Ellen Mongan recalls the journey in faith that led her to a deeper relationship with the Blessed Mother.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 1:41-42)
I’ll never forget the comment my friend Jeanne Roach made to me after I asked her, “How do you get into the Blessed Mother?”
Her reply came with both conviction and correction, “Ellen, the Blessed Mother isn’t something you get into.” She added, “If you look in my heart, not only Jesus lives there, but also Mary, as well.”
Did I want to crawl in a hole or at least under a rock? Yes! I had not only insulted Jeanne, much older and wiser in the Lord, but also probably Jesus and Mary as well. Isn’t that sad that you can take back things you bought, but not what you say?
That conversation set me on a search for my Mother Mary. I have tried in desperation to kindle a relationship with Blessed Mary, sometimes to no avail. I guess I could blame the nuns, but that wouldn’t be very Christian, would it? After all, I am thankful that the nuns did lead straight to Jesus.
When my mother-in-law Fran was going into surgery for ovarian cancer in 2005, I commented to her, “You are the most like the Blessed Mother for a Protestant woman.” She smiled in her quiet and gentle way. I smiled back, praying for her in my heart.
Little did I know that moment in time would change my life and begin my journey, the one that I desired in the seventies, a journey that would lead me into the arms of my Mother Mary. I pondered that comment, thinking Mary is a lot like Fran – quiet, gentle, and loving. I started saying three Hail Marys a night for Fran. As I did, I remembered the words of the nuns saying, “Don’t forget to say three Hail Mary’s before you go to bed.” See, they did their part!
I began staying for the Rosary after daily Mass, whenever I could. Then I joined the cenacle Mary prayer group. I took little steps toward a relationship with Mary. One day I was visiting my Dad at the hospital, and members of a group called the Legion of Mary stopped by. I said to them, “I don’t have a very good relationship with the Blessed Mother.”
They both smiled sweetly and said in unity, “All you need to do is ask.” They added, “God’s Word says, ‘Ask and ye shall receive … and you receive not because you ask not.’”
Ask I did. I discovered later that the Legion of Mary in Aiken, South Carolina, led my daddy to, as he put it, a “rebirth.”
When one of my children was going through a difficult time in her life, and I did what I always do when the storms of life begin to shower upon me, I ran to the Adoration chapel. I needed to pour out my heart to Jesus. I found myself to be the only one in the chapel. My prayer was barely audible as I was wailing with tears; I was too distraught to be embarrassed.
Alone with my Jesus, I felt unafraid. To my surprise it was Mother Mary who answered my call for help. Jesus knew that I needed a mother’s love, so he sent her. She always says yes to her son. Mary knows how hard it is to stand at the foot of the cross while your child is suffering.
I will never forget my words to Mother Mary. From the pangs of distress, I cried out, “Mary, I need you!” I took a breather, then cried out again, only louder, ”Mary, I need you!”
After a pause, I heard, ”I need you?”
Baffled and confused, a third time I spoke. “Mary, you do not understand, I need you!”
Then not audibly but written in my soul for all eternity, Mary said, “I need you,” then added, “Will you tell the world about my son Jesus?”
I answered, “Yes!”
God gives that blessed assurance when we need it most. I was forever changed. Jesus, of course, has first place in my heart, but when I need a mother, Mary is there. I know what Jeanne meant when she said, "If you look in my heart, not only does Jesus live there but also Mary as well.” She was there all along.
My mother-in-law Fran has gone to her Heavenly home, but I will always be grateful to her because not only was she my mother, but she left behind Mother Mary for me in her absence.
Dear faithful reader, there’s no one like our Heavenly Father, but sometimes we need a mother’s love. Just call out to Mary; she will be there to love, support, and, yes, to intercede to Jesus for you. She is truly “blessed among women.”
Do you know my Mother Mary?
Copyright 2021 Ellen Mongan
About the Author
Ellen Mongan is a Catholic writer, speaker, and host of WOW MOM podcasts. Her book, WOW MOM: A Walk with God, is on Amazon. She contributes to Catholic Mom, Women of Grace, and Augusta Chronicle. Her most important roles as wife to Deacon Patrick and mother of eight led her to ministry. Learn more and contact her to speak at EllenMongan.com.