God to earth!

Mary is our mother in the Church for just this reason. She teaches us not primarily with words that instruct, but with actions that demonstrate the inner thoughts of her heart. This is why in Scripture we read that she pondered in her heart (Luke 1:29, 2:19, 2:51) all the events in her life and God’s will for her.

A spirituality of pregnancy and birth is a spirituality of desire for God. For this time of waiting and anticipation which every mother remembers, is a Christian symbol of this desire. This is why, during Advent, we sing the O Antiphons begging the Lord, Come! Pregnancy is about love, longing and desire. While it also involves swelling, heartburn and insomnia, pregnancy is beyond us, just as the person to be born will reach beyond us to his or her own plans and schemes as a unique and separate individual. Mary knew this more than any mother! For God was in the coming of her Child as in no other. Her life was caught up in the story of her Son’s and carried her beyond herself, to embrace all of us as her own children.

During these blessed days of Lent, we should see every individual Lenten practice-whether it be a fast of a sacrifice, whether an act of charity or prayer-as a means to increasing our desire for God. Lent is nothing if not a time to grow in this desire, for we come to God by our glorious freedom to choose God above all other good things. In God we find them again with hearts renewed.

Copyright 2011 Julie Paavola