Under the Beating Heart: A Marian Reflection

Mary Grotto at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Brusly, LA.  BEAUTIFUL!

Mary Grotto at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Brusly, LA. BEAUTIFUL!

I am constantly listening for catch phrases and pop culture connections for these blog posts. This morning on the way to work, I was listening to Christopher West on the CD set, “Woman God’s Masterpiece: Understanding and Living the Feminine Genius.” He spoke about Our Lady and how the Lord was under her beating heart, literally, in the womb. He was reminding women that we have this same physical attribute as Our Lady – that we carry life, “under the beating heart.”

I’ve been participating in a Marian Consecration recently; this was really intriguing to me. I immediately began to think of my own road to motherhood. Motherhood (both physically and spiritually) has connected me in a special way to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Some of you may know that I am going through a little growing pain with our first daughter, Elizabeth, heading away to college. It has been difficult to let go at times, and I have been reminiscing about my pregnancy with her.

I was pregnant in the dead of the Arkansas winter with Elizabeth. I had just begun my career in higher education when Steve and I, less than 2 years married, found out we were pregnant. I was left with lots of mixed emotions. After all, the world would tell me I could have it all (career and family), and at the time, we really had no other options: I had to work.

I was extremely sick during my pregnancy with Elizabeth. To add misery to my illness, Steve was finishing his undergraduate degree 3 hours away. We were living apart for the first 8 months of the pregnancy. I felt alone, ill, and underprepared. I would cry out to the Lord on a regular basis, and I knew He was with me. All I had to do was to reflect on my newfound role in life: Mommy. I was sharing in the creative act with God Himself. I was doing the same thing Our Lady did: Bringing life into the world. At the time, I did not understand the depth of this very act. I did not get the theology of the body. I had never really heard of the theology of the body at the time. All I know is that at night, I would touch my belly with one hand, and my heart with the other hand. I was alone and afraid, but totally in love with this baby daughter.

My prayer to Our Lady at the time, and so many times since, was to put us under her mantle, and shelter us from the impact of me being ill, alone, afraid, and underprepared. I know now that Our Blessed Mother was placing us right under her beating heart, just as she had done with Jesus.

Elizabeth’s delivery was treacherous, and we were both ill from an infection in the womb. I was able to see Elizabeth briefly after her delivery, but was whisked to my semi-private room, while Steve left the hospital for the night. I remember getting up at 3 a.m., and heading down to the NICU in a wheelchair I must have snuck into our room. I slowly walked the wheelchair down to the NICU, demanding to see Elizabeth. Miraculously, they allowed me into the NICU and showed me to her crib/incubator. She looked like a giant compared to the other ill babies. I asked the nurse, “Can I hold her?” The nurse took her out of the incubator and placed her, ear side down on my heart. It was right then and there that I found my new home: Mommy.

In much the same way, Our Blessed Mother presses us close, right under her beating heart. Right where she carried the Savior of the World; the Promise of Ages; the Prince of Peace; the Source of Life…Right where she carried Jesus, she holds us close – under her beating heart.

Jesus, who loved His mother very much, gave her to all of us. When He gave her to John, the disciple “whom he loved,” He was giving her to the world forever:

“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there who he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:26-27)

Since the time of Elizabeth’s birth, I have always held my dear babies right at my heart. I wanted them to hear my heartbeat, and focus on that when agitated, scared, uncomfortable, or in a room full of chaos. These are the moments I have felt most like the protective Momma Bear. I loved the feeling of my daughters slowly settling down, their breathing at a more normal pace, and eventually dozing off in the comfort under my beating heart. When Elie, our baby, was born 6 weeks early, I would engage in Kangaroo Care, which was a way for me to bond with her. The nurses would strip her down to her diaper, placing Elie on my bare chest. I would rock her until my arms and back ached from the hours of spending time with her. Each time I would complete Kangaroo Care, Elie’s numbers would all go in the right direction, and she grew stronger.

I think that is similar to when we put our ears under the beating heart of Our Lady. She protects us – we bond with her – she holds us close on our journey to her Son. Sometimes, we get agitated, frustrated and uncomfortable on this journey. But her goal is always our closeness to her Son, so she holds us tight. She will do everything to help us gain that closeness, and always has our best interest at heart. When I am close under her beating heart, my numbers go right: my virtue increases, my negativity decreases, my motherhood is enhanced, and as a result, I get stronger in faith. As an outward sign of that strength, I am able to prioritize home and work more easily because I am learning from the best role model there is: Our Mother Mary. I am able to focus on my vocation of wife and mother, and it is a natural outpouring to lead others to Christ through my feminine gifts.

Mary is Our Mother. Her fiat, which physically placed Our Lord under her beating heart, was an act of making her our mother, too:

Her role in relation to the Church and to all humanity goes still further. “In a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the Savior’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace.” (CCC 968)

Blessed Mother Mary: thank you for your YES. It is through your yes that the Savior of the World entered, and we’ve been given new life. Pray for us now…and at the hour of our death…Hear our petitions, and bring us closer to your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Peace of Christ to you and yours!

Mary

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Comments

  1. I couldn’t have said it better. The Blessed Mother hears our prayers.

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