Monday, May 24, 2010

Mary at Pentecost

Mary at Pentecost
Finding My Vocation in Her Example

I find myself turning to Mary quite a bit in my role as mother. What I have found, when I look to her Pentecost example, is a series of lessons that inspire me to seek her Son in every moment of my day.

All women are called to motherhood.

Many aspects of this vocation didn’t feel natural to me at first. Maybe it’s that I didn’t feel that I deserved the many blessings I found coming to me as I went through my first pregnancy and labor.

Holding my first daughter, I thought of the women I knew who struggled with infertility, with a longing for more children, with miscarriages. I thought of the single women I knew who felt the pull toward marriage, but had no prospects.
I came to appreciate the different types of motherhood, and came to see that spiritual motherhood is a unique role women have been given by God.

There are women who have empty nests and wisdom to share and women with schedules crowded with sippy cups and diapers. But, perhaps unnoticed, there are also women who are single with a great passion for children and women with less children on earth than they have in heaven or in their heart.

In Pentecost, we see the Church as a family gathered together, Mom in our midst. Mary is there with the Apostles, and she encourages me to look around, at my fellow women, and be inspired by their examples of motherhood in all its forms.

We have to start with the present (and our presence).

By the time of Pentecost, the regular band of disciples must have been like a large extended family. And Mary must have been a warm, familiar sight to them. They were worried, and probably a little unsure.

In the Upper Room, Mary shows me the importance of the present, and the significance my mere presence can play. She didn’t miss any of the big events in her Son’s life, from His first step to His first miracle, from His Passion to His Resurrection.

It’s only natural that she’s in the Upper Room, and it underlines the importance of the here-and-now moment in each of our lives. God doesn’t ask us to pine for the past or live in the future; He holds the present before us as a gift given.

In the same way, I see that my presence makes such a difference in people’s lives. While I am not able to be all things to all people – or to be in all places at one time – I can focus my efforts and use Mary’s quiet example at Pentecost as a guiding light.

God is with us in our pain.

I had been dating my husband for a few years when his sister buried a baby. I had never experienced anything like what I witnessed in the months before and after the baby’s birth. We knew the baby would not be healthy, and we knew the likelihood was great that there would be a funeral following the birth. In fact, the doctors were disgusted that she did not have the abortion they scheduled.

On the day of the funeral, I saw my future husband sit tall and straight, his eyes red, even as I saw the grieving father in the front row sit with two young girls on his lap and his arm around his wife.

I had never witnessed grief of that sort, but I had also never seen the kind of hope I saw that day either. There were no recriminations. There were tears, and there was sorrow, but there was also peace.

Did my sister-in-law doubt God’s presence in the midst of her pain? Has she ever shaken her fist, sobbed her heart out, wondered at the cross she carries? When she found herself, once again, at the foot of the Cross with Mary, did she just stop and let Mary hold her?

In my sister-in-law’s example over the years, I have seen how her motherhood extended beyond her four children, two of whom were held first by the Blessed Mother. I watched her embrace other children, care for people, and give of herself unconditionally. She has been, for me, a model of trusting in God’s presence, even through pain beyond imagining.

Our Lady of the Cenacle, pray for us.

Above all, Pentecost gives me another way to invoke Mary. Here she is, patiently waiting. She knows what I’ve gone through, and she knows that there’s hardship ahead. But she smiles anyway. The greatest joy, as she knows so well, comes from always saying “Yes” to God.

—Sarah Reinhard writes online at


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