Rosemary Bogdan discusses how Mary can be our support and example as we live and love through the uncertainty of Covid.
As we approach the end of 2020, the year so widely regarded as awful, may we look to Mary our beloved mother, as an example of how to accept uncertainty. As CatholicMom’s own Father James Phalan, C.S.C., has written,
We all know that confusion and fear that have gripped so many this year. It is in saying YES to the Lord and following Him, as did Our Mother Mary, that fear can be transformed to hope and even courage.
Sometimes our image of saints can be so static that we think of them more like the statues that represent them than as the very real and human persons that they were (and are). Let’s consider Mary, the most perfect woman who ever lived. When the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her she was afraid. Of course she was. She was seeing a being beyond the limits of the material world. Her human response was natural. She did not know what this was about. At first she may not have even realized it was from God.
After hearing the angel’s message, Mary did ask how it would happen when she was a virgin. Surely other questions occurred to her that she did not ask? How would Joseph believe this? Might she face stoning? If these questions did not come to mind, they certainly would have to me. Scripture records no hesitation at all on Mary’s part.
Fiat. “May it be done to me according to your word.”
Now that’s trust in God. It is trust in His goodness and in His plan for Mary’s life. Yes, she was God’s most favored, but did that mean her life would be without suffering? Certainly not. Her emotional suffering was immense. Thus she even bears the title Our Lady of Sorrows.
Traveling to Bethlehem, probably while in labor, and then finding no place to stay? Fleeing to Egypt knowing that a death threat hung over her baby’s life? And to Egypt of all places, a place of Jewish exile, away from her loved ones and all that was familiar. Did they leave suddenly? Could she hear the cries of the mothers in the distance, perhaps some of her own friends? The sorrow!
Then there is the loss of the child Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem. Mary did not know that Jesus would be found. Have you ever lost track of a child for even a short period of time? The panic, the fear, is like no other, right? Hers went on for three days! She was a human mother. She was searching for Him “with great anxiety.” (Luke 2:48) She had all the emotional responses of any mother. And these examples are all before the Passion.
So here we are, some nine months into a worldwide pandemic, all masked and unable to freely gather with friends, acquaintances, and even some family. We don’t know what the future holds — not the near future, not the distant future. Will we ourselves contract Covid? I have quite a few friends and acquaintances who have. Two have died. Are my loved ones safe? Is the vaccine safe? There are so many questions, so much uncertainty. And yet we must trust God and remember that He always has a plan.
We are called to have courage which we know is not the absence of fear.
Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good…The virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1808)
We need fortitude like that of the Blessed Mother.
Mary completely surrendered to the grace and will of God, surely engaging all of her reason, will, and love for God toward all that is good. Surely she resisted the desire to know what the future holds because that desire is pointless and only hurts us. I feel quite certain that in her holiness she did not indulge in all the what-if questions that afflict so many of us. And our hand-wringing? No, she would have rejected such feelings because they lead to self-pity and a turning away from faith in the goodness of God.
May Mary come to our aid in this most unusual of Advents as the Body of Christ is pulled to a painful and unnatural separation. With her help may we keep our eyes on Jesus. May we keep “every thought captive in obedience to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10: 5). And as our tender mother holds the hands of her trembling children may we live this Advent in the spirit of Philippians 4:4-7.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Come, Lord Jesus, as we prepare to welcome you in the quiet of the stable in Bethlehem. As the Star of Bethlehem lit the way for the wise men, may we follow your truth and behold you in the unexpected coarseness and simplicity of the manger, joyfully proclaiming this Christmas, “Glory to the newborn King!”
In what ways can I focus on kindness and loving others in the remaining days of Advent? What will help me maintain this focus?
About the Author
Rosemary Bogdan is a wife, mother of six adult children, and a grandmother. She homeschooled her children when they were young and currently substitute teaches at her favorite Catholic school. When not spending time with her family, Rosemary writes at A Catholic Mother's Thoughts and Catholic365.com.