The Mother of all Saints

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They tell me she looks just like me.  I smile and nod and smile some more.  To be honest, I don’t consider it much of a compliment for her.

But then, when I sent some pictures to a grandmother who hadn’t seen her in far too long, I heard that she thinks my daughter looks, not like me, but like my husband.  You might expect me to be disappointed, but I think it’s great.

My older daughter is the spitting image of my husband’s family, though she has some of my expressions.  She has his dark eyes, his complexion, his height and stature.

My younger daughter doesn’t look much like her sister.  Instead of dark features, she’s light, with curls and an impish smile that I know all too well.  She sticks her tongue out when she’s concentrating and has a way of looking at Daddy that I think my own father would recognize.

Hearing that my children resemble my husband warms my heart.  My desire for my children is that they turn out like my husband.  It’s not that I think I’m such a bad person, but that I have such admiration and respect for him.  When I was wavering and unsure of myself, at what I think now was one of the lowest points in my life, he came along and quietly swept me away.  I discovered a treasure trove in the Catholic faith, thanks to his silent witness.

I think this must be how Mary feels about me.  She sees me striving so hard to do my best, and maybe she smiles, as I do, when she sees how I resemble her Divine Spouse, the Holy Spirit.  Does she get a tear in her eye at the thought that I could be like Him?

I know she must be cheering for me.  As Queen of All Saints, she has a host of children who have grown up to be a lot like Jesus.  While none of us humans can achieve His perfection, the saints stand in a group in front of me, urging me to fight down the desire to see them as too holy to imitate.

So often, I’m guilty of giving up if I can’t reach perfection.  What’s the point, after all?  Is a thing worth doing if it can’t be done right?

“Yes!” the Queen of Saints whispers in my ear, as my head lies on my pillow, exhausted from a day of failed attempts.  “Keep failing, my child.  It’s the only way you can get close!”

It goes against what I’ve spent my life learning to do.  It goes against my very picture of what a queen does.

She doesn’t lean over a frazzled servant girl and whisper in her ear, does she?  She doesn’t lift a small, dirty child from the floor and hold her close, does she?  She doesn’t clean other people’s messes when there are maids, does she?

Except that the Queen of Saints does…all of this and more.  She might have a crown of stars, but that doesn’t keep her from doing the floors right beside me.  She might have a gown of gold, but she’s still offering to make the tea and join me in drinking it.  She might be royalty, but that doesn’t keep her from cheering like a Midwestern football fan at every single small success.

Mary is an example of perfection, but she’s not an inaccessible icon, sitting on a remote throne far away.  As Queen of Saints, she opens her arms wide, embracing a group of fallen humans who keep trying.

If I keep listening to her and following her example, I just might find out that I’m starting to look a bit like her.  And, if I’m lucky, maybe I’ll start to resemble her Spouse too, which will lead me to looking more like her Son.

image: Renata Sedmakova / Shutterstock.com

Sarah Reinhard

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When Sarah Reinhard set off in her life as a grown-up, she had no idea it would involve horses, writing, and sparkly dress shoes. In her work as a Catholic wife, mom, writer, parish employee, and catechist, she’s learned a lot of lessons and had a lot of laughs. She’s online at snoringscholar.com and is the author of a number of books.

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  • JMC

    I love that picture of Mary scrubbing floors alongside you (and me! ;D) I had a dream some years ago that brought something similar home to me. At the time, I was prone to nightmares; this one took the form of something chasing me. It was not the usual run-of-the-mill monster that I usually encountered in such dreams, but something of such pure evil that I couldn’t bear even to glance over my shoulder to see if it was gaining on me. I also didn’t have to; I knew it was. I needed help, and I needed it fast. At that moment, I saw a light in the sky, which resolved into Mary herself, under the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I called to her by name, and she began, slowly, to come down toward me. Not fast enough; the evil would catch me before she got to me. But she was my mother, so I called her “Mother.” She came down a little faster. But who calls his mother, “Mother,” in these days? I looked up again. “MOM!” I called. And like someone on a zipline, there she was at my side, and my pursuer was gone.
    From that dream I awoke with a feeling of incredible peace. It took from it the message that she *wants* us to be familiar with her; none of the distant, awe-filled reverence so many of us feel is appropriate, though she is indeed awesome in every sense of the word. Let’s hang onto that image of her sitting down to tea with you, for with whom does one share tea but a close friend?
    Our old forms of prayer included lots of “thees” and “thous” for God, Mary, and the saints; most people make the erroneous conclusion that these were terms of respect. Quite the contrary. These were the *familiar* forms of address; “you” was the form used for someone higher in the social strata. (It’s why the Quakers created such a scandal when they called noblemen “thee.”) And it’s the same in other languages. Spanish uses the familiar “tu” instead of the polite “usted;” even in Germany, whose people are given to more formality than most and only use the familiar forms with family and with very rare close friends, it’s “du” over “Sie.” And it’s right in line with the Biblical passages in which Jesus tells us we can call God, “Abba.” The English Bible translates it as “Father;” the word Abba is actually something small children call their fathers; a closer translation is “Dad” or “Daddy.” Once again, familiarity.
    And that’s one awesome family. ;D

  • BillinJax

    You are so right again Sarah.

    And speaking of saints, it is imperative that we believe in God. It is wonderful that we believe in Angels. And it is a blessing that we believe in Saints. Good! Well, just who
    and where are the saints?
    How sad it is to know that many “Christians” either dismiss entirely the
    notion of sainthood or find it difficult to incorporate into their spiritual
    life the communion of saints and the value they are to the universal Christian
    church. I don’t know that you can be Christian and not believe that the human
    soul is eternal. If it is eternal then its “status” in life and after death,
    especially to those who know and love the person, becomes an important concern.
    We can agree that this life of ours is but for a season and how we live and
    share it with others is of eternal consequence for the body and soul which
    envelops it. This is why it is so important that as parents we honor our
    obligation to instill deeply within the hearts and minds of our children those
    very first two rules of the catechism “to know and to love God”. Children
    without a true understanding of their heavenly father and why they were created
    and given life have little hope to perform the third rule of Christian life,
    “to serve Him”. Hopefully we can see to it our little children develop the
    perspective that life here is like a playground where we sinners can train
    ourselves to become saints. The games or activities designed for us require
    only active loving participation and service at all times and a willingness to
    assist anyone needing help achieving the goals our heavenly Father has for us.
    As grown ups we become so entrenched in our often drab day to day existence
    by the requirements of producing and providing that we forget that we too are
    children, God’s children. We look at our little children playing and think of
    how worry free they are since we have taken on all their cares for them. We forget that “Our Father” through the Holy Spirit has lovingly provided our Lord Jesus who invites us to place our cares and worries upon him so that we too enjoy freedom to become children of God, His saints. It has been said that a saint is someone who deep within his heart believes God loves him and offers him eternal life through Christ’s sacrifice
    and resurrection and desires to use their life to witness, inform and assure
    others of the same truth about themselves. It’s that simple.
    So, who are the saints? They are people like you and me who believe and
    hope in their Creator and begin their heaven here on earth living Christ’s
    prayerful request by helping build “thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in
    heaven”. We all have an “invitation” to sainthood and can respond according to
    our own abilities, gifts, and station in life willingly in the name of Jesus who
    relieves our burdens and has freed our spirits to be among the saints.
    Hopefully many of us will be among that “great number which no man could count”
    spoken of in Revelations which will eternally be the “communion of saints”.
    Father God, we pray that we can rejoice fully in the world as children of
    light and holiness so men can witness and know the truth of your merciful love
    and accept Jesus as their “personal” savior through and within the eternal “one
    body of Christ”.
    Yes, all are “personally” welcomed to the community of saints, here, now,
    and forever!

    Bill Sr.

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